Welcome to our chord finder, where we'll talk all about identifying chords based on their notes! Want to find the chords for that hit new song on the radio? Our chord finder will analyze the notes you hear to tell you exactly what chord is playing. So grab a glass of water that's cooler than a C7♭9 chord, and let's get to analyzing some chords!

How do I use the chord finder?

Our chord finder can tell you exactly what the chord you're playing (or hearing) is. Here's how to use it:

  1. Input the notes present in the chord. The order doesn't matter; you can add them as you identify them.

  2. Select the chord's root note (optional). This note is almost always the lowest and is usually played by a bass instrument (such as the bass guitar) or with a piano player's left hand.

  3. The chord finder will list chords that match your notes in order of likelihood.

💡 Selecting a root note can narrow your options down, but it can also exclude some chord possibilities. If none of the chords our chord namer presents you with match what you're hearing, try removing the root note.

What chord am I playing? How do I identify chords?

If you'd like to learn how to find the chords for that song on the radio by ear, you've come to the right place. But, we can't know how to identify chords (nor can we effectively use our chord namer) if we don't know what chords are. So let's find out!

Chords are simply three or more notes put together. When combined, how they sound is determined by which steps of the scale they occupy, in turn determining which intervals exist between them. Identifying chords is tricky, but as your ears develop, you'll be able to pinpoint a chord's structure in no time.

We notate chords with chord symbols. These consist of two parts: the name of the root note (also called the tonic) and the chord quality (which encodes the intervals present in the chord). Examples of chord symbols would be Cmaj (C major), F7 (F dominant seventh), A♭min (A flat minor), and Bsus4 (B suspended). These notations contain enough information for a musician to infer which notes they must play.

The first step in identifying chords is determining the chord quality. The quality is like a category to which a chord belongs and grants it a basic feeling and mood. We can determine which category a chord falls into by evaluating how the chord sounds or inspecting the notes in the chord.

Let's look at the basic chord shapes, which are also called triads. We'll include the mood, the steps of the scale, and an example in the key of C.

Chord Mood Steps Example
Major Happy 1, 3, 5 Cmaj: C E G
Minor Dark 1, ♭3, 5 Cmin: C E♭ G
Augmented Mysterious 1, 3, #5 Caug: C E G#
Diminished Tense 1, ♭3, ♭5 Cdim: C E♭ G♭

The basic triads in the key of C. Displayed are C major, C minor, C augmented, and C diminished chords.
The basic triads in the key of C. In order, these are C major, C minor, C augmented, and C diminished.

We're already halfway to learning how to identify chords, but we can go further! Chords can be expanded upon and decorated with extra notes on top — like the sixth chord, which is just a triad with an added sixth relative to the chord's root. These notes are like icing and sprinkles on a solid cake base — they're small additions, but they define the overall product just as much as the three notes at the bottom do.

Sevenths can redefine chords they're added to, just like icing can do to a cake. For example, adding a minor seventh (relative to the root) over a major chord transforms the major chord into a dominant seventh. Adding the seventh evokes in the listener an immediate tension and a strong desire to resolve. All this by adding just one note!

Seventh Mood Steps Example
Major Nostalgic 1, 3, 5, 7 Cmaj7: C E G B
Dominant Expectant 1, 3, 5, ♭7 C7: C E G B♭
Minor Soft 1, ♭3, 5, ♭7 Cmin7: C E♭ G B♭
Diminished Dissonant 1, ♭3, ♭5, ♭♭7 Cdim7: C E♭ G♭ B♭♭
Half-diminished Mournful 1, ♭3, ♭5, ♭7 Cmin7♭5: C E♭ G♭ B♭
The most commonly used seventh chords in the key of C. Displayed are the chords of C major seventh, C dominant seventh, C minor seventh, C diminished seventh, and C half-diminished seventh.
The most commonly used sevenths in the key of C. In order, these are C major seventh, C dominant seventh, C minor seventh, C diminished seventh, and C half-diminished seventh.

