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The image is a part of a short piece. It is in D major. I am not sure of the chord symbol for the chord marked with an arrow (4th crotchet beat bar 1). I am confused between the chord being either C#°/E, or A^7/E. Can anyone help me out on this?


This is the inversion of the VII degree (c#eg) of D. A is passing note to B. Analyzing the short 8th as V7 is not wrong but in respect to the horizontal line and the following subdominant I would ignore to analyze hear a dominant as in my mind the harmonical function gets violated by the theory of functional harmonics.

The goal of a task like this isn‘t to give the only correct answer as there isn‘t one. The purpose is to sharpen your mind and you ear and to be able to discuss this situation. I would focus on the G/B chord in the next bar that I hear as a great and strong suspension of the tonic that is resolved only in the second half of the bar.

(If the D chord came right after the A7/E chord I would discuss this passage as VII-V7-I).

  • So you mean both answers are acceptable? – Grace Apr 30 '19 at 7:23
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    Yes, that's what I mean, as this is a discutable question and not one where you can just say yes or no, but also not trial and error answering. You should be able to discuss the points and arguments for and against one response ... – Albrecht Hügli Apr 30 '19 at 8:23
  • Alright, this cleared my confusion. – Grace Apr 30 '19 at 8:37

I think the A7/E looks right. (Given the key the dominant seems most likely)

  • Ok. So the A on the last quaver beat would be an unaccented passing note, but still included in the chord harmony? – Grace Apr 30 '19 at 5:39
  • @Grace - since the treble clef notes continue to sound while the short A is layed, it can be perceived as part of the whole chord, an A dominant 7th, which doesn't resolve as expected to I (D), but it's still a dominant 7 chord nevertheless. Although not doing what it should... Blues does it all the time! – Tim Apr 30 '19 at 7:58
  • Got it, thank you @Tim – Grace Apr 30 '19 at 8:35

Notewise, we've got (bottom to top) E, G, G, and a C♯. Strictly speaking, that makes a C♯°/E chord. However, diminished chords are tricky They're symmetrical (or at least their 7th chord versions are), and often the same voicing of notes can represent many different chords in different contexts. Other answers have noted that these notes are all part of the V7 chord, so an incomplete voicing of A7 seems likely, especially since that A is played right after it (are you certain that A isn't part of the chord?) and that would make the chord progression (simplified) IV-V-IV-I. I think this is likely how audiences would hear it.

Another interpretation could be that the chord is G°, since the next chord is a G major triad.

  • Yes, the A comes on the quaver beat, so is it not considered to be a part of the chord? Also, are you saying that it could be either of the 2 options I've mentioned in the question, and both are correct? – Grace Apr 30 '19 at 6:29
  • How is the chord G°? – Grace Apr 30 '19 at 6:29
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    It would be more like G°7 (G-Bb-C#-E) with an omitted 3rd. At that point, I'd treat it like a common-tone diminished 7th. – Dekkadeci Apr 30 '19 at 11:29
  • @Grace Depends on context, and without hearing the piece, I wouldn't try to claim it either way. You could argue that the chord is actually iv°, since it resolves to IV, but I'm not entirely convinced of the practicality of that analysis. Also, note that timing of the notes does not define their inclusion in the same chor. – user45266 May 1 '19 at 5:08

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