Talk:Chord (music)

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What is a triad? Hyacinth 05:50, 22 Jan 2004 (UTC)

Proposed outline[edit]

Here's my proposed outline:

  1. intro
    1. In music and music theory a chord (from the middle English cord, short for accord) [edit: why is it defined as the Greek term for Gut, string in the header?] is three(3)or more notes sounding simultaneously, or near simultaneously over a period of time. Broadly, any combination of three or more notes is a chord, although during the common practice period in western music and most popular music some combinations were given more prominence than others. Thus in common usage a chord is only those groups of three notes which are tonal or have diatonic functionality.
    2. A chord is thus also the harmonic function of the group of three notes, and it is unnessary to have all three notes form a simultaneity. Less than three notes may and often do function, in context, as a simultaneity of all notes of chord. One example is a power chord, another is a broken chord or arpeggio, where each note in a chord is sounded one after the other. One of the most familiar broken chord figures is Alberti bass. See: accompaniment.
  2. Chord sequences
  3. Harmonic function
  4. Definition and Construction of Chords
    1. Chords are named for how many notes they contain and more commonly for what type of intervals they are constructed from.
    2. How many: trichord, tetrachord, hexachord, etc.
    3. What kind: tertian, secundal, quartal.
    4. Chords are labelled with chord symbols.
  5. The triad
    1. Types of triads: Major chord, minor chord, diminished chord, Augmented chord
  6. Seventh chords
  7. Extended chords
  8. Added tone chords
    1. Sustained chords
  9. Borrowed chords
  10. Other chords: Polychords.
  11. Nonchord tones and dissonance
  12. Chord sequences
  13. Harmonic function


  • "A beautiful example of this is the "major-diminished", with a minor third, diminished fifth, and major seventh. This resolves to a fully diminished seventh."

I removed the above example from Chord (music)#Nonchord tones and dissonance, as it is an example of an seventh chord resolving to another seventh chord, both of which are extended chords. Hyacinth 23:28, 5 Oct 2004 (UTC)


I reverted edits by User: because the information on seventh chords contradicted itself and, more importantly, was inaccurate. First the article stated:

  • "There are three main types of seventh chords."
When the previous article said, "There are 6 types of seventh chords composed of the following intervals" and gave correct details.

Then the article states:

  • "There is only one form of the seventh chord."
This is followed by sections labeled "Major chords" and "Minor chords", which are not seventh chords (and, with sevenths, are each two types of seventh chords), and the last section "Seventh chords" also declares they above sections did not describe seventh chords.

I'm not sure what this is, vandalism, a test, someone very mistaken about music theory...? Hyacinth 21:40, 15 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Some Additions/Corrections[edit]

Okay, I've been an enthusastic reader of the Wikipedia for months, and am just now getting up the courage to submit and edit... so I am really hoping that I don't hurt anyone's feelings! However, I am a music theory professor, so I do feel like I know my stuff about theory, which is why I thought I'd dive in here.

I beefed up the sections on seventh chords and extended chords. I admit that I am not as fluent in jazz theory, but what I posted checks out with most textbooks as far as Common Practice Period harmony goes. TobyRush 9 Dec 2004

I may be most likely to feel "ownership" of this article and far from being offended I appreciate your edits. The explination is more clear and the details corrected. One note, two requests:
  1. "Most textbooks": can you give one or two examples? Do textbooks tend to agree or diverge in their classifications? Wikipedia:Cite sources may be useful if you have not seen it already.
  2. Please see A Hard Day's Night (song) and its talk page, where there has been much work regarding the opening chord (note Wikipedia:No original research), and User_talk:Luqui#Nonchord tone.
Hyacinth 01:16, 10 Dec 2004 (UTC)
Thank you for the information, Hyacinth. I've added a "references" section and included some of the textbooks I am most familiar with that support this info. I didn't know if the "further reading" section was for cited sources, which is why I created a new one. Should I also be doing in-text citation?
I'll check out the other pages you referenced; they sound enticing. --TobyRush 15:35, 10 Dec 2004 (UTC)

Added tone chords[edit]

Noetica, what do you mean by uncanonic? Hyacinth 22:07, 8 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Ah, you're referring to my edit summary when I changed this:
An added tone chord is a traditional chord with an extra "added" note, such as the commonly added sixth. This includes chords with an added ninth, thirteenth etc, but that explicitly do not include the intervening thirds as in an extended chord.
To this:
An added tone chord is a traditional chord with an extra "added" note, such as the commonly added sixth (above the root). In modern, non-classical, harmony this may be taken to include chords with an added ninth, thirteenth etc, but that explicitly do not include the intervening thirds as in an extended chord.
I summarised like this: "Clarified, but the content for added tone chords remains worrisomely uncanonic." By "uncanonic" I meant two things: 1) not in accord with some standard; and 2) not tending toward consistency, in the way we would expect a standard treatment to be consistent. Let me now comment on these in turn, as they apply this section and also the nearby sections:
1. Few chords are generally accepted as added tone chords apart from the added sixth chord. In particular, sus4 chords are not to be aligned with the added sixth, as they had been before I edited in the vicinity. (Sus4 does not normally include the third from the root, but rather has the fourth replacing the third; this is quite different from the added sixth chord, in which the fifth from the root must be present also for the chord to retain its identity; see New Grove.) Furthermore, the inclusion of extended chords that lack some of their parts as added tone chords is suspect. The New Grove says this about extended chords, in jazz:
A chord made up of the triad and one or more added 3rds above the 5th (generally the major 7th, 9th, 11th, and 13th); any of the notes between the root and the note defining the uppermost interval may be omitted.
No mention here, or anywhere else, of calling extended chords with such omissions added tone chords. And beyond jazz, in classical theory, there is no such talk either. It is almost de rigueur to omit the third in an 11th chord, and one still calls it an 11th chord, without feeling any need to reclassify it it any way.
Such considerations as these led me to use the epithet "uncanonic".
2. The treatment of extended chords, added tone chords, sus chords, and a couple of other things remaining somewhat inconsistent in the article, and in the articles to which links are provided (e.g., Extended chord), I formed the opinion that these sections and articles were uncanonic in the sense that do not yet provide an authoritative point of reference.
It's also a bit like what I said about intervals, here. Too many different approaches conflated. I would be happy to made clearer distinctions between classical theory (which I know well) and modern non-classical theory (which I know well enough to spot features as non-classical), but not just now! What I will do now is go and add a full stop to "etc", which I missed when I edited the section on added tone chords. --Noetica 01:29, 9 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Thanks, what do you mean by non-classical? Do you mean popular, folk, and other musics excluding classical music? Post-classical music era? Everything not European classical music? The latter, I assume, is taken to have its own 'theory' (or set of theories), with other forms possibly having their own theories? Hyacinth 03:24, 9 Mar 2005 (UTC)

I think these categories are notoriously vague, but I think it would be irresponsible of to ignore the fact that there are such categories. I also think that these categories need bettrer regulating here at Wikipedia, but I'm sure I'm not alone in that. In the present context by "classical" (uncapitalised) I mean something quite broad. I mean "of Western art music of the late common practice period, assuming a fully developed system of tonality, and exclusively tertian harmony". So by "non-classical" I mean "anything else", but especially later developments in broadly Western music: in art music, in jazz and its derivatives, etc.
We are all in the same boat with the problem of Wiki-handling the enormous diversity that a wealth of different musics presents, are we not? My general point is that it may be best to get explicit in how we restrict discussion, or how we broaden it. To this end, I think it may be best to have articles (or major divisions of articles) with titles like this: "harmony in Western classical music" (again note the non-capped "classical"), with next-level divisions titled, say, "18th century harmony", or perhaps "harmony in the Classical period"; and titles like "harmony in jazz and 20th century popular music". You get the idea. There could be a common core at the start, and then specific treatment as required, under these different headings. I think that the problem is well exhibited at Interval (music), alas.
Thanks for taking note. I don't want to interfere, and I'll just give my opinions in Talk until people think I should edit more, in the general domain of music in WP. I fear I am not satisfied with your recent "canonicisation" of the material on added tone chords, but I don't want to dwell on it. Essentially, there are difficulties of logical and taxonomic relations still, when you look at adjacent sections and at the subsidiary articles to which there are links. --Noetica 05:15, 9 Mar 2005 (UTC)

I just posted a big long reply which didn't go through and was lost. ERG.
See: Talk:Interval (music) and Wikipedia:Requests for comment#Article content disputes.
In short: I think that the articles you propose would be great (such as "Harmony of European classical music"), but obviously would not replace existing articles (in this case Harmony).
Similarly, I feel strongly that there should be a comparative presentation of similar intervals in various theoretical or tuning systems, somewhere. Whether it is at Interval (music) or "Comparison of musical intervals" or some other title I do not know. There also should be "here are all the ratios", "here are all the integers", "here are all the diatonic intervals", etc., presentations. Hyacinth 17:23, 9 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Hyacinth, I think we agree on everything that's important here. We would like comprehensive treatment, and avoidance of Eurocentrism, 18C-centrism, and every other centrism, right? And cross-comparisons too. The methods and structures are what would need attention, as well as the close attention to detail that we clearly both deem paramount. Surely we agree also that, somewhere and somehow, the needs of relative beginners have to be accommodated. Am I right? Anyway, see my response to you at Talk:Interval (music) also. Go well! --Noetica 00:53, 10 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Agreed then. My advice is to not worry to much about article titles, as they can always be moved later with little trouble. Hyacinth 02:06, 10 Mar 2005 (UTC)


IMHO, a chord should be built from thirds, i.e. the definition seems to be incorrect without mentioning that point:

In music and music theory, a chord (from the middle English cord, short for accord) is three or more different notes or pitches sounding simultaneously, or nearly simultaneously, over a period of time. For example, if you simultaneously play any three (or more) keys of a piano, you have just played a chord.

For example, if you play simultaneously C, D and E, it will be not a chord, but a cluster. ---lulu- 21:00, 6 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Read the rest of the article. What you define as a chord is actually a tertian chord. Hyacinth 21:04, 6 Apr 2005 (UTC)


What is the reasoning behind the random pixel width on the images? Hyacinth 10:51, 27 November 2005 (UTC)

The guitar C chord states four notes are being played. This is impossible to tell without seeing the player's right hand. If strumming, six notes would be played: two Gs, two Cs and two Es.

Please disregard this if I'm wrong but I believe the chord being played in the picture, if the guitar is in standard tuning, is actually written as C/G or 1st iversion of the C major chord. More precicely the notes being played, if all the strings are being strummed as mentioned above, make two I6 chords one octave apart from eachother.

