Emotional Connection – Chords

Posted: February 7, 2011 in Composing

chords are a big part of todays music,

and their effect on our emotions can change with the context of the music :

the chord that comes before, the chord that comes after, the melody, the timbre of the sounds used in the piece, speed (harmonic rhythm),

and lot more ingredients are effecting the impact of chords on our emotions.

here the chords will be tested as the only element, separated from the other elements,

that means : the effect of the chord as if it is heard on one simple sound with no movement or rhythm.

this is a good way to observe only the effect of chords.


in the list you will find the chord notes at the end of each chord type, to show you an example.


Major – brightness, happiness, satisfaction, confidence, sometimes childhood. C – E – G

Minor – sadness, melancholy, darkness. C – Eb – G

Dominant 7th – edginess, tension. C – E – G – Bb

Major 7th – softness, optimistic. C – E – G – B

Minor 7th – moodiness, mellowness. C – E – b – G – Bb

Dominant 9th – openness, surprise, optimism. C – E – G – Bb – D

Diminished – fear, shock, suspense. C – Eb – Gb – A

7th Minor 9th – fear, tension, complexity. C – E – G – Bb – Db

4th Chord – suspension, light tension. C – F – G

these are the most simple voicings in the example above,

notice that if you hold the chord in a different inversion, the sound may change.

inversion – the order of the notes from the lower note to the higher one, or vice versa.

for example lets take the 4th Chord with the previous voicing, C – F – G.

if you hold the chord like that : G – C – F, it’s still the same voicing but the tension is a little more obvious now.


one more technique to use when you connect your chords to emotions,

when you have something like a Cadd9 Chord, that means the notes : C – E – G – D.

some musicians I worked with simply see this chord as a Major Chord with an extension, and in their language : a Colorful Major Chord.


listen to Michele Petrucciani  (Amazing Jazz Pianist) using chord extentions to add colors to the piece, while he plays “September second”,

in 0:37 the use of chord extensions can be heard more obviously.


the effect of chords on our mind is of course marvelous, and will add some nice colors to our music,

but be aware that putting those chords in different chord progressions will change their meaning and their effect as well.


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