Add Chords, What Are They All About?

Sep 04, 2021

Learning a new type of chord is like adding a tool to your toolbox. Sure, that Phillips-head screwdriver was helpful, but sometimes you need a Flat-head.

Sure, you can cook with vegetable oil, but some recipes just need butter, olive oil, or sesame oil (don’t even try to make fried rice without sesame oil).

Similarly, arm yourself with the knowledge of different types of chords and other music theory concepts. In this post, you’ll arm yourself with the Add chord.

 

What Is It?

Basically, an add chord is simply a triad with an added note. 

So, if you took a G major chord (G, B, D) and added an A to it, you’d have an add chord. Specifically, you’d have a G Major Add2.

Why Add2? Because the number that comes after the “add” is the interval from the root you are adding. So, a 1st from G would be G itself and a 2nd from G would be an A, making a G Major Add2 (Gadd2 for short) G, A, B, and D. 

 

What Is It For?

Add chords primarily act as a way to add color to your chords. It makes them more interesting. In general, the 3 notes of a triad is the standard balance of color and consonance. This is why triads are the default chords. Cmajor, Aminor, and Bdiminished are all triads.

The more notes you add, the less consonance you’ll generally have. But you’ll also add color, making the chord more interesting. 

Don’t assume “interesting” is necessarily good or bad, just that it makes the chord have extra flavor. It’s like ice cream. You want the perfect amount of toppings- not too much, not too little. If you go all Michael-Scott-Pretzel on it, it starts to lose it’s identity and not be delicious. But chocolate ice cream with brownies and peanut butter? ALL THE YES.

Chocolate ice cream with brownies, peanut butter and blueberries? Hm, I think it went one too far. Chocolate ice cream with brownies, peanut butter, blueberries, and caramel. We’re quickly approaching chaos now.

 

Usages

The most commonly used add chords are Add2 and Add9’s. Note that these have the same added note, just up one octave (8 notes higher or +7). 

So a C Major Add 2 would be C, D, E, G and C Major Add 9 would be C, E, G, and D above the G.

Less commonly used add chords are Add4 and Add11’s (same note one octave up) and then Add6. While a 7th chord would technically be an Add7 Chord, it is referred to as a 7th chord instead.

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