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Simple chord nomenclature question


Dr88s

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Does the presence of absence of the fifth in a chord alter its name?

 

For example, take the chord C Eb A C

 

I would call this Cm6, but on most resources on the net, Cm6 also includes the G.

 

Should I be calling it Cm6(no5) or some such?

 

 

 

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Not knowing the context, either, but pointing out that the bottom note of a chord is not necessarily the root, I'd say that you have an A diminished chord there.

Chords are often inverted to serve the purpose of a bass line, harmonic line, melodic line, or a combination thereof. Rather than going with a tortured chord description, I'd say go with the simplest explanation: A-C-Eb spells "A diminished", and if you invert it and double the C, you have an A diminished chord in first inversion.

 

Edit: doubling the C isn't necessary to the inversion, but apparently it's necessary to whatever application you have there - doubling the C will make it more prominent and pull your ear towards it as the root of some iteration of C chord. You could even write it as "A dim/C"

http://www.basicmusictheory.com/img/a-diminished-1st-inversion-on-piano-keyboard.png

Muzikteechur is Lonnie, in Kittery, Maine.

 

HS music teacher: Concert Band, Marching Band, Jazz Band, Chorus, Music Theory, AP Music Theory, History of Rock, Musical Theatre, Piano, Guitar, Drama.

 

 

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Our harmonic system is flawed... nothing is perfect,,, I am not complaining.. ok.

it is flawed.. and diminished sounds, and C Eb A C is definitely a tricky structure as the above post eloquently says.

Augmented chords too.

Another thing that might help, is the context... what were the chords ( the chord progression ) prior to the structure, and what follows. This gives context, because a diminished chord more than any chord, (except possibly our augmented eg C+ , chord) NEEDS context.. it fits in many many tonal contexts.

I could just be a funk chord , like in "Brick house" as part of F funk chord

or these key centers

Bb major or Bb minor. or Gminor or Eb major etc.

A major chord is much much more stable, the antithesis of a diminished structure like the one you are dealing with.

You don't have ideas, ideas have you

We see the world, not as it is, but as we are. "One mans food is another mans poison". I defend your right to speak hate. Tolerance to a point, not agreement

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Great replies.

 

I totally get that the bottom note is not necessarily the root.

 

Looking up diminshed chords, I realize that my piano teacher taught be incorrectly. The way I learned it, A diminished would also include F#/Gb.

 

So Adim/C would certainly work here.

 

The context is 'Desperado' by the Eagles.

I like to try figuring out chords by ear rather than looking online. It woud be the fourth chord of the first verse, the one over the word 'senses'. I would play the triad I described above over a bass C in the LH. The guitar chords sites justr list this as a Cm which does not sound correct to me.

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...The context is 'Desperado' by the Eagles.

I like to try figuring out chords by ear rather than looking online. It woud be the fourth chord of the first verse, the one over the word 'senses'. I would play the triad I described above over a bass C in the LH. The guitar chords sites justr list this as a Cm which does not sound correct to me.

 

Definitely a Cm6(no5). The vocal slides into the fifth of the chord. Hence, as everyone here has mentioned, the proper name all depends on the context.

 

Were it notated, I'd still label the chord as a Cm6 omitting the fifth on the staff.

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Bern and company: Is the omission of the fifth, all that significant? Perfect fifth is such common sound, even supported by nature herself. I think of the Perfect fifth as a non issue, whether in playing it, omitting it, or writing it as an "omit 5", or not writing as an "omit 5".. Am I being simplistic here?

You don't have ideas, ideas have you

We see the world, not as it is, but as we are. "One mans food is another mans poison". I defend your right to speak hate. Tolerance to a point, not agreement

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Yes, Cm6. Most of those guitar chord sites are posted by amateurs. I have played with more than my share of "guitarists" that wouldn't know a minor 6th if there life depended on it.

 

Which is not a knock on all guitarists, because I have played guitar in myself in a swing band for awhile. But to paraphrase Forrest Gump: "Guitar players are like a box of chocolates"

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Bern and company: Is the omission of the fifth, all that significant? Perfect fifth is such common sound, even supported by nature herself. I think of the Perfect fifth as a non issue, whether in playing it, omitting it, or writing it as an "omit 5", or not writing as an "omit 5".. Am I being simplistic here?

It all depends on if you want it to sound authentic with respect to the original arrangement of the song. I'm sure there are other artists' renditions that include the fifth without issue. For the sake of the original Eagles version, I'd say, yes, it does matter to omit the 5th. It doesn't sound right to include it (especially when played on piano...).

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Ok, I just listened to Desperado, nice tune. That chord progression is very common, and quite beautiful It is positively a Cm6 omit fifth, in the key of G major.

