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Note : I had trouble to name this question properly. I would've gone with "What's that chord name" but it doesn't seem to help anyone that would stumble across a similar problem to find my question. Anyway, my question seem to be very specific.

Context : I'm pretty new to music theory I'm trying to analyse the music "Rude Buster" from Deltarune OST (link), and so far I'm slowly making progress in understanding the piece, which is nice :) Though, there's a part where I struggle to find the adequate way to analyse it.

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The piece is in F#minor. In the first half of bar 1 & 3, the crazy bass highlights an F#5, which goes well with the chord part that does an A major, creating a F#m7. Then, in the second half of the measures, it goes to highlighting a weird G5 chord when the chord section stay on A major (except for the last one of the bar which is an inversion of F#m).

The result is creating some kind of polychord, A upon G5, or bIII upon bII5, in relative, assuming that I got the key right.

My problem : The thing is, I can't really make a link between what I hear and what I can analyze out of it, because I've never encountered such a weird combination of notes. Since I can't really put a name on it, I guessed that it should sound dissonant, but it doesn't really to me.

My guesses :

  • My first guess was just saying that the bass is crazy anyway and "has the right to" (=can without sounding too dissonant) spend half of a measure playing some crazy notes. But it doesn't match it's behavior for the rest of the piece. For the rest, I've figured it did quite a good job playing the chord tones (while often supplementing the fondamental) and while using some passing tones here and there.

  • Another guess would be that a B is implicit, making this chord G7#11 (with the 9, A). This make more sense to why this chord doesn't sound that dissonant to me. So I would be tempted to treat it as a G7#11omit3, in relative a bII7#11omit3, borrowed from the parallel phrygian I guess ?

I like the second one, but I'll gladly hear what you have to say on it.

EDIT : Actually my second guess can't be totally accurate, as I did not include the E of the A major chord, also the 13 of G. And there's no 7 in that chord either. So it would be a glorious G13(#11)omit3omit7, in relative a bII13(#11)omit3omit7 ? Pretty crazy chord right here !

  • Interesting ! The bass does stand out a lot in this piece, though could you call the A an ostinato, when it's only been played two times before, half a measure at a fast tempo ? I get the idea though, it's kinda related to what I was trying to say in my first guess :) – 021 Feb 19 at 18:50
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    My mistake--turns out that the OP's excerpt is from the very beginning of the piece, but the bassline is isolated as its own very prominent entity later. I'm a fan of treating the chords and bassline as separate entities in this case. – Dekkadeci Feb 19 at 18:52
  • @Dekkadeci I understand. Though I got some interesting insights from analysing it as a whole, since together they were forming some 7 chords that I thought fitted better to what I hear in the piece. Except here, where they form this massive weird chord :D But yeah, I see the point in analysing it separately. EDIT : Ok I've misread your comment as well, so in this part you don't necessarly think it's a good thing to treat them separately ? Right. – 021 Feb 19 at 19:00
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The chord, from your description, highlights G and D in the bass, and has A, C♯, and E in the upper structure. I have not listened to the song, but from these notes, to me there are at least two distinct possibilities.

Your polychord analysis was my first instinct, seeing the upper structure and the lower component. A/G5 would be equivalent to the tertian quality G(9♯11), omitting the third (which seems reasonable enough, since we have the major seventh). If we truly are in the key of F♯ minor (A major was my first instinct - mixolydian is a pretty common choice for modal mixture, but then again this is VGM, so phrygian's not out of the picture by any means), then this chord is built on the ♭II scale degree. This could very well be a tritone substitution for the dominant chord C♯ in a jazz-based context, or modal mixture (hence your phrygian explanation) or a Neapolitan 6th, depending heavily on context and style.

However, there's another explanation that may have merit. You mention some earlier examples of the A chord appearing in the upper structure with a bass structure outside of that chord. It is very possible to me that this G power chord idea is simply a move upwards from F♯ to G along the phrygian scale, while the A chord is somewhat dronelike in that it holds over in seeming defiance of the bassline for effect. This would make a lot of sense if the bass outlined, say, F♯5, then G5, then A5. I think that it's probably a good idea to view the bass and chords as being separate entities in this case, and it may be the case in your example as well.

And of course, it's always possible that neither A nor G are the root of the chord and this is some nasty inversion, but that's unlikely, and I think you probably would have picked up on that.

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  • Very interesting insights ! And a lot of vocabulary, some terms I need to go look for them since I don't know them yet, which is a very good occasion to learn new terms. Give me time to look these terms and I'll come back with an answer :) Have you seen my edit ? It seems you were redacting your answer while I did my edit. I think you did a mistake when saying that we have the maj7 in the chord, since we don't have any F# in this chord. So, in tertian, it would actually be a G13(#11)omit3omit7... that's a lot of omissions there ! – 021 Feb 19 at 17:55
  • @021 Good catch - no major seventh. Let me fix that... – user45266 Feb 19 at 18:28
  • Either I'm mistaken myself, but I believe there are still some mistakes in the second paragraph : G(9♯11), omitting the third (which seems reasonable enough, since we have the major seventh) still says we have the major seventh, and doesn't include the 13 (or 6) (E) – 021 Feb 20 at 10:01
  • @021 Thanks. In the future, you can just propose an edit if you see something like that. – user45266 Feb 20 at 16:39
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As you say your pretty new to music theory ...

  • you shouldn’t start analyzing chords like these crazy chords
  • don’t choose a notation with errors
  • don’t try to transfer or adapt the RN. to a harmony that isn’t written in this music language and doesn’t fit in this system.

the simple analysis is:

A/f#m, A/G ... etc. we can be pleased understanding this construction. More interpretation isn’t appropriate to this chords or this progression.

G isn’t N6 of F#m. A isn’t bIII, while the bass note F (natural) should be E#.

of course we can say A/G is G7911 ... but what have we won?

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  • Uh... OP does say they're new to music theory, but to me, anyone who can handle extended chord naming and polychords can handle roman numeral analysis. I completely missed OP even saying that in the first place, because their post was written quite intelligently. – user45266 Feb 19 at 21:08
  • Some questions : - What are the errors on the notation ? The way the natural symbols are handled ? Because of the natural F instead of E# ? - What is RN ? - Why A isn't bIII ? – 021 Feb 20 at 9:51
  • I prefer to avoid using polychords for my analysis because they're not very meaningful for me for right now. I can't really put a sound on A upon G5 but I kinda can on G13(#11)omit3omit7, since in this notation it highlights the link between this chord and a G13(#11), even though some notes are missing, it induces that they might be implicitly heard by a listener. Then again, maybe I just lack the knowledge to put a sound on A upon G5, and if you and other person say that it's more meaningful this way, I'll take it ! Thanks. – 021 Feb 20 at 9:58

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