In fact, it's a second inversion chord but would only be notated as C/G in sheet music that specifically required a second inversion to be played. However, in strumming styles where the actual inversion is often not important, this is a commonly played shape for chords notated simply as C or C major. (Mark 02 May 06)
I added the 2nd inversion note to the image for clarity. As a guitar player myself I would NEVER use *that* fingering when a C Major chord was called for unless that voicing was specifically needed. I realize, of course, that the player might be skipping the lowest string in playing that chord. Even if they are that is a very non-standard fingering for an open C chord.Es330td 15:26, 11 December 2006 (UTC)

Number of notes in a chord[edit]

I have just finished editing this page. As Otto Karolyi says in his famous "Introducing music" (p.63): "Two or more notes sounded simultaneously are known as a chord. The vertical combination of three sounds: fundamental note, third and fifth, gives us a chord known as a triad". — Preceding unsigned comment added by Andeggs (talkcontribs) 18:42, 25 December 2005 (UTC)

This is nonstandard. Note that the article contains no information on two note "chords". Hyacinth 09:32, 26 December 2005 (UTC)
As George T. Jones explains in HarperCollins College Outline Music Theory (1994, ISBN 0064671682), "Two tones sounding together are usually termed an interval, while three or mores tones are called a chord."
Again, "When three or more notes are sounded together, the combination is called a CHORD [emphasis theirs]." Surmani, Andrew (2004). Essentials of Music Theory: A Complete Self-Study Course for All Musicians. ISBN 0739036351.
Very puzzling. I just picked up and opened, at random, a book of Haydn quartets, and I'm looking at the end of the Allegro of Op 55 No 2. The movement is in F major, it ends in what is undeniably a perfect cadence, and the final ... ummmm .... combination of notes is (bottom to top) ... F, F, A, F. This is not an isolated instance - there are probably hundreds of examples of perfect closes, which absolutely do assert a key, but where the fifth is absent. If I am to believe what the article claims - ie that we should not call such a combination of sounds a chord, because it contains only two notes - then I can't help wondering what the point of defining a chord actually is. It doesn't seem to correspond to anything which fulfils a unique musical function. --Stephen Burnett 16:45, 29 July 2007 (UTC)
This was a genuine attempt to elicit an explanation. Can nobody explain why I'm not allowed to attach the name "chord" to a combination of notes with only two degrees of the scale, despite the fact that it is clearly acting as one and performing a clearly defined harmonic function? Moreover, this is not just any transient harmonic function, but the most crucially important in classical western harmony - the tonic in a V-I progression which ends a movement. --Stephen Burnett 10:59, 11 August 2007 (UTC)
You didn't provide a reference, but I'm not going to be picayune and demand that you do so before discussing this further. Maybe this is a legitimate dispute (over the chord-ness of 2 notes only). If so, then maybe this should be rewritten in the article to reflect this academic disagreement (so long as it doesn't bend the lead out of shape too much). Perhaps a section on scholarship? In any case, references saying 2 notes do make a chord would be helpful. +ILike2BeAnonymous 19:52, 12 August 2007 (UTC)
The reference I provided was an example from practical usage. It's not a dispute - just an observation that common musical practice appears to differ from the dictionary definitions which many here seem attached to. Given that many two-note combinations can and do fulfil a very well-defined harmonic function, and seem to do it pretty well - well enough in Haydn's judgement, anyway - I'd really, really, really like to know what is special about a "chord" - ie the 3 note variety - which makes it worth defining? What is so special about it, if it does not have the exclusive ability to fulfill the function of acting as a building block of musical harmony? --Stephen Burnett 20:17, 12 August 2007 (UTC)
It's not the trinity that's "holy", it's Wikipedia policy to cite sources, especially in case of dispute. What we have, though friendly and collaborative, is a dispute: we disagree on what the text of the article should be. I don't believe it is "picayune" to request that people criticizing my work, for which I did consult sources, find sources which support their arguments.
My quick answer to your question, however, is unsupported by citation: Since two notes may, in context, fully imply a chord, that would make them that three note chord. In context they play the part of a chord, but they're not a chord. I assume Haydn was well enough away of this and had some sort of way to discuss incomplete versus complete "chords". If he was not, I believe many theorists and composers do today. Hyacinth (talk) 22:56, 19 April 2008 (UTC)

Diads, or diad chords[edit]

It is easy to find mention of "diad chords" on the web. How much of that qualifies as reliable sourcing, I do not know. This was the first google hit just now. I have to disagree about two notes "being" the implied three note chord. What is strongly implied in the mind of one listener may be entirely absent in another's. While some instances may have a diad nailed into a solid cadence that admits no ambiguity, there will be other cases as well, where a variety of different chords may be implied by a single diad. Music, after all, must balance between familiarity and surprise, if it is to be at all interesting or engaging.

That the article is missing information on two-note chords merely means that information is yet to be added. __Just plain Bill (talk) 13:40, 15 June 2009 (UTC)

I think what makes the biggest difference as to whether a dyad will be perceived as a chord is whether or not it is part of a progression, or whether it is just two notes (context), and that a mandolin and banjo website would primarily be considering dyads as part of progressions. Hyacinth (talk) 16:37, 15 June 2009 (UTC)
Two questions here:
  • Are two notes perceived as a chord when heard?
As you say, it depends on context. I believe that context includes the level of musical experience on the part of the listener. Certainly a simultaneous pair of notes may be heard as concordant or dissonant, as a sound in itself, or as indicating a "fuller" chord. Sequential pairs of notes may or may not be heard as the beginnings of an arpeggio... for example, lots of major-mode tunes (in melodic traditions) end with a 1,3,1 sequence strongly implying the I chord, very often as part of a V, I cadential ending. (Where there is a chordal accompaniment to such tunes, it may very well vary from time to time, or among individual accompanists. Not uncommon for a C-E pair to suggest an A minor chord in one spot, and a C major chord in another, for example. For another example, in D major, an accidental natural C may be usually accompanied by a C major chord in one tune, and a D7 in another.)
I think the present question is better framed as:
  • May two notes be called a chord in discussion?
I think there is a case to be made for calling two notes a chord in some contexts. Various authors will differ. Some may insist that there must be at least three notes present, before calling any given sound a "chord," but diad or dyad chords are certainly spoken (and written) of as such. See also Power chord.
Seeing this (at the end of the section) is what prompted me to revisit this here. __Just plain Bill (talk) 18:43, 15 June 2009 (UTC)
If you all could cite a source or sources this discussion may have been over long ago. You may not cite Wikipedia. Hyacinth (talk) 20:59, 15 June 2009 (UTC)
Was there a point in what you just typed? The sources are there for anyone who cares to go looking. There's one (Karolyi) right at the top of this section. What has "long ago" got to do with it, anyway? __Just plain Bill (talk) 21:19, 15 June 2009 (UTC)
Without a copy of Karolyi in front of me, I'm reluctant to add the cite requested. Again, this needs to be addressed by someone who knows and cares, and has the time to spend on this. Off to practice my two-note chords double stops. __Just plain Bill (talk) 02:33, 16 June 2009 (UTC)
The question of whether two notes can be called a chord seems to have stopped without resolution. On the article page it is currently (Nov. 2017) answered affirmatively. Is this the consensus of knowledgeable editors using good sources? If so, shouldn't there be a statement to that effect here? I see that the references cited are contradictory, one saying 2, the other 3. Kdammers (talk) 13:10, 8 November 2017 (UTC)
The resolution may be found in the article, where “set of pitches consisting of two or more (usually three) notes” has stood unchallenged for years now. (I got my hands on a copy of Karolyi’s book, and added that cite.) The text reflects what two differing reliable sources say. Now I will go change the parenthesis to “usually three or more” to reflect the Benward and Saker reference more clearly. Thanks for drawing attention to this. Just plain Bill (talk) 14:23, 8 November 2017 (UTC)

Merging Chord symbol with Chord (music)[edit]

Both pages need a clean up since the fundamental concepts are fairly impenetrable for beginners. At the moment the triads and sevenths are listed in detail on the chord symbol page but not on the chord (music) page and this seems the wrong way around. One solution is to repeat the material on the two pages - but since chord symbol really only requires one column in these tables - shouldn't we just merge? Andeggs 08:12, 6 March 2006 (UTC)

My proposed outline for the new page (titled Chord (music)) is:
1. Constructing chords
Number of notes
Type of interval
2. Common chords
Inverted chords
Extended chords
Power chords
3. Other types of chord
Added tone
4. Chord sequence
Cossonance and dissonance
In the 'common chords' section I propose we include the tables from Chord symbol. I think the section of that page titled 'Roman numerals' should be woven into the text appropriately. Please put your thoughts on this below, if there are no comments I will assume agreement! Andeggs 19:47, 10 March 2006 (UTC)
The temporary space for the merge is here. Feel free to assist with the editing.
Sounds good. Hyacinth 13:17, 14 March 2006 (UTC)
No strong opinion on merge, but above outline looks good. −Woodstone 19:00, 14 March 2006 (UTC)
The big merge is online now - hope you like it! Please edit as you see fit and don't just revert Andeggs 22:53, 16 March 2006 (UTC)

Systematic bias[edit]

I've added the template on countering systematic bias because this page is mainly about Western chords. Get rid of it if you think it's unnecessary Andeggs 22:57, 16 March 2006 (UTC)

I don't call myself an expert, but from my (brief) reading of the article, there is a Western bias. However, it can easily be explained. In other cultures, alternate scales are used, and within the musical tradition of a culture, certain intervals will be preferred. Therefore, alternate scales will give rise to alternate chords, but much of the theory is still the same.--Chris van Hasselt 22:01, 27 March 2006 (UTC)
What are some chords that are missing? Hyacinth 05:45, 28 March 2006 (UTC)
I'm no expert either but I think it's less that chords are missing and more that some cultures compose their note patterns completely differently. See Raga, Chinese musicology, maqam and so on. A good place to start with this is, suitably enough, the page on Classical music Andeggs 07:06, 28 March 2006 (UTC)
What do those things have to do with chords? Hyacinth 17:56, 9 April 2006 (UTC)
That indeed is the question which I believe this article should answer before the systematic bias banner is removed. For example, the fact that the same melody can differ from major to minor depending on where it is played on a scale in Chinese musicology must have some impact on the way chords are constructed in that context. I'm not expert enough to know what this impact is though! Andeggs 15:48, 10 April 2006 (UTC)
The trouble is, not many non-Western styles use "chords" in the way Western music does. The very notion of "chord" is pretty Western. However, I think the intro should be changed. A statement should be added to the effect that "chord," in its most general sense, refers to a musically meaningful set of notes that can appear as a simultaneity. A link should be added to "Set Theory (Music)," which addresses chords in this sense. Then the article should say that it treats chords in a Western context. Tymoczko 22:40, 10 April 2006 (UTC)
Yes those are good edits Tymoczko. Still not totally happy with "For information on non-Western styles, consult the Wikipedia articles specific to that style." as its a bit of a cop-out IMO. Anyway...Andeggs 07:19, 11 April 2006 (UTC)
Thanks. I agree that it sounds like a cop out. We could just remove the sentence perhaps. Tymoczko 13:58, 11 April 2006 (UTC)
Cop-outs are ok in wikipedia. Contributions by an editor do not have to be complete. A signal to people with other knowledge to chip in is acceptable. −Woodstone 14:05, 11 April 2006 (UTC)

I see that there is a need for explination. What the article needs to qualify is not that it describes "Western" chords but that chords are Western. Hyacinth 19:44, 11 April 2006 (UTC)

This isn't quite right. There are some non-Western styles that use chords -- for instance Gypsy music, some African music, and so on. In the cases I'm thinking of, the chords are triads, but I'm sure there are examples of non-Western styles that use nontriadic chords. I think the balance is about right -- chords are predominantly Western, but they exist in some other styles; however, this article is mostly concerned with Western chords. Tymoczko 20:42, 11 April 2006 (UTC)
I ask again, what are some of the chords that are missing? Hyacinth 05:11, 19 June 2006 (UTC)

Interval naming[edit]

I welcome Tymoczko's recent improvements and also the decision taken to limit this article to the traditional Western development of chord theory, as that will allow for a more defintive treatment of the subject, without having to include all sorts of exceptions. However, the attempt to present an alternative pentatonic interpretation of interval names as being 'equally justified' is ill advised in my opinion. In traditional western theory, intervals, historically, have been named according to the note spacings of the seven note diatonic scale, and its derivative, the chromatic scale. More precisely, intervals have been numbered according to their diatonic derivation and qualified according to their chromatic inflection.

There has never been any mainstream acceptance of a system in which intervals are defined according to the note spacings of the pentatonic scale. Instead, the note relationships of the pentatonic scale have been painlessly integrated into diatonic theory. The degrees of the scale can be properly numbered from 1 to 5, but the notes are named with reference to the seven degree diatonic scale, hence the missing letters in the pentatonic example given in the article: GA_CD_F. Therefore, even in a completely pentatonic composition, the interval G to C is a fourth, not a third. And the next G above forms an octave, not a (guessing here) 'hexave'. G to C can't be a third as long as we apply note names of the seven note diatonic scale to it. It could only be called a third if the pentatonic scale had developed its own note names (as it has in some non-Western traditions) and the interval spanned three of them.

