# Need help analyzing unusual chord [closed]

In the Kool & The Gang song "Fresh", there's an unusual yet intriguing chord at 2:11 in the song -- this particular chord has had me stumped trying to identify it ever since the song's release in late 1984.

I've used a computer program that does Fourier Transform analysis to identify the predominant sound frequencies of that chord, and what best describes that chord (it starts between the lyrics "I'll do whatever..." and "...to make you mine, baby") is:

``````X: 1
T: Fresh
C: Kool & The Gang
R:
M:
L: 1/8
K: Bm
%%staves {(RH) (LH)}
V: RH clef=treble
V: LH clef=bass
%
[V: RH] [D' =A']8 |
[V: LH] [F, ^A, C E]8 |
``````

Best I can tell, this is a V7 chord with an added iii and vii (in B Aeolian [minor] mode). Note the presence of an both an A and A♯.

What is this chord?

P.S. Here's another good link (PDF file) of Fourier analysis of music chords.

• I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's asking people to identify a particular chord. While it's interesting, it's not super helpful to other people. If the OP can phrase the question to be more general, then it's fine to keep. Commented Jul 14, 2017 at 15:44

This chord you're hearing is `F♯7(♯9♭13)`. You've got the right notes, but in the recording, the chord is being voiced something like this:

These notes and this voicing are confirmed by a spectrum analysis:

When identifying a chord, a crucial feature to listen for is the note being played by the bass. In this case, the base is playing an `F♯`, which usually suggests an `F♯` chord (as opposed to a `Dmaj♭13` chord).

Other crucial things to listen for would include the chords that immediately precede or immediately follow the unknown chord. In this case, the unknown chord at 2:11 is immediately followed by `Bmin` at 2:13. This fits perfectly with our unknown chord being `F♯7(♯9♭13)`, because `F♯7(♯9♭13)``Bmin` is simply a V-i progression. Playing a V chord, as you seem to know, is the most common way to lead to a minor i chord.

In fact, this chord is so common (at least, in jazz) that this particular voicing has a name: the treble clef part shown above is a "type A" rootless voicing for `F♯7(♯9♭13)`. The type A rootless voicing is a fancy name for something Bill Evans popularized. It's simply a chord that is constructed using these scale tones: 3-5-7-9. We can use this exact same construction for minor chords, major chords, and dominant seventh chords. When applied to dominant seventh chords, though, the usual convention is to replace the 5th with the 13th, making the construction: 3-13-7-9. So starting with plain old `F♯7`, the type A rootless voicing would be:

Sharping the 9th (changing `G♯` to `A♮`), we get:

And finally, flatting the 13th (changing `D♯` to `D♮`), we get:

which is the right-hand voicing from the first image above.

• Yeah, I think this is a better answer.
– user13034
Commented Jul 11, 2017 at 19:48
• I tried that — it produces and error that says you can't delete an accepted answer.
– user13034
Commented Jul 12, 2017 at 22:21
• I believe it's possible for @pr1268, the OP, to change the accepted answer.
– user13034
Commented Jul 12, 2017 at 22:22
• @MarkM - no need to delete your answer. Yes, I think jdjazz's is somewhat more comprehensive, but I still like yours :-) Commented Jul 13, 2017 at 2:21
• Glad you got it fixed. This is a good demonstration of how important context is to analysis.
– user13034
Commented Jul 13, 2017 at 2:24

It's, of course, difficult to analyze a chord out of context because often the difficult notes to categorize end up being easier to explain away as non-harmonic tones, such as suspensions and passing tones.

Having said that, to me D natural seems like the root of this chord. If you spell it:

`D - F# - A - C# - E- Bb`

You have a D major 9th chord with a flat 13. This is a little unusual, but you'll find it in jazz harmonies. The A#/Bb sounds to me like a non-harmonic tone that wants to resolve to A, making this a pretty run-of-the-mill major nine chord.

• There are a few reasons why I don't think this is correct. The bass is playing an `F♯`, not a `D`. The spectrum analysis reveals a common voicing called a type A rootless voicing. The next chord in the song is `Bmin`, which suggests a V-i progression (`F♯7` - `Bmin`). Commented Jul 11, 2017 at 19:38
• It's definitely an F# chord, no 2 ways about it. Listen to it in context, it's five chord as anything. youtu.be/sTJ1XwGDcA4?t=129 Sounds like a hendrix chord type thing (common to give a strong but not overbearing dominant in this type of mixolydian feel funk song), but the voicing is so smooth you barely notice the major third in there at all... The crux of the chord it that it's an F#7#9, but I really want to hear the voicing that's used, because it's so clear that you lose the individual notes in it. Commented Jul 11, 2017 at 23:05