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I was playing the piano today and made up chord progression: Fm, D#/F, A#, Fm in 4/4. And I was wondering if D#/F is a propee classical name for the chord, because logically it was an F7sus2+11(no5) or F7sus4+9(no5) while the left hand played only F.

So the question is: is D#/F a propee name for that chord in classical standards?

  • 3
    Your D# is probably an Eb, and A# probably a Bb, in the key of Fm. So, the chord in question is now Eb/F. – Tim Jan 13 '17 at 18:03
  • @Tim I've asked a question about sharps and flats... Always have had trouble understanding. Why in Fm it's Eb and not D#? – SovereignSun Jan 13 '17 at 18:52
  • 2
    @SovereignSun: E♭ is simply part of the (natural) F minor scale. (♭♭♭♭) F G A B c d e f in a clef. To use D♯ you'd need to put in accidentals, no fewer than three in fact when going downwards: f ♯d ♮d ♯c ♮c ... – leftaroundabout Jan 13 '17 at 20:37
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Hang on, the following discusses a different sequence (is misread the question): F/D♯ instead of D♯/F. See bottom for the actual sequence asked about.

As already said, that bass note is an E♭, not a D♯. The chord is basically F⁷ in third inversion, so the 7th is in the bass. This is in fact the dominant to the following B♭, so very natural chord to have in that spot.

It wouldn't be a 7th chord if the note were D♯. Classically speaking, such a note is a dissonance that always needs to lead somewhere, and ♯ dissonances lead upwards, ♭ dissonances downwards. Your chord sequence could thus be rendered

X:1
L:1/2
M:C
K:Fm
%%score (T1 T2) (B1 B2)
V:T1           clef=treble
V:T2           clef=treble
V:B1           clef=bass
V:B2           clef=bass
% 1
[V:T1] A =A  | B   A
[V:T2] F  F  | F   F
[V:B1] C  C  | =D  C
[V:B2] F, E, | B,, F,

Actually the effect is a bit clearer if the bass only went one step down:

X:1
L:1/2
M:C
K:Fm
%%score (T1 T2) (B1 B2)
V:T1           clef=treble
V:T2           clef=treble
V:B1           clef=bass
V:B2           clef=bass
% 1
[V:T1] A =A  | B   A
[V:T2] F  F  | F   F
[V:B1] C  C  | B,  C
[V:B2] F, E, | =D, F,

But even if you actually play the bass upwards after it, this progression to the (Mixolydian) subdominant B♭ is so standard that the bass note before would clearly be perceived as E♭, not as D♯.

To call that note D♯, it would have to lead upwards to something that would clearly associate to that particular degree. This is certainly possible, but it would be a bit whackier than your sequence. For example,

X:1
L:1/2
M:C
K:Fm
%%score (T1 T2) (B1 B2)
V:T1           clef=treble
V:T2           clef=treble
V:B1           clef=bass
V:B2           clef=bass
% 1
[V:T1] A =A  |  G  B  | A
[V:T2] F  F  | =E  E  | F
[V:B1] C  C  | =B, C  | C
[V:B2] F,^D, | =E, C, | F,

In this case, your F/D♯ is really a diminished seventh chord in disguise: D♯°⁷ with also a diminished third. Harmonically, this acts more or less like B⁷, as a dominant to the following e-minor.

(As patrx remarks, a better way of describing this might be as an inverted augmented sixth chord.)


The real question

Ok, so what you actually asked is a different sequence, but the answer is largely the same: classically, you're not that interested in chords but in voices. Sustaining F in bass is a (very short) pedal point, which can be used regardless of what the upper voices do. So really all we need to discuss is the chord sequence Fm - E♭ - B♭ - Fm. Well, straightforward F-mixolydian turnaround, this is very common in folky tunes and pop. With common-practice voicing, it could be rendered like

X:1
L:1/2
M:C
K:Fm
%%score (T1 T2) (B1 B2)
V:T1           clef=treble
V:T2           clef=treble
V:B1           clef=bass
V:B2           clef=bass
% 1
[V:T1] A  B  | B   A
[V:T2] F  G  | F   F
[V:B1] C  E  | =D  C
[V:B2] F, F, | B,, F,

Making something of an actual D♯/F would be really weird, certainly nothing you could find a classical name for.

But let's see... if we make that D♯m/F, it could lead to EΔ. Then a little tritone substituition could still bring us back to Fm:

X:1
L:1/2
M:C
K:Fm
%%score (T1 T2) (B1 B2)
V:T1           clef=treble
V:T2           clef=treble
V:B1           clef=bass
V:B2           clef=bass
% 1
[V:T1] A ^A  | =B  _B  | A
[V:T2] F ^F  | ^G  =G  | F
[V:B1] C ^D  | ^D  _D  | C
[V:B2] F, F, |  E,  E, | F,

Yup, works, doesn't even sound as jazzy as I though. I think that could actually still be interpreted in a more sensible way without those sharps.

  • 2
    Flip the F and D♯ in your "diminished seventh in disguise", and you get a German sixth in classical terminology - it's an inverted augmented sixth chord when spelled and used the way you show it. – user16935 Jan 13 '17 at 23:19
2

Any chord naming system that requires monstrosities like F7sus2+11(no5) or F7sus4+9(no5) is broken!

You've discovered the chord Eb/F. Eb, G, Bb with an F root. Very common in the key of F or F minor. (Calling it D#/F seems perverse, but I can't quite say it's WRONG...)

You aren't REALLY going to call that other chord A# are you?

  • Didn't I do exactly that? I mean call the next chord a A#. I've always had trouble understanding when to use flats and when to use sharps! – SovereignSun Jan 13 '17 at 18:57
  • Why then do people so often use these +9/+11/+13 and etc? Another good question is when do we think of it as of D#/F, a Eb/F, a Ebadd9/F, a D#add9/E#, a Gm(#5)/F, a Gm7(#5)/F or another other? – SovereignSun Jan 13 '17 at 19:06
  • "Eb, G, Bb with an F bass," not necessarily root, I would say. – Richard Jan 13 '17 at 23:53
  • Use a new letter name for each degree of the scale. If the tonic is F (or F# or even Fb) the next note will be some sort of G, the next some sort of A... There can be ambiguous cases. But I don't think a chord rooyed on the #3rd of a scale is very likely! In an F-based tonality, the subdominant chord/note is going to be Bb. – Laurence Payne Jan 14 '17 at 15:14

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