There are two commonly used types of suspended chords. They are the sus4 and the sus2 chords. For these chords, the major or minor third is omitted and replaced with either a perfect fourth or a major second. The perfect fourth is more common.
Whenever you come across a sus4 chord, instead of playing the root, major third and perfect fifth (1 – 3 – 5), play the root, perfect fourth and perfect fifth (1 – 4 – 5). For example, the notes that form C major are C – E – G. Instead of E, play F and this gives you a Csus4 chord, C – F – G. In other words, raise the middle note by a half step.
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For the less common sus2 chord, 1 – 3 – 5 becomes 1 – 2 – 5. Instead of playing root, major third and perfect fifth, you play root, major second and perfect fifth. So let’s say you have a C major triad (C – E – G), it becomes C – D – G). Instead of E, you play D and it results in Csus2. In other words, lower the middle note, E, by a whole step.
Watch Lesson: Suspended Chords – Sus2 and Sus4
Another way to think about forming suspended chords is by using half steps. The formula for a sus4 chord is R + 5HS + 2HS (root plus 5 half steps plus 2 half steps). The formula for a sus2 chord is R + 2HS + 5HS (root plus 2 half steps plus 5 half steps).
Each suspended chord has two inversions. Sus2 chords are inversions of sus4 chords and vice versa. For example, Csus2 (C – D – G) is the 1st inversion of Gsus4 (G – C – D) which is the 2nd inversion of Csus2 (C – D – G). The sus2 and sus4 chords both have an inversion (D – G – C) that creates what is known as a quartal chord.
Learn how to build all 12 suspended fourth chords with this simple chord chart.
- Csus4 – C F G
- C#sus4 – C# F# G#
- Dsus4 – D G A
- Ebsus4 – Eb Ab Bb
- Esus4 – E A B
- Fsus4 – F Bb C
- F#sus4 – F# B C#
- Gsus4 – G C D
- Absus4 – Ab Db Eb
- Asus4 – A D E
- Bbsus4 – Bb Eb F
- Bsus4 – B E F#
Learn how to build all 12 sus2 chords with this simple chord chart.
- Csus2 – C D G
- C#sus2 – C# D# G#
- Dsus2 – D E A
- Ebsus2 – Eb F Bb
- Esus2 – E F# B
- Fsus2 – F G C
- F#sus2 – F# G# C#
- Gsus2 – G A D
- Absus2 – Ab Bb Eb
- Asus2 – A B E
- Bbsus2 – Bb C F
- Bsus2 – B C# F#
Another kind of suspended chord is the dominant seventh suspended fourth chord written as 7sus4. For instance C dominant seventh suspended fourth would be written like this: C7sus4. With this chord, you play the root, perfect fourth, perfect fifth and a minor seventh or 1 – 4 – 5 – ♭7. So for the chord C7sus4 for example, the notes are C – F – G – B♭.
More info on suspended chords and other kinds of chords here.
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