From one of the songs I am trying to interpret, I am confused about which base chord is the right base chord. From the song, around the 00:59 part of the song(Where the chorus starts), I thought the chord was G when I tried matching it with the notes on my fretboard(the guitar doesn't really have Eb to check and I only play guitar sadly). However, when I tried the Eb chord from the online virtual piano, Eb also sounded great to me as a bass note. And it turns out the Eb was the right chord but I can't still convince myself that the G chord is not the base note. Is this just the problem of my ears or is it because a song can have multiple chords for the same part?

Song: Olivia Rodrigo- Driver's license

  • It sounds like an Ebmaj7 that resolves to a Bb. Chords can often be interpreted in different ways, but I don't think that is the issue. I don't hear a G chord here. May 13 '21 at 15:46
  • Hmm, I tried humming it and I always hum the Second octave G. Am I just getting confused with the melody? Oh, and by different interpreted chord, do you mean inversion or can the base actually be different?
    – Backrub32
    May 13 '21 at 15:51
  • The fact that you can hum a G note to a chord and it sounds good does not mean that the chord being played is G. You could hum a G note to many chords and it would sound OK if the note is part of the chord. As for your second question, perhaps this is relevant: music.stackexchange.com/questions/73795/… May 13 '21 at 16:00
  • "Base" or "bass"?
    – phoog
    May 14 '21 at 13:48
  • A G major chord? I would not expect that to sound similar to Eb major. The would be a B natural, Bb cross relationship. G minor - with its Bb third could sound similar to Eb major. May 14 '21 at 16:03

The chord in the song at that point is an Ebmaj7, which has the notes Eb G Bb D so there is a G note in there but it is not a G chord. The lowest note played by the piano arpeggios is a G but the bass plays an Eb below it.

One thing that struck me is you mentioned this:

“...the guitar doesn't really have Eb to check...”

Guitar is a chromatic instrument and can play any chord. Maybe you meant there is no open chord like G, E, D etc. to check it with. You can play Ebmaj7 fairly simply on guitar like this: x-x-1-3-3-3. If you are unfamiliar with this it is the 6 strings from low to high and what fret to play on each string. The X’s mean don’t play that string. You can also capo the first fret and play a x-x-0-2-2-2, it’s the same chord.

  • Oh! then I guess I was stuck with the lowest G in piano! The bass notes aren't played with piano, right?
    – Backrub32
    May 14 '21 at 2:57
  • A piano can play bass notes but it is not in this case. The G played by the piano is just below middle C. There is another instrument playing the bass notes, possibly a synthesizer or organ and it is playing an Eb well below that. May 14 '21 at 5:17

Like I said in another answer. Be aware that the lowest note needn't be the root of the chord. If that chord is E♭, then the bass note could be any of E♭, G or B♭. Any of them could be the lowest note played. If you thought the bass note was G (and if it actually was), then that doesn't make the chord automatically G. It is likeely that at that point, the chord is E♭, with a G bass - making it 1st inversion (again something mentioned in another answer).

  • Thank you for the answer! Inversion really tricks me up haha
    – Backrub32
    May 14 '21 at 2:58

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