 

I I7 IV IVm6 btw sometimes composers change the root on this chord

in the key of G The Cm6 can use an F bass ( not in Desperado- that would be tacky, though it would "work" ! ) or an A bass.

 

Again that diminished sound is an AMBIGUOUS chord.. it takes on many "faces" all with those same notes, but surrounded by other notes in it ( eg the F bass ) and preceding and succeeding chords.

Just remember this one word AMBIGUOUS that chord is ambiguous, and that will help!

You don't have ideas, ideas have you

We see the world, not as it is, but as we are. "One mans food is another mans poison". I defend your right to speak hate. Tolerance to a point, not agreement

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Bern and company: Is the omission of the fifth, all that significant? Perfect fifth is such common sound, even supported by nature herself. I think of the Perfect fifth as a non issue, whether in playing it, omitting it, or writing it as an "omit 5", or not writing as an "omit 5".. Am I being simplistic here?

It all depends on if you want it to sound authentic with respect to the original arrangement of the song. I'm sure there are other artists' renditions that include the fifth without issue. For the sake of the original Eagles version, I'd say, yes, it does matter to omit the 5th. It doesn't sound right to include it (especially when played on piano...).

 

Ok, I will honor that opinion, because just to make such a fine ( to me anyway ) distinction, tells me you are a very discerning musician - thank you.. I learned something :wave:

You don't have ideas, ideas have you

We see the world, not as it is, but as we are. "One mans food is another mans poison". I defend your right to speak hate. Tolerance to a point, not agreement

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Honestly, it isn't hard to understand the innuendos in the song production and instrument use, there are more than a few hints at chords, and unless my monitoring fails me, there are "holes" in the production that cannot properly be summarized by chords or notes.

 

Also, there is at that point the suggested intention of being able to insert a II(major) V I towards the G chord, there's an not just an optional blue note (on the guitar of course bedable) which fits in the DIM chord, but various maj-7 chord additions.

 

Also, the fifth at the same point in the intro is played a little later on. Of course the *type of piano* being used makes a huge difference if adding the fifth in the (rather standard) "V"min,add6 is ok, desirable or ugly.

 

I could demonstrate that with some examples easily, nice song.

 

T

 

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I I7 IV IVm6 btw sometimes composers change the root on this chord

in the key of G The Cm6 can use an F bass ( not in Desperado- that would be tacky, though it would "work" ! ) or an A bass.

 

I am thrilled that my seemingly 'simple' question has sparked some discouse among the more experienced.

 

Tee, I look forward to going home tonight and experimenting with the alternate bass notes, not in the context of this particular song, but more to add to my arsenal of progressions.

 

 

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I love this forum! Cool discussions like this just pop up on such a regular basis.

 

...Definitely a Cm6(no5). The vocal slides into the fifth of the chord.

This is the key point. It's obviously a Cm6 chord in the overall harmonic context of the tune, because the melody has a suspended sixth clearly resolving to the fifth.

 

But since there's no simple way to notate that with chord symbols, it's better that the rhythm section parts should be notated Cm6(no5). I see it as a sort of compromise that keeps the keys and guitar from stealing the lead vocal's thunder in resolving the suspension.

 

Cheers,

 

B.

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Looking up diminshed chords, I realize that my piano teacher taught be incorrectly. The way I learned it, A diminished would also include F#/Gb.

Adding that note would make it an A diminished 7. I wonder if your teacher was a guitarist first. While it wouldn't explain the error in theory, the stringing of the guitar prompts players to often turn diminished chords into diminished 7ths.

 

So Adim/C would certainly work here.

That's the way I would notate it, personally.

 

I would not write Cm6 because including the G if it isn't supposed to be played is wrong. You might as well include an F# in an A diminished chord. ;-(

 

I understand the reasoning for people who like "Cm6 omit 5" but if the idea of a chord chart is to communicate efficiently, to me, "A dim/C" is instantly read and played with no thought whatsoever... it's a common chord, over a bass note, charts are full of that. Something like "Cm6 omit 5" is a less common thing to see, and may take a hair longer to process.

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Looking at the original published copy written sheet music they have chord symbols. The G is played on the C-6 , it's in the melody.

 

| G G7 | C C-6 |

 

The melody note A played over the C-6 quickly resolves to a G melody note before the next chord change. The 5th is even played in the second measure of the piano intro.

 

I IV iv minor (C-6) is so common. Nothing diminished going on.

Harry Likas was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and also helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book." Harry spends his time teaching jazz piano online and playing solo piano gigs.

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If I had to pick a single chord, as a favorite... weird to do this, but if I did, that minor 6 chord would be at the top of the list, along with augmented 9th's !

 

It is so versatile. Stevie Wonder's music uses that chord in all sorts of cool ways.

the Cm6 but with A bass, is called half dim 7th A half dim 7th.

