We often find them in a classical musical.

enter image description here enter image description here

  • In the "middle"? That would be an augmented fourth/diminished fifth/tritone. – Pyromonk Jul 14 '20 at 13:37
  • 1
    @Pyromonk, I think the idea is "inside" the octave, not literally the middle of the octave. – Michael Curtis Jul 14 '20 at 18:19
  • Could be argued that the 2nd one isn't a chord - as there are only two note names involved - which isn't enough to give it a proper name. The top one is simply a C#m chord, 1st inversion, totally. There is again, only two notes played l.h., and two notes r.h., so separately it gets the same argument. Together - C#m, 1st inv.open voiced. – Tim Jul 15 '20 at 14:09

I don't think there is one specific term to apply, but there are several to consider. The terms are about inversion (which chord tone is in the bass) and the voicing (the space between chord tones.)

But your question complicates the matter, because of the way the two hands overlap in the top image.

As notated the top image is...

enter image description here

...where I notated the "middle" note inside the octave with a solid notehead.

If we look at the two hands in isolation it looks like there are "gaps" in the chord...

enter image description here

...where the "gap", a chord tone that is not played, is notated with a x.

But the notes can be distributed between the hands differently to show that in fact none of the chord tones are actually skipped...

enter image description here

What to call triads made up of first and third note on octaves and second note in middle of them?

In isolation the separate hands are doing that in the first image, but aural - the actual sound produced - is not an octave with only one tone inside the octave.

In the second image it truly is an octave with only one tone inside the octave...

enter image description here

When a chord has all the tones close together with no "gaps" it's called close position voicing.

enter image description here

If tones are moved around into different octaves to create gaps it's called open position voicing.

enter image description here

Based on the hand position and fingering in the images I think open position is one way to describe the idea. But mind the overlapping of hands.

When the third of a chord is omitted, like this hand...

enter image description here

...some times that described as an open fifth. But you probably should use that term only if the third is entirely omitted and not played in the other hand.

I've seen the term octave chord used for a chord that spans an octave. That may be more of a pop style term.

The first image shows the chord's third in the bass. Technically that makes the chord a first inversion chord, but I don't think that is your main concern.

Given the octave span of the hands and the skipped tones I would describe this as octave chords or maybe playing in octaves and also open position voicing.

  • Suggested clarification: "playing in octaves" usually refers to sequences of octave chords -- or a melodic line played simultaneously in different octaves -- rather than a single, isolated chord. Chords are also defined according to all of the notes across both hands, so the fact that each hand in the first chord "skips" a note is purely a product of voicing and the fingering chosen to realize it. You touch on the latter when you re-arrange the notes to demonstrate redistribution of the notes. – Aaron Jul 15 '20 at 4:41
  • @Aaron, the OP didn't say it explicitly, but I assume they meant playing passages with these kinds of voicings. Also, I explained the complication about the two pictures, overlapping hands, voicing, etc. – Michael Curtis Jul 16 '20 at 12:57

The name of a chord depends on the musical context. Out of context, they're identified by the pitches they contain. So your first example is a C#-minor chord in first inversion, and the second is an Ab-minor chord missing the fifth. This second chord, especially, as it is incomplete (only two distinct pitched), would need more context to give a definitive answer.

  • 1
    I believe as long as the root is in the bass and the rest of the notes are spelled correctly (even if they are out of order or doubled) then it is still a normal root position triad. – EricNie Jul 14 '20 at 16:18

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.