The theory behind building and naming chords.

learn more… | top users | synonyms (1)

29
votes
6answers
2k views

What notes are optional in jazz chords?

I have a question on jazz chords, and what notes can be removed from the chord. My understanding is fairly superficial - mostly from what I've read in books. This is what I understand: In some ...
22
votes
3answers
825 views

Playing a Coltrane polychord and the limits of space

As I was the reading sheet music for John Coltrane's A Love Supreme, I noticed a chord I had never seen before. It looks like this: I'm familiar with slash chords, but never had to practically ...
19
votes
1answer
8k views

What does a triangle mean in chord notation?

For example, what does the △ mean in C△7?
16
votes
3answers
1k views

Why are thirds used to construct chords?

I am (slowly) learning music theory on the guitar. I've begun learning about scales and chords, and it seems that all chords are built using some combination of thirds. For example, a minor triad is ...
16
votes
2answers
1k views

Am I allowed to add a b9 to a maj7 chord in Jazz?

On Jazzology chapter 2, exercise 6, example 2, I have to identify this chord (if it exists): I thought that it was Cmaj7(b9). My train of thought was (from the lowest to the highest note): C -> ...
15
votes
8answers
546 views

Can a chord contain both the C and C♯ notes? (as opposed to containing C and D♭ notes)

Can a chord contain both the C and C♯ notes? Or do you always have to use D♭ rather than C♯ in a chord that already contains the note C? I'm guessing the answer is no, both C and C♯ should not be ...
15
votes
7answers
3k views

What determines a chord's name?

I have very little knowledge of music theory (enough to know what's the major scale and how to find the major chord of a note) but I know a good number of chords by name and could figure out the ones ...
15
votes
3answers
835 views

Why does a Cm13 chord use A instead of Ab?

Why, if the 13th (or, the 6th) of a C minor chord is Ab, and not A.
14
votes
2answers
913 views

Scale modification in sus2 and sus4 chords

I've recently been looking at what makes chords what, and hence my first target for this was looking at major, minor, sus2, and sus4 chords. I know major chords are made up of the first, the third, ...
12
votes
2answers
969 views

Why do notes have multiple names?

I've seen the same note called different names. Why is this the case and are there times to use one name over another?
12
votes
2answers
641 views

Does a diminished first exist?

Are there any instances where the first note in a scale/chord is "diminished"? For instance, could a Db occur in a D chord, where the context explicitly requires that this is a Db (diminished first) ...
12
votes
4answers
616 views

Chord analysis: b13 or #5

I've come across an exercise in the Jazzology "jazz theory" book, where the chord should be identified, given the notes below: I identified it as a B7#5#9, but the answer was B7#9b13. I'm guessing ...
11
votes
7answers
2k views

Why does the dominant chord contain a flattened 7th?

Why does the dominant chord contain a flattened 7th while this tone is not even in the scale? Let's take for example a C7 chord. It is a 1-3-5-b7 (C-E-G-Bb). But the C major scale does not contain Bb. ...
11
votes
7answers
1k views

Is Emajor the dominant chord in A minor?

I read somewhere that Emajor is the dominant (V) chord in A minor. Is this correct? If so, why is it not Eminor, since the A minor scale has no sharps or flats in it?
11
votes
5answers
5k views

Melody improvisation over chords

My question deals with what scale to play over a given chord progression. For example, consider a progression containing I,II,IV,V in C. I.e., the rhythm guitar is playing C, Dmin, F, and G... My ...
11
votes
6answers
822 views

“slash” chords, e.g. B/F♯ - are these only for inversions, or can any note be the bass note?

I'm trying to work out whether it is technically correct to have a "slash" chord where the bass note is not one of the notes in the chord. I thought the main reason for slash chords is to show which ...
11
votes
3answers
261 views

Why are two pitches considered a chord?

According to Wikipedia, a chord is any harmonic set of two or more notes that is heard as if sounding simultaneously. But I always thought that two notes aren't a chord, they are an interval. ...
10
votes
4answers
7k views

What are the feelings & emotions behind chords?