But also, remember it is context, and contrast that makes it even more beautiful

It is not merely Cm6, But Cm6 in the context of G major. Those two sounds are so beautiful when you hear them in close proximity ( in a chord progression ).

 

 

All I can do here is give hints; it is up to you to play with these sounds, including melodic ideas that naturally spawn from it ( again this intro to that great song, is alternating back and forth between two harmonic "regions", to use one teachers term for it)

 

Gmaj9 /// Cm6/G /// Gmaj9 /// Cm6/G /// etc

Play a simple melodic idea over these two alternating chords. In the Cm6 chord the notes that sound best are G A C D Eb F G

 

I have a recording of an orchestra playing an intro using those two harmonies but in a more extensive fashion.. as great arrangers always do.

If interested let me know

 

You don't have ideas, ideas have you

We see the world, not as it is, but as we are. "One mans food is another mans poison". I defend your right to speak hate. Tolerance to a point, not agreement

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Yeah, I'd have said Cm6 and if a guitar player included the G note in his strum I don't think it would be too much of a crisis. If it were a situation where the expectation was to match the recorded version exactly, the guitarist would hopefully have put his ear to the recording and learned his part that way and not be relying on a chord chart. Side note, I learned somewhere along the way that an alternate way of referring to a diminished 7th chord, is "fully diminished." as opposed to half-diminished, which would be another name for minor 7 flat 5.

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I love this forum! Cool discussions like this just pop up on such a regular basis.

 

...Definitely a Cm6(no5). The vocal slides into the fifth of the chord.

This is the key point. It's obviously a Cm6 chord in the overall harmonic context of the tune, because the melody has a suspended sixth clearly resolving to the fifth.

 

But since there's no simple way to notate that with chord symbols, it's better that the rhythm section parts should be notated Cm6(no5). I see it as a sort of compromise that keeps the keys and guitar from stealing the lead vocal's thunder in resolving the suspension.

 

Cheers,

 

B.

 

(I so rarely get a chance to discuss music with musicians on a gig!) This is an old idea, but being applied in an area that never occurred to me was stealing vocalists thunder. I am not in front of a keyboard to confirm what you and BernMeister are saying.. again, I am not arguing the point.. I just haven't heard it myself. I would never have thought the 6 to 5 movement was such that the 5 ought to be silent for sake of the vocals "thunder". I have always thought myself sensitive to this sort of musical issue.

Thank you for turning me on to this. I will play keyboard soon to check it out.

 

 

You don't have ideas, ideas have you

We see the world, not as it is, but as we are. "One mans food is another mans poison". I defend your right to speak hate. Tolerance to a point, not agreement

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The Eagle's pianist plays a C in the bass and an Eb and A and a G during the C-6 chord ... what's the confusion? It's not diminished harmony being used.

 

http://www.musicnotes.com/sheetmusic/mtdFPE.asp?ppn=MN0039017&ref=google

Harry Likas was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and also helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book." Harry spends his time teaching jazz piano online and playing solo piano gigs.

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Tee, my "side note" comment had nothing to do with the main discussion about the chord and song in question, it was just a digression and response to what AnotherScott had mentioned about diminished chords. (That's why I labeled it "side note"!)

Rich Forman

Yamaha MOXF8, Korg Kronos 2-61, Roland Fantom X7, Ferrofish B4000+ organ module, Roland VR-09, EV ZLX12P, K&M Spider Pro stand,

Yamaha S80, Korg Trinity Plus

 

 

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Geez, the Eagle's pianist plays a C in the bass and an Eb and A and a G during the C-6 chord ... what's all the confusion about?

 

http://www.musicnotes.com/sheetmusic/mtdFPE.asp?ppn=MN0039017&ref=google

 

I agree, it's totally unambiguous from a music theory standpoint. The A section of Desperado is obviously I I7 IV IVm6.

 

But I think it's still interesting to consider why it might be worth notating differently in chord symbols. For sight-reading convenience? To draw attention to the suspension in the melody? Or imply a particular movement in the bass line?

 

B.

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P.S. No I don't think "half diminished seventh" would be a thing. To recap - there's diminished seventh, which I noted I've also heard called fully diminished; and "half diminished" (I brought these into the chat, haven't seen a reply on whether or not others know/use these terms) which is the same (I believe) as m7b5. I guess simply "diminished" strictly speaking would just be a diminished triad, but if I see that, I would generally feel allowed to add the diminished seventh into the mix as well (probably skipping one of the other notes).

 

Just last night I was working on the Beatles' "The End," the run of (sounds to me like, anyway) diminished piano chords that leads up to the first, shorter drum fill (right before "Oh yeah! All right!") - figuring out a voicing/fingering that sounded right and that I can execute smoothly for an all-Beatles gig I have the chance to do a couple months out. Think I have it figured out as far as what I plan to do but will still have to practice it a few hundred more times before rehearsal.

