How to distinguish sus4 chords vs sus2

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rovis77
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How to distinguish sus4 chords vs sus2

Postby rovis77 » Jun 14, 2016 1:07 pm

Hi, I am having a hard time differentiating by ear between sus4 and sus2 chords. Any suggestions?. thanks

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Chrisgjazzgig
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Re: How to distinguish sus4 chords vs sus2

Postby Chrisgjazzgig » Jun 21, 2017 10:39 am

Did you get anywhere? I am also struggling with this.

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Quentin
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Re: How to distinguish sus4 chords vs sus2

Postby Quentin » Jun 22, 2017 6:35 am

I don't know if that can help you, but for me Sus2 gives a sense of holding the chord back, it's 'behaving', being 'distinguished' or 'modest' somehow, whereas Sus4 sounds more like it's 'pushing forward', trying to 'break boundaries', or 'running away'. This has maybe something to do with the fact that the middle tone is moved down or up compared to a Major triad. Sus2 is being somehow conservative, while Sus4 is more of an adventurer. I know it sounds a bit silly, but it works for me :D It hope it makes sense.
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Chrisgjazzgig
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Re: How to distinguish sus4 chords vs sus2

Postby Chrisgjazzgig » Jun 26, 2017 3:10 am

Thanks for that Quentin. I've used this kind of labelling to help me learn intervals and I found that it was useful. In terms of chords, simple associations of 'Happiness' with major chords and 'Sadness' with minor chords are very effective because the two chords are so distinct (as are the two emotions). However despite finding terms like 'conservative', 'adventurer', 'modest' useful, they are much more perceptive (and likely subjective). So whilst I have a reasonable idea of what you are getting at, the differences are more subtle. I suspect I've not heard enough of the chords in use within compositions. Can you list any compositions or particular recordings that use the Sus2 and/or Sus4 chords which you've listened to, so I can get a better idea of what you mean? Thanks again I find this labelling system useful.

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Quentin
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Re: How to distinguish sus4 chords vs sus2

Postby Quentin » Jun 26, 2017 3:33 am

If you want to use a reference song, then I think 'I need you' by the Beatles can work great. It includes both a triad, Sus2 and Sus4, so it's a good reference to compare and memorize all three in one stroke.
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Henry001
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Re: How to distinguish sus4 chords vs sus2

Postby Henry001 » Aug 26, 2017 3:55 am

I don't know how to help you. So sad :cry:

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rmatosinhos
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Re: How to distinguish sus4 chords vs sus2

Postby rmatosinhos » Jan 20, 2018 5:39 am

The feeling can help you to distinguish them harmonically. While melodically it helps to hear if the Major 2nd is close to the top or the bottom note

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Ed_in_FL
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Re: How to distinguish sus4 chords vs sus2

Postby Ed_in_FL » Feb 17, 2018 8:55 am

I have trouble with this too. When I flip back and forth between sus2 and sus4, I can clearly hear the note moving between 2 and 4. However, when I hear the chords in isolation, with no context, I have difficulty identifying them. It surprises me. I wonder why.

One thing I have thought of is that there is some built in ambiguity. For example, Csus2 = Gsus4, inverted. So that might be confusing my ear or my brain. However, I suspect there is more to it than that.

Just for kicks, I recorded some sus2 and sus4 from EM7, and looked at the spectra using Transcribe! I can clearly see the 2 or 4 in the spectrum.

Sometimes I think I can clearly hear a P4, but when I listen to hear if there is another note a M2 above the top note, or a M2 below the bottom note, I am not sure if either note is really there.

I don't know how to interpret all this, so I am moving on for now, hoping to address it later.

Ed

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BillM
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Re: How to distinguish sus4 chords vs sus2

Postby BillM » May 26, 2018 7:53 am

There are some guitar (descending) strums during the verse of "Get Together" by the Youngbloods that feature a suspended 2 chord.

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BillM
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Re: How to distinguish sus4 chords vs sus2

Postby BillM » May 30, 2018 6:33 am

Another good example can be heard at the very beginning of "Woman" by John Lennon.

First chord is a suspended 4, followed by major, suspended 2 and then major.

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Oscarcaucaly
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Re: How to distinguish sus4 chords vs sus2

Postby Oscarcaucaly » Aug 27, 2020 2:43 pm

I find helpful Joshua by miles Davis bass pattern for ascending arpeggio and the speed of sound by Coldplay piano pattern for descending in sus 4 triad.

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chameleon
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Re: How to distinguish sus4 chords vs sus2

Postby chameleon » Oct 15, 2020 4:38 am

first try to find the root note. i find this can be tricky with sus chords, because they are somewhat ambivalent. after all a sus4 is an inversion of a sus2 and vice versa, so it's sometimes easy to confuse the root and the 5th. but try to focus on that perfect 5th interval between the root and the 5th. If you hear for the 4th, that can be treacherous, because it can be either from root to 4th (in case of sus4) or from 2nd to 5th(in case of sus2), so you have to firmly hear the 5th interval between root and 5th. Once you have established the root, it's only a matter of singing a major scale upwards from there and see if the 2nd or 4th fits. Also if you sing a major 3rd above the root, it will sound dissonant and clash with the sus4, but not with the sus2, that can be another helper.
sus-7th chords are easier to recognise to me because of that, because it's easier to find the root

this is like the slow beginners step by step snail pace recognition. after you have done this often enough, you will associate your own moods and colors with these chords and start to recognise them instantly. i find other's people associations like happy or sad or misterious, whatever, to be largely useless because you have to make them for yourself

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j_thornton
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Re: How to distinguish sus4 chords vs sus2

Postby j_thornton » Dec 14, 2020 8:37 am

I find this a really difficult exercise, but have found the following has helped me work towards reliable recognition.
As others have posted, the symmetry of the two chords (a sus-2 is just an inverted sus-4) makes it really hard to differentiate the two when played individually. Easy to tell the difference between, say, a C sus-2 and a C sus-4 when played back to back, but hard to identify a C sus-2 -vs- a G sus-4 which contains the same notes, but inverted.

What's helping me is to first identify the root and top note (which will be a P5th apart) and then to replay the chord to identify whether the inner note is a P2 above the root or a P2 below the top note.

It's actually fairly hard just to identify the root in some cases (because the P5 is so consonant that it's easy to hear either as the root or top note), so a progressive approach of clicking the root note to make sure you've got that clear in your head and then singing the intervals above is a good stepping stone. I still can't reliably identify the chords without a fair bit of chord repetition and audible singing to identify the intervals, but it does feel like I'm making more progress than just randomly guessing the chords and getting them wrong half the time...


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