These THREE CHORDS Are All The SAME Chord

These THREE CHORDS Are All The SAME Chord

Tommaso Zillio

FREE Music Theory Map
Map of Music Theory
Download the FREE Map of Music Theory that will tell you what is the next topic you need to study

Captcha code:
By submitting your info, you agree to send it to Guitar Mastery Solutions, Inc. who will process and use it according to their privacy policy.

sus quartal chords

Consider these chords (no worries if you don’t know all of them).

  • Quartal chords
  • Suspended 2nd chords,
  • Suspended 4th chords

Just to make it clearer, let’s write these chords in A:

  • A quartal: A D G
  • Asus2: A B E
  • Asus4: A D E

What’s the difference between them?

(Obviously, this is an extremely important question that probably wears on you day after day, always looming on the back of your mind. I can’t be the only one, can I?…)

I mean, if you play them, they all sound different.

Gee, if anything, it’s hard to say what they have in common.

So you may be surprised when I tell you that, ultimately, these three chords are the same chord.

And - even bigger surprise, I know - when you know exactly how these chords are the same chord, that makes it so much easier to play them on the guitar and to use them in your music.

To explain this properly, I’m going to need the use of a whiteboard and spoken language. Both things are present in the video below - and once you watch it, you can freely style yourself as “master of the suspended chords,” and you will have earned that title:

Does this topic confuse you? Have you ever even heard of a sus chord or quartal chord?

Either way, you should check out my Complete Chord Mastery guitar course, which takes you from the ground up with chords and harmony, so you can fully understand this topic with no more confusion.

Video Transcription

Hello internet. So nice to see you. I want to tell you about that time when I realized that that suspended fourth chords, and suspended second chords, and quartal chords are exactly the same thing. Now, that’s one of those useful thing it helps you have a lot when you play music or when you write music. And these things is actually completely obvious to a number of people who have studied music theory. But it’s a complete mystery for everybody else.

So let me clarify, and I show you why those things are different, why then they are actually the same at the end and how we can use that. So first of all, what are on this chord? Well, let’s start with a C major triad and a C major triad, we’ll have the notes C, E, and G. That’s great. But we need only as a stepping stone to get to what we want to do, because we want to see what are suspended fourth chords?

Well, they’re suspended for chords as any major triad in which we substitute the middle note, which is the third with a fourth, the fourth here will be the F note. So when I play CFNG, I am playing C suspended fourth. What about suspended second chord standard? Well, the procedure is similar, we start with a C major chord, we eliminate the middle note, and instead we write a second here, which is a D note. So if I play a C, D, G, I am playing a C suspended second chord.

All of that is fine and dandy, but what about quartal chords? What the chords are chords that work in a slightly different way than normal chords, and are built by stacking forts? What do I mean? Well, I start with the scinote, when I go up a perfect for it, and I find an F note. And that’s my next note in the chord. And then I go up another perfect Ford, and they get a B flat note. And those three notes, C, F, B flat are my C quartal chords.

By the way, nobody will ever call these simply a C quartal, okay, some people will just write these as a C seven sus four. And also I build this chord using perfect fourths, some people will actually follow the scale. So if we were in the key of C, my quartal chord will be CFP, if I want to stay in the key of C, and the chord will sound in a slightly different way or actually a lot different way. But in this moment, I’m gonna stay with the quartal chord built with just perfect for it.

Now you look at those three chords and you’re thinking to myself, how are they the same? They are completely different? I mean, they have a certain sound quality that makes them similar by ear. But how are they the same, the notes are completely different. The only note they have in common is C and that’s because I started with C with all of them. So meaning not a great thing.

How are they exactly the same? Well, let me show you let me change a little bit what I did so far, let me write down those chords from different root and not from the same root, I’m going to keep C SAS for as it is C F G. But rather than writing CS as two, I’m going to write fsus2. So I’m going to start with an F major chord F A C, eliminate the middle note A and then put the second in there and the second is g so my notes are F, G, C.

And you can immediately see that f suspended second F sus two as exactly the same note as C suspended for C says for there just one the inversion of each other meaning that the lowest note of the chord is different, we just flip those notes around. But the notes are the same. What about the quartal chord rather than seek quartal let me write G cord out built only with perfect fourth?