I studied some different books on Music Theory and all were too much scientific and definitely very helpful to some point. Now that I have started writing some songs, I feel I need to know more ...
10
votes
4answers
2k views

Chord naming conventions: add2 versus add9

I'm confused about the chord naming convention for the chord C-D-E-G. Is it Cadd2 or Cadd9? Similarly, I'm confused about the chord C-E-F-G. Is it Cadd4 or Cadd11? EDIT: I understand what is the ...
10
votes
10answers
3k views

What is the full list of possible chord names? Are there chords that don't have a name in chord theory?

My chord book covers 35 different chord types. When I look on the web or in other tools, all the same types of chords come up. But I don't think this is the "full" set of possible chords. I'm not ...
10
votes
6answers
208 views

Why aren't intervals zero-indexed?

Note: italics such as "2nd" refer to my proposed notation; existing notation is written without italics: "2nd". Why is the interval between C and D called a 2nd, as they are 1 note apart? Surely this ...
9
votes
5answers
954 views

Are there any enharmonic chords?

Will I even encounter any enharmonic chords? For example would an inverted variation of one chord be equivalent to the root variation of another chord?
9
votes
2answers
246 views

Naming convention for augmented 6th chords

There are three types of Augmented 6th chord the German, the Italian, and the French. Most chords are named for the intervals they contain or their function, but these seem like just arbitrary names ...
9
votes
5answers
472 views

Looking for letter-based chord identification algorithms, and related literature

I'm searching for chord recognition algorithms that will assign a chord name(s) to a group of notes, and related literature. Sometimes known as reverse chord identification, where you feed notes to ...
8
votes
7answers
2k views

Do power chords have some kind of function/meaning?

Every guitar player runs into these at least once (and probably way more often, too): power chords. This is a general term for chords consisting of the root note, the fifth, and an octave. In most ...
8
votes
3answers
5k views

Classical music theory notation for chord inversions (figured bass)

In classical music harmony analysis, we see the chord inversions notated like I6/4, I6, V4/3. Examples: What are those numbers? How do they define the inversion? What's the theory behind using ...
8
votes
2answers
299 views

What do you call a Major chord with a natural 4?

I have seen a few singer/songwriters use this and Incubus, though I can't think of which songs in particular. I've seen it done with a Dmaj most frequently. The 4 appears a half-step above the 3, ...
8
votes
2answers
1k views

Why play out of scale notes as part of a chord?

So, I'm learning 'Stray Cat Strut' right now and came across something I'm not sure I understood. I have to say, I've only just begun to learn theory, so maybe that's why. Anyway, as far as I can ...
8
votes
3answers
387 views

What is the meaning of '/5+' in a chord?

I'm trying to learn this song in piano: http://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/a/antonio_carlos_jobim/corcovado_crd.htm What does /5+ or /5- means? Example: Abm6/5+ Does it mean bass is the fifth ...
8
votes
3answers
369 views

What is a “D-10” Chord?

I found a Paul McCartney Song..."Maybe I'm Amazed"... that showed a chord that still has me stumped: D-10 is the name of the chord Now, I understand that most chord names are 'even' (as opposed to ...
8
votes
2answers
335 views

How do you name chords in 20th Century Music? (Chords stacked in intervals other than 3rds)

This question stems from some thoughts on List of possible trichord/triad names.. When you stack chords in 3rds, you get all the standard chord names of Major, minor, 7 etc, but what about when ...
8
votes
7answers
1k views

Why are the chords C-E-G and G-C-E both considered C Maj?

Can someone explain to me in layman's terms why that is the case?
8
votes
2answers
511 views

Max Size of a Chord

I was recently looking at the the definition of a chord and got me thinking about the max size of a chord. A chord, in music, is any harmonic set of three or more notes that is heard as if ...
8
votes
3answers
637 views

What is A flat to C minor?

I know that Cm is the relative minor of Eb. I noticed the Eb chord is made up of two of the same notes of Cm (beginning on the third degree). Ab is also made up of two of the same notes, but on the ...
8
votes
1answer
239 views

What is the theory behind a chord progression like E, Bm, C#, A#, G and B?

