I'm transcribing "Can't help falling in love" in D major. The first chord is D major and the second chord is F#m.

I know F# is the third note from the tonic. So harmonized it would be the iii chord; however, instead of the F# immediately above D, I want to play the F# below D (a minor 6th interval). What chord would this be? How would it be notated to distinguish it from the F# chord 'above' D?

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    All F# minor chords are iii chords in D major, regardless of octave. Is that an answer to your question? Commented Jul 5, 2023 at 0:48
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    The instrument for which this is transcribed could have an impact - quite important to note that.
    – Tim
    Commented Jul 5, 2023 at 6:54
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    Please say what you mean by "notation". If you are writing guitar chords, they can be indicated in several ways. 1. Standard music notation. 2. Alphabetically as you used in the question, 3. TAB (tablature) notation, 4. Chord diagrams that show a pictorial representation of a section of the fretboard. Which do you wish to use? Commented Jul 5, 2023 at 10:52
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    By notation I mean Roman numerals or alternately, chord names, e.g. F#m. It's for a keyboard accompaniment.
    – D B
    Commented Jul 5, 2023 at 14:56
  • Roman numerals are primarily an analytical tool. They're not generally uses to write music for performance.
    – phoog
    Commented Jul 7, 2023 at 0:07

4 Answers 4


An F#m chord played below D is also called an F#m chord.

Writing "D , F#m , etc , etc" is a short-hand for the notes you want the performer to play. If that's not specific enough, you will need to use some other notation- like standard notation- where you can actually dictate each note that should be played.


This distinction can’t be made with chord symbols, which indicate only the chord and inversion, but not the voicing (which octave, arrangement of notes above the bass, doubling, etc.)

To specify a specific F# to be used, either use standard notation, or give a written instruction in the chord chart.


I'm not sure what exactly you mean, so I don't know if this is gonna be the answer you're looking for, but in chord sheets for a guitar a chord where the lowest note played is not supposed to be the root of the chord are generally denoted with a slash: [chord]/[bass note]. A D major chord with a bass F# would be denoted as D/F#.

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    OP asks about F#m, not D chord.
    – Tim
    Commented Jul 5, 2023 at 5:58

The chord will still be F#m.

It doesn't matter what octave the bass is in the chord is the same...

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You can think of this as a distinction between chords and melody. The choice for the bass to either go up a third or down a sixth is a melodic aspect, it's about the shape (technical term is contour) if the line. Chord names aren't meant to provide melodic information.

There is a case where the chord name will change: when a tone other than the chord root is put in the bass...

enter image description here

...in which case the chord name uses a slash followed by the tone placed in the bass. Such chords are called inversions or inverted chords. Take note that it doesn't matter in which octave that bass tone is played, whether the bass goes up or down to that tone. The chord is still named the same.

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