I'm somewhat new to more complex chords. I found this chord on YouTube which consists of G F# A D (from lowest to highest notes). The person said it is GMaj9 chord, but actually it misses the 3rd, which per all theory I read, cannot be a major chord.

So some guesses:

  • If I count G as root - then it has 1 - 7 - 9 - 5, I did not find how to call such a chord
  • If I treat G as an added bass note, then the F#-A-D looks like an inversion of D chord - so perhaps this can be denoted as D/G chord? Can one add another bass note to an already inverted chord?
  • Alternatively, if I still consider G as bass note, but treat F# A D as a non-inverted chord, it comes to something like F#minb6/G

Are any of these directions correct, are there other better options?

  • 1
    I dont think anything from music theory has to be taken as an unbreakable rule. You can voice a chord without the third and stillñ p2p
    – hirschme
    Aug 16, 2020 at 20:18
  • 2
    It's the second inversion of the Steely Dan chord! If it was G - A - D - F#, then it would be a root-position Steely Dan chord. ;) Ok, maybe not taught on your basic theory classes... The Steely Dan chord is like "maj9omit3", but with the maj7 as the highest note. Leaving it out the third makes it special. Aug 16, 2020 at 20:58

3 Answers 3


D/G might be the simplest description. (Is G the bass note of the complete music, or are we just looking at a guitar voicing?). But Gmaj9 might describe its harmonic purpose better.

If you want THOSE notes to be played, write notation. Chord symbols can't do the whole job.

  • Yes. And yes - usually as D/G. Aug 17, 2020 at 0:46
  • "G maj9 omit3" is another systematic name in addition to D/G. Leaving out the third makes a difference to the harmonic effect IMO. Aug 17, 2020 at 5:25

A further option is to view the G as not a "true" part of the chord at all. Instead, that G could be viewed as a pedal tone below a D chord. This is a relatively common procedure: chord changes taking place above a stable tonic pedal.

In still other instances, we might actually view the G as the chord tone, making the D, F♯, and A all non-chord tones! This is very common in Classical music, with the D chord being suspended over the bass resolution to G.

As with most things in music, it's all about context. In some musical contexts we may call this a G chord, but in others we'd understand it as a D chord.


It could also be a A7sus(13) or more correctly, A7sus(add13). A - root D - 4th G - 7th F#- added 13th.

How it functions, harmonically will depend on the context.

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