Relationship between sus2 and sus4 chords


maggior
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maggior
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11/14/2013 4:06 pm
The other day I was messing around on my guitar with open sus2 chords. So I was playing a Asus2 chord and thinking about voicings and inversions thought "what if I played the 2nd (a B) an octave lower". I did that and found that I was playing an Esus4. I tried the same with a Dsus2 - play the 2nd which is an E an octave lower, and how I was playing an Asus4.

Are these just different names for the same thing? Is there any significance to this? I found it interesting, but I don't know if it really means anything.
# 1
Kasperow
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Kasperow
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11/14/2013 8:20 pm
I've messed around with those chords the same way a while back when I first started learning about them, and I found out (with the help from a wikipedia-article) that sus2 chords are the First Inversion of sus4 chords. For example, a Gsus2 has the notes G, D and A, while a Dsus4 has D, A and G. Likewise, sus4 chords are the Second Inversion of sus2 chords.

Basically, you can just call it whichever name you want. It will still be the same chord (although you can alter the voicing by moving a note up or down an octave).

I think that's basically it. I'm not exactly an expert though. That would be Christopher Schlegel :cool:
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# 2
maggior
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maggior
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11/14/2013 11:15 pm
That's how I stumbled across this - I was trying to figure out some inversions.

Thinking about this more, I guess you can get clever creating a melody over these chords because they are vague in their definition - they are neither major or minor, and could fit in with a couple of scale keys since they can be named 2 different ways.

The circle of 5ths seems like it may have something to do with this as well since, using Asus2/Esus4 as an example, E is the 5th of A (in a C scale at least).

Yes, Christopher is definitely the resident expert on this stuff. Perhaps he'll chime in.

I'll check wikipedia too - good idea.

Thanks!
Rich
# 3
ChristopherSchlegel
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ChristopherSchlegel
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11/15/2013 1:27 am
Originally Posted by: maggiorAre these just different names for the same thing? Is there any significance to this?[/QUOTE]
You can name any given chord from the perspective of any given note. The general principle is to aim for conceptual clarity & perceptual ease.

For example, you can take any group of notes and use any one of them as the root. Then identify the intervals from that root to each other note involved.

Let's use these notes: A, B, E.

If we choose the A to be the root, then we get:

A - root
B - 2nd
E - 5th

Asus2

If we choose the B to be the root, then we get:

B - root
E - 4th
A - minor 7th

B sus4min7 (no 5th)

If we choose the E to be the root, then we get:

E - root
A - 4th
B - 5th

E sus4

You can even pick a note not present!

If we choose the C to be the root, then we get:

C - root
E - major 3rd
A - major 6th
B - major 7th

C maj7 add6 (no root, no 5th)

Lots of options! So, which one should we use? The one that makes the most sense according to the context of the musical situation in which the chord is used.

If we are playing this:

|--------------------------------------------|
|--------------------------------------------|
|--2--2--2--2--2-----------------------------|
|--2--2--2--2--2-----------------------------|
|--2--4--5--2--4-----------------------------|
|--------------------------------------------|

Then it should be Asus2, because clearly the other chords surrounding it are rooted on A & this is ornamental embellishment of an A major chord (Asus2, A, Asus4, A).

But if we find that same chord in this situation:

|--------------------------------------------|
|--------------------------------------------|
|--2--1------2--1----------------------------|
|--2--2--4---2--2----------------------------|
|--2--2--2---2--2----------------------------|
|---------0----------------------------------|

Then it should be Esus4, because in this case the other chords surrounding it are rooted on E & this is ornamental embellishment of an E major chord (Esus4, E, Esus2, E).

And if we find it here:

|--------------------------------------------|
|--------------------------------------------|
|--2--2---0----------------------------------|
|--2--2---2----------------------------------|
|--2--3---3----------------------------------|
|--------------------------------------------|

I'd be willing to call it a C maj7 add6 (no root, no 5th) because the chord tones move toward a C major chord. But, it might make more sense to call it an Asus2 because the next chord is a first inversion A minor, all of which is in the key of C.

So, the lesson here is that while it's possible to assign complex names to a chord, it is not always the best option because it is not efficient. In this case, it doesn't help clarify anything about what's happening in the music, how the voices are moving. But in the earlier examples it was very clear that the name helped (rather than hindered) understanding of what was happening in the music.
[QUOTE=maggior]I found it interesting, but I don't know if it really means anything.

Not really. Certain groups of suspended chords are often very close to each other because they have groups of notes a 2nd, 4th or 5th apart. Same thing for diminished or augmented chords. They have very similar intervals, so are often interchangeably named. Again, the name comes down to how it functions in the context of the situation.

Hope this helps! Ask more if necessary!
Christopher Schlegel
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# 4
maggior
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maggior
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11/15/2013 2:04 am
Thanks Christopher for the detailed answer. You've explained something like this before, but it makes more sense to me now since it's explained in the context of my own observation.
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Slipin Lizard
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Slipin Lizard
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11/15/2013 4:15 am
Christopher, thank you for that great explanation!
# 6
ChristopherSchlegel
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ChristopherSchlegel
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11/15/2013 3:53 pm
You guys are welcome!
Christopher Schlegel
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rick bourne
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rick bourne
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08/11/2018 8:39 pm

best thing i like is no major or minor in to the clouds


# 8

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