I'm having trouble figuring out how to name the chord in the third measure below. I initially guessed G7sus2 which would make a recognizable IV-V-I cadence, but then I am unsure how to analyze the preceding E7 which I thought was a secondary dominant with respect to A major.

[Please disregard playability/voicing etc. this is just a transcription sketch.]

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  • I call that The Steely Dan chord, D/G with the D's third as the top note. It is featured in many Steely Dan songs. May 16, 2020 at 15:28

4 Answers 4


The chord in bar 3 would have to have an F natural to be a G7sus2 so it’s either a Gmaj7sus2 or simply D/G.

I’ll buy the E7 as a V/V with a delayed resolution. Also, the Bm7 seems to have a double function, it’s the vi and also the ii of the V/V.

  • Thank you for your help! Sorry, yes I meant Gmaj7sus2. Both you and Albrecht Hügli mentioned a delayed resolution. How common is this particular type of delated resolution? (Secondary chords that don't resolve until after some chords non-diatonic to the key of the dominant.)
    – angryavian
    May 16, 2020 at 16:31
  • 1
    I don’t quite get what you said in parentheses, but yes, delayed resolutions are very common in all styles. A very basic example is the V IV I in blues (or a million other songs, lol), the V chord is delayed by the IV before going to the I. In “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight” by James Taylor towards the end of the verse in the key of D he does something similar to you, Bm7 E7, Em7 A7sus4, D. The Em7 delays the E7-A7sus4. May 16, 2020 at 16:45
  • Sorry for my lack of clarity. The example in my question is a little different than the V-IV-I example you mention because in the latter, the IV chord is diatonic, while in the former, the chord between E7 and A7 is not diatonic to the key of A (but is diatonic in D). I would imagine this kind of delayed resolution is less common than V-IV-I? The James Taylor example is very similar to my example, thanks for the reference!
    – angryavian
    May 16, 2020 at 17:51
  • 1
    My pleasure, I understand what you’re saying, thanks. I used the V-IV-I as the most basic example of a delayed resolution even though it is diatonic. Non-diatonic delayed resolutions are very common (of course not as common as diatonic ones) as are non resolving chords, a dominant chord the never finds a home so to speak. Keep in mind that it never really changes keys to A, A is the middle stepping stone in the path to D from the E7. If I think of a few more examples I will post them here in comments. May 16, 2020 at 18:19
  • 1
    Another example is Take the A Train: C, D7, Dm7, G7, C. The D7 to the G7 is delayed by the Dm7. May 17, 2020 at 3:13

The chord seems to be IV with a major seventh and a ninth (in this case Gmaj79), but without a third (B). You might say the third (or the tenth) was replaced with the ninth.

The melody starts on the ninth and then go through all notes from a Gmaj7 chord (G, F#, D) but the third.

Not playing the third have two good explanations:

  1. It makes the chord sound more dubious.
  2. Playing that ninth makes a good voice leading from B to G.
  • 1
    Te 3rd in any chord is a very important note. Without it, the chord is neither maj. nor min. When replaced by a 2nd, (or 9th), it becomes a sus2. When there's a 9th in the chord, there's usually a 7th too.And to call it Gmaj7 or Gmaj9 presumes there is a 3rd included. If the 3rd is there, along with 9th, it's 'add9'.
    – Tim
    May 16, 2020 at 5:24
  • I'm pretty sure the third is a very important note, that's why the chord will sound dubious when you remove it, which might be desired in some styles of music. There are chords without thirds since Romanticism. If your comment is just about correct nomenclature, I prefer not to enter in that matter as different people notate in different ways. If I replace Gmaj79 with Gmaj7sus9 is it alright for you?
    – fefff
    May 16, 2020 at 18:02

[Please disregard playability/voicing etc. this is just a transcription sketch

who guarantees to me that there's no typo or transcription fault?

If there would be an E in this chord (like in the chord before) - or the l.h. was a third lower, misreading treble clef with bass clef - we would have Em (sus4 and 9) and the progression would be:

F#7 - Bm -> V7/vi

Bm - E7 -> iim7-V7/V (A will be reached only in the succeeding bar!)

Em sus4 9 - A7 - D -> iim-V7 -I

  • 1
    True but as written without inserting the E it’s still a variation on IV-V-I. May 16, 2020 at 16:53

Bar 3 isn't much of a problem. It's a G chord, IV in D major, with decorations. Might be worth considering the bass note in the previous chord as A♭ rather than G♯ though.

  • I’m curious, why Ab? It’s a sharp key and the G# makes it an E7 with the 3rd in the bass. May 16, 2020 at 16:38

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