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Topic: OT-Definition of a chord

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  1. #1

    OT-Definition of a chord

    See Wikipedia. But why must it have three notes? Why not two or one? With today's musical practice anything should be possible.

    Raymond

  2. #2

    Re: OT-Definition of a chord

    It's a definition question. Two notes is an interval in music theory. One note is just one note. Combinations of three notes, or two intervals, however, have different qualities and these qualities stay the same when you put the notes in different order. And then they named that phenomenon a chord. Extra notes (6, 7, 9, 11, or 13) don't change the basic qualities of the chord (or so they say, but to argue that you've got to know more about voice leading than I do), so that's why a chord has three notes, even though you might play four or five...

    The root note plus the 5th (so just two notes) are sometimes referred to as an open chord, or power chord, but mainly by guitarists to hide the fact that they cannot play anything more complex.
    Theo

  3. #3

    Re: OT-Definition of a chord

    Quote Originally Posted by FLWrd View Post

    The root note plus the 5th (so just two notes) are sometimes referred to as an open chord, or power chord, but mainly by guitarists to hide the fact that they cannot play anything more complex.
    lol - very funny, but not entirely true. My guitarist also knows Bm...finally.

  4. #4

    Re: OT-Definition of a chord

    Mostly because a Wikipedia article stating "a chord is whatever you want it to be" wouldn't be very helpful, especially to people wanting to analyze much of the Western music of the past and present in terms of chord progressions. One or two notes are too ambiguous for such analysis.

    Similarly you could question almost any music theory definition. Why only 11 notes in an octave? Why 5 black keys on a piano? Why only 7 notes in this scale?

    There might be some psychological reasons for some of these properties emerging, but they're just properties that emerged from musicians' decisions over hundreds of years of writing and sharing music. If you want to "redefine" it, nothing bad will happen. (Though probably most of the world will not necessarily want to change their definitions too...)
    Sean Patrick Hannifin
    My MP3s | My Melody Generator | my album
    "serious music" ... as if the rest of us are just kidding

  5. #5

    Re: OT-Definition of a chord

    i like the definition of 3 or more notes, but i like the definition that 2 or more 3rd intervals makes a chord even better. one note by itself obviously can't evoke the kind of feeling a chord can. even with two notes its left a little ambiguous.

    if you have a A-C it feels minor i guess, but put an F in the bass and all of a sudden it will feel major with just about any other notes you add.

    i know there are suspended chords that might have 1-4-5, but if played alone they really aren't chords because they don't have that major or minor feel. i think they become chords withing the surrounding progression. if you're in D and you play an Gsus chord it just feels major because your brain knows the B is on its way, but in D minor your brain would probably hear the Bb instead.

    two intervals of a 3rd seems to be the magic of a chord in my book.
    -Keith Fuller

    http://keithfullermusic.com
    ---
    iMac Quad i7 * MacBook Pro * Logic Studio 9 * WD 320GB & 1TB Externals@7,200RPM * Presonus Firebox * M-Audio Axiom 25 & Keystation 61 * Rode NT1-A * Epiphone Hollowbody * Fender Amp * KRK Rokit 8's

  6. #6

    Re: OT-Definition of a chord

    A chord doesn't have to be built on thirds. It can be built on 2nds and 4ths as well... (5ths, 6ths, and 7ths being inversions of 4ths, 3rds, and 2nds respectively).
    Jess Hendricks
    DMA Student and Teaching Asst in Music Theory/ Composition at the University of Miami
    Personal Website

  7. #7

    Re: OT-Definition of a chord

    As has already been stated, it is NOT a question of "feeling".
    It is purely a music theory question.

    one note = a note

    two notes = an interval

    three (or more) notes = a chord

    It has nothing to do with the "sound", or whether it implies, or is, or is not, major or minor.

    A chord, additionally, does NOT need to be composed of superimposed 3rds. A chord can be composed of 4ths, 5ths, or other intervals.

    And even in a major or minor triad, any inversion of the the chord other than the root position means that there is no longer a superimposition of 3rds, but a combination of 3rds, 4ths, or 6ths.

    Additionally, a more widely spaced chord can contain absolutely no 3rds yet still be a "major" chord.

  8. #8

    Re: OT-Definition of a chord

    Quote Originally Posted by SeanHannifin View Post
    Mostly because a Wikipedia article stating "a chord is whatever you want it to be" wouldn't be very helpful, ...
    Hi Sean. Where Wikipedia says that? I only can found a traditional definition of it:

    In music and music theory a chord is a set of three or more different notes from a specific key that sound simultaneously
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chord_%28music%29
    Marcelo Colina

  9. #9

    Re: OT-Definition of a chord

    OK, a new thesis. What is a note? A note is never alone, it has several harmonics (they go up to 8f as I remember well, where f = the fundamental). So one note maybe one note, but it sounds like a chord.

    Raymond

  10. #10

    Re: OT-Definition of a chord

    The harmonics of a note have very different properties. For one, they are not necessary. Harmonics are multiples of the base frequency of the note. E.g., a piano that plays a "standard tuning" A (440Hz) will have harmonics at 880Hz, 1320Hz, 1760Hz, etc., all the up to (and beyond) 20kHz. It will however also have other frequencies, which are inharmonic to the original note (e.g. at 890Hz or 1250Hz). Normal musical instruments produce these, but at a much lower amplitude than the harmonic frequencies. A traditional clock tower bell, however, has dominant inharmonic frequencies, which makes it sound in minor all by itself.

    The ratio of the harmonics (and "inharmonics") determine the character of the sound. A pure sine wave has no harmonics, yet produces a note, a saw tooth only has odd harmonics, etc. If you rustle a piece of paper, it will produce all frequencies in the spectrum, but not a nice sequence of harmonics, and that makes that our ears cannot find a tone, and so it's unsuitable as a musical instrument.

    Note that the topic is slightly more complex than this (e.g. the amplitudes change over time, and phase also plays are role).
    Theo

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