C/D Can anyone help?

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Geoff H
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C/D Can anyone help?

Post by Geoff H » September 18th, 2007, 11:40 am

When you see a chord written as C/D (or some other combinations, with a slash '/'), what does this mean? Sorry for the stupid question, but I don't understand this.
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Re: C/D Can anyone help?

Post by Mr Blue Eyes » September 18th, 2007, 12:22 pm

It means that a lower D has been added to the chord, though normal the note comes from within the chord it self for example

E---0
B---1
G---0
D---2
A---3
E---0

This would be a C major chord with a lower E note making it a slash chord

Hope this helps :D

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Re: C/D Can anyone help?

Post by Nuno » September 18th, 2007, 12:24 pm

Hi Geoff,

First, the questions never are stupids. :wink:

They indicate a chord with a added note, usually a new bass note. In your example, the C is the chord and the added note the D. Then, that chord has the C, E and G notes plus the D. There are several fingerings, for example, [x x 0 0 1 0] (note that the bass note is in the 4th string).

This chord is also know as Cadd9 (you are adding the 9th note) and as C2.

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Re: C/D Can anyone help?

Post by hbriem » September 19th, 2007, 1:02 am

To add to the answers you've already have (which are quite correct):

This kind of chord is often called a "slash chord". C/D is called "C over D".

In a band setting, the extra bass note would normally be played by the bass player.

If the bass note is a normal part of the chord, as in D/F# or A/E, this kind of chord is called an "inversion".

Chords with the 3rd in bass, like D/F#, are called "first inversion chords" or it's said to be played "in the 1st inversion". Those with the 5th in bass, like A/E, are called "second inversion". And if you have a chord with 4 notes, like a 7th chord and the bass note is the 7th, as in C/Bb, it's called a "third inversion".

The normal function of slash chords is to provide a moving bassline. You might see a sequence of chords like: A - A/G# - A/F# - A/E, where the bassline moves through A-G#-F#-E, but the chord is static.

You might also see the opposite, a static bass over moving chords, but this is rarer. I remember the Stranglers did this to good effect in their song "Dead Loss Angeles".

I hope this helps.
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Re: C/D Can anyone help?

Post by Ignar Hillström » September 19th, 2007, 5:50 am

Another example of static bass with moving chords is in Satie's 'Gyropedie #1'. Anyway, a C/D sounds like nonsense to me, a saner notation would be (IMHO!) Cadd9/D.
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Re: C/D Can anyone help?

Post by hbriem » September 19th, 2007, 6:14 am

Anyway, a C/D sounds like nonsense to me, a saner notation would be (IMHO!) Cadd9/D.
Umm, well, no not really. A "9" implies a note above the triad (an add9 is 1-3-5-9). I can see people attempting to add an extra high D in there somewhere to get that. A C with D in the bass makes a very different chord in character to the Cadd9. The D bass is dissonant while the high D note is sweet and very consonant.

Also, as in the example I put above,
A - A/G# - A/F# - A/E,

you're forced into making up the rather artificial sounding chords:
A - Amaj7/G# - A6/F# - A/E

The second and third chords will sound nothing like maj7 and 6 chords and notating them as such is needless pedantry.

But, I know that "slash" notation offends a lot of classically trained musicians and if it does, you're free not to use it.
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Re: C/D Can anyone help?

Post by Fretsource » September 19th, 2007, 6:28 am

hbriem wrote: The second and third chords will sound nothing like maj7 and 6 chords and notating them as such is needless pedantry.
I'll go further and say that notating them that way is misleading and incorrect for exactly the reasons you stated.

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Re: C/D Can anyone help?

Post by Ignar Hillström » September 19th, 2007, 7:36 am

I can see people attempting to add an extra high D in there somewhere to get that. A C with D in the bass makes a very different chord in character to the Cadd9. The D bass is dissonant while the high D note is sweet and very consonant.
IMHO specifically notating the bass-chord means it plays a role in the harmony, and as such it should be mentioned in the chord. And since Cadd9 makes more sense to me then Cadd2 I go for the first. Maybe it confuses people but not mentioning it at all confuses me.
I'll go further and say that notating them that way is misleading and incorrect for exactly the reasons you stated.
Heh, 'incorrect'. You mean as in 'objectively not true' or more 'I don't really agree and think my system is better, so I just throw that word in.'? Music theory and notation is by definition not something that can be objectivily and universally right or wrong, at best something can make more or less sense to a specific group of people. Same as for 'misleading': misleading to whom? This just happens to be one of those conventions I personally don't agree with, and if you personally don't agree with that that is fine as well. But 'misleading and incorrect' are rather strange words to chose for such a subject. In my opinion. :P

