For example, if I play D, E, G#, B and C, should I call this chord Eadd#5/D?

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    A #5 gives you an augmented chord but it wouldn’t have the 5th as well. if E Is the root then B is the perfect 5th. G# is the major third. D is the flat 7th. C could be the sharp 5 or the flat 6th. I’d call it a flat 6th. – b3ko Jun 25 '19 at 17:49
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    You really woudln't have an 'add#5' note in a chord which basically would have a P5 anyway. Fairly absurd. – Tim Jun 25 '19 at 18:13
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    @B3ko - Properly, that #5 would be B#, not C anyway! In that situation, it'll only be C nat...a b6. – Tim Jun 25 '19 at 18:16

D E G# B looks like a nice E7 voicing to me. over dominant seventh chords we often add the #5 but since theres already a 5 in the chord - namely B - we call it the b13 or (occasionally) b6. You can satisfy yourself they all refer to the same note by counting up in thirds on the keyboard.

So it could be an E7b13/D. I might well drop the /D, depending on context - in jazz, for example, we often let the player choose the voicing. Since there's already a D in E7b13 we dont "lose information" by omitting the /D.

TLDR - its an E7b13. You could call it E7b13/D if you like.

(looks like Peter beat me to it - but this might be helpful anyway)

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There really are two questions.

...if I play D, E, G#, B and C...

First, arrange the tones in third to see the tertian chord C E G# B D

Cmaj9#5/D a major ninth chord with a sharp fifth and the ninth in the bass. That's really stretching things, not a likely chord. If that point is debated, we need to see the harmonic context to know what is the appropriate chord analysis.

However, the portion E G# B D as E7/D - a dominant seventh chord in third inversion - is completely ordinary.

If the added tone is notated as C then it's a flat 13th: E7b13/D.

Are there add#5 chords?

I think no. The fifth (altered or unaltered) isn't added to chords. Despite the fact that the fifth can be omitted, it is an essential chord tone not a mere added tone. In the case of omission it is still assumed to be there theoretically.

I think the question then is:

  • whether there is a combination of both a B and C, both a perfect fifth and a minor sixth over the root,
  • or if there is only one tone an augmented fifth above the root which would be properly spelled as B#.

In other words, I think the sharp (or flat) fifth should only be used when there is actually an alteration of the fifth of the chord. If the fifth is not altered, then an additional tone must be involved and it should be spelled and notated appropriately, most likely a #4/#11 or b6/b13.

So if this chord actually had used a sharp fifth, it might have been something like D E G# B# a E7#5/D.

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  • 'The fifth is an essential...' True, but it's in there whether we like it or not. It's the second harmonic of the root, and is heard on many instruments. If it's 'add#5', then that's an extra note, and wouldn't sound that good if the P5 was played too. If the chord needs #5 for whatever reason, then that's an 'essential' note. But I think the question is dubious anyway, why not simply make it an aug chord..? – Tim Jun 26 '19 at 13:19
  • Don't split hairs. When I say 'essential' I mean the essential, base triad tones. It seems reasonable to say all seventh chord tones would be 'essential'. The 9th up are extensions. That leaves 2nds, 4ths, and 6ths as add tones. My point is the 5th isn't 'added'. If it were an augmented chord then #5 and not the erroneous add#5 makes sense. – Michael Curtis Jun 26 '19 at 14:15
  • The only other question that lingers is whether the C should really to treated as a chord tone rather than a non-chord tone. People do that a lot putting all kinds of add and altered tones on chord labels attempting to cover melody tones. We would need to actual musical context to know that, otherwise this is just a theoretical question. In that case, spell the chords correctly using the conventions. – Michael Curtis Jun 26 '19 at 14:17

In this case, you would probably label the note C as b13, instead of #5. So a better label would be E7(b13)/D.

This chord could also be called Cmaj7(#5)/D.

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    Or Cmaj9+. There's nothing to indicate that the D is a non-harmonic tone, and you don't really need to use slashes unless you've got an important bass line. – Tom Serb Jun 25 '19 at 19:47
  • @TomSerb That works (though I would find Cmaj9(#5) to be clearer), but I totally disagree that you don't need the slashes. The OP put the D in the bass, therefore the bassline must be important. – Peter Jun 25 '19 at 21:27
  • Since the D makes it C maj9, wouldn't it be Cmaj9(#5)/D? – Tim Jun 26 '19 at 5:15

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