Noder's note: I first ran across this guide on Harmony Central's guitar section (, and thought it was a great resource. So, for the benefit of all the budding musicians on E2, I have obtained the author's permission to reformat and post it here. I've tried to keep it as true to the original form as possible without overusing monospaced fonts.

It's geared towards guitar, but I imagine the principles remain the same for other instruments capable of playing chords.

Guide to Chord Formation

Written by Howard Wright

Last update 11th October 1996

Reformatted for and posted to by Space Butler, Feb. 2001.

Copyright Howard Wright and the olga-grunts.
This document may be distributed freely as long as NO CHARGE is made and my name and email address are not removed. If you want to edit or re-format this document for public consumption, please contact me first. If you try to make any money by selling this guide to chord theory, in part or as a whole, you will be struck down by a bolt of lightning.


1.0 : Introduction
2.0 : Intervals
2.1 : Interval flavours
2.2 : Table of Intervals
3.0 : Triads
3.1 : Major and minor triads
3.2 : Suspended triads
4.0 : 7th chords
4.1 : Minor 7ths
4.2 : Major and dominant 7ths
5.0 : 6th chords
6.0 : 9ths, 11ths, 13ths
6.1 : 'Normal' 9th, 11th and 13th chords
6.2 : Minor 9th, 11th and 13th chords
6.3 : Major 9th, 11th and 13th chords
7.0 : X/Y type chords
8.0 : 'Add' chords and chromatic notes
9.0 : Diminished, half diminished, and augmented chords

Appendix A
The Chromatic Scale
Appendix B
List of all major and minor triads
Appendix C
Circle of 5ths and Key Signatures

Guide to Chord Formation by Howard Wright
Reformatted and noded (with permission) by Space Butler
Introduction   >

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