Piano & Keyboard All-in-One For Dummies
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Another popular type of three-note chord in the piano playing world, although it’s technically not a triad, is the suspended chord. The name means “hanging,” and the sound of a suspended chord always leaves you waiting for the next notes or chords.

The two types of suspended chords are the suspended second and the suspended fourth. Because of their abbreviated suffixes, these chords are often referred to as the sus2 and sus4 chords; you see them written as Csus2 or Asus4, for example. Here’s how you create them:

  • Asus2 chord is comprised of a root note, a major second (M2) interval, and a perfect fifth (P5) interval.

  • Asus4 chord has a root note, a perfect fourth (P4), and a perfect fifth (P5) interval.

The sus4 is so popular that musicians often just call it the sus chord. So, when the bandleader says to play “a sus chord on beat 1,” that probably means to play a suspended fourth. But asking for clarification is a good idea.

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What’s being suspended, exactly? The third. A suspended chord leaves you hanging, and its resolution comes when the second or fourth resolves to the third. This doesn’t mean that all sus chords have to resolve to major or minor triads; actually, they sound pretty cool on their own.

Fingering suspended chords is easy. For the right hand, use fingers 1, 2, and 5 for sus2 chords; use fingers 1, 4, and 5 for sus4 chords. For the left hand, use fingers 5, 4, and 1 for sus2 chords; use fingers 5, 2, and 1 for sus4 chords.

Play along here for some suspension tension and listen to how the chord that follows each sus chord sounds resolved.

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About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Michael Pilhofer, MM, holds a Master's in Music Education with a Jazz Emphasis from the Eastman School of Music, and a Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Performance from the University of Miami.

Holly Day's work has appeared in Guitar One Magazine, Music Alive!, culturefront Magazine, and Brutarian Magazine.

Jerry Kovarsky is a regular columnist for Keyboard magazine and longtime product management guru with Casio, Korg, and other companies who have been instrumental in bringing keyboard technology into people's homes and onto stages and studios around the world.

Holly Day and Michael Pilhofer are co-authors of all editions of Music Theory For Dummies and Music Composition For Dummies. Blake Neely was a contributing author to the 2nd edition of Piano For Dummies. David Pearl is author of Piano Exercises For Dummies. Jerry Kovarksy is a contributing writer to Electronic Musician magazine. David Pearl is the author of The Art of Steely Dan and Color Your Chords. His other books include Burt Bacharach Piano Solos, jazz transcriptions of artists such as Grover Washington, Jr. and Dave Douglas, and arrangements of jazz tunes, classical pieces, and opera arias for piano. He has taught piano and performed jazz and classical music professionally for more than 30 years.

Michael Pilhofer, MM, holds a Master's in Music Education with a Jazz Emphasis from the Eastman School of Music, and a Bachelor of Music degree in Jazz Performance from the University of Miami.

Holly Day's work has appeared in Guitar One Magazine, Music Alive!, culturefront Magazine, and Brutarian Magazine.

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