Maybe Tymoczko will agree with some of my comments and make some modifications. As for me, I'll just remove the word 'chromatic' from 'semitone' as it's incorrect. Three chromatic semitones above G would make G### (not a third but a triply augmented unison!!) Mark (11 April 06)

Thanks! I think you're oversimplifying the issue with regard to intervals. Consider the C harmonic minor scale: the chord Ab-B-Eb is not tertian, even though it is aurally indistinguishable from a minor triad. Ab-B is a second, relative to the harmonic minor scale. This is recognized by most traditional theorists. Furthermore, the issue cannot be reduced to one of "spelling" -- since this sort of issue can arise with respect to harmonic minor music that is improvised, and never written down. The underlying question is how the music itself behaves.
About the pentatonic scale, one often finds successions of the following kind in jazz: G-C-F, A-D-G, C-F-A. This is very clearly a sequence of "tertian sonorities" relative to an underlying pentatonic scale. The standard term "fourth chord" isn't relevant, since C-F-A is a triad. But in order to explain the structural similarity of G-C-F, A-D-G, and C-F-A, one has to refer to an underlying pentatonic scale, and one has to understand that the chords are all "tertian" relative to that scale. If you go to my website, you can find a paper ("Scale Networks and Debussy," forthcoming in the Journal of Music Theory), that contains examples of this phenomenon in Debussy, Art Tatum, Bill Evans, Herbie Hancock, and Ligeti.
I'll try to soften the language a bit, though, so as not to be misleading. Tymoczko 22:35, 11 April 2006 (UTC)
Yes, thanks, I'd like to read that paper - What's your website? ((Mark)
The paper is at The pentatonic examples come toward the end of Section I. I think Andreggs most recent changes are good, and help guard against misunderstandings. Tymoczko 13:56, 12 April 2006 (UTC)

Template:Infobox Chord[edit]

I have proposed, at Template_talk:Infobox_Chord#From the root, that the infobox be modifed by adding a list of intervals from the root (I don't know how to do it myself) and would appreciate comments and assistance. Hyacinth 04:32, 25 April 2006 (UTC)

Common chord: terminology and definitions[edit]

I think the section on common chords has some anomalies regarding the terminology and definitions given within its various sub sections. I'm reluctant to change any of them as I'm well aware that terms can vary between regions. Also terms, symbols, etc., that had specific meanings when I was a student may, several decades later, have acquired wider or even different meanings that are now considered 'official'. So, at the risk of appearing obsolete, I'd like to list, for anyone's consideration, those that I feel may need some attention.


1. The table has a column for 'chord names' but two of these are named augmented/major and augmented/minor. Obviously these aren't the chord names. I assume the author was just giving their descriptions (augmented + type of seventh), in which case they shouldn't be in the column labeled "chord name".

2. CAM7 - This symbol is used for the chord C augmented with a major seventh. Is it standard? - I've never come across the use of the letter 'A' to represent augmented chords. (Maybe I should get out more)

Extended chords

1. Whereas the main article (extended chord) explains extended chords (including seventh chords) as being logical tertian extensions of the triad, in this article they are defined as being extensions of the seventh - and so begin at the ninth. In other words, the seventh is presented as a fundamental diatonic chord and the ninths, etc., as being heavyweight versions (extensions) of it. I was taught that extended chords mean extensions of the triad and that sevenths are the first extended chord - but I can see sense in both interpretations.

2. The term major fourth is used as a chord name for the note combination: 1-3-5-11. Is it acceptable nowadays? In my day (and region) it was always an added eleventh.

3. The table includes chords without sevenths as extended chords, whereas the extended chord article suggests that chords without the seventh shouldn't be classed as extended chords but just as added note chords.

4. Some seventhless chords are included in a table, such as the 6/9 chord - but there are three note combinations not covered:




Does anyone know if these combinations have acquired standard, or even semi-standard names? If so, they could be included for completeness.

5. The use of the word dominant for sevenths, ninths, etc. when they are not actually built on the dominant scale degree nor otherwise exhibiting any dominant functionality used to be unacceptable in most circles. Now it's commonly used - but is it considered officially correct?

Sixth chords

It's unfortunate that this section doesn't discuss the added sixth chord here as it's the most common sixth chord of all. In fact, for many musicians, it's the only one they know. True, it's an added note chord and is described there, but the fact that it is the most important sixth chord means it should be treated under 'Sixth chords' and in first place, ahead of augmented and neopolitan sixths. I think the average reader will be confused by its absence from this section. I also feel that this section shouldn't link to 'augmented sixth chords' as its 'main article'. The augmented sixth is just one type of sixth chord.

Suspended chords

It is stated that in suspended chords, such as the suspended fourth "...the fourth is played with or replaces the third" Another school of thought insists that if the third is present the chord can't properly be called 'suspended' but instead is an added eleventh (or major fourth?)

Power chords

I think this section may benefit from being split in two: fifth chords (or bare fifths) and power chords. Really, from a theoretical and historical perspective, fifth chords are far more important than power chords. The concept of perfect fifth intervals as thirdless chords dates back centuries to the universal acceptance in Western music of the third as a standard chord member. The omission of the third produced a 'bare' fifth - a hollow sounding chord, reminiscent of medieval organum, and its use was often met with disapproval - the opening bars of Beethoven's ninth symphony being a famous example.

Power chord, on the other hand, is just a descriptive term introduced to describe the sound of fifth chords played on an overdriven electric guitar. The term only dates back to the late 1950s following Link Wray's discovery that bare fifths, when distorted, produce a strikingly powerful effect like no other chord, for reasons well explained in the power chord article.

Any comments? abuse? ridicule? Feel free to respond. Thanks (Mark, 27 April '06)

Most of those suggestions look good to me; I'd say change away. I'd started working my way down the article, but got tired after I did the triad table. I favor considering seventh chords to be basic. I also think that the use of "dominant" to describe a type of chord is now acceptable. I don't like the term "major fourth." But in general I think your instincts are pretty good and you ought to make changes as you see fit -- other people will change them back if they disagree. Tymoczko 20:19, 28 April 2006 (UTC)
Thanks. I'll get started on them soon. For now, I just want to make it clear that the recent edits comparing broken chords to broken chairs have nothing to do with me. (Mark, 29 April 06)

Chord symbols[edit]

I have used the following alternate chord symbols. If they are common, I'd like to have them added:

  • Diminished triad: C-
  • Diminished seventh: C-7
  • Augmented major seventh: CaugMaj7
  • Augmented seventh: Caug7
  • Minor major seventh: CmMaj7
The symbol, -, shouldn't be used to indicate diminished chords. It can be used for minor type chords though, and is already used in the article (under seventh chords) to show the minor seventh. (Mark, 12 May 2006)

Hey, I've got a question. What is the name for the chord that is of notes 1-2-3-4 or 5-6-7-1 of a scale? I have "tetra" or something along the lines of that as it's name but I don't think that's right. Anyone have a name? I've found an example in Debussy's Reflets dans l'Eau where there is a passage where a fast C♭-B♭-A♭-G♭ is played down and then returns up in reverse order. It then changes to C-B♭-A♭-G♭ (perhaps an augmented version of this chord?). Thanks in advance.

See tetrachord

So I was right then!

Please sign your posts on talk pages per Wikipedia:Sign your posts on talk pages. Thanks! Hyacinth 23:38, 11 October 2006 (UTC)

Chord (music) and Harmony[edit]

I propose that we develop some sort of standard or guideline as to what information goes on the Chord (music) and Harmony articles. See discussion at Talk:Harmony#Chord (music) and Harmony. Hyacinth 00:11, 12 October 2006 (UTC)

Order/priority of information[edit]

Generally I propose that there could be a better ordering or organization to this article. Specifically, I feel that nonchord tones are an important enough part of what chords are that this stub section could go in the introduction. Anyone else have thoughts/opinions on this? Hyacinth 00:23, 12 October 2006 (UTC)

A bit confused[edit]

...about the connection between the chords and the musical scales. Can it be said that a Cmin chord is naturally constructed on the C minor scale? or is it possible for it (Cmin) to be constructed on the C major chord? (which would just about send my head spinning) And Dmin which is said in the article to be contructed on the C major scale, can't it also be said to be contructed on the D minor scale? Thanks a lot to anyone who can clarify this for me! --Nathanael Bar-Aur L. 20:20, 18 January 2007 (UTC)

Any key can follow this formula for valid triads: I Major, ii Minor, iii Minor, IV Major, V Major, vi Minor, and vii Diminished

Each chord has a corresponding mode or chord scale. Each one is the same as C major, just starting from a different point. the corresponding mode for each chord has qualities similar to that of the scale corresponding to the chord name, but is slightly different.

For example, the corresponding mode for ii Minor (Dorian) has qualities similar to a minor scale, but is different because it has a raised 6th, B natural (which matches up with C major's 7th degree)

The modes to go with them respectively are Ionian (Major), Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian (Minor), and Locrian.

So to answer your question, simple chords that can be based on C major are C Major, D minor, E Minor, F Major, G Major, A minor, and B diminished. However, a minor SCALE doesn't necessarily correspond to minor chords. refer to the modes listed above.

I hope i was helpful

Strumr91 02:09, 12 April 2007 (UTC)

Diatonic and chromatic[edit]

The article uses the terms "chromatic" and "diatonic", but without adequate explanation. These terms are the cause of serious uncertainties at several other Wikipedia articles, and in the broader literature. Some of us thought that both terms needed special coverage, so we started up a new article: Diatonic and chromatic. Why not have a look, and join the discussion? Be ready to have comfortable assumptions challenged! – Noetica♬♩Talk 00:09, 5 April 2007 (UTC)

Third in a suspended chord[edit]

I suggest, that the statement "...the third is often played on top of a sus4 chord; in jazz theory, this doesn't negate the quality of the chord as a suspended chord." is changed. I believe, there can be no third in the sus4 chord (the same goes for sus2), just the tenth (in modal music). It than has to be explained what the tenth is. With your permision I will look into it.--Yovi 20:44, 24 May 2007 (UTC)

user ILike2BeAnonymous[edit]

is it me or this guy is a nut case.. he keeps playing mind games with people, especially on this article —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 22:47, 25 May 2007

octave chords[edit]

I added information regarding Octave Chords, since the page redirected here :) ACA 22:58, 5 June 2007 (UTC)

Well, I am reverting your edit, ACA. Unfortunately in its present form it means very little. What do you mean by "one note apart"? Do you mean "one octave apart"? If so, these are hardly chords at all. We'd need something more rigorous, with citation.
– Noetica♬♩Talk 05:48, 6 June 2007 (UTC)


Is it possible to include sound files of each individual type of chord? I think that would be a great thing to have in the article, but i don't know if it is possible or if it really is a good idea. Marky1991 23:33, 15 July 2007 (UTC)

It's certainly possible - I already did it for the C Maj and D min examples, in the form of MIDI files. When I have some time I may do some of the others, although I will probably use some decent synth sounds and upload audio files next time around. --Stephen Burnett 17:29, 17 July 2007 (UTC)

Roman numerals & Major/Minor[edit]

From the article:

When taking "any scale" and building a triad with a base in the scale, the second, third, and sixth intervals, when used as a root, will form a minor triad. The root, fourth, and fifth form a major triad, whereas the seventh will form a dimished triad.

I was skeptical about the 'any scale' part, so I decided to try it with a minor scale. Example, the natural minor scale in the key of C is (C D Eb F G Ab B) and the triad that would be denoted I would thus be C Eb G, which is a minor triad. Can someone who knows what this statement should actually say, tighten it up to be correct? Clearly doesn't seem to apply to 'any scale'. --Amusingmuses (talk) 21:10, 18 December 2007 (UTC)

I suppose any major (Ionian) scale is meant. Now corrected. Also reverted to the small roman numerals for minor chords, which fits with this. −Woodstone (talk) 21:42, 18 December 2007 (UTC)

ђ == a chord is a more than two notes played together ==Δ chord —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:03, 18 May 2008 (UTC)

Analyze a rap song[edit]

Could somebody analyze the 82 second long rap song What They Hittin' Foe as an example... Jidanni (talk) 00:39, 20 May 2008 (UTC)

brain supplies examples[edit]

with the result that the brain "supplies" the complete expected chord in its absence.

