I am looking for the noun that is the thing that is either major or minor in respect to a chord such as a triad. I suppose it could also be an adjective. It would be 'x' in the following question: "What is the x of the GAB triad?".

EDIT: I meant to use a proper example triad such as 'GBD'... see comment below. I'm happy I made the mistake as I learned from that comment's explanation of what a GAB chord would be. :-)

2 Answers 2


The term you are looking for is "Quality": The quality of a chord (triad) refers to whether it is major, minor, diminished, augmented, etc. I believe it can also be extended to 7th chords.

In your specific example "GAB" is neither major nor minor. It might be considered a major-add-9 chord since there is a major third G-B and often the fifth is omitted in a chord, so it could be called a major chord, (though it still depends on the musical context).

  • Thank you for a quick reply! I realize I didn't actually post a triad, lol... I should have written "GBD"... I think. But your thoughtful exploration of what "GAB" is in reality was really thought provoking.
    – THX1137
    Commented Jun 14, 2020 at 4:23
  • 1
    Chord quality can also be augmented and diminished. Commented Jun 14, 2020 at 5:39

Minor/major is used referring to intervals, scales and chords. Intervals can be big (major) or small (minor) in regards of their nr. of semitones.

The chord quality or chord type of major/minor is characterized by the gender.

German theorists use the term Tongeschlecht = tone gender: major/minor = dur/moll = male/female (-> dur = hard, moll = soft!)


The question asks for a generic term that includes the qualities major and minor of a chord.

After rethinking my answer I have to say:

Meanwhile I’m also convinced that this dichotomy is characterizing the key and tonality of a piece or a melody and is not referred to single chords.

  • 3
    The literal translation from German, Tone gender, does not seem to be an established term in English, so no more generic term than major/minor may exist short of tonality.
    – guidot
    Commented Jun 15, 2020 at 8:36
  • 1
    So the English audience might miss a lot of meaning and expression (what the composers want to express ...) when listening great orchestral works... Commented Jun 15, 2020 at 9:23
  • Wow, gender roles in instrumental music :-O
    – Alex Lopez
    Commented Jun 15, 2020 at 11:26
  • 1
    @ Alex: May be you have ever heard of two bipolare principles in a Sonata or Concerto. They are personified as male and female (among others). Commented Jun 15, 2020 at 12:34
  • @guidot: you must be right. I couldn’t find an analog term in English. Commented Jun 19, 2020 at 4:19

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