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Chord Qualities (Guitar Lesson)

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Matt Brown

Chord Qualities

Matt Brown introduces his new series on ear training. He covers basic chord qualities for the first training session.

Taught by Matt Brown in Ear Training with Matt Brown seriesLength: 39:01Difficulty: 1.5 of 5

Video Subtitles / Captions

Supplemental Learning Material


Member Comments about this Lesson

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iyamjoniyamjon replied on September 14th, 2017

Be better if he only played the chord once. At first a few times but then once there after. Otherwise ya think too much. Also, he plays the same chord differently on a few; by striking less strings. I suppose he is doing that to give you a hint by accentuating the flattened 3rd on a few?

BradleyABradleyA replied on January 4th, 2017

After failing an intervals test miserably, I decided to go through these lessons and see if I could improve my ear. So far, I have done very well. I missed 2 each on the first two tests (including the two Matt specifically said were meant to fool us), and 4 on the third test. Again, though, Matt specifically said these chords were much trickier, so all in all I think I did very well. At least I now know my ear isn't dead.

ChordAddictChordAddict replied on November 26th, 2015

I got 3 wrong. That's pretty good I guess.

lorenzo carmanlorenzo carman replied on June 9th, 2014

what is a bad or good score? i never had this kind of hear training before . 4 mistakes on the first test and five in test two and tree. is this good or bad?

bowchampbowchamp replied on April 13th, 2014

31/45... I kept mistaking the high e sound for major

furchmasterfurchmaster replied on March 3rd, 2014

holy i thought i would suck but ended up getting full marks for everything! (almost got q12 of quiz 3 wrong tho)

mcmurry1mcmurry1 replied on February 13th, 2014

Matt, I am just sucking at this... seem to get about half & no real pattern. I get the sense I'm over thinking. Plan is to just keep pressing into the lesson & hope it starts to gel. Is that a mistake?

ermchanermchan replied on November 4th, 2013

41/45..first 2 sections were 15/15 but the inversions gave me a hard time. especially the Bb/D chord had me really scratching my head. great lesson!

mattbrownmattbrown replied on November 6th, 2013

Well, that's still an awesome job! Yeah, the inversions are always harder. They'll start to jump out at you more after awhile though.

telboytelboy replied on July 16th, 2013

Matt. I got 26. The 3rd quiz I got 9/15 ! To me, a minor seems to "ask a question", rather than denote sadness. When I got that concept clear I improved. As u said, this is helpful for song-writing....and trying to find the chords to songs I like can be really hard, but as u imply, makes ear training engaging and some----times: fun!!

mattbrownmattbrown replied on July 19th, 2013

Awesome! yeah, take advantage of any word associations that might help you out. Go with whatever produces the best results for you. Like you said, this stuff isn't the most fun to practice, but it does help make songwriting and learning other people's songs easier / more fun. Anyway, glad to hear you're improving your skills!

bourque1bourque1 replied on April 26th, 2013

Should we also try to identify the root note? I found that i instantly recognized some of the chords you hear the most often (Dmin, C, G, Amin)

mattbrownmattbrown replied on April 29th, 2013

Yeah, that's definitely a helpful exercises as well!

bchang0999bchang0999 replied on April 19th, 2013

hey matt when im listening to guitar in alternate tunnings such as drop c drop a, and exc none of them sound kinda happy, any ideas?

mattbrownmattbrown replied on April 22nd, 2013

I think it's important to consider that the majority of bands out there that play in drop tunings tend to write more songs in minor tonalities than major tonalities. So, more of these songs are going to sound dark rather than upbeat. Also, when someone tunes down a half step, the music just seems to sound darker to me than standard tuning, even if the song is played in a major key. It's a strange thing. I think we're just used to hearing tonal centers like E, A, G, etc. on guitar. The tonal centers Eb, Ab, Gb, etc. just tend to sound a little darker and mysterious since we're not as accustomed to hearing them.

andrewardleandrewardle replied on April 17th, 2013

On the second quiz I got 14 out of 15! I'm making progress!

mattbrownmattbrown replied on April 18th, 2013

Congrats!! Keep up the good work!

elliott5elliott5 replied on April 4th, 2013

Thanks for this Matt. It is exactly what I need to spark my interest again This will stretch the ears a bit!

mattbrownmattbrown replied on April 5th, 2013

No problem! I realize this stuff isn't the most fun to work on, but it definitely pays off!

misha1dibbsmisha1dibbs replied on March 22nd, 2013

21/45 and better on the last two quizzes than on the first. Thanks, Matt. This is just what I need. I would describe myself as an advanced beginner and this will certainly help my progress.

