Chords with added steps (add-chords)
Music Theory

Chords with added steps (add-chords)

What features greatly expand the “range” of chords?
Chords with added steps

With triads and seventh chords, additional steps are allowed. This means that one more note is added to the composition of the chord so that the interval between the added note and the extreme (top) note of the chord does not constitute a third. Otherwise, this chord will have a well-defined name. The added step is always above the main chord.

Chords of this type are indicated as follows: first the main chord is indicated, then the phrase ‘add’ and the number of the degree to be added. For example: Cadd9 – add the IX step to the chord C (C major) (this is the note D – “re”).

Below are the “C” and “Cadd9” chords. Compare the sound of these chords by clicking on the pictures.

C (C major)

C major

Cadd9 (IX step added)


The Cadd9 chord turned out to be dissonant.


It is necessary to pay attention to the following point. The added step must be higher than the main chord. For this reason, we do not write Cadd2 (the 2nd degree in our case is also a “D” note, but it is an octave lower than the IX degree and falls “inside” the chord). We take exactly the IX step, because. it is higher than the main chord. Although the notation of steps that fall “inside” the chord is quite common, it still means adding a note “on top”, and not inside. It’s just that a step with a lower index is easier to find.

Let’s consider an example to our remark. To the chord Am (A minor), add the note D (re). This note is the 4th note that falls inside the chord. It will not work, because the note must be added from above. But the XI step is just what you need.

Let’s formally build two chords based on Am with the addition of IV and XI steps and look at the result. In both cases, the note “re” is added: in the case of the fourth step, inside the chord; in the case of the XI step – on top of the chord.

Am chord


Accord Amadd11


Accord Amadd4


As a rule, if a step number is used inside the chord, in reality it is added all the same from above.


You got acquainted with the chords, to the composition of which one more step has been added.

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