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Excluding notes from chords

Posted by Rich_A12 
Excluding notes from chords
February 03, 2012 08:14AM
Often on the guitar I play chords that exclude notes mostly because of the limitation of where fingers can be placed. For example I've started playing this chord which I say is a Cm11 however the 5th and 9th are excluded so I only play C, Bb, Eb, F.

So how are notes exlcuded, is it simply (no5,no9) i.e. comma seperated in brackets? Also the Eb is the minor 3rd however on the guitar it's an octave higher, so should I write it as a flat 10 i.e. Cm11 10b(no3,no5).
Re: Excluding notes from chords
February 03, 2012 11:10AM
There's usually no need to specify missing notes, although it can be done, like you said, if the writer/ editor feels strongly that those notes should definitely not be included.

As a matter of course, you can omit notes that are considered inessential to the chord's sound or function. The 5th and 9th are the least essential notes in your Cm11 chord and can be safely omitted without changing its character. I'm sure you know the simple C7 shape in first position (X32310). That has no 5th but we never mention (or even notice) the fact.

Even if you could reach all the notes of Cm11 comfortably, you may still want to omit those inessential notes for a lighter sound. Another reason for omitting notes is to avoid dissonant clashes. If your chord was C11, then you would probably want to omit the 3rd to avoid the clash between the 3rd and 11th, which is a troublesome minor 9th interval. Raising the 11 to #11 is another way to avoid it, if the context permits it. (As for Cm11 - no problem. There's no nasty clash between the b3rd and 11th).

Don't call your chord Cm11 b10. The octave arrangement doesn't matter and is never specified. Call your chord Cm11 because that's what it is, even without the 5th and 9th.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/03/2012 11:13AM by Fretsource.
Re: Excluding notes from chords
February 03, 2012 12:10PM
Well let's just say for arguments sake that I want to write these chords I'm playing on guitar for piano and I don't want the piano player to take liberties.

In retrospect I would probably write Cm7 add11 b10 (no3,no5) but the no3 kind of contradicts the b10 cause b10 is the third for Cm7 but I think they would get it.

If you play this chord with the regular b3 and no b10, there is quite a difference. The 11th sounds more isolated, whereas with b10 the root sounds more isolated.

BTW is (no3,no5) how most people write it?



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 02/03/2012 12:13PM by Rich_A12.
Re: Excluding notes from chords
February 03, 2012 01:04PM
Rich_A12 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Well let's just say for arguments sake that I want
> to write these chords I'm playing on guitar for
> piano and I don't want the piano player to take
> liberties.

That's what standard music notation is for. It specifies exactly which chord notes to play and at which octave they're to be played.
Chord notation isn't so specific. It's purpose is to convey the harmony, not the voicing or individual pitches. The only voicing information you'll see is with slash chords to specify the bass note, such as Cm11/G which tells you the bass note is G and means the chord is in 2nd inversion.
>
> In retrospect I would probably write Cm7 add11 b10
> (no3,no5) but the no3 kind of contradicts the b10
> cause b10 is the third for Cm7 but I think they
> would get it.

They might get it, but they'd think it's written by someone who doesn't understand chord notation. Chord naming/ labeling is a well established convention. Calling it Cm7 add11 is acceptable, and means there's no 9th. Calling it Cm7 add 11 (no 5th) is also acceptable if it's absolutely necessary (I can't imagine it ever would be though). Calling it Cm7 add 11 b10 (no3rd no 5th) is just plain wrong.

> If you play this chord with the regular b3 and no
> b10, there is quite a difference. The 11th sounds
> more isolated, whereas with b10 the root sounds
> more isolated.

But harmonically speaking, which is all that chord notation is concerned with, there's no difference. The difference that you hear is simply a voicing difference. As I said, the purpose of chord notation is to give information about the harmony - not the voicing. The performer has the freedom to interpret the voicing according to their musical instincts. If you don't want them to interpret it in any way other than your way, use standard notation - that's what it's for.
Ty
Re: Excluding notes from chords
February 03, 2012 04:53PM
Rich, we Jazz guitarists call this tension substitution. Because we're limited to 3- or 4-note voicings, given the nature of the instrument, we have no choice but to substitute tensions for other chord tones, which of course raises the question of which tones are crucial and which aren't. But it's actually quite simple how we do it:

1 3 5 7

9 for 1 OR 9 for 5
11 for 5
13 for 5

Notice, if I sub 11 for 3, we have the problem of losing the ever important pitch, the 3rd. If we sub 13 for 7, we lose the ever important 7th. You might say the 3rd and 7th are the important tones, the root and 5th the less important ones. This becomes fairly obvious when you consider the bassist will be playing roots and 5ths a fair amount of the time.

