An important step in achieving piano mastery is the learning of new chords. While the major and minor chords are the most popular chords in modern music, suspended, augmented and diminished chords are important for those who wish to learn how to play piano. While not as common as the above mentioned majors and minors, they are certainly found in a lot of music and need to be addressed at some point in your quest to learn the piano.
It is said that suspended chords often make a piece of music sound like it must resolve into another chord. Csus4 for example resolves to a C-Major chord very nicely.
“Sus4” chords are derived by raising the 3rd note a step. So if you take C-Major which is C, E, F, and raise the third note you are left with C, F, G. Another way of thinking of it is to take the scale of C-Major and play the 1st, 4th and 5th notes of the scale.
There is also “Sus2” chords which are derived by lowering the 3rd note a step rather than raising it, and again this chord can be derived from the C-Major scale in the same way. Csus2 is thus C, D and G.
Augmented chords are derived by sharpening the 5th note, so in the case of C-Major, the resulting chord is C, E, F#. Augmented chords usually work well for blues and gospel tracks, those that feature a turnaround on the 5th chord in particular. So if you were in the key of G and at the end of the sequence you would play D augmented on the turnaround.
Diminished chords feature flattened 3rd and 5th notes, so in the case of C, C diminished is: C, Eb, Gb.
While it can certainly helpful to commit each of these chords in every key to memory, by simply remembering the correct pattern you’ll be able to derive the chords you need, when you need them. This can be just as useful as having a lot of different chords in your head. Perhaps more important a thing to know is chordal relationships, which we will discuss in a future article. For now, if you want to learn all of these chords and their patterns, it will not be time wasted.