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2 questions, chords....

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As a guitar playing songwriter, when i compose songs - usually on my unplugged electric in my recliner (and heating pad, I've a very bad back), I invariably 'create' new chords but when i go to my 'giant' gig bag book of chords or the various chord finders on the net or my ChordMiner software, i can't find the names, or rather, the 'software' can't determine what I'm playing.




Can anyone recommend the best most complete chord book, preferably one based on the chord shape up & down the neck?


For instance (and where applicable!), an open 'D' shape everywhere on the neck (etc...).




Is there a chart or formula to determine the name of a chord?

What is (and how is for example...;>) a Gdim flatted fifth add9/E (again, just an example of a random chord name!).


I've tried to look for such info on the net (and find chord finders...;>).


As you've probably guessed by now, I'm an illiterate musician who plays by ear but as my chordal compositions become more 'elaborate' (at least for me), it becomes more of a pain when it comes time to create chord/lyric sheets to determine the names of some of 'my' chords, and to be able to jot down the name while composing would be a boon.


Which brings me to an idea (which has probably already been done). As guitars can now be outfitted with auto-tuning bridges, synths & pickup ring tuners, is there an 'onboard' chord 'namer' that tells me what I'm struming/picking...?



Thanks for reading,

-Jim (Gendron & Lassiter)



What does not kill you makes you stronger if you cook it properly.
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For all the added time and expense you're going through trying to find something to do these interpretations for you, you could just learn some theory, and do it yourself.




We all know what an open "C" looks like. We also know what it looks like with a high G attached. So what happens if you add the D on the B string? We ran into this the other night at rehearsal. The band leader called to me "Play a C2!"


I was like "what the hell is a C2?"


"Play a full G, then move your first two fingers to a C position!" (looks like x32033)


I said "That's not a C2, that's a Cadd9."


He says "Same difference."


I say "No, there is a difference. I played a "C2" in the open position for him (would look like x30010 or x30013) and said "How's that sound?"




"Well, that's a C2!"


What's the difference? Well, the position of the "D" relative to the root of the chord is the biggest difference. It's a "9" because it's an octave (or more) higher than the root. The chord is an "add9" instead of just a "9" because a 9th chord also contains the 7 (Bb in this case, looks like x32333).


Now, I'm sure I lost you somewhere in there, but that's okay, because I'm kinda where you want to be, instead of where you are, and that only happens by spending some quality time learning music theory and, in your case, focusing on chord theory. ;)

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Yeah, you lost me...;>)

Here's a chord i can't find anywhere - and my first ever attempt to figure out/use tabs (which are upside down to me as the low E should be on the top!)

x4x45x it's some form of a C#m, another version can be

043450 depending on tonal preference. Now my head hurts...;>)


Still, whats the formula for determining a chord name...?

What does not kill you makes you stronger if you cook it properly.
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How did you determine that?

Do you take a major scale of (insert your chord root note here) and start adding/removing notes to get to the final Jeopardy answer? Where's the rules/method list for the procedure?

What does not kill you makes you stronger if you cook it properly.
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This would be where chord theory comes into play.


Your 3-note chord has the root and 3rd from C# minor (C#, E) with the minor 7th (B), and since C# is the root, it's natural to interpret it as C#m. If the E were the root, it would be more appropriate to interpret it as E6 (no 3rd). If the B were the root, however, it would be more appropriate to go back to the C#m designation, but call it C#m/B, because there are no other B chord tones in the chord.


The second chord, I applied Occam's razor, essentially. There were two ways I could have described the chord. I could have treated the F as an "E#" (the third of the C# major chord) and called it a C#7b11/E(B = dom 7 note, E = flatted 11), but the E appearing twice in the chord overrides such an interpretation, asserting itself as the key note. So, instead, you have E6b9 (C# = 6th, F = b9).


The more complex your note combinations get, the more thought has to go into describing them. Ultimately, the purpose for applying chord names is communicating them in a live situation so other musicians can replicate them without having to be told precisely which notes to play. Hence, the stranger the combinations are, the more precise you have to be with your nomenclature, otherwise people will look at you with blank stares when you call the chord.


Granted, if I called the above chord to you, you would look at me with a blank stare as well, but anyone who's done any jazz work would be able to at least offer a reasonable facsimile of it, possibly in a different voicing, based on their own experience.

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A blank stare and a head wrapped in gaffers tape...;>)


Ok, here goes, you said:

"That's a C# min7 variant (C# B E) with no 5th. If you do that full chord, OTOH, E C# F B E, you have a mess, most easily described as E no3rd, b9, add6."


You mentioned 'no 5th, no 3rd, flat 9th & add 6'.

So there must be a scale of the chord (Do Re Me, etc.) with the root note (in this case 'C') being #1. What are the rest of the notes of the scale that you add or remove to get to the proper chord name...?

I have plenty of gaffers tape if you need some...;>)


What does not kill you makes you stronger if you cook it properly.
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Once you identify chord root, everything else is based on intervals from that root.



In the first example, C# being the root, I was immediately able to identify E as being a minor 3rd (four semitones) from C#.


Hence, we have part of a C#m chord.


The only other note in the chord was a B, which is a minor 7th (+10 semitones) from C#. Hence, the chord is a C#m7, with no 5th (though it is unnecessary to notate that lack of 5th)


Your second example is far, far more difficult, because of the lack of congruent tones. There's an E and a B, which are a root and a 5th (+7 semitones). The C# is a major 6th (+9 semitones) away from the root, and the F is either a minor 2nd (+1 semitone) or a flatted 9th (+13 semitones). Because of the position of the F in your chord, it makes more sense to call it a b9 than a m2, for the same reason I briefly described above when my bandleader called out a C2 (even though it was a Cadd9). Hence, E6b9 is an elegant description of a complex chord.


Now, if you are using these two chords interchangeably in a song (as you seem to have hinted when you described them earlier), then the smarter description would be the second one, because of the issue I mentioned regarding calling chords and having them voiced differently by the player than you might expect. Call a C#m7 to a pianist, and they will give you a C#m7, which would not necessarily be congruent with that extra F note (which really warps the entire chord figure).

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I did mention that i am an illiterate musician yes...;>)

There must be some coloring book for chord dummies like me out there...;>)

I came up with this:


Hopefully it explains my way of thinking about this.

What does not kill you makes you stronger if you cook it properly.
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There isn't a coloring book that will deal with complex chord nomenclature like what you proffered.


You want to be more sophisticated with your chording, you're going to have to learn the hard way about chord theory in order to transcribe your own stuff. There isn't a USB guitar that's going to plug into your computer and spit out properly named chords when you play them. The technology does not exist.


I suggest you start here:



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