Chord Calculator

Created by Rita Rain
Reviewed by Dominik Czernia, PhD candidate and Steven Wooding
Last updated: Nov 12, 2021

This chord calculator tells you what notes make up a chord of a given type and root.

A chord notes, C minor notes, half-diminished seventh chord notes – you'll find here formulas for 14 most commonly used chords in all keys.

Knowledge of chords is crucial if you want to dive deeper into playing, composing, and understanding music. In the text, we cover the basics – the chord definition and chord construction. If you don't know basic music theory (like names of notes) – check out the explanations in the interval calculator first.

What is a chord in music?

A chord in music is a set of multiple notes, usually played simultaneously. If we play chord notes sequentially, we call it a broken chord. Theoretically, a chord should have at least three notes; however, dyads which consist of a root and a fifth are commonly called power chords.

How the chord calculator works

If you want to know what notes makes up a chord, choose the root note and the chord type in the first two fields of the calculator. In the parentheses after the chord names, you'll see the symbols used for these chords (the example is in the key of C; you need to change the letter if you change the key).

At the bottom of the chord calculator, you can read the results – chord notes and a formula for chord construction. The numbers in the formula tell you which degrees of a major scale in the chosen key you need. The accidentals (flats – ♭ and sharps – ♯) inform if you should lower or raise a degree.

It may sound a bit abstract, so let's go through some examples of chord construction.

A chord notes & C chord notes – examples of chord construction

Let's see what notes make up a chord in the following three examples:

Example 1: You want to know what notes make up a C major chord.

  1. C major scale will be our starting point: C D E F G A B (if you don't know what these letters mean, read about intervals and scales first).

  2. Now, we need a formula for the major chord: 1, 3, 5. The numbers tell us which notes from the major scale we need.

  3. Let's number the notes in the C major scale: 1:C, 2:D, 3:E, 4:F, 5:G, 6:A, 7:B. C is the first degree of the scale, D is the second degree, and so on.

  4. According to our formula, the first, third, and fifth degrees make up a C major chord; therefore, it consists of the following notes: C, E, G.

Example 2: Let's have a look at A major chord notes.

  1. Let's start with the A major scale: A, B, C♯, D, E, F♯, G♯.

  2. Let's use the same formula as in the previous example: 1, 3, 5.

  3. If we take the 1st, 3rd, 5th notes from the A major scale, we get the A major chord notes: A, C♯, E.

Example 3: We'll find C minor notes.

  1. We again start with C major scale: C D E F G A B.

  2. We can find the minor chord formula in the chord calculator: 1, ♭3, 5.

  3. We need the 1st, 3rd, and 5th degree: C, E, G.

  4. Now we'll apply accidentals. There's a flat sign next to the number 3. It means we have to lower the third degree of the scale by a semitone. When we lower the E note, we get an E♭ (E flat).

  5. C minor chord notes are C, E♭, G.


How to build chords?

Follow the below three steps to build a chord:

  1. Define the notes of a major scale of a given note. For example, D major: D, E, F♯, G, A, B, C♯.

  2. Find a formula for the chord. For example, 1, ♭3, 5, ♭7 for a minor 7th chord.

  3. Apply the formula – take the scale degrees defined by the numbers and apply accidentals if needed. For example, for D minor 7th chord notes would be D, F, A, C because the 1st degree of D major is D, flattened 3rd degree is F, 5th degree is A, flattened seventh degree is C.

Which is the most fundamental chord in music?

The most fundamental chord in music is the triad – a set of three notes. Depending on the types of thirds (intervals) used in the chord, you can have a major, minor, diminished, and augmented triad.

What is a major chord in music?

A major chord is a chord which consists of a root, a major third, and a perfect fifth. If the chord has only the three mentioned sounds, it is called a major triad. Other major chords include, for example, a major seventh chord and a major sixth chord.

Rita Rain
Root note
Chord type
Major triad (e.g., C)
Notes: C, E, G
Formula: 1, 3, 5
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