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Topic: notating octaved chords and inversions?

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  1. #1

    notating octaved chords and inversions?

    Hello there

    I like to write out and collect chord progressions I like the most for learning purpose.
    I always wondered how anyone professionally notate a inverted chord and a chord that is part of the natural progression but say one octave below, or one octave above?

    I.e.

    notate a Major C chord = Cmaj
    notate a simple chord progression = I-IV-V-I = CMaj-FMaj-GMaj-CMaj
    suppose the second chord (IV) is a double inverted chord and the third (V) is played one octave below (8vb)

    those are important marks to the overall sound quality of the chord. I like to note those chord modifiers right within the chord, so how is that profesionally done?

    I'd do it like this. But is this correct. Why have I never came across such notations?:
    suspended chord = FMaj 2ndInv
    octaved down chord = GMaj 8vb
    but is that proper?

    It goes further that just having a nice representation, because I like that way of notating it! The interest is merely pure curiosity.

    The main reason for my conflict to traditional chord notation is that if you got a CMaj chord (I), followed by a Bmin (vii) chord but one octave lower. Then you get a chord that is whooping eleven semi tones apart! in opposition of being just one semi tone apart if played at the lower octave. Obviously a professional musician will instantly figure the chord being a octave lower.
    But not every chord progression is starting at the first degree (I) and only goes upwards withing a single octave, right?
    And what about chord inversions? They DO sound different and they are VERY important to the overall tonal quality!

    So please dear musicians shed some light on this

  2. #2

    Re: notating octaved chords and inversions?

    Hello -

    Probably the simplest way to notate chords the way that suites your needs would be to use the Grand Staff and write each note of the chord as you wish each chord to be played.

    I-IV-V-I = CMaj-FMaj-GMaj-CMaj
    What you describe are two different "short-hand" notations that are provided a musician who would then improvise their own way to playing the chords. This is especially true for the jazz notation. Here is a link to a Google Search that, hopefully, might help you with the more "Traditional" short-hand way of notating inversions.


    http://www.google.com/search?q=notat...ml%3B721%3B344

    Hope this is helpful.

    Ted
    Music and humor are healthy for the soul.

  3. #3
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    Re: notating octaved chords and inversions?

    No, your notation isn't correct at all. It might work for you, if it does that's fine, but once you give this to someone else to read, they won't understand it.

    The only option in chord notation is something like "C/E". Where this means to play a C major chord but put the E in the bass. Beyond that, if you want a specific inversion of the chord, you'll need to write out the notes exactly in the order that you want. There is no standard chord notation that can tell the musician to place the 3rd in one octave and the root in another octave.

    I'd think you'd be better off learning standard chord notation, rather than trying to develop your own system

  4. #4

    Re: notating octaved chords and inversions?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Turner View Post
    No, your notation isn't correct at all. It might work for you, if it does that's fine, but once you give this to someone else to read, they won't understand it.

    The only option in chord notation is something like "C/E". Where this means to play a C major chord but put the E in the bass. Beyond that, if you want a specific inversion of the chord, you'll need to write out the notes exactly in the order that you want. There is no standard chord notation that can tell the musician to place the 3rd in one octave and the root in another octave.

    I'd think you'd be better off learning standard chord notation, rather than trying to develop your own system
    Well thanks anyway, I'm actually well known about standard chord notation. I think what you suggested here are slash chords (at least in guitar notation). I think its also used for traditional basso continuo, where the composer (say Bach) would note the chords in the bass and the artist decides how to interpret them. Arpegiating, inverting or playing it 10 octaves apart

    But what use is the slash chord notation to tell a player at which specific octave to play the chord?
    a Cmaj/E chord does still not inform the reader about playing it at the root octave 8va or 8vb.
    Don't worry, nobody will ever read those notations! It is purely for my own needs of notating specific chord progressions as compact as possible.

    Also the slash chord notation does not tell me about a chord inversion. Or does it?
    Say a Cmaj/E triad is played at the E, thats obviously a first inversion, because E is the second note of the Cmaj (E,G,C or 0,3,5 in integer notation)
    Does that mean a second inversion of Cmaj would be notated as such: Cmaj/G (=G,C,E or 0,5,4 in integer notation)?

