How omitting the 5th in chords can open doors to a much wider musical vocabulary

by GuitarDomain

Anyone who has studied chord theory will confirm that the basis of a major or minor chord is the triad of root, 3rd (or b3rd) and 5th. Once we start altering or extending chords, though, the picture becomes slightly less clear. A sharp or flat 5th deviates from the norm, but it still refers to the ‘root, 3rd, 5th’ formula as a basis.

Sometimes, one of the notes from the basic triad is omitted altogether. Power or ‘5’ chords omit the 3rd, blurring the lines between major and minor. In extended chords (7th, 9th, 11th and 13th) the 5th is usually omitted – partly to keep these chords from sounding too harmonically ‘dense’. 

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