This seems in line with the definition of chord

"three or more musical tones sounded simultaneously"

But do people commonly refer to a chord coming from multiple instruments? Then any set of instruments can make chords, whether the same or different types even.

  • Well, not strictly any set of intruments - you won't get a chord out of a bunch of unpitched percussions - but most you can hear in practice.
    – Divizna
    Commented Aug 17, 2023 at 8:39
  • 1
    It's almost certain that chords were produced in this way (probably with more than one voice) before instruments which could produce chords on their own.
    – AJFaraday
    Commented Aug 17, 2023 at 14:19

5 Answers 5


Yes, any collection of instruments can make a chord. "Chord" just means several simultaneous, different pitches, and the various terms like "major" and "minor" designate particular characteristic chord constructions. The concepts are instrument independent.

  • 2
    Including, I would note, the human voice.
    – phoog
    Commented Aug 17, 2023 at 8:20
  • @phoog and hand bell choirs. Commented Aug 17, 2023 at 21:33
  • 2
    @phoog ... and the muppophone
    – Aaron
    Commented Aug 18, 2023 at 2:57
  • Simultaneous pitches - unless its a broken chord.
    – Dor1000
    Commented Aug 18, 2023 at 18:47

It could be added, if it's not obvious, that voices can also make chords.

  • Could you give an example? Commented Aug 17, 2023 at 14:38
  • 2
    @ConnieMnemonic One randomly found example. It's very common for choirs and vocal groups to do this.
    – Divizna
    Commented Aug 17, 2023 at 17:25
  • 2
    Oh, and one notorious example... sorry about the sopranos being out of key.
    – Divizna
    Commented Aug 17, 2023 at 17:51
  • OH, thank you! Sorry, I think I misinterpreted your answer, you mean voices like "a collection of human voices", not "a single voice making a chord". I was thinking that'd be some impressive singing. I think I've seen some people who can do similar/weird stuff but still curious. Thank you! Commented Aug 18, 2023 at 12:31
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    @ConnieMnemonic Yeah, the technique is called overtone singing and let's you project several tones simultanously, eg. this
    – matszwecja
    Commented Aug 18, 2023 at 14:03

Yes, absolutely! Stuff like, say, a whole symphonic orchestra playing the final chord of a piece is something you can definitely hear about using just these words. First violins contribute one tone, flutes another, and so on - all together, it's a chord.


One concrete example is with complex chords on a guitar, e.g. 11th or 13th.

They might be hard or impossible to play (there are 7 notes in a 13th chord, and only 6 strings). One solution is to leave out the root. It will most probably be played by the bass or piano, and the whole will sound like a chord.


Certain instruments, like horns and woodwinds, can only sound one note at a time. To produce a chord, several of them would need to sound the component notes simultaneously.

  • 1
    It's probably reasonable to say that most instruments can only sound one note at a time. Keyboard and string instruments are the exceptional ones.
    – Barmar
    Commented Aug 17, 2023 at 14:48

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