Learn to improvise. 2003-2004. Lesson 07: chords survey.

Primary chords
I mean with them: major-, minor-, seventh, augmented and diminished chords, the latter as dim7.
Because they are simple, they are well suited for improvisation. The position I give in the survey is not optimal for every purpose. Make your own compromise between beauty and ease of play. When you do that, do it when playing a scheme (e.g. the ones I give for homework). Then you are sure they are usable in practice. Learn them by heart. Otherwise you will not have them available fast enough.

Often notes of a chord can be left out in practical playing.
Example 1) a strong overtone like d in G7 makes G7=g-b-f possible.
Example 2) a tone may be present in the melody already.
Example 3) it may depend on the style, e.g.: Primary chords you will meet, when you start in C as the initial key, are:

A7 = a-c#-e-g
B7 = d#-f#-a-b
C7 = g-bb-c-e
D7 = f#-a-c-d
E7 = g#-b-d-e
F7 = a-c-eb-f
G7 = g-b-d-f

The common major triad can be obtained by leaving out the seventh note (two keysteps under the root).

Am = a-c-e
Bm = d-f#-b
Cm = g-c-eb
Dm = a-d-f
Em = e-g-b
Fm = f-ab-c
Gm = g-bb-d

Cdim7 = c-eb-gb-a
Fdim7 = f-ab-b-d
Gdim7 = g-bb-db-e
C+ = c-e-g#
D+ = d-f#-a#
F+ = f-a-c#
G+ = g-b-d#

There are only 3 different diminished-seventh chords (Cdim7 = Ebdim7, etc) and 4 augmented chords (C+ = E+, etc).
Chords in songbooks
These leave less room for improvisation than the primary chords. But they are interesting in order to learn how added notes and alterations may be implied into music.
E.g. bar music has many major seventh chords and a blues many none chords. But there are many more styles: folksongs, meditation music, dance music, fado's, etc.

The songbooks use different abbreviations. I give the most common ones.

The missing chords (for C#, D, etc) can be derived from those for C by counting keysteps. Now it must be possible for you, if you meet a chord in a songbook, to find out which notes it contains.

Sometimes it is practical to consider a songbook chord as a combination of two primairy chords, e.g. C13 as C7 plus Dm.

C6 = c e g a (C sext) (note added which is 3 keysteps under the root)
Cm7 = c eb g bb (remark: Am7=a c e g has the same notes as C6)
Cm = Cmi = Cmin. = c eb g
Cmaj7 = Cma = CM7 = c e g b (C major seventh)
C7b5 = C75 = c e gb bb (C7 with flatted 5th)
Cm7b5 = Cm75 = c eb gb bb (Cm7 with flatted 5th)
C7+ = C7aug = C7+5 = C7#5 = c e g# bb (C augmented seventh) >C9 = c e g bb d (C none) (C9 is an extension of C7)
Cm9 = c eb g bb d (Cm none)
Cm6 = Cmi6 = c eb g a (Cm sext)
C11 = c e g bb d f (extension of C9)
Cm11 = c eb g bb d f
C13 = c e g bb d f a (extension of C11)
Cm13 = c eb g bb d f a
C7#5#9 = C7+5+9 = c e g# bb d# (C augmented seventh with a raised none)
C7b5b9 = C759 = c e gb bb db (C7 with a flatted 5th and a flatted 9th)
C7(b9) = C7b9 = C79 = c e g bb db (C7 with a flatted none)
C9(#5) = C9#5 = C9+5 = c e g# bb d (C none with a raised 5th)
C7#11 = c e g bb d f# (C7 with a raised 11th)
Caddf = c e f g (C with added f)
C7(G bass) = C7/G = g bb c e (C7 with g in the bass)
Csus = Csus4 = CsusF = c f g (C suspended; f solves downward into e)
Csus2 = c d g (d solves upward into e; same notes as Gsus).

Make melodies to this scheme (you may choose fast or slow, and three or four quarters, etc, as long as you stick to the given scheme).
C G7 C C   C A7 Dm F   G7 E7 Am C   D7 D7 Fm G+
C G7 C C   C A7 Dm F   F Cdim C7 A7   Dm G7 C C

Click here to hear the scheme
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