I was playing the chords from Pyramania by The Alan Parsons Project. In the verse from 0:17 the chords are E, Bm7, E, Bm7, C#, A#, G, B. I get the first four chords, E and Bm7 fit in the same scale. ...
7
votes
4answers
2k views

Does the C chord change based on what key it's in?

Typically, the "C" is played like this in the key of C: But when I play another song, in the key of D, is the C chord still played like this? If not, how do I play it on the guitar? Likewise, if ...
7
votes
3answers
533 views

Does a chord need to include its root?

While I understand that it is very important to include the root note in a chord, is it required? Let's say I'm in C Major, and I want to play a I chord. Do I need to include C in order for it to be ...
7
votes
5answers
391 views

How do enharmonic notes affect harmony and chord progressions?

Quoting the Wikipedia article: The notes C♯ and D♭ are enharmonic (or enharmonically equivalent) notes. Namely, they are the same key on a keyboard, and thus they are identical in pitch, although ...
7
votes
5answers
403 views

Proper symbol for this chord (1 5 7 9 11)?

I'm a songwriter in the jazz-pop idiom, and when playing through a chart with a guitarist, he told me that, in his opinion, I had labeled a chord inaccurately / incorrectly. Here's the chord as I ...
7
votes
4answers
346 views

Decide which chord to use

I am trying to teach myself to create music. I know it is not a learned behavior and is rather a skill dependent process, but the basics have to be learned and that is where I am stuck. I play some ...
7
votes
1answer
556 views

What are 5 and 6 note chords called?

I only know how to play 2 different types of chords which is a Triad (3 notes) and a 7th (4 notes). But, I often see chords with 5 or 6 notes being used. What are these types of chords called? An ...
7
votes
3answers
274 views

Difference between Polychords and Extended chords

I'm really curious about the difference between polychords and extended chords. I know a polychord is two chords played at the same time where there is a higher chord and a lower chord. The common ...
7
votes
2answers
344 views

What is a 7/6 chord?

I am reading James Hober's paper "The 43 Four-Note Qualities", that is based on a Ted Greene paper. You can find it here. It mentions that there are a total of 43 four-note qualities, nothing more ...
7
votes
3answers
439 views

Chord progressions ending in “I” at the end of a phrase vs. the beginning of the next

Is there a generally accepted term or a useful published discussion of differences between chord progressions that resolve within a phrase (say in the fourth bar of a four-bar phrase) as opposed to ...
7
votes
3answers
250 views

Dominant functioning as a Subdominant!

The D9 chord voices appropriate seems to be able to function as a subdominant chord. This is very intriguing and I've always thought and read that dominant chords function as dominant chords(except in ...
7
votes
2answers
823 views

“Andalusian cadences”: How are they commonly heard?

The "Andalusian cadence" I-bVII-bVI-V is commonly heard as a repeated figure in Flamenco music as well as many pop songs, e.g. "Hit the Road, Jack": ...
7
votes
3answers
278 views

Is there a general rule when to use a 9th, 11th, and 13th chord on piano

My question is mainly related to extended chord. Is there a general rule for using the 9th, 11th and 13th? I have seen in a II,V,I progression in the key of C this progression: Dm9,G13, C.
7
votes
1answer
210 views

Tonnetz algorithms

I'm looking for applied algorithms for Riemannian tonnetz. I was thinking first of the "big bang" approach with some of the 3D projections of tonnetz, but those are overshoot.
6
votes
6answers
629 views

Is there any theory to decide a set of plausible chords per measure where a whole melody of a song is given?

I know my question looks similar to many other questions. But, please be patient with me. I'm writing this question because I can't find any appropriate answer although I have searched for it for a ...
6
votes
3answers
133 views

How do I use slash chords in music composition?

After studying pop music composition for a while I noticed that many composers use slash chords in their music. How do I use those in my own composition? When is it more preferable to use slash chords ...