I think you need to add two .ogg files here. One with the item missing, for our brain to supply it. One with it already supplied. That way we will know what you are talking about. Jidanni (talk) 00:45, 20 May 2008 (UTC)


What if I cooked up a keyboard graphic and highlighted keys in certain chords? For people familiar with piano, that might help a lot. Thoughts? (talk) 20:23, 9 June 2008 (UTC)

First, I would think that if one is familiar with the piano one would have also become familiar with chords, and with music notation.
Secondly, see Wikipedia:NOT#Wikipedia is not a manual, guidebook, or textbook. I bring this up to ask how these images would improve the discussion of the information in the current article or what new information they would add. Hyacinth (talk) 20:10, 29 June 2008 (UTC)
Sounds good though. Hyacinth (talk) 17:28, 6 July 2008 (UTC)

Technical tag[edit]

This article is far too technical for the people who need it. Since chords are a basic concept, the article should be written in a way that's comprehensible to a general audience unschooled in music theory. Instead, it assumes readers have a strong background in music and uses terms like "tertian sonorities" and "intervallic construction" with no explanation. -- Mwalcoff (talk) 00:35, 4 September 2008 (UTC)

The most recently applied {{technical}} tag was applied on the eleventh of September, 2010.
What parts of the article too technical for most readers to understand? __ Just plain Bill (talk) 03:03, 12 December 2010 (UTC)

Tag now removed. Hyacinth (talk) 18:50, 27 August 2011 (UTC)

Harmonic Seventh[edit]

I removed the Harmonic Seventh from the list of seventh chords. The article is implicitly about chords in 12 tone equal temperament and the presence of a single chord from another temperament was a jarring anomaly. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Nuffink (talkcontribs) 11:24, 22 September 2008 (UTC) Apologies for not signing, I'm new to this. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Nuffink (talkcontribs) 11:30, 22 September 2008 (UTC)

How is that jarring? The harmonic seventh is a seventh chord. If you feel that the article is lacking in general feel free to contribute. Hyacinth (talk) 06:00, 30 March 2009 (UTC)

Merging with Chord notation[edit]

I think the Chord notation article should be merged here as already proposed in the past on this talk page. Since the chord notation is included here I don't see any purpose in having a separate article which either duplicates the same material or adds other topics about chords themselves and not just the notation. I would like to do this but I don't think I have enough time and skill AlfredoM (talk) 18:18, 28 March 2009 (UTC)

See Talk:Chord_notation#Merging_with_Chord_main_article. Hyacinth (talk) 17:15, 10 April 2009 (UTC)


Why does, "this article needs additional citations for verification"? Hyacinth (talk) 05:56, 30 March 2009 (UTC)

Despite the removal of the tag, I ask again, why should and how could the citations be improved? Hyacinth (talk) 07:30, 25 December 2009 (UTC)

About the Charles Ives chord - midi file[edit]

The chord shows the notes C and G, and also D-sharp-and-a-half, and A-sharp-and-a-half. However, the midi file simply plays a C, E-flat, G, B-flat chord, your typical minor seventh chord. Is this a mistake? Does this need a different file type, since midi doesn't do quarter-tones? Aurora Illumina 02:25, 1 December 2009 (UTC)

Sounds a bit sharp to me (so right on target for this purpose), I have good but not perfect pitch. MIDI is able to output a continuum of tones though.Synchronism (talk) 03:11, 1 December 2009 (UTC)
Maybe it is. I normally have relative pitch, but not when it comes to quarter tones. When I open it in a midi viewing program however, I see a minor seventh chord and not a quartertonal representation. So maybe it's correct, but I'm not the one to go to for this. I haven't had that much experience with quartertonal music, so I'm not sure. Aurora Illumina 03:19, 1 December 2009 (UTC)
Just tested the midi file out on different programs, and comparing it to a minor seventh chord (one that was manually written in the program). They're the same; this chord is wrong, at least on my computer. Aurora Illumina 03:30, 1 December 2009 (UTC)
I don't have the proper programs to access the MIDI data in that file so I would suspect that you're right, although, the easiest way to produce a quarter-tone on a MIDI keyboard is to use a pitch bending feature which would often appear as a vertical vector overlaying the notes on the staff, rather than a duration straddling the staff lines. Perhaps contact the filemaker, I believe they are an active contributorSynchronism (talk) 03:55, 1 December 2009 (UTC)

I reproduced the chord and produced a non-quarter tone version with similar voice spacing on the same software instrument for comparison.

Original About this sound Play 
  • Open C minor 7 chord:
  • Ives fundamental chord:

Synchronism (talk) 23:14, 2 December 2009 (UTC) I had to correct the uploads and the files themselves, they should be working now.Synchronism (talk) 23:45, 2 December 2009 (UTC) It looks and sounds like you were correct Aurora.Synchronism (talk) 23:58, 2 December 2009 (UTC)

The new Ives chord sounds right. However, I'm not sure how to embed a file like this either. Aurora Illumina 00:57, 3 December 2009 (UTC)
I updated it but that file has now been removed for some reason[1], the edit summary didn't give a specific reason why this referenced file was removed, I'd be interested to know why I thought it provided an interesting historical perspective.Synchronism (talk) 10:22, 12 December 2009 (UTC)

How about this: About this sound play ? Hyacinth (talk) 15:05, 12 December 2009 (UTC)

Hello - I was wondering what to do with the file. The trouble was; there was nothing in the article about microtuning, so there was nowhere to put it or explain it. If it's felt to be particularly relevant to the page (and it is a chord!) then could someone add a little about super-chromatic chords at the end and plant it there? Then it WOULD be an interesting historical perspective, I agree. Redheylin (talk) 17:27, 12 December 2009 (UTC)
Did the article have any thing/explanation about equal temperament? Hyacinth (talk) 20:41, 21 December 2009 (UTC)
Not really, aside from the file in question and its caption and the comparison file.Synchronism (talk) 20:55, 21 December 2009 (UTC)
So should we remove all equal tempered chords from the article? Hyacinth (talk) 06:49, 22 December 2009 (UTC)
I don't see why... Equal temperament is the standard nowadays after all. Aurora Illumina 13:58, 22 December 2009 (UTC)
Er... no. It would be nice if there was some prose about that for it to accompany though.Synchronism (talk) 19:26, 22 December 2009 (UTC)
What would be nice if there was prose about what to accompany what? Hyacinth (talk) 04:32, 23 December 2009 (UTC)
It would be nice if changes in tuning over time and the corresponding differences in the precise sounds of chords were discussed in the body of the article to give greater contextual relevance to those files. That's all, sorry about the excess of pronouns and lack of precision but I don't see how it would be beneficial to remove all equal tempered chords from the article.Synchronism (talk) 11:00, 23 December 2009 (UTC)
I haven't played with microtonal music before, so I'm not sure what that section would include after this Charles Ives chord. The file is currently linked to on the article on Quarter tones. As for the file itself, the program I use to write music doesn't support quarter tones, so I can't improve on the file myself. While the quarter tones are there in the file, there is a bit of strange buzzing on the file, which I'm not sure if it can be fixed or not as I can't really play that much with the file. Either way, the file should probably include the chord played in solid (blocked) in addition to broken, if possible. Aurora Illumina 20:17, 12 December 2009 (UTC)
You could set up a +12/-12 portamento with a linear curve, put your notes on a single line and make your note changes with controller information. And all the very best! Redheylin (talk) 20:39, 12 December 2009 (UTC)

Tuning context[edit]

The article currently lacks any context for the tuning of any of the chords contained in it, all of which are apparently 12TET. Hyacinth (talk) 13:00, 23 December 2009 (UTC)

H, hello; don't really understand "context for tuning" - please explain, or why not go ahead and make the edit? You want an "A=440" sample or something? Sorry to be so thick. Redheylin (talk) 23:08, 23 December 2009 (UTC)
There is nowhere to put or explain any of the chords in the article. Hyacinth (talk) 13:27, 24 December 2009 (UTC)
Oh! I think the four basic chords might be nearer the top, "intonation" could do with a bit of text and linking, the extended and added chord tables are pretty much OK and there's still nothing about microtone harmonies. I do have a source for that but that brings up the whole citations issue, which might be greatly improved in general. Redheylin (talk) 20:24, 24 December 2009 (UTC)

Chord Consonance[edit]

27 January[edit]

I have read in numerous locations that "chords sound 'good' (consonant) when the respective waves constructively and destructively interfere at regular intervals". Is there a deeper reason or meaning to this? I know that notes an octave apart are doubled (or halved, depending on one's frame of reference) in frequency, and such notes will obviously be - if I may borrow a term from orbital mechanics - in resonance, and that "Middle C" (MIDI C5) is 256Hz. Dropping the octaves, it gets more complicated... CGC is the "core" of a C Major chord; CGC always sounds "good". However, I am told that the frequencies for notes are not linear, but closer to asymptotic, with Δf being proportionately larger for lower pitches. Does this not wreak havoc with the "whole ratio" hypothesis when one considers enharmonicity (I probably just coined a word there) and inversions? As a composer myself - albeit one with less background in piano than relativity and less background in general music theory than Quantum Mechanics - I do know from experience chords have less flexibility in lower octaves; that is, the same FAC (F major) chord based on F4 will sound better than one on F2. (I use a variety of instruments, including ensemble ones, so is this another factor?) Help with this would be greatly appreciated. -RadicalOneContact MeChase My Tail 02:33, 27 January 2010 (UTC)
Update: Before anyone explains anything, I should point out that I do not think of music as on a five-line staff; I see it as either a piano roll or a piano keyboard. Referring to lines and spaces (or clefs, key signatures - more, I use mixed sharp-and-flat signatures - and other "traditional" music theory) will lose me entirely. One last comment on the way I visualize music: There is no such thing as an A#; it's always a Bb. The same pattern for D#/Eb, Db/C#, Gb/F#. Enharmonics are irrelevant. -RadicalOneContact MeChase My Tail 02:36, 27 January 2010 (UTC)

What? Asymptotic? More like logarithmic, which explains that Δf thing. If you don't deal well with enharmonic spellings, then reading How Equal Temperament Ruined Harmony (and Why You Should Care) may help you understand where the difference between a B and an A becomes relevant. Pianos are tuned in equal temperament which has a profound effect on harmony, as well as being in stretched tuning, which affects the lower and upper ends of their range. Electronic instruments, or simulations of instruments, may or may not use stretch tuning. __ Just plain Bill (talk) 03:04, 27 January 2010 (UTC)

After a look at the piano key frequencies article, it seems to show a C as being 261.626 Hz under equal temperament, and the only notes that have whole numbers are As, with the A above middle C being 440 Hz. The part about C being 256 comes at a section in the article on Pitch.
Anyways, take the E above the A (difference of P5). The E has a frequency of 659.26 Hz. The ratio (for E : A) comes out to almost 1.5 (or 1.498318, to be more specific). Take the D below the A (interval of P5 once again), with frequency 293.66 Hz. Ratio of A : D comes out to 1.49833.
Δf is larger for lower pitches? No, it's much smaller at the lower end. It's not the difference, but rather the ratio in frequencies that determines what a chord sounds like. Aurora Illumina 03:05, 27 January 2010 (UTC)
First there's the issue of intonation, as above; there's a slight difference between the 13th of a cycle of perfect fifths and the relevant superoctave of the starting note, and this is evenly distributed in equal temp, and the difference between shrps and flats is neutralised. This is only true of fixed-pitch instruments and chords sound more "good" when tuned to the harmonics of the root exactly. Second, there's the issue of inversion and register: broadly speaking the higher you go above the root, the denser the chord you can stand, as per the harmonic series: this was the idea of arrangers like Debussy. Very low down it may be best just to have parallel octaves, then octaves and fifth, the whole chord in the third octave and non-chord notes in the fourth, non-scale notes in the fifth octave above the root! If you do not leave sufficient space in the low registers the chords become boomy or woolly. Chords follow this harmonic series logic when a ninth, for example, is always pitched above the dom. seventh which in turn is above the triad which in turn is above the bass root. The distance between two given notes doubles in pure frequency terms with every ascending octave. Redheylin (talk) 03:23, 27 January 2010 (UTC)
Yes, logarithmic would be a better term for what I was trying to convey. As for the rest, I confess I understand very, very little. -RadicalOneContact MeChase My Tail 03:45, 27 January 2010 (UTC)
I have experimented with chords under different octaves. Clearly they don't sound as good in the lower octaves, as can be heard in the following: About this sound Play  The file contains a solid octave chord played at four different octaves, then a major chord played at four different octaves, then a dominant seventh chord played at four different octaves, and an ending chord that gets more dense near the top to show that chords can be more dense at higher pitches.