mattbrownmattbrown replied on March 26th, 2013

Nice! Glad to hear that you did better on the last 2! Seems like you're improving already. I realize that this stuff isn't the most fun to work on, but trust me, it really pays off in the long run, especially if you want to learn songs by ear, sing, write songs, etc.

lewplaylewplay replied on February 9th, 2013

I didn' do to bad 36 out 45. i noticed that i mistake B relaited chords for minors is this common amoung begining ear training? I am very glad to have this here something i should have been working on for along time.

mattbrownmattbrown replied on February 11th, 2013

Hi! That's actually a really great score for someone that is just getting going with ear training! Yeah, I didn't really get into ear training until I had been playing for about 4 years. It's not terribly exciting to practice, but it starts to be really fun when you can listen to any song and instantly know how to play it.

lewplaylewplay replied on February 11th, 2013

Thanks for the complament I've been playing for about 20yrs. And i always thought my ear was kinda crappy. I hope training can bring me a whole new level of enjoyment.

mattbrownmattbrown replied on February 12th, 2013

You're welcome! I guess it's just like anything else...ear training just takes practice. Sure, some people naturally have an easier time than others, but there's no substitute for practice. For me, being able to learn songs quickly by ear has made playing way more enjoyable.

zeppelin007zeppelin007 replied on October 17th, 2012

nice quiz like the way you teach,quiz 1 9-15 quiz 2-10-15 quiz 3 6-15 first time for ear training.

mattbrownmattbrown replied on October 18th, 2012

Thanks! It's great to hear that people are learning from this! Quiz #3 is pretty tough. All I can suggest is to practice up on your just takes time and practice. Also, try to pick out the quality of chords as your listening to your favorite songs.

leybickleybick replied on October 14th, 2012

QUIZ 1 - 14/15 - I misidentified the G chord as dominant, I wonder if it has to do with the voicing, due to the open strings in the middle. QUIZ 2 - 14/15 - I missed B in the 7th fret position QUIZ 3 - 12/15 - Missed C/E, Bm and Bb/D. Quite a prevalence of issues with B chords in the last two two quizzes. Strange considering I play a baritone in B standard.

mattbrownmattbrown replied on October 15th, 2012

Cool! Good job! Yeah....inversions and unusual voicings are usually harder to hear since they are less common.

nyonyozinyonyozi replied on October 10th, 2012

43 outta 45! Whoop!

mattbrownmattbrown replied on October 10th, 2012


HelgiHeHelgiHe replied on October 7th, 2012

42 out of 45. I surprised myself :-)

mattbrownmattbrown replied on October 8th, 2012

Congrats! That's great!

jimmyzriffjimmyzriff replied on September 3rd, 2012

Okay, I'm really discouraged. I missed 19 and it appears the ones I got right are by chance. Are there cases where people just are tone deaf but can still play good music? I am not hopeful that I will improve with training.

mattbrownmattbrown replied on September 7th, 2012

Don't get discouraged!!! If you keep working at anything, you WILL get better! As I probably mentioned somewhere in these lessons, ear training comes pretty easily for some people and not others. We all have different natural strengths and weaknesses. Focus on your weaknesses when practicing and capitalize on your strengths when performing - even if it's just for yourself, a handful of friends, family, etc.

jimmyzriffjimmyzriff replied on September 12th, 2012

Thanks for the advice. I will do just that.

kingpinned89kingpinned89 replied on May 17th, 2012

Basically i mug up the chords and play them and identify them with the quiz .. ??

mattbrownmattbrown replied on May 20th, 2012

That's actually kind of the opposite of what you want to do...You just want to take the quiz and identify the quality of chord you're hearing...Don't look at the answers first...If you don't do well, don't worry about it! that's just a good indicator of something to work on.

kingpinned89kingpinned89 replied on May 17th, 2012

Hey matt.. I guess there are many types of chords of the same name .. so say i learn a G major .. there are many ways to play that .. so for the ear training purpose i may as well 'by heart' the chords given in the supplemental content and then proceed to the ear training ? IS that a good enuff way ? but it wont give me broad knowledge of indentification by ear am i right?

guitarsenninguitarsennin replied on May 18th, 2013

this lesson is just for identifying the chord "quality". So regardless of voicing, a dominant 7 chord SHOULD give the same sort of "bluesy" feeling, regardless of the voicing, and a major chord should sound "bright" and sort of umm...optimistic? So regardless of how the chord is voiced, you should aim to be able to guess the chord quality by ear. Later on is when you can get into "intervals" and use those to figure out chord voicings/inversions. For now, just focus on being able to tell what kind of chord it is.

yatta 428yatta 428 replied on May 9th, 2012

38/45 not too bad I think.

mattbrownmattbrown replied on May 11th, 2012

Nice work! Always room for improvement...

