-1

We have the successive notes : B-E-A-D#-F#

I know that it is not B11. I have no idea of the name.

8
  • According to Scales Chords, it's B11. On the other hand, it'd be interesting to know why you thought it's not B11.
    – Andrew T.
    Aug 19, 2017 at 5:26
  • 2
    You seem to know enough to state it's not B11. What lead you to that conclusion?
    – Tim
    Aug 19, 2017 at 6:05
  • @AndrewT. scottdavies.net/chords_and_scales/music.html according to this website there is a C#
    – Maman
    Aug 20, 2017 at 0:50
  • 1
    @AndrewT. - please do not believe all you read on websites. There's a lot of dross and inaccuracies contained therein.
    – Tim
    Aug 20, 2017 at 12:06
  • 1
    @Tim it's just to push OP to explain the reasoning why they believed it's not B11...
    – Andrew T.
    Aug 20, 2017 at 12:21

3 Answers 3

10

The order of the notes in a chord rarely affect its name. B D# F# make B major. Adding A (b7) makes it dominant 7th. The E is the 4th, which could be a sus 4 but since there is the maj 3 (D#) that can't be sus. E becomes the 11th. but since there is no 9th (C#) it must be B7 add 11.

1
  • This is known as a "quartal" voicing, which need not be strictly quartal for the designation. If only the D# was a D, it would be the chord and voicing used by Bill Evans on Miles Davis's original "So What" recording.
    – Aaron
    Jan 24, 2021 at 5:37
4

It's is a B11. First off, exact voicing do not matter for naming the chord. The bass note is the only thing that affects the naming. Extend chords in general imply the lower extensions, but are not required in the chord. In a similar vein of thought, the 5th in general in any chord can be implied so 4 sets of notes can represent a B11 and they are as follows:

B11 (All notes): B-D♯-F♯-A-C♯-E

X:1
L:1/1
K:C
M:None
V:1 clef=treble
"B11"[B, ^D ^F A ^C' E']

B11 (Omitted 9th): B-D♯-F♯-A-E

X:1
L:1/1
K:C
M:None
V:1 clef=treble
"B11"[B, ^D ^F A E']

B11 (Omitted 5th): B-D♯-A-C♯-E

X:1
L:1/1
K:C
M:None
V:1 clef=treble
"B11"[B, ^D A ^C' E']

B11 (Omitted 5th & 9th): B-D♯-A-E

X:1
L:1/1
K:C
M:None
V:1 clef=treble
"B11"[B, ^D A E']
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B probably isn't the root of this chord, because it would be very dissonant and very bad for voice leading for a chord with the root of B to contain both a D# and an E. You would end up with the (silly but nonetheless correct) chord named B7susAdd10.

When you've got a collection of notes like this, you are not really looking at a chord per se, but rather a voicing of a chord. Chord voicings don't necessarily have to contain every note of the chord, just the ones that the composer/performer considers pertinent for the occasion. As you can imagine, that means there's a lot of flexibility and room for interpretation about what the chord actually is, since the root doesn't have to be at the bottom, the inversion doesn't really have to make much sense outside of the context that it's used, and the chord could be missing notes that would otherwise make it much easier to spell!

Nonetheless, I have some theories about what this chord might be.

My first guess (and the answer that I'd say is most likely) is F#Mi13/B. This collection of notes contains every note key to this chord; it's only missing the fifth, which is a common candidate for removal in chord voicings that contain the root. This is a particularly likely candidate if the next chord is B7 or F7, but it wouldn't necessarily be either of those.

Due to the nature of the question, it's also possible that it's something different. It could be a rather unusual voicing of EMiMaj9 or a somewhat less unusual voicing for AMaj7#11. It's also possible that the connection to a triad is only incidental and that this chord that mostly consists of stacked fourths derives its properties from those stacked fourths. The point is that if you find F#Mi13/B to be an insufficient answer then no specific answer anyone here gives you is going to be particularly good and you need to investigate the context that the chord lies in and use that to spell it; because we don't have that we can only give you a best guess answer.

4
  • Brad Mehldau fairly often uses voicings with the major 3rd and the 11th. One good example that comes to mind is his solo version of My Favorite Things. This can be heard on the live recordings available from searching YouTube, and here's a nice video tutorial that shows it in bar 8.
    – jdjazz
    Aug 18, 2017 at 23:38
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    Here we go again, inventing crazy names for simple chords! Sheesh, even in the 16th century people used to write dominant chords (E) in A minor with F natural and G natural in one part, and F# and G# simultaneously in another, without getting hung up about "dissonance"! It's not dissonant at all - just nice and "crunchy!"
    – user19146
    Aug 18, 2017 at 23:56
  • Yep. To me this chord sounds like a B7 plus the fourth, sort of a crunchy suspension. No way that F# can be construed as the root, unless it is strongly implied by the voice leading. Aug 21, 2017 at 6:45
  • The question says he knows it's not a B, so what's your next best candidate? F#. I would say as a rule that any chord declared a suspension with the major 3rd (or 10th) in it has been misspelled by definition as it betrays the meaning of "suspension". Also @alephzero F, F#, G and G# being played simultaneously in A minor has never not been dissonant.
    – Fugu
    Aug 21, 2017 at 15:42

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