This question stems from a recent discussion I had with a friend, neither of us are academically trained musicians. A chord was described as a Gm9/C. My point of view was that the C note makes it a Gm11/C. The opposing view was that since C was not an upper voice, it would be wrong to call it a Gm11/C.

For clarity, the notes from bottom to top are C G Bb D F A

I can see it both ways.

If someone had to play using chord symbols and could not use traditional notation, then writing Gm9/C on a page would help signal that the C is not included in the higher register. If I were trying to analyze a passage with all these notes then I would call it Gm11/C because I think it makes the function clearer (there is an 11 in this chord, the inversion makes it clear it is the bottom voice).

The context is within a jazzy approach to hip hop production. So the most modern naming convention is what I'm looking for.

(Ultimately, calling this a C13 or a C13(no3) is probably the best approach, but for the sake of discussion lets say that it is clearly functioning as some sort of Gm chord. Say as the ii in a ii-V-I)

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    I agree with @Tim’s answer. Just because you can add the bass note of a slash chord to the chord above it doesn’t mean you should. In your specific case there would not be much difference between a Gm9/C and a Gm11/C. However, adding the bass note of a slash chord to the chord above it can actually give you very different results. An example is G/F vs G7/F. These will not sound like the same chord. One will be open and sparse and the other will be more dense and dissonant. Sep 9, 2022 at 15:59
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    In classical harmony intervals above the seventh aren't used in the bass, because the resulting chords become ambiguous enough that some other chord identity makes clearer sense. Actually, the idea is the extensions should be above the root. IMO that matter of ambiguity/clarity issue holds true in jazz harmony. Sep 10, 2022 at 18:33

1 Answer 1


G B♭ D F A makes a Gm9. Usually, any other extensions are just that - extensions. There are none (higher), so for me, the chord is Gm9. However, the writer wanted a C note in the bass, so '/C' was written. Meaning a bass player would play a C note, and the guitarist would play a Gm9 chord. Or the piano player would play the lot, but make sure the C note was under rather than over the other notes.

Calling it Gm11/C would mean a C note could also be played on the top - not really what the writer wanted to have played.

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