I've been writing an electronic song, and this is part of the background melody.
But I know little to no music theory (that I remember), so I'm unsure of what it is.
And if it's not a chord, what is it?
(Also the first D and A are played in the same octave, it's the last A that's played in the higher octave, for clarification).

  • This looks like a duplicate of this question
    – S. Imp
    Apr 12 '18 at 0:48
  • I don't understand how it's duplicate, and if it is, it doesn't answer my question in a way I can understand it.
    – Walaryne
    Apr 12 '18 at 0:57
  • Sorry! I'll try and write an answer...
    – S. Imp
    Apr 12 '18 at 1:03

For starters, consider reading the wikipedia article on chords and focus on how it mentions triads and says in various ways that "three notes are needed to define any common chord". The basic idea is that you have only two notes because 2 of them are an A. Chord specifications totally ignore octaves so you have only 2 distinct notes -- D and A. While some might consider this a chord, doesn't define a major or minor chord or 7th chord or anything.

EDIT: This article, although quite involved, looks super handy. The section on power chords says that you might call this chord a fifth chord, indeterminate chord, or neutral chord.

And the name of the chord will depend on which note is on the bottom. I.e., which note is the lowest note you are playing. This matters because chords usually have the root note played on the bottom. Inverted chords are also a thing but in your case we probably don't need to introduce that possibility.

Assuming you are playing the D on the bottom and it is the root and then you are playing an A a perfect fifth up and then an A above that, your chord is a D but an indeterminate D chord -- i.e., neither major nor minor and no 7ths or augumented or diminished bits. EDIT according to @david-bowling this chord would be referred to as D5. I do not personally recall ever seeing this type of notation in any tab or fake book.

Assuming you play the A on the bottom with a D a perfect fourth up from that and another A on the top, you might call that chord Asus4 but the chord lacks the third tone of an Asus4 chord which would be an E.

  • 2
    Of course it has a name. D with an A above is called a D5; these are commonly called fifth chords or power chords, even though two notes don't really determine a chord. With the A doubled an octave higher, I probably wouldn't call it a power chord any longer, but it would still be a fifth chord.
    – ex nihilo
    Apr 12 '18 at 2:59
  • 2
    Fifth chords with notation like D5 show up in tablature and chord charts for rock music all the time. Doubtful that you would find anything like this in fake books like The Real Book, though. Here is an example.
    – ex nihilo
    Apr 12 '18 at 3:31
  • Thanks, I did happen to read the Wikipedia article on Suspended Chords, and I slowly figured it out, but this clarified it well. I happened to make a mistake when I asked the question, and I said "an octave above" when I meant "an octave below" silly me. I imagine the same info applies regardless.
    – Walaryne
    Apr 12 '18 at 4:22
  • I'm glad to have helped, however little. You may find it encouraging to know what chords are often ambiguous and a single triad might be described by more than one chord name. It sort of depends on context.
    – S. Imp
    Apr 12 '18 at 5:12
  • 1
    '5' 'chords' don't feature in any real or fake books I've used, they seem to be a modern development, and can be found in a lot of recent stuff - particularly tab. Tab, as they also appear to be especially associated with guitar music. they have little to do with sus chords - which have three notes, but again are indeterminate - neither major nor minor.
    – Tim
    Apr 12 '18 at 6:52

So as S. Imp has said above, two notes don't form a triad. Whether anything less than a triad is considered a chord is subject to debate (and therefore not appropriate to this forum). You can certainly leave it as it is (a D5 as it seems to be called) or you could add a third tone (most likely either an F# to make a D triad or an E to make it an Asus4 triad, possibly a natural F for a D minor (minors tend to sound sad or serious)). If you do choose to add a note, you'll want to find the one that makes the most sense in your song (this depends on the chords and notes around this specific chord). Play around with it and see which one sounds better. Otherwise, you could just leave it as a D5, there's nothing wrong with playing two notes together and not making a triad.

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