#1
So, i was wondering about this chord E - F# - B - D. I was told it's E7sus2. Since there is no third, does the minor seventh (D) define that it's a major chord, do we need a third one in cases like this?

It can also be a Bmadd11/E, i know that. But i was just wondering why i was told it's E7sus2.
#2
Whether it functions as a major or a minor chord depends on the context. It could be either E9 or Em9. (Why? Because there is no third in it. Add a G to it and it's an Em9 and add a G# to it and it's an E9. Without the third it could be either.) I can also see Bm/E making sense - regular people may find that easier to read. But the chord root would still be an E - it would still sound like an E9 or an Em9 chord.
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#3
E9? Am i missing something now, or did you make a typo?

That makes sense it could either be Em7sus2 or E7sus2. I first understood it so that it's specifically only E7sus2. Haven't ran into chords without thirds before.
#4
E9 = 1 3 5 b7 9.
Em9 = 1 b3 5 b7 9.
E7sus2 = 1 2 5 b7 or, rewritten, 1 x 5 b7 9. There is no major or minor quality assigned to it directly; that is the meaning of a suspended chord. It's neither major nor minor because there is no explicit third.
#5
Aah yes, of course the second note kind of "takes the place of the third" in sus2 chords.

I was too concentrated into the third for some reason and didn't realize the sus part. Time to start remembering chord theory a bit more often.
#7
If the chord name has "sus2" or "sus4" in it, the chord doesn't have a third in it and it's neither major nor minor (though, as I said, in context it will most likely function as either major or minor). If you want to add a 2nd (or, more commonly, the 9th) to a major or a minor chord, you would use an "add9" (or "add2" - sometimes used but "add9" is way more common, but it means the same thing).

E9 = E7add9 = E G# B D F#

Em9 = Em7add9 = E G B D F#

Eadd9 = E major + 9th (2nd) = E G# B F#

Emadd9 = Em + 9th (2nd) = E G B F#

Esus2 = E F# B - the 2nd replaces the third

Esus4 = E A B - the 4th replaces the third

E7sus2 = Esus2 + minor 7th* = E F# B D

E7sus4 = Esus4 + minor 7h = E A B D

* Remember that "minor 7th" does not make the chord minor or major. It's just the quality of the 7th - the interval between the root of the chord and the 7th of the chord. For example in E7 the root is E and the 7th is D, and there is a minor 7th between E and D (major 7th would be E-D#, and if the chord had a D# in it, we would call it Emaj7).
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#8
Quote by esa.lackstrom

It can also be a Bmadd11/E, i know that.
I'd just call it "Bm/E" personally. No need for the "add11".
"Bm/E" means Bm (B-F#-D) with an E bass.
Calling it "add11" suggests an E should also go higher in the chord, because 11ths don't go in the bass. If they do, they tend to sound like the chord root, hence the name "E7sus2", which is equally correct - for the reasons explained - and suggests how the chord will probably sound: like an E-root chord, and not a B-root chord.
#9
Yes, though slash chords only make sense when they make sense. If the chord is rightly an E of some kind, then it's best to find a way to name it E. Bm/E makes sense if the chord is actually a Bm. The difference comes down to how the chord is used and how it's voiced and how it functions.
#10
Quote by cdgraves
Yes, though slash chords only make sense when they make sense. If the chord is rightly an E of some kind, then it's best to find a way to name it E. Bm/E makes sense if the chord is actually a Bm. The difference comes down to how the chord is used and how it's voiced and how it functions.

I don't think chord names necessarily need to be "theoretically correct" (well, of course that should be the goal, but IMO that's not the most important thing). Being easy to read and understand is more important. Whether you find E7sus2 easier to read than Bm/E is of course another discussion. But it's the same thing with E9sus4 vs D/E. While technically E9sus4 is "more correct" (well, if we nitpick, it's not an actual suspension because it never resolves), D/E is definitely more easy to read and understand, at least for most people.

If we want to be clear about chord functions, it's usually better to just use roman numerals.

