Does it make sense to have a chord which has no match to any tone sung during the chord?

I quite doubt about the chord F# in Limon y Sal song (song here, chords here), for the words "tal y como":

B            F#           G#m
Yo te quiero con limón y sal
             F#            E
Yo te quiero tal y como estás

since all the syllabes in "tal y como" are sung at the tone d#, and the tone d# is not present in F# chord!

However, I have no idea which chord to play here. I tried D#, D#m, G#, G#m, B, Cm, but nothing sounds good there. However it seems strange to play F# when singing d# tone...

  • 5
    Why not? The song's notes complete the chords. – Carl Witthoft Mar 29 '16 at 15:25
  • @CarlWitthoft why not? It is out of harmony isn't it? Normally, the most dominant tone in each bar of the song matches one of the tones in the chord! This lack of match is very very unusual - to say the least... – TMS Mar 29 '16 at 15:28
  • I'm suggesting that it's possible to have the accompanying music play all but one note of a chord, which the voice "fills in." But in any case, F#-A#-C# -D# could be a D#-minor plus minor 7th , inverted. – Carl Witthoft Mar 29 '16 at 15:31
  • @CarlWitthoft well, then I'd expect that chord to be played in the song, but it's not the case... – TMS Mar 29 '16 at 15:47
  • 2
    From icce.rug.nl/~soundscapes/DATABASES/AWP/ttr.shtml, a discussion of the Beatles' song "Ticket to ride": Even better is the climactic event over the G-Major chord in measure 12, with John singing the pitches F# -» E -» C# on the stretched out word "ri-i-de", none of which is consonant with the chord below it. – No'am Newman Mar 30 '16 at 8:15

The chord is F# major, V of the key B. Singing a D# note over gives it an F#6 feel. There doesn't have to be every note played in the chord. Yes, of course, F#6 could be played underneath, but when it's sung, the effect is almost the same. The arrangement has been decided with just the major chord being played. You expect it to be F#6, but it isn't, and doesn't have to be. And it's not that unusual. Another version may include it.

A similar thing occurs in the intro to Focus' Sylvia'. There is a bunch of chords over a static F bass note (pedal) and some of those chords don't feature this note. It works really well!

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One can match a chord to a number of notes, which are not just limited to the ones in the chord itself.

In jazz, for instance, they often use chord-scales. These basically give you a whole scale of notes that you can play during a chord. It forms the basis of many improvisation techniques and is also valid for songs like the one you show.

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I suppose it is a little unusual to have zero chord tones in the melody for the length of a whole chord, but as others have said, often you're essentially completing the chord. A common case would be singing a third over a power chord. You'll be heard as filling out the chord to make it major or minor (see: every pop punk song ever written).

At the other extreme, there are cases when the melody notes don't relate to the chord at all, creating an extended feeling of tension. A simple form of this is when the melody holds a single note over several chords, one or more of which which is dissonant with the melody note. At the beginning of Radiohead's Pyramid Song you have an F# held over four chords, two of which have pretty much nothing to do with an F#. When the chords resolve before the held note is over, it's called "inverted pedal point." The Wiki page for pedal point has some examples in popular music.

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I see no problem whatsoever in singing or playing a D# note over an F#maj chord. Although D# does not exist in an F#maj chord, it is the sixth tone of the F# major scale. And if the singer or melody instrument plays a D#, it completes an F6 (or Fmaj6, if you prefer to notate it that way) chord, which is a major type chord, of course.

I do not mean to imply that a note or tone must be in the scale upon which the chord is based. Certainly, it is possible to sing or play tones that are not in the chord or scale on which it is rooted, especially when the chord underneath is a dominant one, like G7. All sorts of extensions and alterations are possible. For example, you might sing an Ab while the guitar player is playing a G7 chord. The Ab is not in a G scale, but it is the b9, so it may sound pretty cool. Or you might sing a D# (the raised fifth) against the G7 -- even if the guitar player or piano player isn't playing the chord with a raised fifth.

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