Missing notes, added notes and bass notes

This page shows you how to deal with some subtle additions to chord notation. A chord symbol is a representation of 3 or more notes played simultaneously. Any three or more notes can be expressed as a chord symbol. So what do you do when implied notes are omitted or extra notes added or when the bass note is other than the root note?

Missing notes & added notes

When an implied interval is missing it is given by interval or name in brackets at the end of the chord. Similarly, intervals not part of the chord but playing with the chord can be added to the chord statement.

Example: F (add G)

F = F A C. If we want to add G to the chord we say
F (add G) = F A C G

Since G is the 9th of F, another way to write this chord is
F (add 9th).

Yet another way to write this chord is F9 (no 7th)

Bass notes

In chord notation the bass note is the deepest note played. The root note is the note on which the harmony is based. Frequently the root note and bass note are the same. When they differ, the bass note may be expressed in the chord symbol as a divisive.

Example: G7/D

The chord is G7. The root is G.
The bass of the orchestra is to play D. D is the bass note.
Write the bass note under the chord symbol as G7 divided by D.

Music Theory

"Become an arranger first, then an orchestrator, and then a composer." - Joe Paparone

Joe Paparone is an Australian music arranger of the highest international calibre. Allow him to share 35 years of real world experiences with you.