I am taking AP Music Theory at school, and today, during a diagnostic test, I came upon a question that I have never encountered. I was to name the scale degree name for a chord, consisting of C#, E, and G#. The key signature had 1 sharp (meaning it was either G Major or e minor), but I had no clue how to fit the chord in. It was not one of the regular ones.

  • 2
    Was the test question in G major or E minor? This is important because their scale degrees are a third away from each other.
    – Dekkadeci
    Commented Aug 16, 2019 at 0:06
  • The test did not mention it. the key signature had one sharp. Commented Aug 17, 2019 at 0:08

2 Answers 2


Well if you don't know the key signature (whether it's in the relative major or minor), you could try to see what the scale degree would be in both G major and E minor.

In G major, the root would be the sharp fourth, a scale degree only found in Lydian. Also, #iv triad wouldn't really be found often in music, to my knowledge.

In E minor, the root would be the the submediant. Even though in E minor the C and G are natural, it still is a chromatic mediant, a relationship more commonly found. Therefore, I'd assume the answer would be submediant.

My school doesn't have AP Music Theory, so I don't really know how the class teaches theory, but given the minimal context you were given, you'd have to make some assumptions to come to a clear answer.

  • In E minor, C comes in two forms - C# and Cnat.
    – Tim
    Commented Aug 16, 2019 at 7:25
  • @tim The C# would come from Dorian or melodic minor, neither of which have a G#, which is why I called it a chromatic mediant.
    – hvksh
    Commented Aug 16, 2019 at 8:40

The chord consisting of C♯ E and G♯ is C♯minor. Not diatonic to G major or E minor. C minor would be iv in key G, so it could be assumed that it would be #iv, or iv#.

If the key sig. actually meant E minor, then in the melodic minor scale, there is a C♯, but no G♯, so I discount that.

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