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I was playing with a sequencer and added a sixth to a C6sus4 to get C F G A. I liked the sound, so I did some basic research to find that C6sus4 chords are a thing. But then, taking a second look, I noticed it could be read as an F major with an added second, and then inverted, and sure enough, I looked, and add2 is a thing (even if it's usually add9). So what exactly is this chord?

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2 Answers 2

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How the chord is named depends on how it operates within the music. For example, if the following chord is C6, then it would probably be called C6sus4, because the 4 is resolving the 3. On the other hand, if the next chord is Fmaj, then Fadd2 would be a likely option, with the 2 resolving to 1 (or 3).

Of course, it gets even more complex. Suppose the progression is
Unknown chord -- Fmaj -- G7 -- Cmaj
In that case, the "unknown" chord is most likely a C chord and part of a I-IV-V progression.

In the end, it's probably most clear to name it according to the note you want in the bass.

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  • Thanks for the answer! The chord is actually sandwiched between two Csus4's, in a loop of various suspended chords, which makes me want to assume C6sus4. Then again, the chord sounds much clearer than the chords around it, so maybe Fadd2 makes more sense if it's the most defined chord in the bar...
    – Lake
    Feb 7 at 3:29
  • " it's probably most clear to name it according to the note you want in the bass." Well, you could simply use slash notation to indicate the bass note, couldn't you?
    – Divide1918
    Feb 7 at 8:55
  • @Divide1918 Certainly. It would just depend on whether it's simpler that way or not.
    – Aaron
    Feb 7 at 9:10
  • "How the chord is named depends on how it operates within the music." This was a HUGE "ah-ha" moment for me when I started taking college theory classes! :) Same applies to notes. You wouldn't write a G# in a melody that's over a F minor chord, you'd write an Ab. Feb 7 at 19:18
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When denoting something that can be written two ways that are equivalent in practice, it's generally a good idea to choose the one that's more intuitive to read.

I'm sure "Csus4 C6sus4 Csus4" reads easier than "Csus4 Fadd2 Csus4".

Alternatively, you could write "Fsus2 Fadd2 Fsus2" - consider what comes before, after, what key you're in and if you have an opinion on what the bass note should be to choose between the two, but you probably shouldn't cross between them without a specific reason, that would make the player's mind go into a twist unnecessarily.

From your description, it seems likely that "Csus4 C6sus4 Csus4" will be the best.

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