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This monday, as I started my 'song a week' routine, I came up with this lovely chord progression (listed below). It is clearly some form of E, and I could go as far as to say it's a major scale. (The chords were named with the help of an app so I committed no mistakes).

Eb-F-Bb-F-G (listed as Ebadd9)
D-F-Bb-F-G (listed as Gm7/D)
C#-F-Bb-F-G (listed as Bbm6/C#)
C-Eb-G-Bb (listed as Cm7)

As it is evident, the first three chords vary only at the 'bass note' (?), with Eb, D and then C#. The fourth chord was an attempt to alleviate the tension and direct it to the root.

Is there a name for this type of variation? Has this scale a formal name?


When it ends, the last chord I play is a lone D7 (D-F#-C-D-A) to create unresolved tension. Should I play a Ddim7 instead, for theory purposes?

  • Looks more like a modulation from Eb or Bb to F, to diminished, and so on. – Carl Witthoft Apr 19 '17 at 13:24
  • Is it relevant that it is the only chord progression I have during the whole song? (the song is three verses long) – condosz Apr 19 '17 at 13:33
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    Never do anything for theory purposes. Alway do the thing that sounds right. – Todd Wilcox Apr 19 '17 at 13:41
  • That 3rd chord should have been called Bbm6/Db. Where did you source it? – Tim Apr 19 '17 at 13:59
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    "The chords were named with the help of an app so I committed no mistakes" The (big) mistake you make was assuming the app understood what was going on musically. These aren't "chords that need to be named" - they are a single chord, over a moving bass line. The names don't tell you anything useful about their function - apparently, the app is just finding the "best" name for each combination of notes, taken out of the context of the rest of the music. – user19146 Apr 19 '17 at 14:25
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Not sure what you mean by 'I could go as far as to say it's a major scale'? There's a descending chromatic scale in the bass. That's a very strong element in the progression, so much so that it would be surprising if the scale didn't continue at least as far as Bb. The bass line is so strong that it would justify almost any harmonies that fitted it. Even the simplistic planing chords in my second example. Though I feel we're travelling towards a tonic at the Bb this time. What do you think?

Beware of chord-naming 'apps'. Chord naming is often very much affected by context. And yours has made one glaring mistake - how can a Bbm6 chord possibly include C#? I could be cruel and say that if you don't see why it has to be Db, you're not ready to start analyzing harmony. But I won't :-)

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  • It looks like "Bbm6/C#" means a Bb minor sixth with an added C#. So, perhaps the chord app has simply failed to analyze the enharmonic Db when the input is a C#. On the other hand, if that is the case, "Gm7/D" would seem to be a definite mistake, since it is saying that the D is a non-chord tone. – BobRodes Apr 20 '17 at 4:21
  • I think you misunderstand how slash chord names work. And you prove the point that a chord-naming app is only useful to a person who knows enough not to need one! – Laurence Payne Apr 20 '17 at 11:04
  • Ok, I looked it up and yes, I did misunderstand. Slash chord names basically serve the same purpose as figured bass, without having to write the bass note. Thanks for pointing that out. – BobRodes Apr 21 '17 at 8:08
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Seems like a chromatic move, down to a major 7, then to dominant 7, ending with the relative minor, all with added notes. The last chord is going to be entirely up to you and your ears. Theory will try to explain what's happening, after. It usually does a good job. But ears do it better...

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