I came up with these chord names, but I don't know if they are right:

  • 1st chord c d# F# G# B = cmM7add-13b5 --- cmm7 = c d# B... add-13 = g#<< min 6 without 11th.... b5 = actual 5th lowered

  • 2nd chord - gmajoradd#9#5 - g a# B D#

  • 3rd chord - gminadd11 no5th - g a# C

  • 4th chord c d f a#** -- instead of calling it dmin7#5, call it cdom7sus2add13 no5 --- cdom7sus2 = c d a#... add13 = 13 without 11. no5

  • 5th chrd c d f a# - same as 4th, instead of calling it dmin7#5, call it cdom7sus4add9no5

Also, is it ok to name chord symbols with no5, no3 or not. I see it may not be common, but is it wrong?

  • 1
    I've given you a few thoughts, below. If you want a few more people to respond to this question, you might want to tidy it up a bit!! Commented May 29, 2015 at 22:14
  • Music is already esoteric enough. There seems to be no point in complicating what may be conceived as complicated enough already. If a set of notes HAS to be played in a certain way, they are often written out in proper music, which can then be read. A name then becomes superfluous. You ask if it's wrong. Some answers reflect this, with a 'yes'. Your 3rd chord would be spelled with a Bb rather than an A#, for instance, which will affect its naming anyway.-
    – Tim
    Commented May 30, 2015 at 6:11

3 Answers 3


Chord names can include information about notes to be left out, for instance no5, no3 or even nr (for no root). These can be useful when describing a chord with a specific voicing, but aren't necessarily needed. A player will often leave out certain notes from a chord anyway, when reading a given chord symbol.

Most of the chords you ask about can be described in much simpler ways, particularly by spelling the notes differently (for instance, by using Bb instead of A#).

Here are some suggestions for alternative ways to describe the groups of pitches you ask about:

  • C D# F# G# B might better be spelled C Eb Gb Ab B; this could be described as Ab7#9/C. If you really hear the note C strongly as the root of this chord, I would still spell it with the flats instead of sharps, and I guess you're pretty close: how about CmM7b5b13?
  • your second chord is really interesting! It is an augmented triad (on either G, B or D#/Eb, as augmented triads are symmetrical) with an extra note. With G as the root, I'd go with G+add#9. (By using "add#9" instead of "#9" it implies that there is no 7th.)
  • G A# C is definitely better spelled G Bb C. These three notes don't outline any full chord, so a description of it will depend upon context: C7no3/G or if G is the root this seems like Gmadd11.
  • C D F A# is better spelled C D F Bb. Most players would call this a C11, despite only having the root and extensions of a C chord (and no 3rd or 5th). These kind of 11th chords are commonly notated with slash notation, which would make this Bb/C.

There are often several ways to describe a group of notes heard together as a chord. Sometimes it easier to name a chord in a simpler way, but not using the lowest pitch (bass-note) as the root. This is particularly the case if other notes in the chord seem to outline a fairly simple chord, a triad for instance.

  • @dfhwze "B aeolian flat 1" No scale can have an altered tonic.
    – user45266
    Commented May 10, 2019 at 20:05
  • Also, try B6/♭9 for number one.
    – user45266
    Commented May 10, 2019 at 20:05
  • 1
    @dfhwze Please, show me some good evidence for that. I've never heard of that, ever. You wrote that as though everyone knew what a "♭1 scale" is, when in reality after researching this, I found zero information besides that one website you linked to before, which just lists a bunch of scale names with no other useful information or sources.
    – user45266
    Commented May 11, 2019 at 2:22
  • @dfhwze "Of course, all of these scales have more common names in western terminology" Okay, fair point. I think, though, that lots of the people on this site would appreciate it if you at least mentioned those names, since you are the first person I've encountered who uses those less common names. I guess my problem is that I just can't seem to find any site that really explains very much about them, and I'm inclined to dislike terms that to me seems foreign and unfamiliar and that I can't seem to underswtand.
    – user45266
    Commented May 13, 2019 at 3:17
  • @dfhwze I'll have to do some research on this stuff, then.
    – user45266
    Commented May 13, 2019 at 15:44

Looking at the chords you've named I and most likely other musicians would have a hard time deciphering what chords/notes you would want to play because the names are kind of long and not the clearist. In general there are a few things to remember when using chord symbols to name groups of notes.

  • Chord symbols are a form a short hand communication to relay what the overall harmony of a group of notes. They aren't intended for exact voicings.
  • The chord symbol names we have are built for name chords in thirds so whenever possible, try to stack them in thirds.
  • It's typically much clearer to use capital letter when naming notes and chords for readability.
  • You can use the enharmonic spellings of notes to name chords.
  • The bass plays a very big role in determining the overall harmony of the piece so if the root is not in the bass it is typically denoted by
  • There's typically more than one valid name for chords especially in with bigger chords.
  • The key you are in helps determine what chord symbol would work best in a given song.
  • For reading purposes, shorter chord symbols are typically easier to read and understand.
  • Personally, I would avoid "no" notation. It typically covers up a better name and the two most used cases , no3 and no5, don't really fit with chord naming conventions since a perfect 5th can be implied and if it's not a power chord and there's no 3rd then it's a sus chord.

