Most of the time I can figure out what chord is being played by just seeing the notes. I do this by looking at the first note (note in which I feel the chord is changed) when I think the chord changed, and then try to match it with all chord triads. For example, if the first note is G, I assume it is the C or E chord by matching the triads. (This seems to be correct 85% of the time.)

There is one song I found, however, that doesn't seem to work with this theory. Say I have the following lyrics and their respective chords:

Am. .................. D.....

...............I love you .......

The chord changes from Am to D by the 'you' word lyrics.

I found the note melody when at 'you' word is note E but the chord is D. How can it be an E note? As far as I know, D chord triads is D F A and there's no E.

  • 4
    Naming chords is a more subtle art than as you describe; certainly melody notes often stray from triadic harmony into the chord extensions (E is the 9th of a D chord), or even further into nonchord tones. It is true that often the melody note lands on a 1 or 3 or 5 at a chord transition. It is also true that often there is more than one way to name the same chord, and often more than one chord that suits a melody. As with everything, practice....
    – user39614
    Commented Jul 1, 2019 at 15:36
  • In "if the first note is G, I assume it is the C or E chord by matching the triads", don't you mean the Em chord instead of the E chord? The E chord contains a G# instead of a G, while the Em chord actually contains a G.
    – Dekkadeci
    Commented Jul 2, 2019 at 7:54
  • What is the song that you are examining? As it is, there are many explanations without enough info to narrow it down... Commented Oct 31, 2019 at 11:54

1 Answer 1


The basic D triad (when not specifying major/minor, the default is major) consists of: D - F# - A (not an F, that would be a minor third, making it a D minor triad). However, we can stack many other notes on top of this and still talk about a 'major D chord'.

Take this chord symbol for example: Dmaj9. Read this as D major 9. This symbol tells us that this is a D major chord, with a major seventh and a major second. So the notes would stack as follows: D - F# - A - C# - E. The E, being the 9 in the chord symbol, is basically a 2 (major second) but an octave higher.

Very often a melody sings notes from the scale, not necessarily notes in the triad. So a melody that goes: D - E - F#, sounds perfectly fine while singing over a simple D major triad. You are right that the E note, doesn't belong in a simple D major triad. But that doesn't mean the two won't go together.

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