if I have a chord made up of the notes:
D F# G# B
I can write that as a Bm6/D, but can I write it as D#4add6? How would you write this chord as a D chord, or is there no way to

  • This question would benefit from some additional context. WHY do you want to write those notes as some sort of D chord? The reason WHY would go a long way to determining HOW best to do it. Feb 3, 2017 at 20:40
  • @TabAlleman D is the bass note so if it's not some kind of chord with a root of D it ends up being an inverted or slash chord.
    – Dom
    Feb 3, 2017 at 20:47
  • Dom, are you the original poster, commenting with a different account? If not, how do you know D is the bass note? Just because it's the first note listed? How do you know this isn't a piano chord in a score that also has a bass part? The original poster never specifies. Feb 3, 2017 at 20:58
  • @TabAlleman because the OP uses a slash chord to notate it. Bm6/D is Bm6 with D in the bass. The question is quite clear on that.
    – Dom
    Feb 3, 2017 at 20:59

3 Answers 3


Bm6/D is your best bet. It's clean, specifies all the notes, and won't encourage anyone reading it to add in extraneous notes. Yes, D(#4add6) is probably as good as you're going to get if you're insisting on D being the root. If there was also a C# in there, no one would blink twice at a 13 and #11 in there, but the #4 and 6 are definitely odd without a 7th and might confuse someone who, for example, saw that chord while comping. If you don't value specificity too much, you may be able to get away with calling it a D Lydian chord. I've heard odd chords named after the modal tonalities they imply, so maybe that works for you.

It makes me feel good in my soul to call it a G#m7b5/D. The problem with this is that I doubt it's actually functioning as a half diminished chord and having a b5 in the bass is unusual. I'm interested in how you've voiced this. D being in the bass with these notes, though, says to me that it's acting like a D Lydian chord or a Predominant chord in A.

  • +1 for your last paragraph. It would be great to know the context of this chord, with what comes before and after it, and whether or not D is really in the bass. It very well could be a G# half-diminished seventh, but it is doubtful (as you said) if the D is in fact in the bass.
    – Richard
    Jul 31, 2016 at 10:25

If we consider it a D chord, D (b5) add6 seems to me a more natural way to name this chord, a D major chord with the lowered 5th and the added 6th.

But the name of the chord, despite having D in the bass, should consider the harmonic function it is fulfilling. For example, say it is working as a Subdominant in the tonality of F#min, then it would be more proper to call it Bmin (even if in first inversion, in this case). [Thanks to Tim for correcting the mistake in the initial example I provided.]

To my ear, when heard alone, it definitely sounds as a minor chord, so without contextual information Bmin add6 would be my choice.

  • 1
    Working as a dominant in E, wouldn't the D need to be D#? It may work in Eminor, but unconvincingly.
    – Tim
    May 28, 2016 at 10:34
  • Tim, you're quite right, crass mistake I did with that example, forgetting that if it is B, it's a minor one. A better (more canonical) example would then perhaps be a iv in F#min. May 28, 2016 at 12:19
  • 1
    Changing the G# to an Ab leaves a bad taste in my mouth because of the sort of ugly tonalities it would imply. F# is the major 3rd and Ab is the diminished 5th, then that leaves the 4th as a G natural. It's certainly not typical to have those two diatonic semitones right next to each other. You could also change the F# to a Gb, but it seems like that's throwing the baby out with the bathwater and implying a HW diminished scale or some other odd thing that's far from the actual function. I definitely prefer your subdominant theory. I'm curious as to why you consider the b5 to be more natural.
    – Dan D
    May 28, 2016 at 20:23
  • "more natural" only in the sense that, if it is a D, a major triad with a diminished 5th seems to me, even if not diatonic, a simpler and perhaps less "foreign" chord than the whole major triad (including the implicit perfect 5th that you have to consider) together with the added triton. I see your point when looking at it from the scale perspective, though, I guess that points even further to the Bm alternative (but again, in the end it depends on context) May 28, 2016 at 21:02

If this chord functions as a D chord in the context of the chord changes (ie: progression), then I would write this as either a D13 (#11), or a DMaj13 (#11), both of which are commonly used in jazz.

In my experience, a sharp-11 is a more common extension of a Maj 7 chord than a dominant 7, because it simply extends the Major-third/minor-third pattern of building the chord. But I have certainly seen sharp 11's used in dominant chords.

  • You can't call it either because the 7th is not there. Extended chords need some kind of 7th.
    – Dom
    Jul 2, 2016 at 3:38
  • Well, if you had said "you can't determine whether it is a Maj or a Dom 7 because the 7th isn't being played", then I could agree that you're partially right. As written, however, I cannot agree with your comment. In the context of the song, an experienced composer/arranger can make a valid, educated decision about the function of the chord within the progression and determine whether a Dominant or Major chord should be notated. Now, in the absence of any context, it is true that there is no basis for knowing which one should be used. But my answer does mention using the context. Feb 3, 2017 at 20:23
  • The 7th is an important chord tone as such you cannot leave it out or else it will completely change the chord. So both names D13 (#11), or a DMaj13 (#11) are not very good because of that reason.
    – Dom
    Feb 3, 2017 at 20:30
  • "Cannot leave it out"? I do not think those words mean what you think they mean. In fact, I think you're reading the original question completely backwards, but maybe I'm the one who is misunderstanding the OP's intent. You're definitely reading my answer backwards, because I know its intent, and you are definitely not getting it. In the meantime, I am suggesting this question be closed as being unclear. Feb 3, 2017 at 20:35
  • The question is simple: "What would you call a chord with the notes: D F# G# B?". Since there is no 7th both names you suggest won't work.
    – Dom
    Feb 3, 2017 at 20:41

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