Dissonant guitar chords: 5 voicings that will add suspense and tension to your playing

Andy Summers, live onstage with the Police at Reading Festival, 1979
(Image credit: Pete Still/Redferns)

The term ‘light and shade’ might be well-used, but it does describe some very important qualities in music. For example, the ‘tension and release’ of Dsus4 to D major, or even a V-I progression such as C7 to F.

Taking this concept a bit further, film score and classical composers often use dissonance, tension and release to build and resolve suspense. Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No 5 is a masterclass in this. 

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Richard Barrett

As well as a longtime contributor to Guitarist and Guitar Techniques, Richard is Tony Hadley’s longstanding guitarist, and has worked with everyone from Roger Daltrey to Ronan Keating.