kingpinned89kingpinned89 replied on May 4th, 2012

hey matt very helpful lesson .. I went around the first quiz and got about 6-7 right of the 15 questions .. Anyway how do i work on knowing the names and types of different chords for the other quizzes.. ? What do you think is the best approach for learning chords .. ? Before starting the other lessons i need to know the chords and i have always found learning the CAGED system a bit hard.. Do reply as i am interested in your quizz and ear training lessons :)

mattbrownmattbrown replied on May 4th, 2012

Well, I think you'll personally have a way easier time with the ear training quizzes if you know how to play these chords and are already familiar with what they sound like...At this point, I would probably focus your time on learning the basic open chords and playing them musically in chord progressions. Then I'd suggest return to the ear training stuff...I think you'll find it a lot easier...When I first started, I worked through a book called Progressive Rhythm Guitar ( that really helped me...The more vocabulary you know (chords, scales, etc.) the easier the ear training will become and vice versa.

dranak992dranak992 replied on April 19th, 2012

If you have something like Am/C is that a major or minor chord? Major right?

mattbrownmattbrown replied on April 20th, 2012

Nope...that's a minor chord. If it has minor in the name, it's minor. Half diminished seventh chords are an exception...Those are often called "minor seven (flat five)" chords...I'm guessing Am/C might be tripping you up due to it's similarity to a C6 voicing (C, E, G, A)...These are the exact same notes as Am7, just in a different order. Also, the fifth within a major sixth chord (the G note in C6 for example) is often omitted...When that happens, you're left with the notes (C, E, A), which are the exact same notes in an A minor triad...The way in which you name the chord (C6 vs Am) depends on the way the chord is functioning within a musical context...For instance, if the progression is a I IV V in C, and the group of notes C, E, A are used as the first chord, we'd call it a C6 chord instead of Am, since the chord is functioning in the progression as some sort of C (I or tonic) in the progression.

rsg440rsg440 replied on March 4th, 2012

Thanks Matt, I missed 10 out of 45 and see my weakness. Great lesson and I hope to be at 100% soon.

mattbrownmattbrown replied on March 8th, 2012

Hey! 10 out of 45 is a pretty common score when you first get started. Keep up the practice and you'll get there! Learn to play by ear just as much as you learn materials from reading music/tablature.

rsg440rsg440 replied on March 4th, 2012

Enter your comment here.

dleach52dleach52 replied on January 4th, 2012

I've never done ear training but got 100% on the last quiz!!! pretty pumped

mattbrownmattbrown replied on January 4th, 2012

Nice! Some people definitely are just naturally better at this kind of stuff...You must be one of those people.

ddirks7907ddirks7907 replied on December 25th, 2011

Not too bad. I missed 8 questions. The inversions threw me off a bit though.

mattbrownmattbrown replied on December 27th, 2011

Yeah...the inversions are going to be harder just because they are used less frequently...Keep practicing and quizzing yourself!! Ideally, you want to get to the point where you're consistently getting every question right.

netojrnetojr replied on October 2nd, 2011

got them all right on the first quiz =D

mattbrownmattbrown replied on October 3rd, 2011

Nice! Sounds like you're ready for something more challenging.

samuncle005samuncle005 replied on September 9th, 2011

I got 11 wrong out of 45.............What should I do?

mattbrownmattbrown replied on September 16th, 2011

11 wrong out of 45 is pretty good. I'd look through and see if you notice a common thread amongst the questions you got run. For example, are you confusing dominant chords and major chords? Are inverted chords ("slash" chords) throwing you off? What I suggest you do is either come up with your own quizzes that focus on your weaknesses. Or, pick up some ear training software like MacGAMUT.

rick13175rick13175 replied on July 12th, 2011

Perhaps I missed something in the intro to the lesson, but I'm a touch confused on how to proceed. I'm having about a 75% success rate at determining the chord qualities but I don't know if i'm to play the quizes over and over until I (hopefully) can achieve 100% or move on to the next lesson in the series. Could you give some guidance please? Thanks.

mattbrownmattbrown replied on July 13th, 2011

Great question! What I recommend you do is come up with your own quizzes like the one in this lesson. Just come up with an answer key of some sort. Then, record yourself playing each of the "questions." Then, wait a few days and take the quiz. If you wait a few days, you'll forget the order of the answers and will not be tempted to cheat. I realize that this isn't the most fun use of practice time....I recommend that you also check out a program called macgamut. I believe a free trial version is available. It's basically an ear training software program with quizzes built into it. As far as the lessons on here are concerned, if you got a 75% on the first quiz, I'd say that you can move on to the next lesson. If you get below a 75%, I'd suggest that you do some practicing on your own before moving on to the next lesson.

