The theory behind building and naming chords.

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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
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3answers
1k 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 ...
20
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2answers
13k views

What does a triangle mean in chord notation?

For example, what does the △ mean in C△7?
18
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11answers
801 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 ...
17
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3answers
945 views

Why does a Cm13 chord use A instead of A♭?

Why is the 13th (or the 6th) of a Cm chord A, not Ab?
17
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3answers
2k 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 ...
17
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3answers
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 -> ...
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7answers
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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 ...
14
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2answers
1k 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, ...
13
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8answers
3k 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. ...
13
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2answers
1k views

Why do notes have multiple names?

I've seen the same note called different names for example the note F# can also be written as Gb. Why is this the case and are there times to use one name over another?
12
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4answers
9k 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 ...
12
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4answers
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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 ...
12
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10answers
4k 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 ...
12
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7answers
2k 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?
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5answers
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Is there a name for a chord which combines the major and minor thirds of the root?

I noticed while noodling on my acoustic guitar that playing Cm using the Am shape barred on 3rd fret, that opening the high E string gives a pleasingly discordant sound. I realised the E comes from ...
12
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6answers
651 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 ...
12
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3answers
12k 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 ...
12
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6answers
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“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 ...
12
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2answers
750 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) ...
11
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5answers
1k 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?
11
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5answers
7k 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
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3answers
297 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. ...
11
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6answers
261 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 ...
11
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4answers
843 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 ...
9
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2answers
389 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, ...
9
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2answers
2k 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 ...
9
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2answers
433 views

Chord in the Bach d-minor prelude

I'm playing the prelude in Bach's d-minor suite. My teacher and I were wondering what the third to last chord is. We didn't find that A, E and D form a chord, but do they? Is the D maybe a "queuing" ...
9
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4answers
302 views

Can a chord be both major and minor?

So I was messing up with chords the other day and I came with a case where the chord could be both minor and major. I'm wondering if it can be true or if a chord is either, but cannot be both at the ...
9
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2answers
388 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
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5answers
608 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 ...
9
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2answers
582 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 ...
9
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1answer
260 views

How does it make sense to leave the root out of a chord?

Chord names can include information about notes to be left out, for instance no5, no3 or even nr (for no root). - Bob Broadley on "Are the names for these chords valid?", May 29 2015 How can a ...
8
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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
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7answers
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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
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3answers
878 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
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3answers
514 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
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2answers
464 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
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3answers
284 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 ...
8
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3answers
826 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
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1answer
380 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
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4answers
4k 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
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3answers
900 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
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5answers
607 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
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3answers
460 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 ...
7
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4answers
758 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
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5answers
614 views

Why do we call the Hendrix chord 7#9 instead of 7b10?

The Hendrix chord is usually mentioned when a harmony contains both the major and the minor third, together with the minor seventh. Were it a major seventh, I'd say we have an augmented 9th and thus ...
7
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1answer
893 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
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3answers
465 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
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2answers
250 views

Melodic Minor - Uses

The one problem I have with the Melodic Minor is that I just don't know how and where to use it. From my comprehension, it is the Minor scale when descending and when ascending it has a maj6 and maj7. ...