Chord Naming Conventions

Whilst there’s a plethora of way to write chord symbols, this is how I tend to refer to them. It’s a mixture of short hand, jazz and classical notation, but it’s what I’ve found to be the easiest, most descriptive and least ambiguous way of quickly denoting the family and function of a given chord.

To reiterate, there’s no real right or wrong ways of this, it what works for you.

Different situations and genres might require or prescribe different methods of charting chords, here’s a few that you might come across.

Chord name

Symbol

Alternate names

Common usage

Example

Major No symbol ma, M I, IV, V C E G
Major 7 Δ maj7, M7, ma7 I, IV C E G B
Minor m, mi, minor, ii, iii, vi C Eb G
Minor 7 -7 m7, minor 7 ii, iii, vi C Eb G Bb
Dominant 7 7 dom, x V, VI, III C E G Bb
Augmented + aug V C E G#
Diminished ° dim V, vii C Eb Gb Bbb
Half Diminished ø m7b5, half dim vii C Eb Gb Bb
Flat 9 b9 ii, V C E G (Bb) Db
Sharp 9 #9 The ‘Hendrix’ chord I, V C E G (Bb) D#
Flat 5 b5 V C E Gb (Bb)
Sharp 11 #11 Lydian I, IV C E G F#
Suspended Sus2/Sus4 I, ii, iii, IV, V, vi C D G / C F G
Minor Major 7 -∆7 Mi Ma7 i C Eb G B

 

There are exceptions, for example if I’m explaining something from the ground up, I may refer to something as C major and later build up to my standard names as the article develops.

Please get in contact or leave a comment if you are unclear about something.