But the thing is, most people who read chord sheets don't really care about the function of the chords. Is Bm/E a Bm chord with the 11th in the bass or actually an E chord? Does it really matter? People who care about it most likely already know that Bm/E is actually an E chord. People who don't care about it just play the chord.

Whether I would use E7sus2 or Bm/E depends on the genre. I think E7sus2 would be a better choice for jazz music because jazz musicians know their chords and E7sus2 is a bit more accurate because it makes it clear that it's an E chord (though in jazz I would guess the chord would have a third in it - at least some instrument would be playing the third if it wasn't the guitar, and it would most likely be called either E9 or Em9). But for pop music I would use Bm/E because most people who read chord sheets for pop songs don't know much theory, and they will just get confused about a chord name like E7sus2. They may know what that means but they may not know how to play it. Bm/E is easier to read.
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#11
Well there are a lot of variables that can make a particular indication sensible or not. The "right" one is the one that communicates the music effectively to the player. The use of slash chords vs extensions is a meaningful difference. A slash chord indicates a specific voicing, but a sus chord doesn't.
#12
Quote by cdgraves
A slash chord indicates a specific voicing, but a sus chord doesn't.

I don't see how a slash chord would indicate a specific voicing any more than a sus chord would.
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#13
Quote by MaggaraMarine
I don't see how a slash chord would indicate a specific voicing any more than a sus chord would.


Well the slash tells you what note goes in the bass. With a sus you can put the suspension anywhere you like, including the bass.

Chord charts aren't just giving you a cluster of notes. #5 and b13 are enharmonic, but you wouldn't put a b13 in the same octave as the bass voice. A 6th chord is almost always going to be root position because otherwise it sounds like a m7 (likewise you don't see m7 in first inversion very often).
#14
cdgraves

I raise you xx5867 to xx10 8 8 8.

You may be more limited by instrument with regards to chord voicings; however, in the overall musical context, there are so many ways to voice chords. That doesn't come from the chord name. The chord name only describes the chord that's played. Chords exist regardless of ability to name them.

For example, C/D.

Do you want to play xx0553, xx0988, or xx0 12 13 12? Or do you want to play 5th fret A string instead? These are all voicings of the same chord.

Both D9sus4 and C/D describe similar amounts of information (the D9sus4 optionally adds an A); however, only the former shows the general function of the chord as it pertains to tonal theory (as a dominant chord).
#15
Quote by cdgraves
Well the slash tells you what note goes in the bass. With a sus you can put the suspension anywhere you like, including the bass.
Well, not really. If the suspension goes in the bass, it becomes the root, acoustically. The identity (and function) of the chord changes.

Otherwise I agree: other than slash chords, chord symbols don't specify voicing. They just tell you the notes required. You can voice the chord any way you like (ideally taking account of context, movements between chords either side ).

But as you also say, sometimes - with chords whose set of notes can have two or more identities - the symbol implies a bass note, ie suggests the chord should go in root position rather than any inversion.
Eg, C6 or Am7. Same set of notes, but each name implies which note ought to be in the bass (to stop it sounding like the alternative).
Likewise with Dm6 and Bm7b5.

A similar convention applies (or seems to) to dim7 chords, which are often named after their bass note rather than their function in context. E.g., if Ddim7 is going to Cm, it should really be called Bdim7 - because Bdim7 is B D F Ab, vii chord of C minor, while Ddim7 is D F Ab Cb, vii chord of Eb minor. But we all guess (I guess?) that "Ddim7" implies D should (probably) be the bass note. Because who wants to write "Bdim7/D"? (Any more than you'd write "Am7/C" when you could write "C6".)

(I realise dim7s can function in other ways - the above only refers to their vii function.)
Last edited by jongtr at Nov 3, 2016,
#16
I just want to point out that Bm/E is an E chord. It's a hybrid voicing (a slash chord where the bass note is note a chord tone). Tensions in the bass are usually roots.

Bm/E is a voicing for E7sus2. This is the simplest name without context.

