What are sus chords?

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What are sus chords?

Postby Bob Lewis » Tue Oct 30, 2007 7:29 pm

Q: What are sus chords?

A: sus means Suspended. You will typically see it as sus4 (suspended fourth).
The "suspended" part comes from raising the middle note of a major triad like a G chord (GBD) by one half step. Gsus4 would be GCD. A suspended chord is a passing chord that demands resolution to a major chord or 7th. A typical chord progression would be I, IV, Vsus4, V7, I. In the key of G that would be G, C, Dsus4, D7, G. Suspended chords are used on the I chord also and resolve to the I chord. A progression of Gsus4 to G would be the AMEN sound. The 4 designation comes from the middle note of the chord being the fourth note of the corresponding diatonic scale, beginning in the root position.

Common suspended chords would be as follows:

Bbsus4 -Bb/Eb/F
Fsus4 - F/Bb/C
Csus4 - C/F/G
Gsus4 - G/C/D
Dsus4 - D/G/A
Asus4 - A/D/E
Esus4 - E/A/B
Bsus4 - B/E/F#

Each would be paired with its related 7th chord, e.g., Dsus4 and D7. There is no place to put these chords except on a diatonic instrument. They do not have enough priority and versatility to demand a place on a chromatic instrument, forcing some other chord to be removed. I use them a lot and have had to be creative in devising chord layouts that make sense to me. There is no perfect system that I have found. The following FC diatonic chord set is an example of a chord layout using suspended 4th chords:

Fsus4 Csus4 C7 G7-3
Bb F C F6
FM7 Gm Dm Am
Bob Lewis
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