What chords Are Used In Lo-fi?

Most genres are so specific in the way they’re composed. One genre that is a great example of this is Lo-fi which simply refers to Low Fidelity music.

In this post I’m going to explore some of the chords that are used in Lo-fi so that any beginner with an interest in the genre can easily get started.

So many people ask me this and I thought writing out a full blown article would be insightful than may be replying to an email or giving a verbal answer.

Without wasting time, let’s get right into it..

What chords are used in Lo-fi?

Lo-fi uses Jazz chords which are mainly C maj 7, C min 7, C min 9, Other 7th and 9th chords.

Of courses there are different chord combinations that you borrow from Jazz to make your Lo-fi beats. Go for the chords that fit what you’re looking for.

Major Seventh Chord

In music, a major seventh chord is simply a seventh chord in which the third is a major third above the root and the seventh is a major seventh above the root.

The major seventh chord, sometimes is sometimes called a Delta chord, which is written as maj7, M7  etc.

The “7” doesn’t have to be superscripted, but if it is, then any alterations or changes such as added tones, or omissions are usually also superscripted.

For example, the major seventh chord built on C, commonly written as Cmaj7. It has pitches C–E–G–B:

Sixth Chord

The term sixth chord refers to two different kinds of chord, the first is common in classical music while the second is common in modern popular music.

The original meaning of the term is a chord in first inversion, in other words; with its third in the bass and its root a sixth above it.

This is basically how the term is still used in classical music today, and in this sense it is called also a chord of the sixth.

Major 9th and Dominant 9th

There is a fundamental difference between a major ninth chord and a dominant ninth chord.

A dominant ninth is combination of a dominant chord with a minor seventh and a major ninth.

A major ninth chord like Cmaj9, as an extended chord, adds the major seventh along with the ninth to the major triad.

Therefore, a Cmaj9 consists of C, E, G, B and D.

When the symbol “9” is not follwed by the word “major” or “maj” (e.g., C9), the chord is a dominant ninth.

That is, the implied seventh chord is a dominant seventh, i.e. a major triad plus the minor seventh, to which the ninth is added: e.g., a C9 consists of C, E, G, Bb and D.

C dominant ninth (C9) would usually be expected to resolve to an F major chord ( which is the implied key, C being the dominant of F).

The ninth is commonly chromatically changed by half-step either up or down to create more tension and dissonance. 

In the common practice period, “the root, 3rd, 7th, and 9th are the most common factors present in the V9 chord,” with the 5th, “typically left out”.

The ninth and seventh usually resolve downward to the fifth and third of I.

Lydian Chord

In jazz music, the lydian chord is the major 7 # 11 chord, or simply # 11 chord, the chord built on the first degree of the Lydian mode, the sharp eleventh being a compound augmented fourth.

Lydian chords may sometimes function as subdominants or substitutes for the tonic in major keys.

The interval of the sixth is used even though it is described after other compound intervals, and perhaps should also be a compound interval ( like the thirteenth).

The dominant 7 # 11 or Lydian dominant (C7 # 11) comprises the notes:

r, 3, (5), ♭7, (9), ♯11

Basing this chord on the pitch C results in the following pitches:

C, E, G, B♭, (D), F♯

The same chord type may also be voiced:

C, E, B♭, F♯, A, D, F♯

This voicing omits the perfect fifth G and raises the major ninth D by an octave. The augmented eleventh (F#) is also played twice in two different registers. This is what is called “doubling”.

Final Thoughts

Lofi is a subtle and cool genre that mimics and utilizes many elements of Jazz.

This why Jazz chords are the best chords for lofi.

You can think of lofi as the modernised low fidelity Jazz!