Extended and altered chords

Chord structures of arbitrary complexity can be created in chord mode. The modifier string can be used to extend a chord, add or remove chord steps, raise or lower chord steps, and add a bass note or create an inversion.

The first number following the : is taken to be the extent of the chord. The chord is constructed by sequentially adding thirds to the root until the specified number has been reached. Note that the seventh step added as part of an extended chord will be the minor or flatted seventh, not the major seventh. If the extent is not a third (e.g., 6), thirds are added up to the highest third below the extent, and then the step of the extent is added. The largest possible value for the extent is 13. Any larger value is interpreted as 13.

\chordmode {
  c1:2 c:3 c:4 c:5
  c1:6 c:7 c:8 c:9
  c1:10 c:11 c:12 c:13
  c1:14
}

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As a special exception, c:5 produces a ‘power chord’ only consisting of root and fifth.

Since an unaltered 11 does not sound good when combined with an unaltered 13, the 11 is removed from a :13 chord (unless it is added explicitly).

\chordmode {
  c1:13 c:13.11 c:m13
}

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Individual steps can be added to a chord. Additions follow the extent and are prefixed by a dot (.). The basic seventh step added to a chord is the minor or flatted seventh, rather than the major seventh.

\chordmode {
  c1:3.5.6 c:3.7.8 c:3.6.13
}

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Added steps can be as high as desired.

\chordmode {
  c4:3.5.15 c:3.5.20 c:3.5.25 c:3.5.30
}

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Added chord steps can be altered by suffixing a - or + sign to the number. To alter a step that is automatically included as part of the basic chord structure, add it as an altered step.

\chordmode {
  c1:7+ c:5+.3- c:3-.5-.7-
}

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Following any steps to be added, a series of steps to be removed is introduced in a modifier string with a prefix of ^. If more than one step is to be removed, the steps to be removed are separated by . following the initial ^.

\chordmode {
  c1^3 c:7^5 c:9^3 c:9^3.5 c:13.11^3.7
}

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The modifier sus can be added to the modifier string to create suspended chords. This removes the 3rd step from the chord. Append either 2 or 4 to add the 2nd or 4th step to the chord. When sus is followed by either a 2nd or 4th step, it is equivalent to ^3, otherwise to sus4, namely 5.4.

\chordmode {
  c1:sus c:sus2 c:sus4 c:5.4
}

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Added bass notes (putting a pitch other than the root on the bottom of the chord) can be specified by appending /pitch to the chord.

\chordmode {
  c'1 c'/e c'/f
}

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If the added pitch is already part of the chord, this may be used to print chord inversions, in which case the pitch is not added but merely moved to the bottom of the chord. It may however be treated as an added note (and thus printed twice), by using the syntax /+pitch.

\chordmode {
  c'1 c'/g c'/+e
}

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Automatic chord inversions and voicings are demonstrated in Chord inversions and specific voicings.

Chord modifiers that can be used to produce a variety of standard chords are shown in Common chord modifiers.

See also

Notation Reference: Chord inversions and specific voicings, Common chord modifiers.

Snippets: Chords.

Known issues and warnings

Each step can only be present in a chord once. The following simply produces the augmented chord, since 5+ is interpreted last.

\chordmode { c1:3.5.5-.5+ }

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LilyPond Notation Reference v2.25.13 (development-branch).