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What is the name of this chord?

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New Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 1
Topic starter  

I was working on a song earlier and used the following voicing:

C Eb F

What chord is that? I tried looking it up and didn't find anything that matched it.

Illustrious Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 4921

Chord names can be confusing for guitarists.

"Chord" really relates to the harmony of the song - the sum total of all the vertical notes that happen at a single time, in the context of the horizontal motion of the harmony. One progression's C6 is another progression's Am7.

But most guitarists equate "chord" with "fingering" - if a note is in the chord, it MUST be in the fingering, and if it isn't in the fingering, it can't be in the chord spelling.

And that's basically what you're asking - here's the notes, what's the name?

But there isn't an answer, because all we've got is the vertical, and it might be incomplete. What we really need to properly name a chord is context, not notes.

Think about open C7: x32310. That's C-E-Bb. It isn't exactly a C7 chord, because there's no G. Trying to name that chord without realizing that G can be played (as in xx2313) leads to people throwing out ridicilous names, Bb6sus2 (no fifth) or Eºsus6. You have to see it in context: building tension towards release.

With C and Eb, you've got a minor third. So if it's a stable chord in context within a progression, it might be Cm6.

But you've also got a minor seventh between F and Eb. If another instrument sets the tritone between Eb and A, you've got F7.

It might also be Eb6/9, especially if it appears at the end of a progression.

So there IS an answer - but it depends on context. What you've given us ain't enough to work with.

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Estimable Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 122

I found those notes in a Cm11 chord but it also had a bB in there as well.


Estimable Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 123

Played on my keyboard with the notes in that order it sounds like it wants to resolve to Bb major. Consequently I'd put it at F7 with no 3rd.

Noble Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 1735

How could you tell it wanted to resolve to that? Just curious.

"Nothing...can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts."

Ignar Hillström
Illustrious Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 5349

Dominant chords serve a pretty strong function in western music and most of us will pick up on it's sound. When given no context we hear it even if it's not there, or not there for sure. Example, play these two intervals after each other:
[x x x x 0 1]
[x x x x 1 0] or [x x x x 1 3]

Sounds pretty nifty, right? It's because we first play a B and an F, which pretty much means either an F7 or Bm/5b, both resolve to C, which we partly play after it. It's like looking at clouds: it's easy to see a face in it, and often when the wind comes in it'll move out of shape and morph into another face. Ofcourse it isn't a face, but faces are so important that a lot of our mental energy is devoted to quickly recognizing faces. And sometimes we jump to conclusions too soon, or possibly too soon.

Anyway, that's what happens here: even if it's a full F7 we like to hear it as such, and when pretend it is it resolves to Bb so we conclude that our guess was right. Ofcourse, since we have no context, we cannot be sure. But it works and it's fun so we'll go with it, like I'm off to watch some more clouds drift by. :)

Prominent Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 630

Really interesting point arjen.

In music what you don't do is at least equally important to what you do. Another fun thing to try is compose a melody that never uses the 3rd scale degree. Later in the song you can finally play the third and make it major or minor with very cool sounds happening either way.

"And above all, respond to all questions regarding a given song's tonal orientation in the following manner: Hell, it don't matter just kick it off!"
-Chris Thile