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Studying the flamenco mode I found that the third note of the scale is tonic when tonic is played, so it would be a major chord, yet minor in all the other cases. Eg. in the key of E the scale would go E F G(#) A B C D resulting in the following chords: E F G Am Bm75b C Dm If I wanted to replace the third note with a G+ (that is, G raised by a quarter-tone), I'd get a neutral major seventh chord on the first degree.

Question is: what would be the name of the chord on the 3rd degree (350 cent neutral third, 650 cent quarter-diminished fifth, 950 cent 3-quarter-diminished seventh)?

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Major edit after OP's clarification

I'm pulling nomenclature from a paper written by Myles Skinner, a microtonal community wiki, and Wikipedia. I'll refer to quarter tone intervals as decimals between the semitone intervals.

3.5 is pretty universally called a neutral third. That's from all three of the sources and personal experience. It's a good representation of the just interval 11/9.

6.5 on the other hand, is called a narrow fifth on the microtonal wiki and a minor fifth in the paper and on Wikipedia. Either way, the nomenclature works. Narrow inverts to wide and major inverts to minor. For the sake of using familiar terminology and at the risk of further overloading the words, I'll go with with major and minor. It's a good representation of the 11th subharmonic, 16/11. It's also called a "wolf" fifth, which is a term borrowed from mean temperaments and pythagorean temperaments where the lack of a closed circle of fifths made one "fifth" particularly out of tune.

9.5 isn't even referred to in Skinner's piece, but the microtonal wiki says it can be called an ultra sixth or an infra seventh. They're enharmonic and both represent 26/15 very closely. Wikipedia calls those intervals subminor or supermajor and says they approximate 12/7. For the structure of the chord, we'll go with the seventh and for sticking with major and minor, call it a subminor seventh.

So, you could call this a G+nsub7m5. What a chord and its name is fully Wikipedia-compliant! Regardless of what you call it, here's what it sounds like:

https://soundcloud.com/danbobdavis/stackexchange-how-to-name-quarter-tone-chords/s-PqOhB

In order:

  1. The flamenco scale with the G+ in it
  2. The chord arpeggiated across two octaves and then played across one
  3. The chord used as a V in a V-i progression
  4. The chord used as a V in a V-I progression
  5. A different voicing of the chord in a vii°-i type setting

In my opinion, it sounds much better as a diminished chord. If I had more time, I'd invert it, try to modulate, maybe compose with it a little. A chord in between a diminished seventh and a dominant seventh chord is definitely fascinating, but this is all time permits for this answer. Hope it helps.

  • I'm trying to imagine (lacking the proper software and the time) how a chord between the dominant seventh and the fully diminished may sound, but I agree it must sound funky. The G+ is the only note in the scale that is raised by a quarter tone. – András Hummer Apr 14 '15 at 21:19
  • Oh, I thought that when you were talking about the quarter-tone intervals that you were talking about intervals relative to the root, not to the G+. I'll edit my answer and upload a clip to reflect that when I get home. – Dan D Apr 14 '15 at 21:38
  • I'd like to listen to it, but SC says the track does not exist. – András Hummer Apr 15 '15 at 19:24
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    The upload failed. I'll have to reupload when I'm on better internet. – Dan D Apr 15 '15 at 19:44
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    All uploaded and ready to go. – Dan D Apr 15 '15 at 22:08
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The root of the problem is : how to name chords with quarter tones? I myself have no idea how, to my knowledge quarter tones are either central to a style where chords are second-class citizens at best (indian music) or assigned to either major or minor context at a given time (blue notes).

So if you're using classic western harmony, as you seem to consider the "unraised" chord as major, it would make sense to treat it as a standard diminished chord when the third is raised,

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