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What chord is formed by the notes B, G, B? My guess it is an augmented chord where the 3rd is omitted. thank you

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    Correct. This is a dyad, not a chord. Jan 19 at 11:56
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    Other comments are correct, but I would add that it depends on what the bassist is doing!
    – Theodore
    Jan 19 at 14:28
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    Is there something else to your example that you haven't mentioned? Implying an augmented triad seems doubtful. Jan 19 at 19:58
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    Whatever it is, it's almost surely not an augmented chord. I agree with Michael that it's most likely G major (and by default it sounds like it). But it still depends on the context, which you didn't provide, because it is possible for it to be E minor.
    – user21820
    Jan 19 at 20:35

2 Answers 2

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More context about where this is found will make the case clearer, but as is we can still make a plausible claim.

Regarding comments about chords and 2 tones, 3 tones, etc.

  • Chords are abstract conceptions, you must analyze to identify chords
  • Theorists differ on their definitions of "chord." When the context is triad and triadic harmony, the definition is three tones, stacked in thirds. When the context is not specifically triadic any number of simultaneous tones - including only two - can constitute a chord.

Don't be distracted by the conversation about "dyads." You can use a polyadic term if you want, but the only commonly used one is "triad." The same folks that like to call an incomplete chord a "dyad" do not call seventh chord "tetrads" or ninth chords "pentads."

A chord is simply the main element of harmonic function regardless of how many tones are used.

Case in point: you could make a harmonic analysis, which is the identification of chords, of Bach's Two-Part Inventions. That the analysis would be based on dyads, incomplete chords, is beside the point.

Your item is tones B G B.

In tertian harmony, which for all practical purposes is all tonal harmony, makes chords of thirds "stacked" above a root.

For analysis purposes, just reverse that process. Take your collection of tone and re-arrange them in ascending thirds, the root of the chord is then the bottom tone...

G B B

...the root of your chord is G and the B above forms a major third, so the basic chord quality is major. If the chord were a complete triad, then it would need a D, but there is not one, so you can call the chord incomplete.

You have an incomplete G major chord.

As I mentioned before, it would be better to see this in harmonic context to make a claim about a chord. Other analysis is possible depending on the context. For example, if the Bs were held while the G descending to F#, it could make sense to say B G B is not your chord, the G is a non-chord tone resolving to the chord tone F#, and the chord is some kind of incomplete B chord.

A harmonic context where your chord might appear and be understood clearly as a G major chord could be something like...

enter image description here

...your chord in the red box, and incomplete chords marked with *. Incomplete triads and seventh chord like than are completely ordinary, and present no problem being identified as chords.

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    It's just prefixes en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unit_prefix and a suffix en.wiktionary.org/wiki/-ad#English, I supposed you could use "quartad", but it's not commonly used. That's part of my point about "dyad." "It's not a chord it's a dyad" is pedantic. The important thing to explain about common theory terminology and concepts is "incomplete chord." Jan 19 at 15:14
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    So a dyad is an incomplete chord. That makes it not a chord. If I run an incomplete mile, I've not run that mile. Ask for a kilo of spuds, don't expect to get an incomplete kilo! The bigger problem is what one calls any dyad. Since it's an interval, there's its name.G>B is M3, B>G is m6. I'd really like to be convinced 2 notes constitute a chord, but have failed so far. Impossibility of naming doesn't help. If that's pedantic, so be it.
    – Tim
    Jan 19 at 15:51
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    @Tim, I'm using "incomplete chord" for convenience to cover both "incomplete triad", "incomplete seventh chord", etc. Comparison to units of measure are bad, they are specific and discrete, not abstractions. Jan 19 at 18:35
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    @Tim "I'd really like to be convinced 2 notes constitute a chord, but have failed so far." Could you do a Roman numeral analysis of Bach's first two part invention? Yes or no? Jan 19 at 18:36
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    @JasonPSallinger, unfortunately the question needs to be answer in terms of what it could be, because the given chord is not shown in a real harmonic context. Instead of making analogies to chemistry, post an answer that shows how harmony is actually analyzed. Jan 19 at 19:48
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Most of us (I hope!) agree that with only two notes, it's very difficult to name it as a chord. Having 3 different notes makes it so much easier.

A chord to be named will need a root note - otherwise we can't even start to give it a name, surely. Most, but not all, will have a 3rd - be it M3 or m3.

BGB could be construed as G major - the 5 (D) often sounding as a harmonic of the G. or - it could be construed as B+ - except there's no 3, so it's unlikely.

It could be - and is - part of a chord - Cmaj7, Em, come to mind, and with enough knowledge of what harmony surrounds it, a name could be invented. But a lot of us won't consider it to be any more than the dyad it is.

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