What is the root of a chord? And why do we need to know that?
First of all, each chord has a root note. And, mostly, this note is located at the lowest bass string or key we play.
The root note is the most stable note of the chord. All other notes gravitate towards this note. Simply put, if you would like to sing to a particular chord, you’ll sing a root note.
The root note gives a chord its name. We can create different types of chords from the same root: minor, major, dominant, sus, etc.
Am, A, A7 and Amaj7, for instance, all have the same root: A.
The other way around, by knowing the chord name, you can easily detect which root note it has.
For Cmaj7 the root is C.
For B7 the root is B.
For Ebm7 the root is Eb.
For Gsus the root is? Right, it’s G.
For guitar, piano and ukulele it is essential to know the root of the chord you want to play, and its location on the fretboard or keyboard.
In the case of the guitar, we play all universal (barre) chord shapes by finding the root note on the fifth or sixth string first. In the picture below, you can see two different shapes for the Bm chord, rooted on the sixth or fifth string.
Note that the root note is not always the same as the bass. There are many exceptions where the bass note of a chord is actually another note. The most common option is to play the third, fifth or seventh (in case of seventh chords) as a bass note. Here “third,” “fifth” and “seventh” refer to the notes of the scale related to this particular chord. These notes are also called chord tones, since they are part of the chord. This phenomenon of having a third, fifth or seventh in the bass is called inversion.
More to read:
Play all major and minor chords with four basic chord shapes