samuelito2011samuelito2011 replied on June 24th, 2011

i least i can recognize which are major , minor or seventh...

mattbrownmattbrown replied on June 28th, 2011

Well, just like any other musical skill, ear training takes a lot of practice. Keep it up, and you'll get there!

kosmikgurlkosmikgurl replied on May 14th, 2011

Thank you for the lesson Matt. But I got 6 wrong--I didn't realise I suck so much.

mattbrownmattbrown replied on May 16th, 2011

No worries! Practice makes perfect. Keep working at it, and you'll eventually get better.

skaterstuskaterstu replied on October 4th, 2010

I got 3 wrong... some of it was flukey... Just to check, any chords with 7ths in the quiz are dominants right? Also B flat chord is a major?

mattbrownmattbrown replied on October 4th, 2010

right. If it has a "7" right after the root, then the chord is dominant. If a chord is just a root note and nothing else like Bb, than it is assumed that the chord is major.

jimgarveyjimgarvey replied on October 4th, 2010

I did OK, 60%. Its enough to give me encouragement and to also realise there is still a lot of work to do. Great job, Matt.

mattbrownmattbrown replied on October 4th, 2010

Hey everybody! Like I said in the lesson, this stuff takes practice. Think of participating in these quizzes as being similar to the first time you tried to play your first chord. It was really hard and frustrating right? But, with some practice, you eventually got it down. I suggest you work on ear training once a week to start off with. Either quiz yourself by recording some questions, try to learn a song by ear, or pick up some ear training software. If you continue to work at it, I promise that it will get easier, and you'll start to reap the benefits of your work.

andradeivanandradeivan replied on October 3rd, 2010

Awesome lessons, thanks

dave_irishmandave_irishman replied on October 3rd, 2010

Monster lesson Matt!

ramedyramedy replied on October 3rd, 2010

I think I have to to the doctor and get new ears installed!!!

danlefebvredanlefebvre replied on October 3rd, 2010

I totally failed the quizes -_- Good thing these series exist! :D

skaterstuskaterstu replied on October 2nd, 2010

Great stuff! My ears needs training...

dmvelzendmvelzen replied on October 2nd, 2010

Ear training lessons are a real good addition to the phase 2 lessons! Thanks Matt

flyrerflyrer replied on October 2nd, 2010

Good Job Matt, very helpful!

mattbrownmattbrown replied on October 1st, 2010

Hey guys! I'll get the answers to the quiz up tomorrow. Thanks for your patience!!!

dj.phillipsdj.phillips replied on October 1st, 2010


bobloblawbobloblaw replied on October 1st, 2010

Perfect! This is just what I needed!

Ear Training with Matt Brown

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Matt Brown provides instruction and exercise to facilitate ear training.

Lesson 1

Chord Qualities

Matt Brown introduces his new series on ear training. He covers basic chord qualities for the first training session.

Length: 39:01 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 2

Introduction to Intervals

Matt Brown offers up a lesson on how intervals are notated and their spacial relationships on the neck of the guitar.

Length: 48:58 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 3

Hearing Intervals

In lesson three of his ear training series, Matt Brown explains how to identify melodic intervals by ear.

Length: 52:34 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 4

Harmonic Intervals

In lesson four, Matt Brown demonstrates listening techniques for identifying harmonically stacked intervals.

Length: 33:46 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 5


Matt Brown discusses and demonstrates how to identify common chord progressions by ear.

Length: 30:09 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only

About Matt Brown View Full Biography Matt Brown began playing the guitar at the age of 11. "It was a rule in my family to learn and play an instrument for at least two years. I had been introduced to a lot of great music at the time by friends and their older siblings. I was really into bands like Nirvana, Alice In Chains, and Smashing Pumpkins, so the decision to pick up the guitar came pretty easily."

Matt's musical training has always followed a very structured path. He began studying the guitar with Dayton, Ohio guitar great Danny Voris. I began learning scales, chords, and basic songs like any other guitarist. After breaking his left wrist after playing for only a year, Matt began to study music theory in great detail. I wanted to keep going with my lessons, but I obviously couldn't play at all. Danny basically gave me the equivalent of a freshman year music theory course in the span of two months. These months proved to have a huge impact on Brown's approach to the instrument.

Brown continued his music education at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio. He completed a degree in Classical Guitar Performance in 2002. While at Capital, he also studied jazz guitar and recording techniques in great detail. "I've never had any desire to perform jazz music. Its lack of relevance to modern culture has always turned me off. However, nothing will improve your chops more than studying this music."

Matt Brown currently resides in Dayton, Ohio. He teaches lessons locally as well as at Capital University's Community Music School. Matt's recent projects include writing and recording with his new, as of yet nameless band as well as the formation of a cover band called The Dirty Cunnies.

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