Welcome!
Just a few a ground rules first...

Promotion, advertising and link building is not permitted.

If you are keen to learn, get to grips with something with the willing help of one of the net's original musician forums
or possess a genuine willingness to contribute knowledge - you've come to the right place!

Register >

- Close -
Results 1 to 10 of 10

Thread: What Chord is This?!

  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Posts
    34

    What Chord is This?!

    Hey all! I'll keep this brief: I cannot seem to find the proper name for this chord (which I believe is an extension of a B minor triad). Here is the voicing:

    E
    D
    G (F##?)
    F#
    B

    I'm a guitarist and this particular chord is great for melancholy sounds, and that semitone between the F# & G (F##?) adds a very pleasing dissonance to the triad, and the E on top just adds even more complexity. I don't believe this is a B minor 6 chord with an added 11th interval because a minor 6th chord is defined by a major 6th interval and not a minor 6th (augmented 5th?) like the chord in question does -- Thanks, I hope you all can help!

  2. #2
    MMus, MA, PGCE JumpingJack's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Posts
    309
    Em9.
    If the B is the lowest note, it's in second inversion.

  3. #3
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    651
    Em9?

    EDIT: cross-posted

  4. #4
    Registered User Color of Music's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    North Carolina
    Posts
    417
    Quote Originally Posted by JumpingJack View Post
    Em9.
    If the B is the lowest note, it's in second inversion.
    I didn't know you could invert ninths! I asked JonR this question and he didn't know! However, it was more about how would the figured bass symbol look? (To which, I'll ask you if there is one beyond 2 (4/2))

  5. #5
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Twickenham, UK
    Posts
    4,959
    Quote Originally Posted by Color of Music View Post
    I didn't know you could invert ninths! I asked JonR this question and he didn't know!
    You obviously can invert 9ths any way you like. The question is - or two questions - do they become different chords, and how do we name them?
    I agree this chord is Em9 (or arguably Gmaj13), and if B is in the bass it's Em9/B, or the 2nd inversion. The issue with inverting 9ths is what happens when the 9th is in the bass - that's when it becomes, effectively, a different chord. But it's true I don't know if there's a convention for naming such a "4th inversion".

    But this is a fairly common chord shape that guitarists discover, without generally worrying what it's called. Bob Dylan used something very similar as the first chord of the verse of Girl Of The North Country:
    -0-
    -3-
    -0-
    -4-
    -x-
    -0-

    That's with E bass, of course, rather than the B on 5th string (so more clearly Em9). Others have D on 5th string as low note, but it's the same principle: take a C (or Am7) and shift it 2 frets up while keeping the open strings. Hence the assumption it's some kind of D (or Bm) chord, because that's what it looks like.
    But really it's a kind of hybrid, resisting naming according to the conventional tertian system. It "adds up" to "Em9", if you spell it out, but it may not work or sound like that.
    The B-F# 5th on the bottom definitely suggests a "B-root" sound, but then we have to call it something like "Bmadd4b6" - not very elegant.

  6. #6
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    Posts
    34
    Interesting that this is a E minor 9 chord! Because it sounds so B minor-ish and I treat it as such when arranging for the bass parts -- but hey, I guess that's technicalities for ya'!

  7. #7
    Registered User Color of Music's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    North Carolina
    Posts
    417
    Quote Originally Posted by JonR View Post
    You obviously can invert 9ths any way you like. The question is - or two questions - do they become different chords, and how do we name them?
    I agree this chord is Em9 (or arguably Gmaj13), and if B is in the bass it's Em9/B, or the 2nd inversion. The issue with inverting 9ths is what happens when the 9th is in the bass - that's when it becomes, effectively, a different chord. But it's true I don't know if there's a convention for naming such a "4th inversion".

    But this is a fairly common chord shape that guitarists discover, without generally worrying what it's called. Bob Dylan used something very similar as the first chord of the verse of Girl Of The North Country:
    -0-
    -3-
    -0-
    -4-
    -x-
    -0-

    That's with E bass, of course, rather than the B on 5th string (so more clearly Em9). Others have D on 5th string as low note, but it's the same principle: take a C (or Am7) and shift it 2 frets up while keeping the open strings. Hence the assumption it's some kind of D (or Bm) chord, because that's what it looks like.
    But really it's a kind of hybrid, resisting naming according to the conventional tertian system. It "adds up" to "Em9", if you spell it out, but it may not work or sound like that.
    The B-F# 5th on the bottom definitely suggests a "B-root" sound, but then we have to call it something like "Bmadd4b6" - not very elegant.
    Like a polychord (chord over chord)? We agree that such is a good way to clean up the clutter. (D/C7 as oppssed to C13#11 - although they're essentially the same chord)

    Thanks for clearing this up!

  8. #8
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Twickenham, UK
    Posts
    4,959
    Quote Originally Posted by zedrein View Post
    Interesting that this is a E minor 9 chord! Because it sounds so B minor-ish and I treat it as such when arranging for the bass parts -- but hey, I guess that's technicalities for ya'!
    Like I said, it does sound very "B-minor-ish", because of that bottom 5th, B-F#; acoustically, that's a strong interval telling us the root is B.
    But the other notes conflict with that in various ways. The D obviously supports a "Bm" interpretation, but the G clashes with the F#, and E is the acoustic root of the B-E interval. (B is part of the harmonic series of E, but E is nowhere in the harmonic series of B. So the 4th is a kind of "rogue" tone relative to B.)
    So you have a Bm triad (B-F#-D) mashed together with an Em triad (B-G-E). (You can also identify a G major triad in there, of course.)
    B wants to dominate because it's lowest in the chord; but the mix of tones fits an Em-based structure better - based on standard "tertian" theory, stacking notes in 3rds. The 5 notes here fall into that pattern with E on the bottom: E G B D F#.
    That's what makes it technically an Em9 chord, but sound-wise that's balanced by the B being lower in the voicing. Add an open bottom E and I think you'll hear that as a much stronger root (because B then becomes its 5th).

  9. #9
    bitter old fool Jed's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    New England
    Posts
    1,417
    The lowest four voices form a Gmaj7/B (in the form of a 1st inversion drop-2 voicing). This is a pretty common voicing in my experience - where the 3rd in the bass draws the ear to hear some kind of B construct. The F# over the B certainly supports this as well. I remember writing a song around this voicing in school. The two perfect 5ths (B-F#) & G-D) separated by the minor 2nd makes a beautiful sound.

    Played in isolation, I hear this as an Em9/B. There's no need to get stuck on the complexities of inversions of closed voiced 9th chords. Once the voicing is opened (which this is) the 9th (F#) just adds a bit of cluster chord tension inside the very consonant sounding Em voicing. It's a beautiful voicing for Em or Gmaj7 depending on context.

    cheers,
    Last edited by Jed; 01-22-2014 at 08:38 PM.

  10. #10
    Some great posts guys. Zedrein my only advice would be to label how you hear it. The root could be any of those posted so far, even a poly-chord (multiple roots) could be what you're hearing. Test it out. Does the possible root get tense if repeated and played more on beat etc..

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 8
    Last Post: 02-06-2018, 01:29 PM
  2. Chord Families & Diatonic Chord Substitution
    By dwest2419 in forum Getting Started
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 01-01-2013, 06:43 PM
  3. chord sequences vs chord progressions
    By DukeOfBoom in forum Music Theory
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 11-14-2010, 09:37 AM
  4. Replies: 5
    Last Post: 10-13-2006, 10:36 AM
  5. Help with chord types, chord names
    By SteveVAIrules in forum Getting Started
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 11-09-2003, 02:08 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •