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I've been asked to accompany a local choir on my baseguitar and in the notes they sent me, I have found two chords notated above one another (see image below). This is not the first time I've seen this, but I was never sure what exactly to play in such a situation, so I decided to investigate. My search was largely unfruitful, and I have only found two different situations, where two chords would be notated at the same time:

The first one is the Slash-Chord, usually notated as e.g. Fmaj/E, the other the Polychord (as far as I've understood, this is a jazz chord where you essentially play two or more chords at the same time). Sadly, research of neither of these did mention anything of the type of notation I've found.

My Question now is: can anybody tell me what this/these chord(s) mean and what I should play.

PS: The piece of music is "in german" (we have some peculiarities in our notation, e.g. the "B" in the image actually being a Bbmaj -- a B would be written as "H". Maybe my problem is a similar german-only thing?)

two chords above one another

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In this context it's a badly printed F/A, F major with A in the bass. (Or maybe this publisher leaves out the slash line?) Well done for showing the entire notation, so I could give a definite answer.

There IS a thing called a Polychord, two superimposed triads, which uses a similar notation (like a fraction, not with a slash). But this isn't that.

I would also mention that your job here probably isn't to 'play around the chords'. It's to read and play the bass line of the music.

  • I had already guessed as much, but I was not sure, since I had not found anything that would point to slashed chords being printed above one another. Also I know I'm not supposed to play the bass line because this is being sung by the bass section of the choir. I'm just there for "that certain extra" ;) but thank you anyway for your heads up - if the situation were otherwise, you'd be totally right. – roebsi Mar 16 '18 at 22:03
  • Scores made in Finale often show slash chords as a fraction, so I guess it's a default in that program. It's quite hard to make Sibelius do them that way! – Laurence Payne Mar 17 '18 at 12:51
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It appears to me that each of the vocal parts are being written on the same stave, Bass, Tenor, Alto, and Soprano perhaps to conserve resources or to economize on printing expenses. If that's the case, it may provide room for improvisation on the bass guitar part. Ya think? I'm noticing the tones used to build an F Major chord with A as the lowest pitch,(first inversion) that might be a clue. At any rate, you might consider talking to the choir leader about this confusion. There is probably a simple explanation.

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