Slash Chords

cantstoplt021

Member
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1,217
Anyone have a list for slash chords that says what the actual chord is that you are playing? Or a good way to figure it out?

For example I wrote a song where the verse section goes D/G - G/C, but I have no idea what the actually chords I'm playing are. I just know they sound cool. The D/G (D F# G A) could be a D sus 4 with the 4 in the bass or GMaj7sus2 (G A D F#) maybe? Not sure. Any help would be appreciated. I like knowing what chords I'm playing.
 

jaime136

Member
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475
Assuming that you want the bottom note of the slash chord to function as the root, like in a descending bass-line or something, then it's not that complicated. The two chords you listed have a major triad a fifth above a root. In that case, you're right although I would write is as Gmaj7(9) and Cmaj7(9), respectively. Here's a list, beware of lots of incomplete chords:

Major Triads:
I/bII (C/Db) = Db Dim (Major 7)
I/II (C/D) = D9sus4
I/bIII (C/Eb) = Eb13(b9)
I/III (C/E) = 1st inversion C major triad
I/IV (C/F) = Fmaj7(9)
I/#IV (C/F#) = F#7b5(b9)
I/V (C/G) = 2cd inversion C major triad
I/bVI (C/Ab) = Abmaj7#5
I/VI (C/A) = Aminor7b5
I/bVII (C/Bb) = Bb (b9,#11,13)
I/VII (C/B) = Bsus4 (b9,b13)

Minor Triads

i/bII (Cm/Db) = Dbmaj7b5(9)
i/II (Cm/D) = D7sus4(b9)
i/bIII (Cm/Eb) = 1st inversion C minor triad
i/III (Cm/E) = E minmaj7 (b13)
i/IV (Cm/F) = F9 or F-9
i/#IV (Cm/F#) = F#(b9,#11,13)
i/V (Cm/G) = 2cd inversion C minor triad
i/bVI (Cm/Ab) = Abminmaj7
i/VI (Cm/A) = Amin7
i/VII (Cm/B) = B(b9,b13)

Augmented and diminished triads don't work very well with this approach, and would probably be even harder to name.

If you want to go the route of using them as inversions, it gets a little hairy. A lot of the structures are hybrids, not "real"chords. Mel Bay's Complete Book of Harmony, Theory, and Voicing by Brett Wilmott has a large section that goes over using any note of those structures as the root. That's the best resource I know of.
 
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bayAreaDude

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3,221
Why? Some are inversions and some don't fit the definition of any named chord. Knowing the notes you're playing and in what context is all that really counts.
 

Phletch

Senior Member
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9,896
Personally, I prefer to let harmony/harmonic context dictate what is "right."

D/G and G/C is probably the best way to write them, and there is nothing "wrong" with doing so. In this case you have a Dmaj triad with the 4 in the bass (D/G) and a Gmaj triad with the 4 in the bass (G/C). Usually, when chords are written like that the intent is that they be played as written because they function as D and G major triads, often with descending/ascending bass lines, not as chords with the bass note as the root. How/what you name a chord really comes down to how it functions harmonically with the chords that precede and follow it and in the overall sound scheme of the song. Take the chord with the tones F-A-C-E - Fmaj7, right? In some cases, though, it may be more appropriate to call it Am/F if the other chords surrounding it suggest a tonality that is more Am than Fmaj or if there's a walk-down in the bass from A, etc.
 

jaime136

Member
Messages
475
Personally, I prefer to let harmony/harmonic context dictate what is "right."

D/G and G/C is probably the best way to write them, and there is nothing "wrong" with doing so. In this case you have a Dmaj triad with the 4 in the bass (D/G) and a Gmaj triad with the 4 in the bass (G/C). Usually, when chords are written like that the intent is that they be played as written because they function as D and G major triads, often with descending/ascending bass lines, not as chords with the bass note as the root. How/what you name a chord really comes down to how it functions harmonically with the chords that precede and follow it and in the overall sound scheme of the song. Take the chord with the tones F-A-C-E - Fmaj7, right? In some cases, though, it may be more appropriate to call it Am/F if the other chords surrounding it suggest a tonality that is more Am than Fmaj or if there's a walk-down in the bass from A, etc.
I agree, I forgot to say that I'll almost always just use the slash chord name. I would much rather see something like C/B on a lead sheet as opposed to Bb (B9,#11,13). It's a lot easier to come up with a voicing on the fly for something like that and the function of such an odd chord is more readily evident.
 

Phletch

Senior Member
Messages
9,896
I agree, I forgot to say that I'll almost always just use the slash chord name. I would much rather see something like C/B on a lead sheet as opposed to Bb (B9,#11,13). It's a lot easier to come up with a voicing on the fly for something like that and the function of such an odd chord is more readily evident.
Yep. I found the compound/slash chords really useful (and enlightening) when I first started working through some of the tunes from Metheny's Bright Size Life.

I was reading your list of chord equivalents and just wanted to point out what was probably a typo or oversight:

"i/VI (Cm/A) = Amin7" would be Am7b5 which is really cool (and easily grabbed at tempo) in a many contexts when voiced as Cm/A on the top 4 strings.
 

jaime136

Member
Messages
475
Yep. I found the compound/slash chords really useful (and enlightening) when I first started working through some of the tunes from Metheny's Bright Size Life.

I was reading your list of chord equivalents and just wanted to point out what was probably a typo or oversight:

"i/VI (Cm/A) = Amin7" would be Am7b5 which is really cool (and easily grabbed at tempo) in a many contexts when voiced as Cm/A on the top 4 strings.
Oops, yep... typo. Fixed!
 

cantstoplt021

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Messages
1,217
Okay that makes more sense now. I originally had it going Gmaj7 to Cmaj7 then I changed it around and came up with those voicings that I like. Maj9 for those chords make a lot more sense than maj7 sus2. Not sure why I didn't see that before
 

jeffmatz

Member
Messages
325
The really important thing here cantstop, is that sometimes the proper name for a chord IS a triad over a bass note, like when it's a moving bassline under a series of chords...

In your case, I'd have to hear what's going on. I'm assuming your D/G is voiced 3x0232? And G/C is x30033 or x30003? I think you've been given some very appropriate names--possibly, but context dictates everything.
 

JonR

Member
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15,270
Okay that makes more sense now. I originally had it going Gmaj7 to Cmaj7 then I changed it around and came up with those voicings that I like. Maj9 for those chords make a lot more sense than maj7 sus2. Not sure why I didn't see that before
Maj9 means the 3rd is included, that's the difference.
The chords sound much the same, because a maj7sus2 will usually imply a major 3rd, by the context.
E.g. C G B D is probably going to sound like the missing 3rd is E, not Eb.

Still, slash chords are a valid alternative symbol:
Cmaj7sus2 = G/C (much neater!)
Cmaj9 = Em7/C ... take your pick!
 






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