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Live On Forever by The Afters has a "chord" progression that continues throughout the entire song, but each "chord" only has two notes, which are:

C, E♭; (must be Cm, the only chord that works)

E♭, G; (E♭ or Cm, probably Cm because the "C" note from before seems to be sustained into this "chord")

G, B♭; (Gm or E♭)

F, B♭; (must be B♭)

F, A; (Dm or F)

How would you name these? The chords I would name it is Cm, Cm, E♭, B♭, F

It really tricked me because it's in C "dorian" (so its key signature resembles B♭ but ends on a C note), and there are no accidentals in the entire song, so the possible chords are F, B♭, E♭, Dm, Cm, and Gm.

If you want to listen to it, it's clearest at the very beginning.

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    Is there a bass player or keyboard player who is also playing at the same time but might be playing other notes? – Todd Wilcox Jul 5 '17 at 19:33
  • There'll be multiple hits if you search for "Live on Forever The Afters chords". While not always trustworthy (some may have deduced by individuals, some copied, others from actual sheet music), would any (or most) of these pages agree with your assessment? Or convince you otherwise? – user18490 Jul 7 '17 at 4:05
  • Be careful. The writers of this song could have used full chords, but they didn't. They preferred the harmonic ambiguity of just two notes. If you decide what the 'implied' chords are and write them in, you'll be encouraging players to play those full chords. Which would be wrong. Sometimes chord symbols aren't the right tool for the job. – Laurence Payne Aug 7 '17 at 14:26
  • @LaurencePayne, isn't there a difference between using the symbols to analyze the harmony versus using the symbols in lieu of notation? I do agree chord symbols in lieu of notation is a problem if you want to ensure exactly what notes are played. – Michael Curtis Aug 7 '17 at 14:52
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    You can only analyse what isn't there by making assumptions. By pinning the music down to a set of chords YOU feel comfortable with, but which the composer specifically chose NOT to confirm. There's a pleasing ambiguity about two-note harmony. Let it alone. Not everything has to fit into a straijacket of triad-based harmony. – Laurence Payne Aug 7 '17 at 15:52
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I would label it Cm, Eb, Gm, F. With roman numerals it would be i, III, v, IV.

You could say the first three chords are an arpeggiation of a Cm7 chord. Then the pattern is just Cm7 F.

Cm and Eb for the second and third chords seems wrong, because the roots are missing, any why not give them straight forward labels as root position chords instead of calling them rootless chords?

Regarding the Bb above the final F chord. That note is held over from the previous Gm chord and so you can call it a suspension which then resolves by stepping down to the A - the third of the F chord. In other words, the F Bb isn't a separate chord. It's an F chord embellished with a suspension.

  • Chords cannot be implicitly defined using two notes, however they can be implied by the harmony around them. In this case, the previous chords "add together" in the listener's memory to create a Cm7 effect. – Aric Aug 7 '17 at 10:07
  • @AricFowler, Cm7 is the interpretation I gave in the second sentence. Either interpretation seems fine to me. I think the more important point is not interpreting Bb over F as a Bb chord in 6/4 inversion, but to regard it as a suspension. – Michael Curtis Aug 7 '17 at 13:33
  • Oh, like an Fsus4? – Aric Aug 7 '17 at 13:37
  • Yes, exactly. So Cm7 Fsus4 F seems ok. FWIW, normally I don't like when songbooks use sus4, add9, etc. to denote notes sung in the melody, but clearly not played in the chords of the rhythm section. But, in this case the suspension is clearly played by the rhythm section so the sus4 label is meaningful and necessary. – Michael Curtis Aug 7 '17 at 14:05

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