I'm used to slash chords like D/F# or Am/G where the second part after the slash informs you of the bass note.

I just saw a video with someone talking about chords like C+/Db+. I didn't even know slash chords could be used like this, what does this more complex notation actually mean?

Also, is there a more proper name for these chords than 'slash'?

  • Yes, you can technically have more superimposed chords, but it's a bit strange to have two chords that are only a semitone apart. What video is it? – musicamante Feb 22 at 13:30
  • @musicamante a bit off-topic but it was an ear-training demo by Rick Beato. I guess it was chosen to be deliberately very difficult – Mr. Boy Feb 22 at 13:33
  • Can you give us a link so that we could better understand what it's about? – musicamante Feb 22 at 13:35
  • I remember seeing a question bringing up at least somewhat related notation with a _ with one chord on top and another below, with the example taken from The Phantom of the Opera. – Dekkadeci Feb 22 at 13:40
  • 2
    Lawrence’s answer is on the money but I just want to point out the distinction between the two is poly chords should use a horizontal line (see his second chord) but chords with bass notes other than the root should use a slash (his third chord). – John Belzaguy Feb 22 at 16:10

I think you're looking at a Polychord. One chord on top of another. Often both triads, but the system allows more complex chords.

Sometimes a harmonic device all its own, sometimes a method of simplifying the notation of an extended chord.

Stravinsky used them (though he was unlikely to have labelled them with chord symbols!) As did ALW in 'Phantom' (where he did. Show-off!)

Chord symbols live on the border between harmonic analysis and practical reading aid. When you end a jazz-styled piece with a nice 'dirty' Cmaj13(♯11) you might well think of it, for practical playing purposes, as a D over Cmaj7 polychord. Purely as an aid to where your fingers go, no deep harmonic meaning.

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  • So we think it might be slightly lazy/loose notation in the video I saw, because a slash chord does only allow a single note to be specified? – Mr. Boy Feb 23 at 11:37

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