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Naming a chord 2 ways within a chart

Posted by jacobass 
Naming a chord 2 ways within a chart
May 31, 2017 11:20AM
Hello everyone

I tried for about 20 minutes to either get the chart in question to appear here or to provide a link. No luck. I will try to get help but in the meantime maybe just the text of my post will be enough to get some help. It should be here.


I've done a bit of charting in my time but I've come across a situation I need a bit of help with.

I hope this chart is readable. Basically this is a tune in C#m, but there are lots of unexpected and non-diatonic chords. This is page 2, and there's not enough of a change to warrant a modulation with key signature change. You can see in bars 29 - 33, we have

Cm7b5 / / /
Fsus / F /
Bbm7 (Ab9/Bb)

Of course this is just a ii-V7-i in a minor key. But is it okay to name it this way? Obviously in C#m, the last chord would be A#m7. Same thing with the next chord - in the previous section, had this chord occurred, I would have called it G#9/A#.

Same thing with the next chord in bar 33. In the context of what just occurred, we would call this Db/Eb, not C#/D#. Finale wanted to call it Db/D# and I had to manually change it. A few bars later we are back to the 'top' of the tune and I have a C#m7 chord.

I hope this question is clear. I just want to make sure that the reader is going to find it confusing to see a chord named one thing and then see the same chord or a very similar chord called something else. I come from a jazz university background although I am by no means a jazzer. I do have this thing about naming chords functionally.

Any input is appreciated. Please ask if these images aren't good enough, I will try to improve them.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 05/31/2017 11:54AM by jacobass. (view changes)
Re: Naming a chord 2 ways within a chart
June 01, 2017 04:56AM
Disclaimer: I'm also not a jazzer.

I'm confused by the bass more than the chord names.

In bar 19, is that really a C# and G# bass under the C6 chord? I suppose it could be as the bass is more or less a repetition of bar 18

In bar 22 is the last note really G#? (the previous natural affects only the top space of the staff, not the first line)

In bar 31, you've got an Ab9/Bb over a B natural bass! That can't be right.

Anyway, I agree with your chord naming of the ii - V7 - i and the Db/Eb -not C#/D# and definitely not Finale's suggestion of Db/D#. I think the naming is fine for the ii - V7 - i. It lets the reader know that even if it's the same chord they saw previously in the piece, but now named differently, it must be a different context. Anyway, what choice do you have? No reader will thank you if you name the chords B#m7(b5) - E#7 - A#m7.
Re: Naming a chord 2 ways within a chart
June 01, 2017 12:03PM
Fretsource, thanks so much for the reply. My apologies. As soon as I realized the issue I was facing I stopped working on the chart and posted here. You are absolutely right on all 3 mistakes you pointed out. They're the result of not proofing the chart before posting.

I posted another version here. Let me know that you can see it.


It's good to know you find it acceptable to switch to the more 'functional' naming for these chords. As you can see, I had to choose a point to switch back, so I picked bar 32 and called it F#/G#. You can see what it does to the bass line. I decided to call the last note in the previous bar A# instead of Bb. What do you think of that? I thought maybe it sets the reader up to switch back to the other naming scheme. Is this necessary in your view, or is it okay to call that note what it 'should' be called, and what it's called earlier in Bar 31 (Bb) and then have the first note in Bar 32 be G#? Clearly this is odd as well since it's functionally a major 2nd and not one of those esoteric intervals (Dim 3rd??)

Thanks again for any further help with this. I really figured B#m7(b5) etc was not the way to go.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 06/01/2017 12:40PM by jacobass. (view changes)
Re: Naming a chord 2 ways within a chart
June 01, 2017 11:08PM
Ok - it makes more sense with the corrections. And yes, it's a good idea to warn the reader beforehand that you're going back to the previous naming system

But here's another mistake. The bass note under the D#7(#5) is A#, but should be A##, unless the chord is wrong and should be D#7

But as I was looking at the whole page, two things occurred to me

1.I don't think this piece (or at least this section) is in a minor key. It looks more like C# major with borrowed minors from the parallel minor - there are more occurrences of C# chords on strong beats than C# minors.

2. If the song or this section is in a major key, Db major key would be simpler than C# major key and all those Cm, Eb, F and F minors would be far less alien.

If the first part of the song ((bars 1 to 17) really is in C#m then that obviously can't be changed to Db minor key as that's not a valid key, but the part you've shown could be legitimately shown as a key change with a new (5 flat) key signature.
Re: Naming a chord 2 ways within a chart
June 02, 2017 01:12AM
Thanks so much for sticking with me and for the good proofing. You're absolutely right. I have no idea why Db major didn't occur to me for the B section. I don't think I've ever had a chart that transposes to the parallel key!

But let me show you the first 19 bars. Since it's (mostly, functionally) a i-ii-V progression, it sounds to me like a C#m thing, even though it does end on the parallel major at Bar 7 of the progression (the jazzer in me?). Would you actually chart this in Db major? You'd end up with a lot more accidentals in the bass line that way, right? [EDIT: you'd also have an Fb in the first bar]


Now, here's a version of the section we've been looking at, transposed to Db major. Yep, you're obviously right, it's so much cleaner this way, isn't it?


Anyhow, you've taken enough time here. I would love to know what you think about the first 19 bars. I'm 99% sure I should stick with your suggestion re: the section we were initially looking at.


Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 06/02/2017 01:25AM by jacobass. (view changes)
Re: Naming a chord 2 ways within a chart
June 02, 2017 05:25AM
Yes - the first section is minor. Scoring it in C# major or Db major would be wrong.

It's not uncommon in classical guitar for pieces to change from the minor to the parallel major, The famous guitar piece 'Romance' changes from E minor to Emajor for the B section. There's never any enharmonic changes in such pieces though like C# minor to Db major. It's always the same tonic for both.

The problem with C# minor is that the change to the B section (if you follow convention and keep the same C# tonic) takes you to C# major which, if you insisted on following strictly would force you to rename those chords like we said - B#m7, etc. It's acceptable in notation, but not in chord labeling.

Your key changing options are:

C#m > C# major. - The chord naming problems you've already seen.

C#m > Db major - Looks good and clean but very unconventional and, like you, I've never seen it. It also obscures the fact that it's a minor to parallel major key change.

Dbm > Db major - Impossible as there's no Dbm key signature.

All these problems occur because C#m wasn't the best choice of key to start with (for notation and chord naming purposes). So how about transposing it? If it was Dm changing to D major, it would avoid those problems.
Re: Naming a chord 2 ways within a chart
June 02, 2017 11:27AM
Okay, good to get your confirmation on C#m for the A section.

The problem is, the person who requested the chart wants it in the original key for the vocalist. So transposition is out.

I think I'm going to go with Db major for the B section even thought it's unconventional. Having seen it in this key, I'll find it hard to go back.

Once again, thanks so much for taking the time to help with this. I appreciate it.
Re: Naming a chord 2 ways within a chart
June 25, 2017 02:00PM
For what it's worth, you might want to check out Chopin's Piano Prelude No.15. It starts and ends in Db major, but the B section is in C# minor. I'm sure there are other examples of something similar.

Check out this textbook on Four Part Harmony.
Re: Naming a chord 2 ways within a chart
June 25, 2017 02:11PM
That's great, thanks for the example. I'll check it out.
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