As fair as identifying your chords, I think it's far better to identify chords as basic 7ths when you can, unless the tensions are very specific and wouldn't be obvious to the experienced player. For example, when a dominant 7th chord precedes a minor chord, most experienced accompanists know that the dominant 7th can take a b9 and a b13, and perhaps even a #9 and b5, or all of the above! So I don't bother writing any of those tensions on charts when its obvious like that.

As for your chord, it's a very standard voicing used by tons of guitarists (featured prominently in a number of places in John Mayer's "No Such Thing"), and most of us would call it a Cm11 and not lose sleep over it. Yes, technically it is a Cm7 (no5 no9 add11), or some such b.s., but that just over-complicates matters -- there are so few ways to effectively play a Cm11 on the guitar anyway that if you write Cm11, most experienced guitarist will immediately go to that exact grip/shape.

Another example might be G13. The standard way to play this guy is G F B E on strings 6 4 3 2 respectively. If you know Cm11, I'm sure you know this G13! Anyway, technically it is a G7 (no5 no9 no11 add 13), but obviously that's ridiculous. We just call it G13. Also, you'll notice it's just a 13for5 tension substitution.

Last but not least, F9. A lot of cats play it F A Eb G on strings 5 4 3 2 respectively. Again, the "real" name would be F9 (no5), but we just call it F9. It uses the 9 for 5 tension substitution.

I highly recommend a brilliant manual for chord voicings on guitar by Berklee professor Bret Willmott, some sort of freak genius guy. The book goes very deep into the theory of tension substitutions, etc., and is far from your standard "chord encyclopedia." Every 4-note chord voicing possible in contemporary music is in there (not exaggerating -- I've thoroughly analyzed the thing, and they're all there!). Good luck. Great question, btw.
Re: Excluding notes from chords
February 03, 2012 04:54PM
Rich_A12 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Often on the guitar I play chords that exclude
> notes mostly because of the limitation of where
> fingers can be placed. For example I've started
> playing this chord which I say is a Cm11 however
> the 5th and 9th are excluded so I only play C, Bb,
> Eb, F.
>
> So how are notes exlcuded, is it simply (no5,no9)
> i.e. comma seperated in brackets? Also the Eb is
> the minor 3rd however on the guitar it's an octave
> higher, so should I write it as a flat 10 i.e.
> Cm11 10b(no3,no5).

Years ago, I used to buy piano sheet music in P/V/G (piano, vocal, guitar) format which had the little chord boxes over the staff.

In the rock tunes I was learning the name "C(no 3rd)" was frequently encountered.

I rarely see that anymore as most have adopted "C5" to mean the "power chord".

But as fretsource says, that's what notation is for.

I'd use the "(no X)" in parentheses as it is still seen if you want to be that specific.

Remember though that jazz players are going to do what they want anyway, and pop players may not even know which note is the 3rd, or Xth of the chord. For musicians that read, notate it. For pop players, give them a chord symbol or tab. For jazz players, you can notate it or put a convoluted symbol - but they may or may not play your voicing.

Steve
Re: Excluding notes from chords
February 03, 2012 07:46PM
Hm thanks for info, interesting indeed.

It's funny cause only about a year or so ago I played a minor 7 without the 5th which on the guitar means muting the A string with the padded part of the index finger. At first I thought this is dumb cause I won't always mute that A string properly but with practice it became quite easy and I was surprised how much of a difference excluding the 5th made, makes it less minory. Then I started learning loads of other muted type chords and have not looked back since.

Yea notation is there to give direction of course. It's interesting to play these guitar chord structures on a piano.

No doubt I will have more questions but thanks for helping. Might have to get that book Ty, strangely enough I've started learning about harmonised scales.
Re: Excluding notes from chords
February 04, 2012 01:33PM
Rich_A12 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Hm thanks for info, interesting indeed.
>
> It's funny cause only about a year or so ago I
> played a minor 7 without the 5th which on the
> guitar means muting the A string with the padded
> part of the index finger.

Yep. I've always called these "skipped string" forms. Lots of possibilities on guitar.

Steve
Re: Excluding notes from chords
February 09, 2012 12:01PM
You're not really excluding tones, you still have your fundimentals of that chord. The way I see if C7 can either be 1-3-5-b7 or 1-3-b7, and still both can be notated C7. Often people don't play the third on 7th chords.

Kind of how I look at it, I may get criticized for this. Though on guitar its often hard to voice all the tones. Anyway, as long as you have your root to specify the tonic, your mediant to determine major/minor, then you can either use your typical 5th, dominant 7th, 7th, 6th, 9th, and/or 11th together or interchangeably to develop whatever chord is notated. Because in reality you can only voice 6 tones at a time with a six string guitar. So really you should just keep your notation Cm 11th, because its generally accepted that some tones won't be voiced.

A Cm 11th with a voiced 5th won't sound too different from a Cm 11th excluding the 5th. The 5th just creates an overtone, giving the chord a bit of a more powerful feeling.
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