Chords can be analyzed with roman numerals to indicate function:

C, Am, Dm, G

I, vi, ii, V (or I, VI-, II-, V in jazz theory)

And inversions may be analyzed by adding an arabic numeral indicating the note which takes the lowest voice:

C/G, Am, Dm, G/B

I/5, vi, ii, V/3

But what about polychords, and their ambiguous cousin, slash chords?

C, Am, Dm, F/G

I, vi, ii, IV/2

The "/2" seems a bit unclear. You could write "IV/V", but that's also a secondary dominant.

1 Answer 1


Usually, polychords are written like this:enter image description here (with a fraction).

So, let's say you have Am {fraction} G7 and we are in the C major scale. You could symbolize that as VIm {fraction} V.

Notice that for the polychords, there is no slash, but a fraction. Slashes are for the slash chords or hybrid chords (inversions).

For the slash chords inversions, if the score you are written isn't really formal, you could write it as Cmin (1st inv) or II(3rd inv).

If the score is formal, the first inversion is symbolized with a 6 (actually ^6 -- power of 6) so, you could symbolize Cmin/Eb as I^6, and the second inversion with a 6 4 and the 3rd inversion with a 2.

If I'm not mistaken, a F/G slash chord, is written as F^9, or IV^9

  • 1
    Great answer. So for a formal poly chord, it should be written as a fraction. That is consistent with what I've seen too. But what about the "slash" chords? Like F major triad with G in the bass? You could think of it as a G7sus4(9, omit5), but usually it's written "F/C".
    – Grey
    Aug 22, 2014 at 8:30
  • If I'm not mistaken, it is written as F^9, or IV^9 Aug 22, 2014 at 8:34
  • Oh I see, yes, indicating the bass note is a tension does kind of get the point across. Good call.
    – Grey
    Aug 22, 2014 at 8:35

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