 

Oh, that's another unrelated side note! :)

Rich Forman

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...I would never have thought the 6 to 5 movement was such that the 5 ought to be silent for sake of the vocals "thunder".

 

I don't think it's a general rule, or anything. But in the particular context of the Eagles' "Very Best Of..." recording of Desperado, which is piano and vocal only in the first verse, it's a noticeable thing, IMO.

 

The piano (Glenn Frey, I'm assuming?) plays C Eb A in the right hand on both beats of that Cm6 chord, so Don Henley has that 6 to 5 resolution all to himself in the vocal. It's a nice choice, but subtle. I don't think it would be apparent if the arrangement weren't so spare.

 

Cheers,

 

B.

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I don't mean to overdo my reaction.. but this 6-5 resolution is a real gem for me. I guess it is good to go back to basics now and then, especially in our present "anything goes" culture. :thu:

You don't have ideas, ideas have you

We see the world, not as it is, but as we are. "One mans food is another mans poison". I defend your right to speak hate. Tolerance to a point, not agreement

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Cm6.

 

Charts can't and shouldn't try to tell you everything, they're supposed to be a framework to get you in the neighborhood so your ear can do the rest. Of course, if I saw Cm6(no 5) I wouldn't object. As mentioned above, strumming guitar chords, it might or might not work to have the G in there, and you'd have to try a few different voicings to get it right (as always).

 

Adim/C would make me have to think harder than Cm6, but it's six of one, half dozen of the other, and YMMV and all that.

 

In any case I'd chart the G7 as a G13. But depends on the purpose. If the chords are for a guitarist strumming along (which I wouldn't want anyway) the G7 is probably best. If it's a clue to help remember the piano part, G13, and Cm6(no 5).

 

Charts are always a shorthand and never tell the whole story. If you try to tell the whole story, you end up with too complicated a chart and you'd be better off just writing staff notation. I admit I often "overchart" but only as a crutch since I don't sight-read, and these charts are for me, not others.

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To recap - there's diminished seventh, which I noted I've also heard called fully diminished; and "half diminished" (I brought these into the chat, haven't seen a reply on whether or not others know/use these terms) which is the same (I believe) as m7b5. I guess simply "diminished" strictly speaking would just be a diminished triad, but if I see that, I would generally feel allowed to add the diminished seventh into the mix as well (probably skipping one of the other notes).
I agree, but find I'd be wrong part of the time. My ear generally knows which 7th to add if I want one. Again, it depends on the goal of the person writing the chart. Sometimes the purpose is to be as simple as possible, for the widest audience. (A lot of internet and sheet music charts -- even staff notation -- is like this, leading to really horrible arrangements.) In a jazz chart where the transcriber shows no hesitation to use 13ths, 11ths, flat and sharp 9's, if I see just "dim" and not "dim7" it's a clue to leave the damn 7th out.

 

But if the most complex chords in the chart are dominant and major 7ths, then one doesn't really know. If you know the tune, your ear tells you. If it's something new, you generally can tell from context which 7th to use, but not necessarily whether the tune wants it or not.

 

It's easy to overuse one's knowledge of harmony. In my erstwhile soul band we were learning a new tune (forget which one) and I was just out of habit playing 7th chords. The bass player told me to stop that crap (he has my permission to do that!) and by damn, he was right: when I stuck to the simple triads, it sounded a lot better. Even when the notes are the correct ones, it's not necessarily best to use them. :)

 

And yes, most folks here know dimished 7 from half-diminished, backwards and forwards, and many can explain how they work in contexts with voice leading and etc until my head spins! But there's never any harm in making things clear.

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Once upon time, when a young man, I had a steady gig ( did not last all that long, cause me and da boss did not see eye to eye -) ) with the old Wolly Bully singer / group Sam the Sham and the Pharoahs. Not a great music experience... BUT Sam criticized my use of a Dom 7th where he said a simple major triad was what he wanted. I don't recall if it "clicked" immediately, but he was 100% right.. Later on I studied music more thoughfully ( classical harmony/ school , a bit ) and the distinction between a C major triad in key of C or an F triad in key of C, versus a C7 or F7 in the key of C ( C blues in this case, but this applies beyond the Blues as well, just because one sees a C does not mean I have license to make it Cmaj7 or worse C69 etc ) is a HUGE difference. Of course ( sarcasm ) if one subscribes to the "anything goes" ( and nothing matters ) mindset, you can ignore this! edit It was particularly the study of early counterpoint as well as Schoenberg's fundamental harmony book , that really sensitized me to this. I think it is a shame that today's students of music ignore this. Classical- baroque music, refines the ear as nothing can. After all it came first.

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We see the world, not as it is, but as we are. "One mans food is another mans poison". I defend your right to speak hate. Tolerance to a point, not agreement

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