Aurora Illumina 03:56, 27 January 2010 (UTC)

Yes, I noticed. Why? -RadicalOneContact MeChase My Tail 04:23, 27 January 2010 (UTC)

28 January[edit]

Maybe this is why plainchant, which was based on male voices, rejected the third as inharmonic. When we started writing four-part it was suddenly alright, because the harmony could be open enough to stand it. (I don't THINK it's to do with the increased frequency range of higher octaves, but this is an intriguing idea!) Redheylin (talk) 20:57, 28 January 2010 (UTC)

The third, as in the Major third? I find it dissonant as well. I wonder if it has to do with the fact I like to use strings at frequencies around 64Hz. -RadicalOneContact MeChase My Tail 21:00, 28 January 2010 (UTC)

Yes, that one. Its use in the bass is subject to more riders than the first of fifth; it's the least stable choice for the ground of a chord etc. But do not forget that (1) you are talking equal temperament and (2) the perceived dissonance of "beating" (which is bound to arise in equal temperament) may be more acute in some registers than others. Plainchanters did not use equal temp, though. (see Sum and difference tones) Redheylin (talk) 21:06, 28 January 2010 (UTC)
64 Hz? So two octaves below middle C? I rarely go down there myself in what I write. If you take the ending chord in the file I added above, you'll notice that the chord is less dense near the bottom, because a major third near the bottom is considerably more dissonant than a major third near the top. For simplicity's sake, I'll do the calculations here based on the C = 256 scale:
The E just above middle C has a frequency of 320. That's a 5 : 4 ratio compared to middle C, and a difference of 64 Hz.
The E two octaves below that has a frequency of 80. The difference between it and the C just below is only 16 Hz, though the 5 : 4 ratio is still present.
Could the absolute difference mean something to this as well?
I also looked at the article on sum and difference tones. As I pretty much always use equal temperament, I haven't experienced that phenomenon much.Aurora Illumina 21:28, 28 January 2010 (UTC)
I use MIDI, which, being samples from real instruments, is equal temperament, correct?
64Hz is two octaves below Middle C (C3)? I frequently go down to C2. Does this mean I am reaching only 32 Hz?
-RadicalOneContact MeChase My Tail 21:42, 28 January 2010 (UTC)
Some places refer to middle C as C4 and others refer to it as C5. Since the one you use has C5 as middle C, then that C2 would be 32 Hz (bottom C of the piano). (The midi file I made here also goes down to that low, though I didn't intend for it to; the program I used to make the file uses "C5 = middle C", when I was used to the C4 notation rather than C5.) Aurora Illumina 21:49, 28 January 2010 (UTC)

MIDI instruments will normally give equal temperament, though some allow others - my EMU allows three kinds of just, Scarlatti, Kirchenberger, slendro and pelog and a few more, as well as user tuning tables. Check your global settings. Redheylin (talk) 21:58, 28 January 2010 (UTC)

C5 is indeed Middle C for me. And it's exactly 256Hz.
Global Settings? I do not have global settings - or any MIDI settings for that matter. -RadicalOneContact MeChase My Tail 22:00, 28 January 2010 (UTC)

Keyboards and frets use EQT, but singers, stringers and even woodwind tend towards the just degree of the perceived root. Brass is a mix of just intervals on EQT valves! You do not have MIDI settings? What is making the sounds? Redheylin (talk) 22:01, 28 January 2010 (UTC)

The sounds are generated by a Wavetable; "Java Sound Synthesizer 1.0". Neither my MIDI program or my sound options affect MIDI playback at all. -RadicalOneContact MeChase My Tail 22:30, 28 January 2010 (UTC)
There probably are microtuneable softsynths, but I don't know which.Redheylin (talk) 22:58, 28 January 2010 (UTC)
I wouldn't know. I am skilled with computers, but this is "basement" computing, dealing with the underlying, more primitive core of the new systems. It reminds me of neuroscience. -RadicalOneContact MeChase My Tail 23:17, 28 January 2010 (UTC)
That's your interest? Then take an array of Texas Instruments soundchips and address them in assembler; you've got microtuning. Redheylin (talk) 23:20, 28 January 2010 (UTC)
Whaat? -RadicalOneContact MeChase My Tail 23:40, 28 January 2010 (UTC)

29 January[edit]

Did I misunderstand? I thought you wanted "basement", so Texas Instruments SN76489 addressed with assembly language and machine code arguments. Redheylin (talk) 23:56, 28 January 2010 (UTC)

Yes, you did misunderstand. I was saying how its being sublevel computing putting it beyond my range of experience. -RadicalOneContact MeChase My Tail 00:10, 29 January 2010 (UTC)
Sorry. Well, to determine the effect of sum and difference "beating" caused by equal temperament differences from harmonic tuning in various octaves you really need reliably-tuneable oscillators, and this will be a facility offered by the (soft) synth itself. Try Redheylin (talk) 00:20, 29 January 2010 (UTC)
The page does not load for me.
"Sum and difference "beating" caused by equal temperament"? I do not understand at all. Perhaps I should reiterate that I have absolutely no musical training or piano experience at all. -RadicalOneContact MeChase My Tail 00:26, 29 January 2010 (UTC)
Yes, but whether that's true or not, you have more knowledge in physics than I do, which is what matters more in this topic. Aurora Illumina 00:34, 29 January 2010 (UTC)
I was hoping you had been reading the cited articles! Equal t. differs from "just" intonation, which is tuning to the harmonic scale of a given root note. Therefore Equal t. is subtly out of tune, which causes "beating" - a regular low-frequency change in volume caused by sum and difference tones. "Beating" is particularly subjectively discordant at certain frequency ranges, which will be associated with particular note-ranges. To eliminate this you need to retune your synth. gives a list of soft synths that can do this, and software to help you. Redheylin (talk) 00:37, 29 January 2010 (UTC)
Just for a bit more clarification: With just intonation, in a P5 interval, the ratio in frequencies is exactly 1.5. In equal temperament, it's about 1.4983. That small difference causes some very slight dissonance that seems to gets more noticeable in lower pitches. Aurora Illumina 00:42, 29 January 2010 (UTC)

A perfect fifth (P5) should be 1:3 but tuning a 12note scale like this means some keys sound awful. Redheylin (talk) 00:46, 29 January 2010 (UTC)

Here's an audio recording of me playing, in descending octaves, C, F, and (after a short interruption) G triads, then major fifths, on my synthesizer (not the thing I do most composing on!). This demonstrates the dissonance, most obvious in C Major, no less(!).
-RadicalOneContact MeChase My Tail 00:55, 29 January 2010 (UTC)

Most obvious dissonance in C major since it's the lowest of the three, probably. I tried playing with the really low keys on the piano. Octaves are the only chords that remotely sound passable as music; even a perfect fifth down there sounds like plain noise. Maybe because the octave has the ratio of frequencies being exactly 2 even in equal temperament? Aurora Illumina 01:05, 29 January 2010 (UTC)

I like the fifths in the low octave, actually. They have a nice resonance to them. (Indeed, these chords are the basis for the bassline in many of my "space-themed" composition styles.) -RadicalOneContact MeChase My Tail 01:16, 29 January 2010 (UTC)
At 32Hz? (C2 on the "C5=middle C" scale) That's the C really close to the bottom of the piano. The lowest note I can remember ever using is A♭2 on this scale (paired with A♭3 in an octave chord). Aurora Illumina 02:07, 29 January 2010 (UTC)
Not at 32Hz, no. 32Hz is my bottom limit, being three times the minimum frequency I can hear. Most of my chords are around 50 - 100 Hz. -RadicalOneContact MeChase My Tail 02:34, 29 January 2010 (UTC)
50Hz is approximately the A♭ I mentioned (A♭2 on your scale/third ledger line below bass clef). That definitely sounds more reasonable. (The A at the very bottom of the piano is only 27.5 Hz.) Aurora Illumina 02:41, 29 January 2010 (UTC)
Ah, it's a C on the bottom of the piano, and the F in the recording above sounds better at the lowest octave than does the higher G, so C isn't the worst just because it's lowest. -RadicalOneContact MeChase My Tail 02:49, 29 January 2010 (UTC)

Well, we have three C major chords, then 3 F major chords, then some interruption. then 3 G major chords, and then a repeat of the low C major chord, then the P5 chords. Make sure we're not comparing the wrong chords with each other... Aurora Illumina 03:04, 29 January 2010 (UTC)

If you take my old Yamaha FM synth, set it to f0 and play the lowest MIDI note, you don't hear anything but things jump off shelves. Wonder what two adjacent semitones would do? Redheylin (talk) 03:21, 29 January 2010 (UTC)
Yes, you have the chords correct. C Major 3 times, F major 3 times, <!- tripping over my tail -->, G major 3 times, C Major minimum, perfect fifths. F0 makes things vibrate for me as well; my floor resonates at around 55Hz, and if I hit that frequency, my floor acts as a giant speaker cone, powered by the subwoofer. -RadicalOneContact MeChase My Tail 03:31, 29 January 2010 (UTC)
I tried experimenting a bit. For some reason, I find that a minor chord sounds better than a major chord under lower octaves. About this sound Play  The file plays a P5 chord, then a major chord, then a minor chord, each two octaves below middle C. Then it plays the same chords at middle C. Aurora Illumina 18:20, 29 January 2010 (UTC)
I strongly disagree. The minor chords sound awful in both octaves, and the major one sounds terrible at the low, and the P5 sounds good in both places. -RadicalOneContact MeChase My Tail 18:46, 29 January 2010 (UTC)

I had a feeling you'd disagree on this one, given that you strongly avoid minor keys. Either way, the point still stands that you can't do very much in the lower octaves other than P5 or octaves. Aurora Illumina 18:58, 29 January 2010 (UTC)

Low P5s and O8s give a very strong "powerful" feeling to their chords, which is why I like them. Look at the second chord of the four-chord sequence after the bassline comes in (around 1:05) in my piece Climax. The Cello, String Ensemble, Organ, and later Choir make for an extremely powerful chord.
Yes, less can be done in lower octaves, but, back to the topic of this talk section, why? -RadicalOneContact MeChase My Tail 19:09, 29 January 2010 (UTC)
I might not be the most advanced physicist out there, but some key scientific terms are octave and harmonic. Here's my hypothesis:
Take the C that's two octaves below middle C. That C has frequency 64 Hz. Take the first overtone, 128 Hz. That is the C one octave above that. Take the next overtone, 192 Hz. That would be the G that's above that C. The third overtone, 256 Hz, is middle C. The fourth overtone, 320 Hz, would be the E just above that. The fifth, 384 Hz, is the G above that.
Now, consider, for example, just the 3rd and 5th overtones in the example I mentioned (middle C and the G above). The frequencies of these two aren't related by a whole number ratio. The first undertone that fits both those notes is the C that's an octave below. If, however, the first note that's an undertone of both notes in any one chord is not in your hearing range, that's probably when the dissonance occurs, as you can't hear the two notes as being overtones of the same note since you can't hear that one note.
Aurora Illumina 20:39, 29 January 2010 (UTC)
A very interesting hypothesis indeed, and one that may well be true. That may also explain why I like to shoot for the low frequencies, and use fifths at that octave; my hearing range does extend down to ~11Hz. -RadicalOneContact MeChase My Tail 23:06, 29 January 2010 (UTC)
I see. 11 Hz is close to the F# that's more than an octave below the bottom of the piano.
Experimenting hypothesis: Take a major chord, bring it down to lowest terms: Given that a P5 is a 3:2 ratio, and a +3 is a 5:4 ratio, the lowest terms possible are 4:5:6. The greatest common factor is 1, which is 1/4 of the lowest note, or two octaves below, which seems reasonable.
Now, with a minor chord, the lowest terms possible are 10:12:15, which the lowest common factor is still 1, which is three octaves + a major third below the lowest note. This would suggest that the minor chord is significantly more dissonant than the major triad. Aurora Illumina 23:32, 29 January 2010 (UTC)
It is. -RadicalOneContact MeChase My Tail 23:44, 29 January 2010 (UTC)

30 January[edit]

And another anomaly to muddle the mixture: Take any C. Then, take a B that's almost four octaves higher. That B is the 14th overtone (or 15 times the frequency of the C). They don't sound good together at all, even with the whole number ratio. Aurora Illumina 00:27, 30 January 2010 (UTC)

Not B and C, but E and F do. I used it in Space Conquest. Yet both are a semitone.

