Learn to build chords

Learn to build chords – building chords from scales


Learning to build chords on the Guitar is vital to the understanding of the harmonic structure in music. This will allow you to figure out how to spell any Chord on the Guitar and how to build Chords out of Scale degrees. This section might seem a little advanced but stick through it in the end you will walk away with one of the keys to understanding Music.


In music Chords, are built off of Scale degrees by stacking 3 rds below is the C  Major Scale. We can figure out each Chord in that Scale by simply stacking each third note to form chords .


Key of C Major Chords

Notice how under each degree we can add the third note up the scale to get the next note in the spelling of the chord. on the c major chord for example the third degree up is the E note and its the third note in the c major scale add another third scale degree and we get the G note, the Fifth of the chord.

Using this Method, Here’s the Chords we spelled C major (CEG) D minor (DFA) E minor (EGB) F major (FAC) G major (GBD) A minor (ACE) B Dim (BDF) .

This has given us the key to finding the chords in the C Major Scale in the key of C. If we had added another 3rd to each chord they would have become 7th chords for example C Major 7 is CEGB.

You can use this method of stacking 3 rds to find the chords that fit into any major key just remember the formula and apply it to any scale.

chords to build songs

what can we do with this information? Well, Now that we know the chords in the key of C major we can build songs out of them since we know the chords that fit in the key.

You can use this knowledge to get a scale build chords off the degrees then you know all the chords you can use in that key(the key will be the first degree of the scale). Below is an example chord progression built in the key of C, off the chords we made above.

Progression build off of the C major scale.

The C Chord is the Root of the scale it would be considered the 1 of the Scale or written in roman numerals as I. The A minor would be the 6th of the scale and written as VI, The F Major would be the 4th scale degree and written as IV and the G Chord would be the 5th degree and written as V So, the progression would be written out as a I-VI-IV-V progression.

As you can see the Chords that belong together in a key are built off a scale. You order the notes from the Root to the 7th note in order following each other C-d-e or a-b-c ect… what ever the first note is the rest will follow in alphabetical order.

The degrees will be the same chord types when stacking 3 rd’s and in a Major key. That is to say the first Chord will always be Major the 2nd and 3rd will always be Minor the 4th and 5th will be Major the 6th Chord will be a Minor Chord and the 7th Chord will be a diminished Chord.

lets take a random note say F now lets build a major Chord pregression using what that logic.


now take the F and add 2 more notes stacking thirds and we get F A C that is the first chord. Since we know the chords are always gonna be Major or Minor depending on what degree they fall on we can make the following Chart.

You should be able to figure the rest of the Chart out and build the correct Chords that are in the key of F major.

Take this information and write out all the Chords for all 7 Major keys (extra credit if you do it for Sharps and Flats).

Now you should have a complete understanding of writing out major keys to find the Chords its works the same for Minor scales too ! just get the Scale and stack the thirds. The Chords wont follow the same formula as maj min min ect… but it still works the same as far as stacking thirds to find the Chords spellings.

one last thing to mention is that when using this to write songs the most popular progression in today’s music is by far and away the I-IV-V progression most songs use that formula, but come up with your own progressions  and play around just the I-IV-V as a template and add other chords as you see more importantly have fun.

I hope you enjoyed this lesson.

the next section i suggest you read is the CAGED system