Different chord *qualities* produce different feelings when you hear them. Major chords sound happy, restful, peaceful. Minor chords sound sad, final, and scary. Dominant chords can sound bluesey, restless, and even crazy. There are other chord qualities and feelings that go with them.
Where do these chord qualities come from? From the arrangement of the chord's notes or *degrees.* The basic chord degrees are the root, third and fifth.
Each degree adds something to the chord's feeling. The root gives the chord its stability, its base, its "purpose in life." The fifth degree, together with the root, can stabilize or destabilize a chord. An unstable chord produces a restless feeling. The third degree gives the chord its sweetness, its happiness or sadness.
(From Guitar Chords, pg. 20, "Root, Third and Fifth")
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