I have done some experimentation that further complicates things. Experimenting with different instruments has led to the appearance that different instruments have different tolerances; Some instruments work better at low frequencies than others. (Interestingly, most are the ones I like to use in basslines.)

In order:

  • Grand Piano X mark.svg
  • Electric Piano X mark.svg
  • Drawbar Organ Yes check.svg
  • Nylon Guitar X mark.svg
  • String Ensemble 1 X mark.svg
  • String Ensemble 2 X mark.svg
  • Synth Strings 1 Yes check.svg
  • Synth Strings 2 X mark.svg
  • Cello X mark.svg
  • Choir Aahs X mark.svg
  • Synth Choir X mark.svg
  • Clarinet X mark.svg
  • French Horn Yes check.svg
  • Synth Brass 1 Yes check.svg
  • Flute X mark.svg
  • Square Lead X mark.svg
  • Polysynth Pad Yes check.svg
  • Tubular Bells X mark.svg
  • SFX Soundtrack X mark.svg
  • SFX Crystal X mark.svg
  • SFX Atmosphere X mark.svg
  • SFX SciFi Yes check.svg

-RadicalOneContact MeChase My Tail 01:15, 30 January 2010 (UTC)

Update: Here is a demonstration of non-octave intervals at low frequencies, demonstrating the timbre and sound I mentioned earlier. It is an excerpt from my composition Universal Journey. I play it twice, once just chords, and once with the melody. (I overlaid a click track so I could release this copy freely.)

-RadicalOneContact MeChase My Tail 01:31, 30 January 2010 (UTC)

Yes, it seems there is more to it than just absolute frequencies. I'm not really sure what though... Aurora Illumina 13:42, 30 January 2010 (UTC)
Perhaps it has to do with waveform. I know that strings tend to be Sawtooth waves, and the square lead did not work, but what about the other instruments? Should I post images of the waveform of each? -RadicalOneContact MeChase My Tail 17:00, 30 January 2010 (UTC)
If it would help. I'm pretty much lost at the moment when it comes to this, so I'm not sure if I'll figure anything out from this, but others might... Aurora Illumina 17:04, 30 January 2010 (UTC)
I can't upload 176 images, but here is an audio file of each of the instruments in two octaves (C, E, G, CEG); simply open it in Audacity and have a look at the waveforms - zoom in. I notice that the Drawbar organ sounded the best and had the most sinusoidal waveform. Coincidence?
-RadicalOneContact MeChase My Tail 18:22, 30 January 2010 (UTC)

31 January[edit]

No, Aurora has correctly identified a second source of dissonance in close harmonies in the lower register (other than temperament): the clash of harmonics. It's particular odd-numbered harmonics that do this, therefore a sawtooth wave will be dissonant whereas a sine wave, having no harmonics, will be least. You can hear low triads generated by sine waves in harmonic intonation by using an FM synth in additive mode, then decide whether there is a third effect. Redheylin (talk) 18:03, 31 January 2010 (UTC)

So it was not coincidence that the organ sounded the best in low frequencies. -RadicalOneContact MeChase My Tail 18:31, 31 January 2010 (UTC)

There's also the fact that my 'whole number ratio theory' was thinking based on just intonation. The C + B almost four octaves apart do form a ratio of exactly 15 in just intonation, but in equal temperament (which is what we use most commonly), it comes to approximately 15.102, which is a significant difference here. With a perfect fifth, the difference is really small (1.5 in just intonation, and 1.4983 in EQT), so the dissonance is reduced. Aurora Illumina 19:32, 31 January 2010 (UTC)
But why did E and F then work? -RadicalOneContact MeChase My Tail 20:36, 31 January 2010 (UTC)
The E and F is at approximately 3:10 in Space Conquest, right? The chord is slightly dissonant. It's similar to a chord in Looping Piece No. 1 in B major, at about 12 seconds in. The chord is a B major seventh chord (B, D♯, F♯, A♯). The reason why the chord isn't instantly dismissed as being dissonant by the listener is that the chord is of a relatively short duration, and the chord is simply a there to lead into the following chord, which is a straight B major chord. Aurora Illumina 21:03, 31 January 2010 (UTC)
It is the first note after the long note in the middle of the phrase. And it's not because of duration; I opened the sheet music, and held the chord. I like it. And you know how I am with dissonance. -RadicalOneContact MeChase My Tail 22:11, 31 January 2010 (UTC)
Hm, that's strange. It truly does sound significantly better than a C+B (even a higher C+B than this F+E.) Aurora Illumina 22:33, 31 January 2010 (UTC)

Now we must find out why. -RadicalOneContact MeChase My Tail 22:54, 31 January 2010 (UTC)

1 February[edit]

When it comes to this file, with a bunch of various chords here, About this sound Play , the third chord includes an F+E+A+C, and it's not fully consonant. This is a major seventh chord. It does seem that, when there is such a chord, the seventh interval (the E in this case) should be the top note for it to be the most consonant. But this still doesn't solve the question about why C+B is significantly more dissonant than F+E... Aurora Illumina 03:37, 1 February 2010 (UTC)
I have no idea, since my previous harmonics-based hypothesis was blown out of orbit with equal temperament. -RadicalOneContact MeChase My Tail 03:40, 1 February 2010 (UTC)
I think maybe here we arrived at the effect of sum and difference. I tried producing just-intonation sine-wave chords at low register and found that the octave was fine, thirds and fifths ok by themselves but the minor third created when all three were played was "clashing": as far as I remember we have such a sensation of dissonance when the amplitude modulation caused by the interaction of the two equals around 20 Hz. Have not done the maths yet, sorry. Redheylin (talk) 19:44, 1 February 2010 (UTC)
Except that doesn't really explain why E and F are better than C and B. -RadicalOneContact MeChase My Tail 19:51, 1 February 2010 (UTC)
Just a hypothesis; that the subjective experience at different interference frequencies is less or more tolerable. Or, look at the wave and see if the amplitude of modulation is greater. Redheylin (talk) 20:02, 1 February 2010 (UTC)

There is no visible modulation at all... -RadicalOneContact MeChase My Tail 20:28, 1 February 2010 (UTC)

I tried experimenting with the F+E vs. C+B some more. They both sound dissonant; maybe I and RadicalOne are just for some reason used to hearing the E+F together, as we've used it somewhere in pieces we've created, while we haven't used the C+B before. Aurora Illumina 20:48, 1 February 2010 (UTC)
I haven't except for that one (initially accidental) time in Space Conquest. -RadicalOneContact MeChase My Tail 20:52, 1 February 2010 (UTC)
Also, yes, it is not quite consonant, but I like the sound of this quasi-dissonance, unlike minor chords, for example. -RadicalOneContact MeChase My Tail 20:53, 1 February 2010 (UTC)

3 February[edit]

I have another small theory, though I'm not sure if it only applies to me or not. Take an Fmaj7 chord (F A C E), for example, and take a simple major 7th interval (F E). The first one can be viewed as an F major chord, with an E on top as a leading note into a following chord, usually a straight F major chord. The F major chord in the bottom overpowers the single E note on top, so the E is viewed as being separate from the chord. The chord with only two notes, F and E, doesn't have any such separation, and thus is more dissonant. When it came to the chord I had in my music file there, the E was in the middle of the chord, so it's not easily separated, and thus the chord will still be dissonant. Aurora Illumina 02:55, 4 February 2010 (UTC)

I played around in MIDISwing testing this; if the chord is dense (all in one octave) it is quite easily one of the worst chords I have ever heard. The only way it works is if the chord is FACFACE - in which I rather like the sound of this chord - and the bottom F must be at least F3. But yes, such a chord does move very nicely into FACFACF. But this trick does not work with C Major chords, oddly enough. -RadicalOneContact MeChase My Tail 04:01, 4 February 2010 (UTC)

Consonant Semitones?!?![edit]

I was playing around on my synthesizer, and made a very unexpected discovery. If embedded in a chord, semitones, even if directly adjacent, can be consonant - even better than a minor chord. Likewise, semitones, if spread far enough apart, can sound very good indeed.
F-A-C-E-F Yes check.svg
FAC Yes check.svg
ACE X mark.svg
ACF Yes check.svg
FACE Yes check.svg
FACEF Yes check.svg

FFE Yes check.svg
FFF Yes check.svg

-RadicalOneContact MeChase My Tail 21:24, 6 February 2010 (UTC)

I'm a bit surprised you like these chords, given how you treat dissonance. I've used the F-F-E and F-F-F-C-E chords before, but I haven't used something dense like that. It's not the most consonant chord out there, but dissonant chords can be used simply for the purpose of leading in or resolving into a consonant chord. Aurora Illumina 22:28, 6 February 2010 (UTC)
Except these chords aren't dissonant like a minor chord. -RadicalOneContact MeChase My Tail 22:45, 6 February 2010 (UTC)
And evidently dissonance is subjective; I seem to find these chords slightly dissonant, but passable, while minor chords (C E♭ G) and dominant seventh chords (C E G B♭) are things I just find natural. Aurora Illumina 22:51, 6 February 2010 (UTC)
The FACEF is more dissonant than the FE chord, but I must admit I find the dominant seventh to be pure noise. -RadicalOneContact MeChase My Tail 23:01, 6 February 2010 (UTC)
"Pure noise"? Try spreading the notes out more and see what happens. And add an F major chord after the C-E-G-B♭ chord and see what happens. Aurora Illumina 23:16, 6 February 2010 (UTC)

The chord has to be spread ludicrously far before it is acceptable. But yes, it does lead into F major rather well. -RadicalOneContact MeChase My Tail 23:28, 6 February 2010 (UTC)

How does this relate to the article? Hyacinth (talk) 16:32, 10 March 2010 (UTC)

Most of the edits to this talk page since about the end of January have been forum-like, not really what this page is here for. Guys, it was tolerated for a while, but really should not continue. I just put the "not a forum" tag at the top of the page. __ Just plain Bill (talk) 18:42, 10 March 2010 (UTC)


An interesting point to note: if you invert an interval (such as a third to a sixth) the quality of the new interval will be opposite to the original. For example if you invert a major third you get a minor sixth. This means that if you invert the intervals of a chord such as C major and transpose the inversion to C you will get an A minor chord as shown below:
A Illustration of chordal inversion and transposition.
Inversion and transposition.
Image showing how the above doesn't work out: the last three chords are C6, a6, and a. If chromatically transposed they would be C6, A6, and A.