And for what it's worth to you: my piano teacher notates it the way I already did before I took up lessons with him. He's not classically trained but made his jazz education at the conservatory with pretty impressive grades. I guess different people think in different ways. Unless that conservatory is wrong, incorrect and misleading, too.
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Re: C/D Can anyone help?

Post by hbriem » September 19th, 2007, 8:05 am

Well, I won't go so far as to say misleading or incorrect, but...

Let's say you had a solo going on over a chord ( I made this up randomly on paper in about 10 seconds so don't criticise the composition itself:

Code: Select all

e|-----------------------------2-4-5--
B|-------------------------2-3--------
G|-----------------7-6-4------------
D|-----------6-7-9----------------
A|---7-5-4------------------------
E|-5-------7----------------------
Would you annotate this as being the chords:

A - A - Aadd11 - A - Aadd9 - Amaj7 - A - Aadd9 - Aadd11 - A - Aadd9 - A - Add11 - A6 - Amaj7 - A?

Or simply as melody notes over an A chord? After all, don't those notes serve a harmonic function, just like the bass notes?
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Re: C/D Can anyone help?

Post by Fretsource » September 19th, 2007, 10:24 am

Ignar Hillstrøm wrote:[
IMHO specifically notating the bass-chord means it plays a role in the harmony, and as such it should be mentioned in the chord.
Yes, but you have to ask yourself, "What role is it playing? - harmonic or melodic". If its role is to provide the harmonic flavour of an inverted C add 9 chord, then it should be notated as Cadd9/D. If its role is more melodic, such as to ensure the progression of a bass melody under a definite major triad or the continuation of a 'drone' or pedal bass then it should be notated as C/D.
In other words, if the role of that bass D note is clearly melodic, then notating the chord in a way that implies a non-existent harmonic function is "incorrect and misleading". This is standard notational practice - not just my opinion and its certainly not "my system". I know I'm getting on a bit, but I'm not THAT old. :lol:

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Re: C/D Can anyone help?

Post by Ignar Hillström » September 19th, 2007, 5:44 pm

If it's harmonic you'd notate it as a Cadd9/D. If it's melodic you'd notate it as a melody line of that specific instrument, disregarding the harmonic function. In both cases C/D makes no sense to me, as it makes no harmonic sense and it's melodically irrelevant to the progression. In other words: you don't need to specifiy each instrument's movent as part of the harmony.
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Re: C/D Can anyone help?

Post by Geoff H » September 20th, 2007, 4:00 am

Thank you all for your replies. I understand fully now. It opened up an interesting debate which just goes to show the variation of opinions out there.
There will be plenty more questions from me - once again thank you.

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Re: C/D Can anyone help?

Post by Fretsource » September 20th, 2007, 4:26 am

Ignar Hillstrøm wrote:If it's harmonic you'd notate it as a Cadd9/D.
Yes. If the chord is really an added ninth chord, and if it's important that the bass note is D (important enough to merit a mention), then there's no choice but to write the chord as Cadd9/D. The reader, on seeing that, will correctly infer that the required harmony is of the added 9th variety and (apart from playing D in the bass) will be free to arrange the chord as they see fit, including doubling of the added ninth note "D".
If it's melodic you'd notate it as a melody line of that specific instrument, disregarding the harmonic function.
No - because we're talking about chord notation. Writing out the melody separately isn't an option. If it were, we wouldn't be having this conversation. All we have is the chord symbol. In the case where we have a simple C major triad but we want to show a non chord tone bass note, (the function of which is necessarily melodic rather than harmonic - which is why it's called a "non-chord" tone) then the non-chord tone is placed after the slash. This lets the reader see that the harmony is C major (not Cadd9) and that the bass note after the slash is NOT an integral part of the harmony and therefore CAN'T be doubled within the chord.

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Re: C/D Can anyone help?