Ninths are the little cherries and chocolate chips on top of the chord cake — they make the chord just a little bit richer. They're formed by adding another note to a seventh, so their moods align with the sevenths at their foundations.

Ninth Mood Steps Example
Major Nostalgic 1, 3, 5, 7, 9 Cmaj9: C E G B D
Dominant Expectant 1, 3, 5, ♭7, 9 C9: C E G B♭ D
Dominant minor Very expectant 1, 3, 5, ♭7, ♭9 C7♭9: C E G B♭ D♭
Minor Soft 1, ♭3, 5, ♭7, 9 Cmin9: C E♭ G B♭ D
The most commonly used ninth chords in the key of C. Displayed are the chords of C major ninth, C dominant ninth, C dominant minor ninth, and C minor ninth.
The most commonly used ninths in the key of C. In order, these are C major ninth, C dominant ninth, C dominant minor ninth, and C minor ninth.

Suspended chords (or sus chords) are the last chord quality we'll look at. The name "suspended" refers to how one note that leads to our chord is suspended and carried over the chord boundaries before resolving to the full chord.

Suspended Mood Steps Example
2nd Strong 1, 2, 5 Csus2: C D G
4th Expectant 1, 4, 5 Csus4: C F G
The two suspended chords in the key of C. Displayed are the chords of Csus2 and Csus4.
The two suspended chords in the key of C. These are C suspended second, and C suspended fourth.

How do I find chords for a song?

Modern music follows well-structured arrangements of chords called chord progressions. It's entirely possible to name chords present in a song — even if we don't know a thing about music theory. If you want to find the chords for a song by ear, here are some tips that may help you.

  1. Identify the root chord. The easiest way to find it is to listen for the chord that sounds like "home", where the song keeps returning. Knowing this chord will suggest the song's key and influence chord possibilities.

  2. Identify individual notes, not just in the melody but also in supporting instruments, like the guitar. Use our chord analyzer or music theory to identify one chord at a time.

  3. Identify chord feelings. The mood a chord evokes can give much away about its identity. Try to compare chords to the moods we've discussed before.

  4. Try to play the song on the piano or any instrument you can play. Doing that makes you think about what notes and chords you're playing.

FAQ

How do I name chords?

Chord names (or chord symbols) have two parts that stand side-by-side when we annotate them:

  • The root note (or the tonic) is the base of the chord. It's the note upon which all the chord's inherent intervals build.

  • The quality of the chord dictates which intervals are present in the chord.

So when we write a chord symbol, we define which intervals build upon which note by using the quality and the tonic, respectively. We thereby dictate exactly which notes must be played.

What notes are in an A minor chord?

Amin: A C E. The A minor chord (in chord symbols, Amin) is a minor chord built upon the root of A. All minor chords contain the steps 1 ♭3 5 above the root. Amin therefore starts on the A, has the C at a minor third above the A, and has the E at a fifth above the A.

What notes are in a G major 7 chord?

Gmaj7: G B D F#. The G major 7 chord (Gmaj7) is a major seventh chord built upon the root of G. The major seventh chord quality uses the steps 1 3 5 7 above the root. Therefore, Gmaj7 starts on the G and has the notes B, D, and F# at steps 3, 5, and 7 above G, respectively.

How do I identify a seventh chord?

A dominant seventh chord (such as G7) is easy to identify, even without knowing any music theory. It creates a suspense that must be resolved by stepping to the key's tonic (such as to the Cmaj chord in the case of the G7 chord). When we hear the 7th, we unequivocally expect that resolution — so if you can pinpoint when that happens, chances are you've identified a seventh chord. Famous examples of the dominant seventh in popular music include "Hallelujah", "Somewhere over the Rainbow", and "Purple Haze".

Rijk de Wet
What notes are in the chord?
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Note #2
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Note #3
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Note #4
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Note #5
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Is there a root note?
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Your chord is...
A chord consists of three unique notes or more. Try adding more notes!
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