The above image doesn't work out, and I made the annotated image below it to demonstrate. Hyacinth (talk) 12:38, 3 April 2010 (UTC)


Unfortunately there are still a few comprehensible sentences on this page. References, however, for the rest, have not been forthcoming Redheylin (talk) 00:40, 14 September 2010 (UTC)

What does Δ mean? M or M7?[edit]

Are you sure that Δ means major triad (M), as stated in the subsection Chord (music)#Triads? In other articles (Chord notation and Jazz harmony) Δ is decoded as a synonym of M7 (a tetrad, not a triad). I have never seen the symbol elsewhere, so I am not sure what is its correct interpretation (hoping there's only one!). — Paolo.dL (talk) 16:40, 21 September 2010 (UTC)

I do believe CΔ does mean CM7, and not C major. --Blehfu (talk) 18:06, 21 September 2010 (UTC)
I have definitely known musicians (jazz-trained and otherwise) who interpret and use the Δ as simply "major" (without any commitment to the 7) -- but I can't say they were necessarily right in doing so, and without external sources this is merely OR. /ninly(talk) 19:53, 21 September 2010 (UTC)
I suspect that both uses are possible. But to prove this, we probably need more than one source. In the meantime I can only offer a logic deduction: if CΔ meant CM7, CΔ7 would not make sense. However, Wikipedia consistently lists everywhere CΔ7 as one of the symbols for CM7. So, there are two plausible approaches (and they are likely to be both true):
  1. Some musicians may use CΔ for CM7, and never use CΔ7.
  2. Some musicians may use CΔ for CM, and (consistently) CΔ7 for CM7.
Approach 1 is used in Jazz harmony, approach 2 is used in this article. The problem is in Chord notation, where CΔ and CΔ7 are both used for CM7, and CΔ is not used for CM.
Paolo.dL (talk) 20:24, 21 September 2010 (UTC)
If you cannot agree what it means, wipe it off. I'd like to say once again; the article at present seems to seek out obscurity, and much of the obscurity is completely unsupported by references. The article cannot possibly survive in anything like the present form. There are many very odd remarks, such as; "Chords which are particularly dissonant with relation to the home key create tension and chords close to the home key lessen tension." This is not a principle I recognise. The rest of that paragraph is similarly questionable in those places where it is comprehensible. The section "borrowed chords" is similarly full of questionable assertions without citations, here accompanied by bad grammar. A great deal of the article appears to be pushing a particular kind of notation, again without authority but with great confusion. The piece "Secundal, tertian, and quartal chords" is a masterpiece of irrelevance and the profusion of diagrams and tables seems to add little. The most basic explanations have taken on that nightmarish obfustication familiar from all articles that are not intended as explanations but as monuments to the editor's fantastic knowledge. Redheylin (talk) 03:52, 24 September 2010 (UTC)
First of all, let me say that I gratly appreciate the job done by those who created this article. They provided a lot of useful information, even though in some parts the text was messy, redundant, sometimes unclear. I cleaned up a lot. A lot of cleanup is still needed. Probably, that's how most articles are built in Wikipedia, slowly and with many mistakes, often by young editors, with little experience and a lot of good faith and enthusiasm, rarely helped by experts. I am sure they do not seek out obscurity. At the end, in some cases the result is excellent. Paolo.dL (talk) 15:44, 25 September 2010 (UTC)
The article has grown considerably and in the first place it was already short of citations to source statements. It could have been said once that the article dealt in basic knowledge that will not be challenged, but now that's no longer the case. Also, there are so many large diagrams and tables that take away more than they add and loads of unexplained technical talk as well as obscure symbols and terminology. Most of all, while the article formerly followed the rule of increasing harmonic complexity, it now tries to present obscure points before establishing fundamental ones. So it's not a question of cleaning up but of referring to standard sources, both for material and for the means of explanation, and linking internally to more specialised articles elsewhere. An article as fundamental as "chord" should link to more or less every article on harmony, using graded standard textbook statements.
Lastly please never edit other editor's comments - it's really rude and might get you thrown off. Redheylin (talk) 00:15, 26 September 2010 (UTC)
Sorry, I did not intend to offend. I just mildy refactored. I did neither add nor delete a word in your comment. I just created a new section where I put the second part of your comment, which was not about Δ, but about the entire article! This was to attract comments on your point, i.e it was to help you. You did not like it, and removed the section title I inserted. As a consequence, those who are not interested in Δ, will never read your comment about the entire article, and your comment will simply be less effective. If you do not want my help, that's fine for me. Paolo.dL (talk) 09:41, 27 September 2010 (UTC)


Hi Paolo, I always thought that a slash "/" in chord symbols indicates the bass note. So C/G would mean the second inversion of C major. You do not seem to make a distinction between Cm(M7) and Cm/M7. I'm not sure if that is correct. −Woodstone (talk) 05:33, 26 September 2010 (UTC)

I have found this notation in this article and/or other Wikipedia articles somewhere, before my edits. I believe I have also seen "minor/major seventh chord", or "minor/major sixth chord". If you think that Cm/M7 or similar symbols may be confused with a chord inversion, please feel free to delete them. Paolo.dL (talk) 09:28, 27 September 2010 (UTC)
"Cm/M7" is a standard usage (see minor major seventh chord) and in context it is not ambiguous: though "slash chords" are used as Woodstone describes (also for non-inversions—e.g. "Cm/D" indicates a C minor triad, its voicing unindicated, plus a D in the bass), but this would never occur with "M7" or "M6" following the slash. /ninly(talk) 17:58, 27 September 2010 (UTC)
Could we get a source/sources at Chord names and symbols (jazz and pop music) and Inversion (music)? Hyacinth (talk) 08:00, 29 September 2010 (UTC)
Unfortunately sources are rare in Chord names and symbols (jazz and pop music) (as well as in this article), and I guess this is also because there are millions of different "conventions" for nomenclature and notation. In the articles for specific chords sometimes references are given for a specific notation. But Cm/M7 was in many different articles, and I have also seen Cm/M6 in Sixth chord, so I think we can safely accept (while searching for references which most likely will confirm it) that the slash is used in this context to divide "chord" quality from the quality of the additional interval. Paolo.dL (talk) 13:20, 29 September 2010 (UTC)
"Unfortunately sources are rare in Chord names and symbols (jazz and pop music) (as well as in this article), and I guess this is also because there are millions of different "conventions" for nomenclature and notation." Errm... those ARE the sources. Could we start with a show of consensual authority that chord names (and symbols) differ in pop and jazz from other music? As regards the finer point, I'd remind you that many well-known classical harmony treatises take the notation "Dim7" as referring to a "diminished dominant seventh", enharmonically equal to an added 6 - and no slash? I personally find this unsatisfactory since it is used in the context of diminished triad chords, but would not venture to invent my own wikipedia notation to avoid the ambiguity. This is why I have continually and vainly requested citations. Redheylin (talk) 01:22, 30 September 2010 (UTC)

I meant that there are "millions" of different (sets of) symbols, often differing by small details. So, we need "millions" of sources. You might notice that I cleaned the tables in Chord names and symbols (jazz and pop music), removed "thousands" quasi-redundant (almost identical) symbols, divided symbols in different columns, to increase readability. This reduced the "millions" of sources to "dozens" of them. Adding sources will be much easier now. As for diminished dominant, with no slash, what's the problem? Notice that I am not advocating the use of the slash. In the tables, and in the various specific article titles, nobody inserted names with slashes, I used it in the text of a section (not in the tables all over the article) only because it was easier to write, and in some cases much better readable than the notation with supercripts, and the notation within parentheses was awkward when used in a parenthetical sentence. By the way, 3 days ago I edited minor major seventh chord, where the only name used in the text was "minor/major seventh chord", and inserted, before that name, the name without slash, also used in the article title. − Paolo.dL (talk) 07:33, 30 September 2010 (UTC)

The point that seems to be getting missed is that ideally sources should come before info, not after. See WP:CITE. As you can see, it would have been easier to start with sources (adding symbols, rather than creating a massive unverified list and then trimming the unverified entries while attempting to verify others and add new verified ones). Hyacinth (talk) 14:43, 30 September 2010 (UTC)
The point is not missed. And I agree. But in practice the opposite occurred. So now we have a lot of useful information, provided by many different editors, often without references, and we are forced to accept temporary imperfection. We (you included) tried to reduce the imperfection, for instance by inserting some new references, but we did this starting from a text which already existed. That's how eventually a good article comes out. I would not have been able to write the article from scratch. For instance, I prefer discussing here whether the slash is used or not, rather than ignoring the possibility it is used. And if other editors confirm it is used, then I trust them, even though they do not provide references. − Paolo.dL (talk) 20:03, 30 September 2010 (UTC)
Regarding editors' random assertions: How long do you trust other editors? And how far? What if editors said that the slash is never used this way? Or that whales fly? Hyacinth (talk) 20:33, 30 September 2010 (UTC)
Still looking for evidence that chords are named differently in pop and in classical music. Redheylin (talk) 02:13, 1 October 2010 (UTC)
I meant that there are "millions" of different (sets of) symbols, often differing by small details. So, we need "millions" of sources. We need the notable ones that are backed by notable authorities and the rest can go. Redheylin (talk) 02:16, 1 October 2010 (UTC)
Redheylin, I opened a discussion about pop and jazz notation in the relevant talk page. I am interested in your opinion about this particular topic, but in this talk page there's another thread which deserves more attention (see below). Paolo.dL (talk) 11:38, 4 October 2010 (UTC)
Hyacinth, I trust only experienced editors, who have a long history of contributions. When in doubt, I ask others, unless I have a reference confirming or rejecting the opinion/edit of the unknown editor. But most of this article was written much before I started editing and watching it. I trust those who edited and watched the page before me. I agree that a lot of sentences were obscure, and the structure of the article was a mess. Paolo.dL (talk) 11:53, 4 October 2010 (UTC)

Additional citations[edit]

Why, what, where, and how does this article need additional citations for verification? Hyacinth (talk) 14:48, 30 September 2010 (UTC)

I added the tag when I found that, instead of continuing to find referenced material, a great deal of what appeared to be OR/OS was appearing. Let's take unreffd material in just the first section, point for point;
  • The English word "chord" derives from "cord", a Middle English shortening of "accord" in the sense of "in tune with one another".
  • For a sound configuration to be recognized as a chord it must have a certain duration.
  • Early Christian harmony featured the perfect intervals of a fourth, a fifth, and an octave.
  • In the 15th and 16th centuries, the major and minor triads became increasingly common, and were soon established as the default sonority for Western music.
  • Such triads can be described as a series of three notes; the root note, the "third", and the "fifth" of the chord. (with following mess. NB not "such" but all triads, not a series but a simultaneity, not "can be described as", they ARE)
  • Taking any other major scale (Ionian mode), the first, fourth and fifth intervals, when used as roots, form major triads. Similarly, as any major scale can also yield a relative minor, in any natural minor scale (Aeolian mode) minor triads are found on the tonic, fourth and fifth degrees of the scale. (I can't even bear to read this stuff - imagine a schoolkid trying to figure this out)
  • Four-note "seventh chords" were widely adopted from the 17th century.
  • The harmony of many contemporary popular Western genres continues to be founded in the use of triads and seventh chords, though far from universally.
  • Notable exceptions include chromatic, atonal or post-tonal contemporary classical music (including the music of some film scores) and modern jazz (especially circa 1960), in which chords often include at least five notes, with seven (and occasionally more) being quite common.
  • Polychords are formed by two or more chords superimposed.
  • Often these [polychords] may be analysed as extended chords but some examples lack the tertian sonority of triads (See: altered chord, secundal chord, quartal and quintal harmony and Tristan chord).
  • A nonchord tone is a dissonant or unstable tone that lies outside the chord currently heard, though often resolving to a chord tone.
  • A succession of chords is called a chord progression. (duplicate sentence)
Enough for now? Redheylin (talk) 01:59, 1 October 2010 (UTC)
Why do these items need to be cited? For example, for the latter see chord progression, and the term itself, which implies a chord progression is a succession of chords. Hyacinth (talk) 06:42, 14 April 2011 (UTC)
Mama used to say; "two wrongs don't make a right". There's a bit of a tendency on music theory pages for editors to show off their personal knowledge and assume that what they know is common knowledge, but really everything should be backed up by sources - it shows the article is reliable and encourages an ordinary standard presentation without obscurantism. Other WP articles are not acceptable cites. Redheylin (talk) 12:40, 14 April 2011 (UTC)
Seriously. The article currently reads "A chord in music is any set of notes that is heard as if sounding simultaneously.[1]" Would you have it read "A chord[1] in music[2] is any set[3] of notes[4] that is heard[5] as if sounding[6] simultaneously.[7]"? Why does "A succession of chords is called a progression." need to be cited? Is there a source already cited which contradicts it? Is it in doubt? Hyacinth (talk) 02:55, 15 April 2011 (UTC) (hello)
Hyacinth, the section I cited is starting to look good! I am sure you know the guidelines regarding common-sense in citation, and also that wikilinks may frequently be used for clarification. I have taught music to a great many young people and I'd like to be able to refer them to articles knowing that they will find them readable and reliable, so that they will want to extend their knowledge. This includes people who just want to play rock guitar and have no interest in nuclear physics. My other concern with this article is that it has become overburdened with diagrams - to the point where layout and style guidelines are impossible to implement - and includes complicated detail, of interest only to theorists of modernism, in introductory paragraphs, so that the simplest concepts are obscured almost as they are stated. I favour a progress from the simple to the complex, reserving exceptions until the general has been established. Otherwise the article will simply stand as an unreadable testament to the editor's cleverness and apparent wish to mystify. The considerable changes of lst September have already brought comments that the article is in parts "convoluted and complicated" (below) and I think this is so. Thanks, as always, for your dedicated work. Redheylin (talk) 10:43, 15 April 2011 (UTC)
Number of citations, number of images, and clarity of the articles are separate issues. Perhaps they should be discussed separately. Hyacinth (talk) 11:04, 15 April 2011 (UTC)
In "The harmony of many contemporary popular Western genres continues to be founded in the use of triads and seventh chords, though far from universally." does the continued use of triads needs to be cited, or it being far from universal, or both? Hyacinth (talk) 12:04, 15 April 2011 (UTC)
Hope I have sorted out the above suitably. Redheylin (talk) 12:57, 15 April 2011 (UTC)

Tag removed. Hyacinth (talk) 18:48, 27 August 2011 (UTC)

Simplifying the description of scale degrees[edit]

It seems a bit complicated and convoluted at the moment. Perhaps something like this would clear things up?

