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Music Theory question - chords with the same root


Gruuve

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Hey folks:

 

OK, so I know that the difference between, say, a basic major triad versus a minor triad is called the "quality" of the chord (major 3rd or minor 3rd). What term is applicable to, say, a sus2 or sus4 chord versus a major or minor chord(same root and 5th, major or minor third replaced with a major 2nd or 4th)...is that also quality, or is there a different term?

 

Also, how about chords where everything but the root changes...say for instance, E6 and E7sus4. (Actually, I guess the 5th also stays the same in this example...I was just doing this on guitar as positions xxx111 and xxx122, for instance, which omits the 5th). Is there a technically correct name for the differences between these chords?

 

TIA,

Dave

Old bass players never die, they just buy lighter rigs.

- Tom Capasso, 11/9/2006

 

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A sus2 chord can be called 9th, although the name implies a lower voicing for the suspended 2. Most people voice a sus2 and 9th differently, but the same scale choices harmonize both.

 

A sus4 chord is properly called a different quality; it is intended to resolve to the third. In fact, in traditional harmony, the rule was that this chord MUST resolve, and composers played games with your ear about how to delay the resolution. Nowadays people have grown use to hearing unresolved suspensions of all sorts, and the use of this chord doesn't always imply a resolution.

 

When chords change over a root you may or may not name each chord by the root. In some cases, the chord is in inversion. For example, in the key of C, if you play F and A over a C, this is a "four" chord in second inversion. (If you play F and C over an A, (in the Key of A) you have an f chord in first inversion, borrowed from another key. It gets complicated.)

 

Traditionally, if the bass holds a note while chords change overhead, this is called a "pedal" bass (coming from the organ pedal, where this is quite common. It's actually common in all forms of music.) The changing chords are often more easily analyzed without referring to the pedal at all, especially since the function of the chords are often chromatic passing tones. For a good example of this, listen to the opening chords of "Wishing You Were Here" by Chicago.

Yep. I'm the other voice in the head of davebrownbass.
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Thanks, DB. OK, so then sus4 is in correct terminology a chord quality, but the other examples I listed really have no technically correct nomenclature. Is that correct?

 

Dave

Old bass players never die, they just buy lighter rigs.

- Tom Capasso, 11/9/2006

 

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Thanks Dave Brown. That's kind of what I was thinking, too.

 

Dave Sisk, your understanding of harmony and theory is getting quite well developed, especially for someone who started out specializing in rhythm. Hat's off to you.

 

I myself have never heard the term "quality" in the way you've used it, but then my college major was not music so I may not be up to snuff in all things theory. You may find it rewarding to take a college theory class. (I've thought about doing that myself.)

 

Right now I try not to sweat the small stuff too much. If I have a chord that contains E G# C# and D, I don't worry too much that my E6 is missing the 5th and the flatted-7th has managed to sneak in there. Maybe there's not an easy way to notate this using a chord symbol; that's fine with me. If another musician asks me "what chord is that?", I'd probably either (a) show the guitarist how I played it on guitar, or (b) give the note names (assuming I remembered them) or a short explanation like, "it's an E6 but without a 5th and add a flatted-7th". It may not be "proper", but it's often understood.

 

Your guitar examples "xxx111 and xxx122" don't sound right to me. Typo perhaps? You do mean each number refers to a position on the neck (fret), right?

 

I'd play E6 as an open E but substitute the 6th on the B string with my pinky: 022120. Omitting the bass strings leaves xxx120. E7sus4, huh? Mmm ... I guess that's a flatted 7th (not Emaj7sus4). I might be able to finger 022230, but it would probably be easier as 022235 in more of a barre chord style. (Or better yet, 020200, but I usually prefer the 7th to be voiced higher.) Well, that gives xxx230, xxx235 and xxx200, but as this chord calls for 4 notes and we're only playing 3, something gets left out. (For xxx235, the A is doubled, so two things get left out.)

 

Of course, if I were concentrating on just those 3 strings to begin with, I'd probably do something different. ;) Based on above, I might be inclined to go from xxx120 to xxx230 by simply moving the form up a half step, because I like the way the open E string becomes a drone. However, this way the 2nd chord can be interpreted as Asus4, since the B is not sounding. That wouldn't bother me; if I really wanted the B maybe I'd play it in the bass.

 

BTW, we finally got to entering chord symbols in Finale in my music tech. class. It seems like this may be partially the motivation for your question here. (I think you're using BIAB, though.)

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E G# C# and D

 

E13 (5th is often omitted)

 

A cordal player seeing a dominant E chord might choose any one of a number of voicings and extensions unless the voicing itself was specified.

 

Your guitar examples "xxx111 and xxx122" don't sound right to me.

Seems fine to me. (1, 3, 6) and (1, 4, 7).

 

Great post Dave.

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Originally posted by Phil W:

E G# C# and D

 

E13 (5th is often omitted)

 

A cordal player seeing a dominant E chord might choose any one of a number of voicings and extensions unless the voicing itself was specified.