Post by Ignar Hillström » September 20th, 2007, 2:04 pm

In the case where we have a simple C major triad but we want to show a non chord tone bass note, (the function of which is necessarily melodic rather than harmonic - which is why it's called a "non-chord" tone) then the non-chord tone is placed after the slash. This lets the reader see that the harmony is C major (not Cadd9) and that the bass note after the slash is NOT an integral part of the harmony and therefore CAN'T be doubled within the chord.
No, that's your interpretation. We know for fact we have the notes D C E G, and we know for fact that that makes for an inverted Cadd9 chord. Just because an inverted Cadd9 sounds different from a non-inverted voicing doesn't mean it isn't one: if inversions sounded the same we wouldn't have a need for them in the first place. The D isn't a non-chord tone of itself, that's the result of your own interpretation again. If you want to see it as a C-triad then it's a non-chord tone, which means it is melodic. However, the very foundation of the argumentation (that it's a C-triad and not a Cadd9) is not a fact but your opinion, and so is your conclusion. In my opinion it is a Cadd9, so it is a chord tone so it is not melodic. Again this is a based on an opinion so the conclusion is an opinion.

In other words: if I want to write a song that uses an inverted chord like that I can do that. You can then re-arrange it as a triad with a non-chord tone but that would be your interpretation on the piece where you consider the function of that note in the music different then I had originally in mind. That's fine but it doesn't mean either one is wrong, nor can you logically proof any conclusion if it's founded on an opinion that can never be a fact by definition.
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Re: C/D Can anyone help?

Post by Fretsource » September 20th, 2007, 4:32 pm

Ignar Hillstrøm wrote:No, that's your interpretation. We know for fact we have the notes D C E G, and we know for fact that that makes for an inverted Cadd9 chord.
Given just the notes D C E G out of context, we don't know for a fact that this is an inverted C add9 chord. We only know that it could be. It could equally be a C major over the non-chord tone D. As you know, in context they're not the same, despite having the same notes. Or are you disallowing the possibility of including non-chord tones on the grounds that if the note is heard at the same time as the chord, then it must be part of the chord?

If it's the writer's position that the note D is a non-chord tone below a C major triad, rather than the third inversion of a C add9 chord, then they will indicate that by notating the chord as C/D rather than Cadd9/D.
Just because an inverted Cadd9 sounds different from a non-inverted voicing doesn't mean it isn't one: if inversions sounded the same we wouldn't have a need for them in the first place.
Hold on... Nobody's talking about that. We're not comparing an inverted Cadd9 with a non-inverted Cadd9. We're comparing a third inversion C add9 with C major (inverted or not) over the non chord tone D.
The D isn't a non-chord tone of itself, that's the result of your own interpretation again. If you want to see it as a C-triad then it's a non-chord tone, which means it is melodic. However, the very foundation of the argumentation (that it's a C-triad and not a Cadd9) is not a fact but your opinion, and so is your conclusion. In my opinion it is a Cadd9, so it is a chord tone so it is not melodic. Again this is a based on an opinion so the conclusion is an opinion.
I'm not sure what you mean about my opinion or interpretation. We're not talking about musical interpretation, right? We can't be as we haven't heard any music. Without hearing the piece of music referred to, neither of us can have ANY opinion on whether or not that D is a chord tone or a non-chord tone. All we can do is assume the writer knows which it is and has notated it accordingly, i.e., if it's a chord tone of Cadd9 then the correct notation is C add9/D. If it's a non chord tone below a C major triad then it's C/D. As C/D was the example given I assume the writer means D is to be treated as a non-chord tone under a C chord, because that's how slash notation works. It's not my opinion.
In other words: if I want to write a song that uses an inverted chord like that I can do that. You can then re-arrange it as a triad with a non-chord tone but that would be your interpretation on the piece where you consider the function of that note in the music different then I had originally in mind. That's fine but it doesn't mean either one is wrong, nor can you logically proof any conclusion if it's founded on an opinion that can never be a fact by definition.
But if you write the chord in your song as Cadd9/D then I must treat the D as a chord tone of Cadd9 because your chord notation is telling me to. Similarly, if I write a song with C/D then I expect you to treat D as a non-chord tone. If I wanted you to treat it as a chord tone I would have notated it as Cadd9/D
Of course we're both free to interpret each other's songs any way we wish, and knowing us, I'm sure we probably would - but that's a different matter. :lol:

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