    The origin of 8va and 8vb is to reduce the need of a zillion lines above and below the staff for an occasional extreme note. But I've seen no other octave modifiers besides the 8va 8vb notifiers. I dont see why it should not be used away from the staff
    My goal is to note existing chord progressions precisely and compact away from the staff.
    It looks rather odd notating a descending progression starting at the tonic like this: C, Bm, G, F, C
    the first thing reading this would suggest me playing a C and a Bm at the same octave and descending back to C - rather than going down and only down!

    I say again thanks and let that mystery stay with me to keep company

  5. #5

    Re: notating octaved chords and inversions?

    Because of intervals, first inversion chords look like this: I6 and second inversions look like this I 6/4 but without the / and the 4 is under the 6. In 7th chords, 1st inversions are 6/5, the 2nd inversions are 4/3, and 3rd inversions are 4/2. Suspensions are written as, for example, IV sus 4-3.
    ~Rodney

  6. #6
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    Re: notating octaved chords and inversions?

    Quote Originally Posted by BuddhaMaster View Post

    But what use is the slash chord notation to tell a player at which specific octave to play the chord?
    It is of no use for this purpose. Chord notation is only a musical shorthand for describing the harmonic structure of a piece. It has nothing to doing with what octaves those chords are voiced in and so forth. If you need specific voicings, you need to notate them on a staff.

  7. #7

    Re: notating octaved chords and inversions?

    Hi, BuddhaMaster - It's an interesting thread you started, thanks. And you've already gotten excellent input from several people. I agree with the amalgamated response you've gotten - that you're trying to make chord symbols be more and do more than what they're able to do and what they're meant for.

    Inversions can be indicated in the Roman numeral style chord symbols, as Rodney explained:

    Quote Originally Posted by composingatnight View Post
    Because of intervals, first inversion chords look like this: I6 and second inversions look like this I 6/4 but without the / and the 4 is under the 6. In 7th chords, 1st inversions are 6/5, the 2nd inversions are 4/3, and 3rd inversions are 4/2. Suspensions are written as, for example, IV sus 4-3.
    ~Rodney
    But in what octaves chords are played, or what single notes in chords are to be shifted - All of that is in the realm of orchestration. The specific details of how the chords are divided up between instruments and in what octaves they're in have to be dictated by the needs of a specific piece of music. Those arrangement details can't and don't need to be in a chord chart. As you attempted to show in your post #4 - the details become too complicated to be reduced to chord symbols. You may as well be properly notating everything on staves when that's what you want.

    Underlining what I'm saying - You're talking about orchestration, and that is unique to each individual piece of music. It's in that orchestration where the generic, bare bones chord progression is mapped out as per the specific needs of a composition.

    When I was in a rock band, like most groups doing original songs, we would get each other up to speed on our new songs by writing out simple lyric and chord lead sheets. That's all that was needed. "C, Am, F, G, G7." Then everyone would improvise on that chord progression, letting the melody line be the main element that dictated appropriate ways to work with that chord progression. What Jeff talked about is exactly the basic kind of chord symbols we used:

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Turner View Post
    ...chord notation is something like "C/E". Where this means to play a C major chord but put the E in the bass...
    That kind of music we were playing in the band is much more basic than the kind you're probably talking about, but reducing any kind of music to just chord symbols is always simply making a chart of the bare minimum of information about a piece.

    While it's interesting, your quest for more sophisticated chord symbols, it's actually misled. I hope you can see that what you're talking about is arranging/orchestrating music. If you were able to successfully write out a string of symbols with all this information - you wouldn't be writing down just a chord progression, you would be writing down how that chord progression is specifically used in a given piece of music, and it would no longer be an appropriate template to use for another piece.

    It's as Jeff accurately said:

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Turner View Post
    It is of no use for this purpose. Chord notation is only a musical shorthand for describing the harmonic structure of a piece. It has nothing to doing with what octaves those chords are voiced in and so forth. If you need specific voicings, you need to notate them on a staff.
    Indeed - If that's the kind of detail you want to write down, then it needs to be on staff paper. And at that point, you're no longer making a record of just a chord progression - you're writing down an arrangement, and not one that would be universally appropriate for more than one composition.

    Randy

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