What does it mean when there is sus written after a chord? Does it mean to hold or sustain the chord?
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Sus is an abbreviation for suspended, not sustained, so no, you aren't being told to hold the chord. There are two commonly used types of suspended chords:
sus4 - A sus4 chord replaces the 3rd scale degree in a chord with the 4th scale degree. So a triad spelled 1,3,5 becomes 1,4,5. the third degree is replaced by the fourth. For example, a DMajor chord, D,F#,A becomes D,G,A or Dsus4. The middle note or the third note is raised by a half step.
sus2 - The sus2 chord follows the pattern 1, TWO, 5, so if in a sus4 chord you play the root, fourth and fifth degrees, for a sus2 chord you play the root, second and fifth degrees. For example a Dsus2 chord is D,E,A. The middle note is lowered a half step.
That is very often what people mean when they day or write a sus chord, but in practice, alot of players include 3rd in their voicings, usually above the 4. Mark Levine's The Jazz Theory Book ends up defining a sus chord something like,,,a sus chord is a dominant 7 chord where the 4 isn't an "avoid" note.
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Friday December 15, 2017