Well, the notes are gonna be G are perfect for C up at perfect fourth F. And again, the G chord that chord is exactly the same note as the C suspended Ford and the C suspend the second. So all those chords have exactly the same note and the only difference between them is that they are an inversion of each other or if you want that we consider at different notes to be the root of the chord. Now the question that you could have is does it make sense to gave those three chords three different names when they are in fact the same chord the same thing? Because they have the same note?

Well, yes, there is a sense. But first of all, you have to remember that the music notation the coordination has not been designed by people. We didn’t sit down with a big community of musicians all over the ward and say, Okay, let’s design a coordination at work.

Now the notation simply emerged by working with addition, working in different countries in different languages that didn’t know each other well, before we had the internet that will allow us to communicate and fight to the death to decide the correct notation. So has it happened different musicians in different places have called those chords in different ways simply because they did not know about our people calling this chord in another way. Or if they knew they didn’t care.

Or if they knew and cared, they just found one rotation to be more convenient than the other because that specific rotation was giving them more the sound that they liked. And indeed, you will notice that in different styles, we’re using preferentially one of those two names, and it’s not the same in classical music, for instance, it’s much more common to talk about suspended fourth chords, rather than suspend the second or quartal chords simply because it’s much more common to play those chord with that note at the base. And indeed, it’s a very typical thing to do to play for instance of C major, followed by G sus four followed by a G followed by another C major.

In jazz, instead, it’s much more common to talk about quartal chords with much more common, I do not mean that we talk only about quartal chord. And we never talk about suspended, for instance, by the second, I’m just saying that most of the time when we use those notes, we put them together in a way similar to the quartal order.

Because it sounds more jazzy if you want, then the other ways of putting it together. And so naturally, we’re using these named quartal more than the other names. And indeed, if you hear a few quartal chords, playing one after the other, you can totally hear how they sound jazzy. This is C chord followed by D quartal followed by a quartal followed by E quartal.

The suspend the second name, it’s less using classical and in jazz, it’s a bit more common in modern rock and metal. Of course, in modern rock and metal, we also talk a lot about suspended fourth chords. So it’s not the most common note name, but it is much more in let’s say, more recent and modern music, as opposed to classical music or jazz.

And again, I do not mean to say at all that musician style do not know about those names. And definitely your experience could be different than mine. But in my experience, such for is more used in classical as a name quartallies more using Jazz and suspend the second is more using modern rock and metal. The interesting thing though, is that those three chords are actually the same chord, every shape, you know, on the guitar for the suspended chord.

It’s also a suspended second chord and it’s also a quartal chord, etc, etc. So even if you know only one of those three chords, you actually know all the three chords when you’re learning your chord shapes all over the fretboard, little tricks like that save you a lot of time because when you’re studying, you’re suspended four chords.

At the same time, you could be studying your sus two chord and your quartal chords without doing any extra effort just knowing that any shape you study here, it’s also shaped for those two things here. And hey, if you can learn the same thing in 1/3 of the time, why shouldn’t you music theory is full of those tricks that allow you to learn a lot of things in a short amount of time.

And then change the music to your liking by substituting those chord for each other. In these are more inventive ways. If you want to know more about how to do this on your guitar, I have a course called complete chord mastery that does all of this for you complete chord mastery. It’s not a book. It’s a complete video course that takes you from the basics up.

We do everything you need to know about harmony and chords on your guitar. All the theory is done straight on the fretboard. There is no theory for the sake of theory here. Everything is immediately practical. And everything is developed through exercises so you know how to apply these immediately on your guitar. If you have just a minute click on the link on the top right to check out complete chord mastery.

If you liked this video, smash that like button and don’t forget to subscribe and click on notification otherwise YouTube will not let you know when I put up a new video. And if you have any comments, feedback, suggestions, write them down in the comment. I enjoy reading from you and they make videos on your suggestions. This is Tommaso Zillio of And until next time, enjoy.

FREE Music Theory Map
Map of Music Theory
Download the FREE Map of Music Theory that will tell you what is the next topic you need to study

Captcha code:
By submitting your info, you agree to send it to Guitar Mastery Solutions, Inc. who will process and use it according to their privacy policy.
© 2011-2024 Guitar Mastery Solutions, Inc.