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I see an extremely strange type of chord in the first bar of the attachment below. This is the beginning of the fourth movement of Beethoven's 9th Symphony. It has all of the notes of the D harmonic minor scale: D-E-F-G-A-B♭-C♯-D, with F as the bass. What is the name of this chord? Is it an III+13 in D minor which is Fmaj13♯5?

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closed as off-topic by Todd Wilcox, Michael Curtis, ttw, David Bowling, Doktor Mayhem Mar 18 at 13:31

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  • "Questions about transcribing or finding a particular song, including identifying chords, notes, key and time signatures, or similar elements, are off-topic since they are rarely useful to future readers." – Todd Wilcox, ttw, David Bowling, Doktor Mayhem
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    That would be the right name. Wouldn't call it extremely strange, but definitely quite edgy. Can be heard sometimes in modern jazz/fusion contexts. Alan Holdsworth had it in his "toollbox" – Jarek.D Mar 8 at 14:01
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    I think your question about naming a chord isn't very interesting. I would like to know who used it and why? How does it work harmonically? Are there any other composers, compositions or genres that use it?,... Isn't that what you want to know? Maybe it's better to change it this way, and give it more context? – Tim H Mar 8 at 15:40
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    Now that we are past the "tricked ya!" part. SO WHAT? Beethoven started with a crazy dissonant chord. Scarlatti did lots of outrageous things in his harpsichord sonatas, tone cluster-ish stuff, etc. There isn't a meaningful Roman numeral for such things. So? Corrette's Naval Battle is another example youtu.be/41AuDJBhQO4?t=165 – Michael Curtis Mar 8 at 22:24
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    Imagine users reading the former title of this question on, say, the Hot Network Questions list. Nobody would understand what the question was about (even our own users)! That's why I tried to make the title more specific. It draws more interest, and doesn't force people to click it to understand what the question is asking, which I try to avoid on this site unless there's a good reason. – user45266 Mar 18 at 2:14
  • Good point, User45266. I actually have kinda expected this question would end up in the Hot Network Questions List. But somehow it didn't for some reason. And it is closed as "off-topic." – Maika Oshikko Sakuranomiya Apr 15 at 5:14
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Not all chords have "names." The chord in question is fully notated, and meant to be played exactly as written, so giving it a name is unnecessary because names are really just a short-hand way of describing a specific chord. There are different ways to describe chords, and each has a purpose.

You have already identified the function (III+13), which can be useful for analytical purposes, but that's not truly how this chord functions.

You have also identified a possible chord symbol (Fmaj13♯5), which would indicate that collection of notes to a player, but not this specific voicing.

You could also label this chord as a "polychord," which is when multiple chords are played simultaneously. This particular chord contains the tonic triad (Dm), the dominant triad (A), and diminished triad (Edim) all over an F pedal. The combined sounds of these chords is ambiguous, which causes a lot of tension. This tension gets resolved on the downbeat of bar 2, when a first-inversion tonic triad is played.

But, going back to my first paragraph, this chord doesn't really have a name. It is just exactly what's written on the page - a dissonant collection of notes. In context this chord functions more as a shocking effect to grab the listeners attention, than as a functional chord.

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    @MaikaSakuranomiya well, as I pointed out, this kind of chord actually does not happen at all in the piece! This is still a good answer, but anyway... – leftaroundabout Mar 17 at 14:17
  • So, I would believe composers sometimes use unusual non-chord tones in order to create these dramatic effects. – Maika Oshikko Sakuranomiya Apr 15 at 5:05
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I think this excerpt is just wrong. As I read the score (page 96), it is in fact just this (transposition resolved to concert pitch):

X:1
L:1/8
M:3/4
K:Dm
%%score Fl Ob Cl Bn Hn1 Hn2 Trp Tpn
V:Fl           clef=treble name="Flutes"
V:Ob           clef=treble name="Oboes"
V:Cl           clef=treble name="Clarinets"
V:Bn           clef=bass   name="Bassoons"
V:Hn1          clef=treble name="Horns"
V:Hn2          clef=treble name="Horns"
V:Trp          clef=treble name="Trumpets"
V:Tpn          clef=bass   name="Timpani"
% 1
[V:Fl]  ([Bb]2 | [Bb]3) [Aa][Aa][dd']  | [dd']
[V:Ob]  ([Bb]2 | [Bb]3) [Aa][Aa][dd']  | [dd']
[V:Cl]  ([B,B]2 | [B,B]3) [A,A][A,A][Dd] | [Dd]
[V:Bn]  ( F,,2 | F,,6                  | F,,6 )
[V:Hn1] ([DF]2 | [DF]6                 | [DF]6)
[V:Hn2] (F,2   | F,6                   | F,6)
[V:Trp] ([A,A]2| [A,A]3 [A,A][A,A][Dd]  | [Dd]
[V:Tpn] ( A,,2 | A,,6                  | A,,6 )

So all that's really happening here is the brass (together with bassoons and timpani) laying down a d-minor chord in first inversion, over which the high woodwinds play a B♭ suspension which is then resolved to the A that starts the melody-proper. That about matches what I hear in recordings, as well.

The error in the excerpt is probably due to confusion with the transposing instruments; in particular, horns 1&2 are in D, i.e. have written C and E♭ in the score to play D and F. This seems to have been misread as concert-pitch C♯ and E.

  • Not that it matters for the answer, but if anyone is wondering, the score shown here is missing articulations, including a trill on the timpani and staccatissimo on some of the instruments. – Todd Wilcox Mar 9 at 1:23
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    Feel free to edit them in... – leftaroundabout Mar 9 at 1:23
  • Huh? Really? Strange... the same / similar section occurs around bars 208-210 (sorry if I mis-listed the bars) - perhaps why not you look there. – Maika Oshikko Sakuranomiya Jun 4 at 10:00
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I would say it's open Dm(maj11)(b13) in first position, because there's the D minor notes D, F, and A, then there's the 13th chord notes C#, E, G, and Bb.

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