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Weird Chord Question

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As a songwriter of many ballads, I like to explore the fretboard and stumble across unusual chord formations. My music theory knowledge is very very limited, so I would like to ask a question about a chord I have found.

I am using it as Musical Tension which lingers for a moment, and then resolves into a peaceful and tranquil mood.

It is based on a partial bar chord of F#m7, of which the fretting pattern is...

My tension chord is formed by sliding my fretting pattern unchanged down by 1 semitone.
The resultant fretting pattern is...
... which contains the notes, C - F - G# - C - E
Note a discordance from the "F" and the "E".
What would be the name of this chord?

I used this website to help me by keying in the fretting pattern...
...and the result was a weird mix of nomanclenture that I'm not sure how to say or describe.

Fm/∆/C - Fm∆/C - Fmin(∆)/C - F-(∆)/C - FmM7/C
Fm+7/C - E7(♯5♭9) (no ♭7th)/C - E7(+5-9) (no ♭7th)/C

What does the Triangle or Delta symbol mean?
Is one of these names better than the other?

Thank You

Joined: 22 years ago
Posts: 5342

If you reconfigure the G# to be Ab, then you have C-F-Ab-C-E - which is an Fm chord with a Major 7th.


The triangle/ delta is used to signify a major 7th (the leading note, a semitone below the root) rather than a dominant 7th one tone below the root - I see it a lot in jazz. Most of the other names are variations on the same theme, all signifying a raised 7th.

The fact that the lowest sound you play is the 5th string C means that Fm(maj7)/C is technically the correct full name.

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This is one of those rare instances when I'm going to disagree with Alan on the names.

Chord names can fill several different roles in music. The "correct" chord name is usually the one that gives the most useful information.

So what's the useful information?

First, it's the outline of the harmony being played. That depends on not only what the guitar is doing, but on what any other instruments happen to be doing at the same time. If other instruments are adding other tones, you need to consider them as well as what the guitar is doing. I'll assume that either the guitar is the only instrument or that any other instruments double a pitch the guitar is playing.

Second, it presents a logical progression of chords. That lets the musicians see a larger picture. If there is more than one possible chord name, the right name is one that creates a logical series, like a I-IV-V or a II-V-I when you include the chords around it. For example, if you have the pitches Gb-Bb-Db following a B major and an E major chord, it should be renamed F#-A#-C#. That lets the musicians see a I-IV-V (B-E-F#) - the series I-IV-bVI wouldn't make as much sense.

Third, if the bass line is important, slashes can be used to indicate the bass note. If you're playing the notes F-A-C and the bass player can play any of the pitches and make it sound good, labeling the chord "F" works. But if you need the bass line to be a C, you'd write F/C. (This is something guitarists over-use in chord notation - unless the bass line is clearly stepwise or chromatic, you probably don't need it!)

So far, so good. Here's where we run into trouble...

When you're naming a chord, you generally want the chord name to fit with the key you're in. So the first fret note on the third string can be thought of as either Ab or G#. If you're in a key that uses sharps in the chords, it's usually best to keep sharp names. You've already identified your release chord as F#m7.

So let's assume you're in the key of F# minor. Your chord tones are C (the bV), which could also be called B# (the #IV). You've got G#, which is II. And you've got F, which is bI. Since we never flat the I, this would be E#. That's the seventh note of the F# harmonic minor scale.

Two of those chord roots fit the harmonic minor scale, the G# and the E#. So let's see how they'd stack up as notes in thirds:

G#-B#-E#... and E. You can't have two of the same letter name with different accidentals, and since we're using sharp names, this would be called Dx (D double-sharp). From G#, G#-B#-Dx-E# is G#6+ (G sharp sixth augmented)

From E# you have E#-G#-B#-Dx. That's E#m/maj7.

You're not going to find any chord naming engines that will give you those names, because the scales they're built on are rare - the G# scale has 8 sharps; the E# scale has 11. But in the context of the key, I'd argue that either makes more sense than any other chord roots. And if the bass line is important, they'd be noted as G#6+/B# or E#m/maj7/B#.

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