With the above in mind, let's look at some of the notes you would like to put chord symbols with:

C D#(Eb) F#(Gb) G#(Ab) B

Let's line the chord up in thirds where it makes the most sense:

Ab - C  - Eb - Gb  - B

From this we can see that the chord is a Ab7 chord with an added #9. If the C was intended to be the bass note it would be written Ab7#9/C or if you don't care what note gets the bass not at this point just call it a Ab7#9.

G A#(Bb) B D#(Eb)

Let's line the chord up in thirds where it makes the most sense:

Eb - G  - Bb - Cb(B)

From this we can see that the chord is a Eb chord with an a flat b13 added. If the G was intended to be the bass note it would be written Ebaddb13/G or if you don't care what note gets the bass not at this point just call it a Ebaddb13.

G A#(Bb) C

Let's line the chord up in thirds where it makes the most sense:

G - Bb  - C

From this we can see that the chord is a Gm chord without a 5th and with an added 11th. Since the 5th is implied you do not need to denote it is not there. If the G was intended to be the bass note it would be written Gmadd11.

C D F A#(Bb)

Let's line the chord up in thirds where it makes the most sense:

Bb - D  - F - C

From this we can see that the chord is a Bb chord with an added 9th. If the C was intended to be the bass note it would be written Bbadd9/C or if you don't care what note gets the bass not at this point just call it a Bbadd9.

As you can see, Bob and I don't really name chord symbols the same way so there is wiggle room in how you name them to get the chord you want across. Just keep in mind that the point of these chord symbols is to communicate the overall harmony to others so make sure people can understand what you want them to play.

  • @shomo they don't match up well with how people typically write chord symbols as I describe in the top part. There are very standard chord symbols that musicians see all the time and yours are not only different, but extremely long. For example a cdom7sus4add9no5 is much, much longer than Bbadd9/C and on a lead sheet that makes a huge difference especially when space is very limited. For the sharps and flats you would determine that by what you deem the root and how well notes stack in thirds with that root.
    – Dom
    Commented May 30, 2015 at 0:24
  • 1
    @shomo it's not wrong, just confusing and a mouthful. Bob and I have shown you different ways to name these chords and how we approach it which is closer to how someone else will interpret the notes then yours for the reasons stated.
    – Dom
    Commented May 30, 2015 at 0:44
  1. [C D# F# G# B] should be [C E♭ G♭ A♭ B], which makes an A♭7♯9 chord, a pretty normal chord. If you want the root to be C, we can do a couple things. From [C E♭ G♭ B A♭], you could make a C°(maj7♭13), but that's pretty weird. With B as the root, it's [B D♯ F♯ G♯ C], making B6/♭9, which is also weird.
  2. [G A# B D#] should probably be [F♯♯ A♯ B D♯], forming B+maj7 (also written Bmaj7♯5, among other names). If you want G as the root, you can have an incomplete voicing of G+(♯9) [G B D♯ A♯], also weird. With E♭ as the root, [E♭ G B♭ C♭] gives E♭(♭13).
  3. [G A# C] should usually be [G B♭ C]. There are so many (mostly incompletely voiced) options for this chord, I'll just go through a bunch of the more reasonable ones really quick: Gadd11, A♭maj9, Cm7, C7, C7sus, E♭6, F9/11 (or Fsus2/4 or Fsus2sus4, lots of ways to write it), G♭(♭5♭9).
  4. [C D F A#] should be [C D F B♭]. C9sus jumps to mind, as does B♭add2. [E♭ B♭ D C] gives us a variety of rootless E♭13 voicings. Rootless Gm11 works pretty well. Rootless A♭maj13♯11 is nice (the dominant version works too).
  5. The main reason I'm able to write such concise symbols for each note is because I'm writing in one of many accepted naming conventions. The one I'm using stipulates that the first thing to do is (after picking a root) look for the highest natural extension.

Using [C-D-F-B♭] as an example, my highest extension is F, which is an 11th above C. So, this is some kind of an 11th chord.

Next, I find the quality of the 7th chord based off the root I chose. Here, it's C7 (though there's no 3rd or 5th, which I'll address soon. Pretend there's an E and a G), so now we've got a C11, since the C7 is dominant.

Finally, all other extensions. Here, I'm left with the D, which is the 9th. Since the 11th implies the 9th, I now know that this chord is C11.

But there's one problem. Dominant 11th chords are usually voiced without the 3rd. Here, I've got no 3rd and no 5th, so I know I can just label that 11th as the suspended 4th. Since the 5th gets omitted extremely often, I now have a 9th chord with a suspended 4th, hence: C9sus. I just recommend that you get into the habit of not naming things dominant 11ths, because certain people don't like that, but no one objects to 9sus in place of 11.

As a better example, take [A♭ C E♭ G♭ B♭]. Highest unaltered extension is the 7th, and we've got an A♭7 chord. Next, the B♮ is the ♯9, so the chord symbol is A♭7♯9.

The reason we need the highest unaltered extension is because we don't want to have altered extensions right next to the root note (otherwise, is C♭9 a dominant C♭ chord or a C7 with a ♭9?).

I also try to avoid using "add" and "no" as much as possible. If the 5th is left out, I usually don't mention it, and if the 9th is left out but the 13th is there, I use parentheses to point out that the note doesn't imply any other extension (e.g. "Am7(13)" instead of "Am7add13"). Also, most people shorten "min" to "m", and "dom" to nothing at all. And in most cases, "2" should be "9", so avoid "sus2".

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