The theory behind building and naming chords.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

21
votes
3answers
689 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 ...
16
votes
3answers
984 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
7answers
2k 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
788 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
817 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
4answers
512 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
1k 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
5answers
4k 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
751 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
250 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
6k 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
6answers
176 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
858 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
3answers
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 ...
9
votes
2answers
163 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 ...
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
2answers
273 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
899 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
2answers
293 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
866 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
221 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
2answers
491 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
1answer
177 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
415 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
298 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
4answers
255 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
2answers
308 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
390 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
236 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
743 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": ...
6
votes
5answers
325 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 ...
6
votes
6answers
551 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
2k views

Classical music theory notation for chord inversions

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 ...
6
votes
1answer
451 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 ...
6
votes
3answers
71 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
318 views

Best name for chord consisting of G Eb F Bb C?

I have a chord progression in the key of C, which walks up from the IV chord up to a particular variation of the V7 chord, which I'm trying to name in a helpful way for a lead sheet. Here are my ...
6
votes
1answer
586 views

What to call the chord G B F# A C# F#

I wrote a piece containing the following six string guitar chord (fingering shown; first finger barre; standard tuning): %3/2.2/1.4/3.2/1.2/1.2/1 What is the name of this chord?
6
votes
1answer
111 views

Chord Leading Question

I've been writing for quite some time, but only recently have I begun to earnestly study up on music theory to a greater level than the basics. Given that, I'm a bit confused on one thing: Do ...
6
votes
2answers
99 views

Minor scale chord substitution

Considering the C major scale we can build the following table of chord function families: To a certain extent, inside each family chords can be interchanged to give a different flavour to a music ...
6
votes
1answer
149 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.
5
votes
4answers
279 views

What note type in the 7th of a chord? - Music Theory

If this diagram is accurate, would the 7th of a Bmin7 be formed from a minor 7th interval or a major 7th interval, e. g. A-natural or A-sharp? I'm assuming A-natural. If this line of thinking is ...
5
votes
2answers
240 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
141 views

When is a note b5 and when #11?

(on an Jazzology exercise) I have to identify this chord: What I thought it was was: G7 b5 b9 b13. But when I looked at the solution, it was G7 b9 #11 b13. I said that the chord had b5 because of ...
5
votes
5answers
692 views

How long should each chord in a chord progression be played?

For example I am making a 16 bar chord progression for a verse of a song and choose to use the I , IV , V chords of a major scale.. How can I put these chords in a nice rythm so they sound good and ...
5
votes
1answer
170 views

What do the numerator and denominator of a chord name in roman numerals mean?

I'm reading a paper on music theory and I keep coming across names of chords expressed as a fraction - I/I, I/V, ii/I, etc. Based on the use of these names in the paper, I'm reading this as: I/I: A ...
5
votes
2answers
466 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 ...
5
votes
4answers
107 views

Notation and construction of 13th chords

Firstly, I would like to ask whether 13th chords by default have a minor, major or diatonic 13th or is it contextual to the 3rd used. E.g. Am13 in the Aeolian mode: Is the 13th F or F# (F being ...
4
votes
5answers
655 views

Naming two-note chords

Is there a convention about how to name two-note chords? I noticed that software like Apple Logic Pro names two-note chords like this: Db C = Db no 3 ma7 C Eb = Cm So I'm assuming the dynamic for ...