E7sus2 can function as a voicing for any of those chords Mags listed and more.

That's about the best we can do without context.

If that chord occurred after F#m7b5 - B7b13, I'd probably call it Em9.

If it occurred after Bm in the key of A, I'd probably call it E9.

Context. Context. Context.
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#17
Quote by cdgraves
Well the slash tells you what note goes in the bass. With a sus you can put the suspension anywhere you like, including the bass.

Chord charts aren't just giving you a cluster of notes. #5 and b13 are enharmonic, but you wouldn't put a b13 in the same octave as the bass voice. A 6th chord is almost always going to be root position because otherwise it sounds like a m7 (likewise you don't see m7 in first inversion very often).

E7sus2 with any other note than E in the bass will sound like a Bmadd11. So no, I don't think there are any more possible voicings for E7sus2 than there are for Bm/E. It sounds like an E chord because of the bass note and I wouldn't really see a justification for calling it an E chord if it had any other note in bass.

It's the same thing with E9sus4 vs D/E (or Bm7/E if you want to include the fifth). Without the E in bass, it's either a Bm11 or a D6/9. So whether you call it an E9sus4 or a D/E (or a Bm7/E) doesn't really matter. Yes, D/E is not 100% accurate because it is actually an E chord, not a D chord with the 9th in bass. But for most people D/E is much easier to read than E9sus4, and that's why I think using D/E instead of E9sus4 is justified and maybe even preferable. And I think it's the same thing with Bm/E vs E7sus2 - I would probably find Bm/E easier to read. But I would prefer Em9 or E9 (unless the quality of the chord is ambiguous).

Whether something is a #5 or b13 shouldn't really affect the voicing. You can have any of the chord tones in any octave. Well, usually extensions do sound better in higher register but that doesn't mean you always need to play them above the other chord tones. For example if you voice a G9 chord like G F A B D, it's still a G9 chord, even though the 9th and 7th are below the third and the fifth.

Whether you should use #5 or b13 has more to do with the other extensions the chord has. I just talked about this with my jazz theory teacher yesterday. He said that if the chord doesn't have any other extensions, he would prefer #5 over b13, because using a 13 kind of implies that it's an extended chord (and it would technically also have a 9th and an 11th).
Quote by AlanHB
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Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Nov 3, 2016,
#18
My whole point was that there is not a universally applicable name for that set of notes. Different names are appropriate in different contexts, and if you're writing a chart, you use the name that best communicates the sound you intend. And when you're reading charts, slash chords are for the bassist, so an in ensemble, the guitarist could just as well play only the Bm7 portion of Bm7/E.

Without knowing how this example functions in the music, I can't say anyone is wrong or right about a specific name for it.

Also, suspensions in the bass are a real thing - analyzing the melodic motion as two different harmonies is reading too far into it. But to be clear, when I say "suspension in the bass", I mean suspension in a strict sense, that it resolves to the major 3rd. I don't mean sus4 as a standalone sonority, in which case you do indeed analyze the bass as the root (ie "stacked 4ths" voicing). Context!
Last edited by cdgraves at Nov 3, 2016,
#19
Quote by cdgraves
My whole point was that there is not a universally applicable name for that set of notes. Different names are appropriate in different contexts, and if you're writing a chart, you use the name that best communicates the sound you intend. And when you're reading charts, slash chords are for the bassist, so an in ensemble, the guitarist could just as well play only the Bm7 portion of Bm7/E.

Without knowing how this example functions in the music, I can't say anyone is wrong or right about a specific name for it.

Also, suspensions in the bass are a real thing - analyzing the melodic motion as two different harmonies is reading too far into it. But to be clear, when I say "suspension in the bass", I mean suspension in a strict sense, that it resolves to the major 3rd. I don't mean sus4 as a standalone sonority, in which case you do indeed analyze the bass as the root (ie "stacked 4ths" voicing). Context!

Then we are in agreement.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
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Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
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Yamaha P115
Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Nov 4, 2016,
#20
^I'm so proud of you guys
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