In a piece that I'm composing, I use a very weird chord (arpeggiated) in bar 3 of the below excerpt:enter image description here The chord progression is G - C♯7 - ??? - A.

How should this chord be named, and does it include the B in the melody? Am I even spelling this chord correctly? (Side question: Am I resolving this correctly?)

  • Is that a B# in the bass staff combined with B in the treble staff? Did you actually mean this (or its enharmonic equivalent, if you aren't sure of the spelling), no typo? Not that you'd never get chords with notes that are a semitone apart, but it isn't very common.
    – Divizna
    Oct 21, 2023 at 14:01
  • @Divizna this was totally intended.
    – mathlander
    Oct 21, 2023 at 16:30

2 Answers 2


I interpret it as a G#dim chord, because it contains all three notes of that chord and resolves to Amaj. In that interpretation, the B# is a non-chord tone, acting as chromatic lower neighbor to the C#. All of the pitches resolve correctly.

There isn't another formation for the chord that neatly fits into the stack-of-thirds approach to chords.

  • I thought that B natural was the non-chord tone.
    – mathlander
    Oct 21, 2023 at 0:05
  • Is the chord before the G#dim chord a C#7 chord?
    – mathlander
    Oct 21, 2023 at 0:05
  • 2
    @mathlander That's how I would interpret it, although a case could be made that it, too is a G#dim, with the C# as an anticipation.
    – Aaron
    Oct 21, 2023 at 0:27
  • 1
    I agree with this answer, and add that the chord would consequently be written as G#dim/B#. Oct 21, 2023 at 6:01
  • The bass note is a part of the chord and should not be written off as a non-chord tone, I agree with the previous comment, G#dim/B#. It is an 100% accurate way to label this chord. A bass note does not have to be a part of the upper structure of a chord, i.e. Bb/C, G/C, etc. Oct 21, 2023 at 17:55

CMaj7(#5). (B# seems to be an unnecessary enharmonic spelling if you were notating the chord on the sheet, since CMaj7 is in the key of G).

Yes, this is a working chord progression (I'm also hearing the 2nd chord with some alteration). G - C#7(#11) - CMaj7(#5) - AMaj/C#. It feels like you could also resolve to A minor first, and then in the fifth measure go to the A Major.

The really weird note to me is the G# in the second measure. But I hear how you have it as an inner moving voice (G-G#-G#-A).

I think notation (for the purpose of other people playing the music) comes down to one of two things: 1. Do you want to be theoretically/enharmonically accurate or 2. Do you want it to be readable so that people can play it accurately?

I think the B# is actually a pretty good choice for readability on the staff in that context. But maybe a C natural would like fine too. As far as labeling the chord, I would call it a C.

Hope that is helpful.

  • 1
    Why CMaj7 rather than CMaj9?
    – Aaron
    Oct 21, 2023 at 6:52
  • I was going to call it E7/B# at first. To me, writing the 9 for the extension implies that the 9th is in the melody or at least that the composer wants that note voiced on the top. (Maybe that's just the way I think about it though). If we're just talking piano music as opposed to a lead sheet, then it probably doesn't matter, since there is really no need to even notate the chord.
    – user94972
    Oct 21, 2023 at 7:11
  • The B# is a chromatic neighbor tone to the C#, so it needs to be spelled as B#.
    – mathlander
    Oct 21, 2023 at 16:36
  • Good info but the fact that there is no E in the chord weakens the case greatly for a M7+5. I agree with another comment, G#dim/C (or B#). It is the most accurate description and if someone were reading chord symbols it would yield the most accurate result. Oct 21, 2023 at 17:53

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