What Is The Difference Between Notes & Chords?

Did you know EVERY sound you hear has its own frequency? This is important so you can understand the difference between notes and chords!

What is the difference between notes and chords? The difference between notes and chords is that a note is a single pitch (for example C). Whereby, a chords is a group a notes (for example C, E, G). This is important in music theory because a note will have no characteristic when played on its own. However, when a chord is formed from a group of notes then this will form a certain feel of mood (E.g. happy, sad, bright or dark).

In this article we will go over notes and chords in more detail… Lets begin!

1. What is a Note in music?

Notes can represent the pitch and duration of a sound in musical notation.

In universal musical theory, musical notes are defined as pitches of sound, depicting how low or high they sound. For example, i low note will sound deeper than a high notes.

Knowing which notes to play is important when playing along to a piece of music so that you play in key of that piece of music. Else the notes you play will clash and sound bad. Overall, ruining the song you are playing to.

2. What is a Chord in Music?

A chord is a group of two or more notes occupying the same time duration in a piece of music. These notes do not have to be played simultaneously, and they don’t all have to be played by the same instrument.

A chord, in music, is any harmonic set of pitches/frequencies consisting of multiple notes that are heard as if sounding simultaneously.

When notes are grouped together you will hear something completely different in the feel and mood. For example, a note played on it own (lets say C) will sound bland and not mean anything. It will not signify any emotion or feeling.

  • C major Chord Example – When a C note is played with E and G, you will have a happy sound.
  • C Minor Chord Example – When that same C note is played with E flat and G you will have a sad sound.

Overall, chords signify the mood. However, knowing which notes to play over that chord will create melodies of that same mood.

3. What is a Key in Music?

In music theory, the key in the group of sound that sound good together.

A key explains why a composition sounds the way it does. For example, a key explains why a song sounds happy, or sad.

It then also indicates which notes and chord to play so that you can play along to that tracks,

For example, C major is a Key. If a song is written in C major then when we pick up the guitar and we can play along to it with the notes of the C major Key (C D E F G A B). If we play any of those notes then it will sound good as these notes all work well together.

4. Do Guitarists Need To Know Chords?

There is a misconception that lead guitarists do not need to know much about chords as they mainly specialise in playing separate notes and chords are the domain of rhythm guitarists.

This may ring true in the case of beginner and intermediate guitarists, for seasoned players, however, this is an entirely different story.

Having sufficient knowledge on music chords and how to form one will allow lead guitarists to play along with any melody by figuring out the chords and play the notes within them, knowing that they have done correctly.

Knowledge on musical chords also informs guitarists of how the notes are interacting with each other on the fretboard and from that to pull out the right notes in a chord or how to form chords that are complimentary to the overall performance.

Rich Wilde Music

My name is Richard Wilde and go by @richwildemusic on all major social channels. I am an artist, guitar player, and producer. I have been playing guitar for over 15 years and have come to learn the "tips" and "tricks" to enhance guitar playing, recording guitar, setting up guitar, and overall get that professional sound.

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