I'm learning theories about chords and find something quite confusing to me.

Below is the music score. I think C(add2) should be C4-D4-E4-G4, but the score in the picture is C3-G3-C4-D4-E4.

The numbers of notes are different (4 vs 5). Also the order of notes are different. Why could that still be marked as C(add2)?

Does anyone have ideas about this?

enter image description here

  • 3
    You need to look into voicing. A chord notation tells what the notes of the chord are, not which octave you put them in. From there, you have a lot of leeway as to which octave you place the notes in, as well as what rhythm you use. If you take all the notes in the figure, they are all the notes in a C(add2) chord. Whether you spell it C-D-E-G or C-E-G-D doesn't change the chord type.
    – BobRodes
    Commented Dec 10, 2017 at 1:30

3 Answers 3


The convention with chords - any chords - is that they contain specific notes. Thus C major will contain C E and G. The order - and quantity - of each is not specified within 'C', so numerous different voicings (note orders) can be and are used. 'All the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order,' as dear old Eric once said ! Sometimes, even the 5 (G here) can be omitted. Main reason being it's already audible as an overtone of the root C.

Sometimes the 3 (E here) gets substituted for either a 2 or a 4, and the chord then gets titled Csus2 or Csus4. But in this particular case, the 3 stays, and a 2 is played as well. So, it's now Cadd2, although with the 2 (D) near the top, I'd argue that it would be more clear to call it Cadd9. It makes sense that if the 2 is in amongst the other chord notes lower down, that it would then be Cadd2. Subtle difference, but helping when the player reads the chart.


The order how the notes appear don't bother when defining the actual used chord/harmonics (neither does the octave).

In this case the D is the secunde (and not subbing something like the third).

If you think it should be called a C9 - then I have to say that there is a convention that a C9 always has a minor 7 in that chord.

A possible alternative would be Cadd9 - but it doesn't really make any difference.


C(add2) and C(add9) are both composed of the notes C, D, E, G. Normally, a chord symbol tells us nothing about the voicing. But if we DO allow C(add2) (you'll hear opinions that it is an abomination :-) it does indicate a close voicing. The example you give is borderline. It has some elements of a C(add2), some of a C(add9).

Note that we're in the realm of assisting the player, not of deep harmonic analysis.

There's also C(sus2) where the D replaces the E rather than beind added to it. Investigate the 'Floyd Cramer lick'.


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