List of Most Common Chord Types

Within the Fretboard Knowledge domain, we loosely define chords as "three or more pitched sounds played simultaneously".

In Western music theory, common chords are generally built by stacking minor and major third intervals.In Fretboard Knowledge, "common chords" means our list of all strict and non-strict triads and seventh chords.

Strict triads and seventh chords are the chords obtained by stacking three or four minor or major thirds and thus have the tone-functions prime, third, fifth (and seventh).

Non-strict triads and seventh chords are chords where these intervals have been suspended or augmented in such a way that the interval-stack does not consist of only minor and major third intervals.


Strict Triads

There are four strict triads, meaning that these are constructed by stacking notes in intervals of thirds:

Name Common Symbols Functions
Diminished mb5
-b5
dim
1 b3 b5
Minor m
-
min
mi
1 b3 5
Major (no symbol)
M
Maj
Ma
1 3 5
Augmented +
aug
+5
#5
1 3 #5

Non-Strict Triads

NameCommon SymbolsFunctions
Major (b5)

(b5)
Mb5
Maj-5

1 3 b5

Strict Seventh Chords

There are six seventh chords that confirm to the principle of stacking thirds.

Three more seventh chords are relevant but these are not conceived by strictly stacking intervals of a third, but they all have definite alterations of the essential chordtones.

Name Common Symbols Functions
Diminished o
dim7
1 b3 b5 bb7
Half diminished Ø
m7b5
-7b5
min7b5
mi7b5
1 b3 b5 b7
Minor seventh m7
-7
min7
mi7
1 b3 5 b7
Minor major seventh

minΔ
miΔ
minMaj7
mMaj7
1 b3 5 7
Dominant seventh 7
dom7
1 3 5 b7
Major seventh Δ
Maj7
Ma7
M7
1 3 5 7
Major seventh raised fifth Δ+
Δ#5
Maj7#5
Maj7+
1 3 #5 7

Non-Strict Seventh Chords

Name Common Symbols Functions
Altered dominant 7+
7#5
7alt
1 3 #5 b7
Dominant with flattened fifth 7b5 1 3 b5 b7
Major seventh with flattened fifth Δb5
Maj7b5
Δ#11 (incorrect)
1 3 b5 7