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I think most of the 3 notes played at the beginning of Ocarina of Time's Lost Woods theme for reference.

In C, these 4 are considered triads:

Major:      C E G
Minor:      C Eb G
Diminished: C Eb Gb
Augmented:  C E G#

The other ways in which you can alter the 3rd and 5th are to lower the 3rd and raise the 5th, which is the same as a major triad in 1st inversion. However, I can't figure out what lowering just the 5th does. It seems to create a major second interval (enharmonically diminished 3rd) and doesn't fit into any inversion of another chord.

Is there a special name for this chord, when would it be appropriate to use it?

marked as duplicate by Matt L., Richard, Dom Jan 22 at 15:23

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  • 2
    Why the #3 in the title? Do you mean M3, making C E Gb? – Tim Jan 20 at 12:22
  • A lot of overlap here: music.stackexchange.com/questions/66363/… – trw Jan 20 at 13:42
  • @Tim I've edited it to fit. Thanks for pointing it out I was on autopilot – Ben Jan 21 at 6:33
  • I would say in some cases you just want it to be b5 (some specific music situations), so if you don't want 5th to sound and specifically want b5 this kind of triad is possible. – alexsms Jan 21 at 11:57
  • Seems pretty clear: what is the triad R M3 b5 called? But is that the same as R M3 #4..? OP - help! – Tim Jan 22 at 8:08

The other two answers ably address the question as written, but having listened to the piece itself, someone should address that that isn't the chord that's being played.

In the actual piece, it's just a major triad with a ♭5 (actually ♯4) non-chord tone.

Remember that not every simultaneity or grouping of notes creates a chord; there are often outside pitches used to embellish said chord, and that's what's happening here.

  • Since most chords are built on odd numbers, why is #4 preferrable to b5? Or is it jazz v. blues? – Tim Jan 21 at 7:18
  • I don't fully agree with the "non-chord tone" thing. The melody quite clearly outlines an F-A-B chord, especially if you play just the flute-like melody alone, without the backing instruments. It could even be said that the whole melody line sounds like the notes of a G13/F chord. What is expected of chord symbols here: a theory-hygienic harmonic analysis of everything that's sounding, or just practical instructions for accompaniment. (a rhetorical question) – piiperi Jan 21 at 9:31
  • @Tim and Piiperi, for the B natural, the #4 makes clear that tone is a melodic non-chord tone. If the B was called b5, then it's confused what the 5th scale degree is. Do we really want to say there is a b5 rather than a Lydian tinged melody over plain F and C major triads? The important point is the OP is mistaking a melodic non-chord tone for a chord tone. A sensible lead sheet would show an 'F' chord symbol and a melody with a 'B' natural. – Michael Curtis Jan 21 at 19:57
  • If you followed the same attitude to non-chord tones as chord tones, the 3 bar would be CMaj7. The seems no point to complex symbols when a notated melody makes it obvious. – Michael Curtis Jan 21 at 20:24

In jazz C-E-Gb is the basis of what's called a "flat 5" chord, a common type of altered chord.

You'll normally find it with a seventh, either as a dominant chord (C-E-Gb-Bb = C7b5) or as a major 7th (C-E-Gb-B = Cmaj7b5).

Regarding your comment that it doesn't fit any inversion or other chords, I'd say that's not completely so. Especially if you meant that that the flat 5 note doesn't belong to the parent major scale, we can say that it does belong to a Lydian major scale.

For example, on a C major scale, you can build an F major chord as F-A-C, and if you lower the 5th you get a F-A-Cb i.e. F-A-B which is your chord.

Using the C-E-Gb example, written as C-E-F#, that's a chord built on the G major scale.

So one way to think of that chord is as a major chord with a #11, which gives it a Lydyan mode flavour. (The main flavour of the Lydian scale being the #4 instead of perfect 4th)

OK, now I actually listened to the tune you mentioned -- the first three notes are actually F-A-B, and the effect is to start off the melody with a strong Lydian flavour (F Lydian).

  • 2
    Doesn't a #11 presume there's 1,3,5 there as well, so in key C, there's G and F#? – Tim Jan 21 at 7:15
  • Yes, a 5th is presumed, but it can be omitted without losing much. In Jazz at least, roots and 5ths are the least important notes in chords. (Roots are played by the bass, and (perfect) fifths, are implicit and may be omitted, especially if the chord has a lot of other notes). The most important chord notes are the thirds, the sevenths, and other 'color' notes. Hence I suggested above that "one way" of looking at it is a major chord (without the 5th, easily implied) with a #11. And listening to the Lydian flavour of the actual music, kind of supports that, at least to my ear... – MMazzon Jan 21 at 10:52

C E Gb could be the a minor dim7 without root of A.

If I play this I'd interpret the triad C E Gb as the upper notes of a scondary dominant of D79 (without root and 5th)

the enharmonic tone of Gb = F# would be a be a secondary VII7 (without the 5th.) leading to G or (dm7 G)

listen to the variation C / C+5 / F / Fm / C /Fm#7b5/ Dm / G


On the assumption you really mean C E G♭, then it's F♯7♭5, (G♭7♭5 sounds rubbish!), alternatively called Am6, obviously missing a note from each, but nevertheless sounding pretty authentic. It could also be part of D9, but would depend on what key it's found in, and where.

Wish the ♯ sign would come up bold..!

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