 

Your guitar examples "xxx111 and xxx122" don't sound right to me.

Seems fine to me. (1, 3, 6) and (1, 4, 7).

 

Great post Dave.

Thanks Phil. You're brilliant as always.

 

So ... we're talking xxx111, where we're starting on 9th fret and 1 represents 1st finger (on 9th fret)? Yeah, that makes sense now.

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Er, no I was completely wrong (guess you can tell I don't play guitar). I was thinking of the intervals and that it was a 6th chord rather than where the root was. Dave Sisk's chords could be seen as Ab6 and Absus7. He should have written xxx999 and xxx91010. Of couse with just 3 notes they could be parts of other chords.

 

Sorry Ric! I wrote and read in a rush!

 

It is E13 though! phew!

:o

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Hey guys...I'm sorry...what I meant was starting at the 11th fret, just forgot to figure out how to underline the numbers! I don't see how to underline actually...so add 10 frets to the bold numbers.

 

xxx111 - F#6 (omitting the 5th...11th fret on the 3 highest pitched strings)

xxx122 - F#7sus4 (omitting the 5th)

xxx144 - F#5 (w/ octave added)

 

Thanks for the answers and kind comments. I've actually got a rough sketch for a new song on my looper pedal...maybe I'll try to dump that off and post it. In this case, rather than sitting down with "Band In A Box" and taking the more scientific (?) approach to it, I just looped the bassline and started twanging away on guitar until I came up with something that sounded like what I was after. (So, here I am a week later... ;) ) I *thought* I knew what the chords were, but just to be safe I double-checked myself using ChordWizard Gold (you can enter a position and it'll tell you the possible matching chords and any missing intervals...very cool program!)

 

Dave

Old bass players never die, they just buy lighter rigs.

- Tom Capasso, 11/9/2006

 

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I think there were a few questions.

 

Dave Brown already answered the one about the bass note staying the same while notes on top change.

That's called a pedal tone.

 

The sus2 chord seems to be the newest name in our vocabulary.

 

I'm assuming you mean (as most people do) a chord which has a 2nd rather than a 3rd (just as a sus4 chord has a 4th instead of a 3rd).

 

So a Csus2 chord would have 1 2 and 5 or C D and G. As far as major and minor quality...since the chord doesn't have a third it technically isn't either, but every time I have heard this chord it is used where a major chord would normally be used. I would definitely put sus2 chords in the category of major chords.

 

Now we all know that the 2nd is the same note as the 9th. These leads to confusion about why is a ninth chord different than a chord with an added second.

 

A 9th chord must include a 7th. So a C9 has 1 3 5 b7 9 or C E G Bb D. (Most guitarists do not play the G)

 

One other chord for our list would be a Cadd9 chord. This is the way to write a chord which has a ninth but not a seventh.

Cadd9 has 1359 or C D E G and it sounds very similar to the Csus2 chord.

 

Hope this helps. I suppose you will ask next about what quality sus4 chords are....they are related to major chords also (there no such thing as a Cm sus4 is there?) But since you should never play the major 3rd against a sus4 chord we can't really class it major chords.

 

I usually think of sus4 chords as being part of the dominant family, but that's a whole nother discussion.

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Well, that's interesting, Jeremy.

 

When I think of sus2, I almost always think (in C) the notes d-e-g. Of course, the missing Bb is a good clue, as you said, for the C9.

 

I also never realized the obvious difference between a C9 and a C add 9. To my detriment, I've always equivocated them I guess.

Yep. I'm the other voice in the head of davebrownbass.
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Here's what triggered this question...I dumped this off my looper pedal, which I was using to work out a guitar part that works with the bass line and groove of this song idear. You guys always hear me at my worst...this is work in progress obviously, so pardon the clams and nasty guitar distortion (old pedal) :freak: .

 

http://www.ipass.net/davesisk/music/other/SongIdea04.mp3

 

The high guitar part bounces around through F#6, F#7sus4, and F#5, the lower guitar at the end is Maj3rds and sus4 diads...I tend to throw a lot of sus4's in with maj3rd's when tinkering with guitar...I guess I like how it sounds. :P

 

The bass is the new Conklin GT-5, bridge pickup, EQ flat, SWR model through the Zoom B2.1u pedal (only EQ'ing is a 3db bump at 150 Hz). I put Ernie Ball Super Slinky's strings on it, and although the tension is better and the lows are more defined, it's lost some of it's midrange nasally-ness...will likely try some different strings in a couple weeks. Regardless, this doesn't sound bad at all straight into a looper pedal with no other post-processing.

 

Btw, this is going to be turn out to be my first original attempt at a "modern funk oriented" worship song, so we'll see how this turns out. I was originally after a "Parliament/Sly/etc. done in a modern way" kind of vibe, but it's coming out almost with a Prince kind of vibe (which I guess qualifies as "done in a modern way", eh?)

 

Dave

Old bass players never die, they just buy lighter rigs.

- Tom Capasso, 11/9/2006

 

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