Is there a chart, or website, or book somewhere that shows all the chords that use a particular note? Lets say I want to find a chord for the "C" in my melody. Now I want to know all the chords there are that contain the note C. Sounds like a simple request, and you'd think with the endless websites on chords, there would be just ONE somewhere with such a chart. There are websites with every other kind of "Finder" type chart, but not this kind. I can't believe this one is being so consistently overlooked. Isn't this the kind of chart you look for when reharmonizing a song, or finding chords for a new song? How on earth else would you do it? Of course there is the familiar limited list of chords most of us know - Cmaj, Cmin, C7, F, Ab, Am..........but what about the oodles of colorful chords the average Joe wouldn't think of? C'mon, someone somewhere HAD to put this chart together :) Where the heck is it?

  • Music doesn't have absolute rules, though there are systems with relatively strict ones. Those rely on the context of the note, however, you can't just match a chord to a note. It's a pretty complex area and yes, there are many books on it.
    – user28
    Jan 10, 2013 at 5:20

4 Answers 4


You need the Berklee list of 'available tensions'.

  • Maj7 chord can have 9th, sharp 11, 13th
  • Min7th can have 9th, 11th and 6th
  • Dominant 7th can have flat 9, natural 9, sharp 9, sharp 11, flat 13, natural 13
  • Min7(flat5) can have flat 9, natural9, 11th

That's it in a nutshell. I suggest checking out the books by Mark Levine.

  • Mark Levine - sounds familiar. Is there such a chart in one of his books? I'm not really looking for harmony theory, just a quick reference chart. I could make it myself, but figured someone already put in the time, don't want to have to reinvent the wheel, etc. I could also figure out the available chords when faced with a note, but I like to have a more "non-thinking" solution on hand because it's easier to keep track of what I've already tried.
    – Jim
    Jan 10, 2013 at 6:12

I think what you're missing is that you can move the shape of any chord to line up with different notes.

For example, of the few random chords you suggested...

Cmaj, Cmin, C7, F, Ab, Am

Three of these are redundant. F is the same shape as Cmaj, but down a 5th, Ab is the same shape as Cmaj, but down a major 3rd, and Am is the same as Cmin, but down a minor 3rd.

What you should focus on is learning shapes, or "flavors" of chords, and then practice those shapes on many different root notes.

Let's take a fun chord like C7(#9). It's got a root (C), a 3rd (E), 5th (G) dominant 7th (Bb) and #9 (D#). All of those note names are just decoded based on the intervals that make up the shape of 7(#9). Now I have twelve different 7(#9) chords that I can use--all I need to do is transpose the shape up or down.

Let's look at Eb7(#9): It still has the root, 3rd, 5th, dom7th, and #9 that make up the shape of the chord, but now the notes are Eb, G, Bb, Db, F#.

So, a syllabus of all chords and transpositions may or may not exist, but it would be fairly useless to most trained musicians. If you want to explore possible chord shapes, there are resources that you've already found, or you can practice diatonic triads and 7th chords using the notes of any given scale, OR the bottom of any Wikipedia page on chords has a pretty extensive list of different kinds. Most people learn this stuff by playing jazz standards out of a Real Book, though.


Jim, I would like to point out that your question is an unreasonable one. Asking someone to list chords or to conceptualize a chart that would contain all of the chords a given note ("C" in this instance) could belong in is like asking, "I like Oregano, can someone tell me all the foods I can put Oregano in?"

The truth is, there are an infinite number of foods than can have Oregano in them. Cooking and recipe books do not function in this way. If they did, they would be thousands of pages thick.

That said, you also ask a much more reasonable question, which more acutely illuminates what I believe to be your real question, which is "How do I know what chords to put with a melody?"

The answer is to learn about chord progressions.

In order to learn about common chord progressions, you need to understand a little bit about keys and how they function. In order to explain this without writing a book, I am going to circumvent a large volume of information.

The most common chord progressions heard in pop music involve three chords based off of the first, fourth, and fifth scale degrees of a given key. Let's use "C" as an example.

The notes in C major are C, D, E, F, G, A, B before repeating.

Therefore the most common chords in the key of C would be C (I), F (IV), and G (V).

By creating triads off of each of these pitches, we can see if any of the chords share common notes.

C (I) = C, E, G F (IV)= F, A, C G (V) = G, B, D

So you see that C and F both share the pitch "C". This is called a common tone. If your melody has a C and you are in the key of C using the three chords I outlined above, you could harmonize your melody with either C (I) or F (IV) since they share a note.

I would highly recommend picking up a book on beginning music theory. I would be happy to suggest one, but I am mostly aware of textbooks.

That said, you may want to look at "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Music Composition". It was a book I picked up many years ago when I had this same question, and it helped to point me in the right direction.

By all means you should use this answer as a starting point and not an ending point.

Hope this helps.


You've been given reasons why such a chart probably doesn't exist at all. Also, depending on how keen your ear is, using one will probably either produce bad results or you'll find out that it's actually not so useful after all. Finally, it would only restrict you since a good harmonization of a melody does not depend on the individual notes but longer lines and other context.

Anyway, it's not terribly difficult to make and use one:

  • Find a chart giving you chords for the root note C (these do exist).
  • For every note of the chromatic scale, find out which chords in this chart contain this note (this is needs some work). This will become your basic note->chord map. For example for the note C you would list every chord, for C# not so many (something like C7b9 would go here). For D you have Csus2, C9, and so on.

Now if you want to find "every" chord with the note D, you would go through the chromatic scale and for each note x take all the chords you found containing x and then transpose them by the amount required to make the note x into D. Like this:

  1. First C. For C you listed every chord. So you take every chord with root C and transpose them up by a whole tone (C->D = whole tone) to get every chord with root D. This step is in a way unnecessary since the original chart probably also contains every chord with root D.
  2. Then C#. For example C7b9 contained a C# (or Db). You take this and transpose it up by a half tone to get C#b9, which contains a D.
  3. Then D. Csus2 and C9 contained a D. Since you're already at D, you don't transpose these.
  4. For Eb your map probably contained Cm, Cm7, Cdim, ... Transpose these a half step down to get Bm, Bm7, Bdim. All of these contain a D as you can see.
  5. And so on.

You can either do this every time or use this procedure to produce a complete chart.


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