3

I am not very good at playing piano, though I do know how to read notes a bit and play chords.

I stumbled upon this chord, it's and and then a bit like a fraction, one chord on top another:

enter image description here
From "The Point of No Return", by Andrew Lloyd Webber - Phantom of the Opera.

Unsure what to do, I tried playing one chord with each hand (which sounds about right for the song), I asked a friend who I thought would know about this (professional and all), and he wasn't sure either.


There are a couple like this:

enter image description here


Some links to the piece:

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  • Could you post some more of the score? I’m unfamiliar with the notation but it might be possible to discern its meaning from the context. Also, if you post a link to a recording and specify where in the piece this spot is, it should be easy enough to hear what chord is played.
    – 11684
    Jun 19, 2018 at 23:50
  • @11684 I don't know if I'm allowed to post more of the page, just because of copyrights and all, but I added links.
    – Welz
    Jun 20, 2018 at 0:07
  • It sounds like it is indeed both chords together. However, if you play a triad in closed position and root inversion in both hands the spacing is quite awkward which might explain why you are unhappy with the way that sounds. I would suggest not having the notes “in order” and dividing the notes of the two triads over both hands such that the spacing is densest at the top and the bass note is the lowest by at least a fifth. Unfortunately you need quite large hands for proper spacing in complex chords like these (my best attempt at the first one requires spanning a tenth with both hands).
    – 11684
    Jun 20, 2018 at 0:21

3 Answers 3

8

Those are called poly chords which are basically two different chords played at the same time. On piano, you would play the lower one in your left hand and the upper one on your right hand the effect being the lower chord is also lower pitch.

Since you only have the chord symbols the exact voicings are up to you, but one example of the two chords could be this:

X: 1
M:4/4 
L: 1/1
K: C
%%staves {(RH) (LH)}
V: RH clef=treble
V: LH clef=bass
%
[V: RH] [A ^C' E] | [_A C' F] 
[V: LH] [F, _A, C,] | [_E, _G, _B,,]
1

At the musescore.com link you can see that the music is played as you guessed, with the right hand playing one chord and the left hand playing the other chord. This sort of thing occurs in classical music by Stravinsky and Bartok and others, where it's called "polytonality", but this may be the first time someone needed to invent a chord symbol notation for it. I think it's a reasonable way to solve the problem.

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  • That does sound exactly like the same "Dark Music" theme.
    – Welz
    Jun 20, 2018 at 0:25
  • 1
    A polychord doesn't necessarily imply polytonality. Jun 20, 2018 at 11:16
0

I'd trust the last two links: literally play the top chord with the right hand and the bottom chord with the left.

2
  • That's what I'd done, but I'm looking for more information; does this thing have a name? sources etc.
    – Welz
    Jun 20, 2018 at 0:19
  • 1
    It is called a "polychord": en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polychord. Jun 20, 2018 at 0:23

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