Firstly I must define what I mean by "biggest". I mean the chord that has the most differently named notes in it not counting duplicates.

Initially I was assuming equal temperament but if someone can give me an example where F# is different from Gb, etc. then I shall count that provided the frequency is different.

For example, the maximum such chord could be achieved on a equal-tempered piano by simultaneously striking every white note and every black note within an octave. Say from middle C to the B above it.

I am interested in actual explicitly notated orchestral scores rather than simply random chords produced during improvisation.

  • 2
    Off the top of my head (so a comment, rather than answer) some Ligeti scores might be worth checking out. Maybe Atmospheres. Jul 10, 2020 at 14:47
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    Not sure whether it constitutes a 'chord' - although the notes are all played simultaneously - the build up before the final E chord towards the end of 'A Day in the Life' has just about every note name known to Man...
    – Tim
    Jul 10, 2020 at 15:27

1 Answer 1


Alban Berg and Elliot Carter are among some to use chords with all twelve tones in them. This wikipedia list documents some chords and what pieces they have been used in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All-interval_twelve-tone_row

  • Thanks. That article is illuminating. I have even learned some new terminology, e.g. Mother Chord. Jul 10, 2020 at 14:52

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