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I'm trying to learn Sea Diver by Mott the Hoople. The first line of notes are:

C#(g#) C#(f) F#

I understand C# means play the C major chord one note higher. What does the (g#) mean? Does it mean the g# should be played as the root of the chord? i.e. with my thumb?

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The answer is right there on the page you linked to:

Occasionally chords have another note in a bracket after, these indicate the lowest part of the chord played and probably the bass on the actual recording (sounds better on piano anyway!).

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I believe this is a variation on "slash" notation.

As per your example, C#(g#) would normally be written as C#/G#.

That would mean to play a C# major chord, but with G# as the bass note. This is also called a C# major chord in second inversion, or a C# major chord with the fifth in the bass.

You see, the notes in a C# major chord are C#, E# and G#, which are the root note, the third note, and the fifth note. If you put the E# as the lowest note, that is a C# major chord in first inversion, or a C# major chord with the third in the bass. Putting the G# as the lowest note puts it in second inversion.

In the second chord in your example, C#(f), it's less clear, because the note f is not a part of a C# major chord. But the correct way to play it would be to play, in ascending order, F(natural), C#, E# and G#, with the option to leave the C# (the third) out if it sounds too dissonant.

  • I believe your answer is correct, though you could say that F is in a C# major chord, because (on a piano) an F sounds just like a C#. So C#/F will sound just like C#/E# which is the first inversion again. – 11684 Oct 28 '12 at 15:38

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