Suspended Breakdown on IVsus4?

Here we look at a theory problem - the logic you'll learn in this lesson is essential for music problem-solving! :)

View the full lesson at Suspended Breakdown on IVsus4? | JustinGuitar

I’ve always loved the sound of sus chords and use them a lot, particularly sus 4. Southern man by Neil Young was the first song, way back as a teenager, where I first consciously heard one being used.
Playing around with the idea you suggested, of seeing which chords in a key work to sustain, the first thing I tried was playing an F sus 4 after a C chord – and my ear liked it. Then I realized that I often play the fourth chord as a suspended 4th, as I like to hammer on the D note when playing A when in the key of E – though I more often make the root chord into a sus 4 as the added 4th note naturally leads to the fourth chord. i.e. E add the A note.
This may be jumping ahead with the theory, but making the fourth chord a sus 4 fits perfectly with the mixolydian mode – which a lot of rock and roll uses. I didn’t know this when I started my theory journey and I was confused about how what I was learning of the major scale didn’t work for a lot of rock and roll – and it’s really just one note that changes so much.
One thing I hadn’t thought about before this lesson, is that, given the fingering of the chords, I only play certain sus chords. I had never thought about the fact that I never play an E sus 2. I also (talking about open chords here mainly) don’t play sus 2 C or G – though it wouldn’t be difficult – but instead I play the ninth chord – adding the A note to G chord, or D note to C. I’d not really thought about the ninth and eleventh chords being a form of sustained chords.

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Great stuff @Marktroubadour seems like you’re connecting things and having fun. :slight_smile:

They aren’t sus chords they are add 9 or add 11 chords. A sus or Suspended chord has no 3rd.
Adding the A to a G chord still has 2 B notes. B is the 3rd of G
Same as Adding the D to the C chord you still have 2 E note E is the 3rd.

By definition a sus chord is a Chord where the Major or minor 3rd is replaced by a perfect 4th
or major 2nd. So as long as you have a 3rd (Major or minor) in the chord its not a sus chord.

Gsus2 works if you play the 4 finger(rock G) and lift off the B (A string)
Esus2 is a little trickier in open position

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Good catch @stitch :+1:

In this Lesson its stated that the Fsus2 is F G C shouldn’t the G be a G# and in the Gsus2 G A D shouldn’t the A be a A#?

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@jeb1155 a sus 2 chord replaces the 3rd with the 2nd so the B in the G chord moves a full tone down to A same with the A in the F chord.
Sus 4 chords move the 3rd up to the 4th one semi tone.

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Really enjoying these Sus chords. Just had a bit of a play and am I
right in thinking that in the key of A - the 3rd is the C#, and that a C#sus2 is replacing the E (C#EG#) with a D#? I think it sounds really nice in the key of A despite D# not being in the Key of A. Any reason for this?

Hello Scott and welcome to the community.
I’m glad you’re enjoying the lessons.

Yes, any A suspended chord will lose the C# note.
A major = 1, 3, 5 = A, C#, E
A sus2 = 1, 2, 5 = A, B, E
A sus4 = 1, 4, 5 = A, D, E

From the key of A, the C# chord is C# minor so yes, that is correct analysis.

C# minor = 1, b3, 5 = C#, E, G#
C# sus2 = 1, 2, 5 = C#, D#, G#
C# sus4 = 1, 4, 5 = C#, F#, G#

I’m still not quite sure what you have done and what you are asking.

Cheers :smiley:
| Richard_close2u | JustinGuitar Official Guide, Approved Teacher & Moderator

Hi Richard,

I’ll try to explain a little more succinctly.

I want to know why a C#sus2 (C# D# G#) sounds good with an A major. Considering D# is not in the key of A?

Justin’s vid above led me to believe that if a bus chord has a note in it that is not in the key that your playing in it could sound a little off. Eg the F# not being in the key of C.

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Hi Scott, thanks for the clarification. In light of it I have edited my post accordingly and will add further. It was my misunderstanding.
You are correct - the note D# from a chord of C#sus2 is not diatonic to the key of A major. C#sus2 should not sound good because it is theoretically incorrect for the key.
You say that is does sound good.
As Justin repeatedly says and writes in the lesson, your ears trump the theory every time.