'The notes of any given key may be written out in the form of a scale. The notes of this scale are numbered in ascending order, and are referred to as scale degrees. Triads may be constructed above each scale degree, and are named according to their scale degree. Thus, the triad formed above scale degree one is called Chord I, and the triad above scale degree five called Chord V. This system coexists with another system, which describes Chord I as the tonic, Chord V as the dominant, etc.

'Depending on the notes in the mode, such as whether or not it the key is major or minor, the triads built above scale degrees will have different qualities. Thus, they may be major, minor, diminished or augmented. These may be labelled in specific ways: a major chord is usually written with uppercase roman numerals, and a minor chord with lowercase roman numerals. For example, in a minor key, the tonic is described as i. Diminished chords are usually indicated by the use of a small circle, and augmented with a plus sign.'

I don't have any references right now but should the above meet with some approval I'll make an effort to find a textbook to cite. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:02, 16 February 2011 (UTC)

Excised paras[edit]

I removed the info below since it exclusively concerns jazz chord tablature, which has its own article linked here, leaving only a basic introduction. The detail re notation far exceeds the scope of an article on the chord as such and much info already given elsewhere in the present article is duplicated here. I shall check whether this information is present in the relevant article.

Major, minor, augmented, and diminished chords

3-note chords are called triads. There are four basic triads (major, minor, augmented, diminished), and they are all tertian, i.e. defined by the root, a third interval, and a fifth interval. Since most other chords are obtained by adding one or more note to these triads, the name and symbol of a chord is often built by just adding an interval number to the name and symbol of a triad. For instance, a C augmented seventh chord is a C augmented triad with an extra note defined by a minor seventh interval:
C+7 = C+ + m7
In this case, the quality (minor, in the example) of the additional interval is omitted. Less often, the full name or symbol of the additional interval is provided. For instance, a C augmented major seventh chord is a C augmented triad with an extra note defined by a major seventh interval:
C+M7 = C+ + M7
In both cases, the quality of the chord is the same as the quality of the basic triad it contains. This is not true for all chord qualities, as the chord qualities "half-diminished", and "dominant" refer not only to the quality of the basic triad, but also to the quality of the additional intervals.

Rules to decode chord names and symbols

The amount of information provided in a chord name/symbol lean toward the minimum, to increase efficiency. However, it is often necessary to deduce from a chord name or symbol the component intervals which define the chord. The missing information is implied and must be deduced according to some conventional rules:
  1. For triads, major or minor always refer to the third interval, while augmented and diminished always refer to the fifth. The same is true for the corresponding symbols (e.g., Cm means Cm3, and C+ means C+5). Thus, the terms third and fifth and the corresponding symbols 3 and 5 are typically omitted. This rule can be generalized to all kinds of chords,[1] provided the above mentioned qualities appear immediately after the root note, or at the beginning of the chord name or symbol. For instance, in the chord symbols Cm and Cm7, m refers to the interval m3, and 3 is omitted. When these qualities do not appear immediately after the root note, or at the beginning of the name or symbol, they should be considered interval qualities, rather than chord qualities. For instance, in Cm/M7 (minor-major seventh chord), m is the chord quality and refers to the m3 interval, while M refers to the M7 interval. When the number of an extra interval is specified immediately after chord quality, the quality of that interval may coincide with chord quality (e.g. CM7 = CM/M7). However, this is not always true (e.g. Cm6 = Cm/M6, C+7 = C+/m7, CM11 = CM/P11).[1] See specific rules 5 and 6 for further details.
  2. Without contrary information, a major third interval and a perfect fifth interval (major triad) are implied. For instance, a C chord is a C major triad, and the name C minor seventh (Cm7) implies a minor 3rd by rule 1, a perfect 5th by this rule, and a minor 7th by definition (see below). This rule has one exception (see next rule).
  3. When the fifth interval is diminished, the third must be minor.[2] This rule overrides rule 2. For instance, Cdim7 implies a diminished 5th by rule 1, a minor 3rd by this rule, and a diminished 7th by definition (see below).
  4. Names and symbols which contain only a plain interval number (e.g. “Seventh chord”) or the chord root and a number (e.g. “C seventh”, or C7) are interpreted as follows:
  5. For sixth chord names or symbols composed only of root, quality and number (such as "C major sixth", or "CM6"):
    • M, maj, or major stands for major-major (e.g. CM6 means CM/M6),
    • m, min, or minor stands for minor-major (e.g. Cm6 means Cm/M6).
  6. For seventh chord names or symbols composed only of root, quality and number (such as "C major seventh", or "CM7"):
    • dom, or dominant stands for major-minor (e.g. Cdom7 means CM/m7),
    • M, maj, or major stands for major-major (e.g. CM7 means CM/M7),
    • m, min, or minor stands for minor-minor (e.g. Cm7 means Cm/m7),
    • +, aug, or augmented stands for augmented-minor (e.g. C+7 means C+/m7),
    • o, dim, or diminished stands for diminished-diminished (e.g. Co7 means Co/o7),
    • ø, or half-diminished stands for diminished-minor (e.g. Cø7 means Co/m7).
  7. Other specific rules for extended and added tone chords are given in the main article.


The table shows the application of these generic and specific rules to interpret some of the main chord symbols. The same rules apply for the analysis of chord names. A limited amount of information is explicitly provided in the chord symbol (boldface font in the column labeled "Component intervals"), and can be interpreted with rule 1. The rest is implied (plain font), and can be deduced by applying the other rules. The "Analysis of symbol parts" is performed by applying rule 1.
Chord Symbol Analysis of symbol parts Component intervals Chord name
Short Long Root Third Fifth Added Third Fifth Added
C C maj3 perf5 Major triad
CM Cmaj C maj maj3 perf5
Cm Cmin C min min3 perf5 Minor triad
C+ Caug C aug maj3 aug5 Augmented triad
Co Cdim C dim min3 dim5 Diminished triad
C6 C 6 maj3 perf5 maj6 Major sixth chord
CM6 C maj 6 maj3 perf5 maj6
Cm6 C min 6 min3 perf5 maj6 Minor sixth chord
C7 Cdom7 C 7 maj3 perf5 min7 Dominant seventh chord
CM7 Cmaj7 C maj 7 maj3 perf5 maj7 Major seventh chord
Cm7 Cmin7 C min 7 min3 perf5 min7 Minor seventh chord
C+7 Caug7 C aug 7 maj3 aug5 min7 Augmented seventh chord
Co7 Cdim7 C dim 7 min3 dim5 dim7 Diminished seventh chord
Cø C dim min3 dim5 min7 Half-diminished seventh chord
Cø7 C dim 7 min3 dim5 min7
C min 7 min3 perf5 maj7 Minor-major seventh chord

Redheylin (talk) 14:50, 15 April 2011 (UTC)

Opening sentence[edit]

The opening sentence of this article reads "A chord in music is any set of notes that is heard as if sounding simultaneously."

It then cites Benward & Saker (2003). Music: In Theory and Practice, Vol. I, p. 67&359. Seventh Edition. ISBN 978-0-07-294262-0.

I own this book and can pledge that it specifically defines a chord as "three or more pitches sounding simultaneously."DaddyTwoFoot (talk) 23:02, 18 July 2011 (UTC)

Later in the article, Ottó Károlyi's Introducing Music is cited as saying, on page 63, that "Two or more notes sounding simultaneously are known as a chord." I have the 1982 Penguin printing of that book open in front of me now, and that is indeed what it says. __ Just plain Bill (talk) 23:14, 18 July 2011 (UTC)
Right, my point being that the opening sentence is an erroneous citation. The book does not match what this article states the book says. I'm aware that other sources say it is two or more pitches, and some say that it's three or more. This book says it's three or more, so any citation of it should reflect that. (talk) 23:37, 18 July 2011 (UTC)
Nothing is stopping you from fixing it. I haven't looked to see if broken or arpeggiated (un-simultaneous) chords are cited, but that seems uncontroversial enough. __Just plain Bill (talk) 00:35, 19 July 2011 (UTC)

Requested move: "Musical scale" → "Scale (music)"[edit]

I have initiated a formal RM action to move Musical scale to Scale (music). Contributions and comments would be very welcome; decisions of this kind could affect the choice of title for many music theory articles.

NoeticaTea? 00:10, 21 June 2012 (UTC)


This article's structure is messy. So messy in fact, that parts of this article are only clear to people who don't really need to read it. There are all kinds of problems, such as not explaining jargon before use, but also the order in which things are discussed, such that later parts of the article need to be read first in order to understand earlier bits. I also get the feeling that a lot of essential information / theory is simply missing. I can understand not wanting to go into detail in an introductory article, but at least make sure to cover the fundamentals. And I think more examples would help laypeople as well, even if you cannot provide a MIDI file for each one. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:11, 19 October 2016 (UTC)

Lead section[edit]

To my mind the lead section is very long - would anyone object to me trimming it down? I think each of its paragraphs is about twice as long as it needs to be, and goes into rather more detail than a lead section requires. Regards, The Land (talk) 18:02, 2 May 2017 (UTC)

  1. ^ a b General rule 1 achieves consistency in the interpretation of symbols such as CM7, Cm6, and C+7. Some musicians legitimately prefer to think that, in CM7, M refers to the seventh, rather than to the third. This alternative approach is legitimate, as both the third and seventh are major, yet it is inconsistent, as a similar interpretation is impossible for Cm6 and C+7 (in Cm6, m cannot possibly refer to the sixth, which is major by definition, and in C+7, + cannot refer to the seventh, which is minor). Both approaches reveal only one of the intervals (M3 or M7), and require other rules to complete the task. Whatever is the decoding method, the result is the same (e.g., CM7 is always conventionally decoded as C-E-G-B, implying M3, P5, M7). The advantage of rule 1 is that it has no exceptions, which makes it the simplest possible approach to decode chord quality.
    According to the two approaches, some may format CM7 as CM7 (general rule 1: M refers to M3), and others as CM7 (alternative approach: M refers to M7). Fortunately, even CM7 becomes compatible with rule 1 if it is considered an abbreviation of CMM7, in which the first M is omitted. The omitted M is the quality of the third, and is deduced according to rule 2 (see above), consistently with the interpretation of the plain symbol C, which by the same rule stands for CM.
  2. ^ All triads are tertian chords (chords defined by sequences of thirds), and a major third would produce in this case a non-tertian chord. Namely, the diminished fifth spans 6 semitones from root, thus it may be decomposed into a sequence of two minor thirds, each spanning 3 semitones (m3 + m3), compatible with the definition of tertian chord. If a major third were used (4 semitones), this would entail a sequence containing a major second (M3 + M2 = 4 + 2 semitones = 6 semitones), which would not meet the definition of tertian chord.