Judging by height

Height (pedal, bass, treble) is a factor in naming the chord.

  1. How low is the lowset note. If it is a pedal note then it is the bass of the chord.

  2. Look for a triad in the notes from the bass end up.

  3. Work your chord up in 3rds.


Example: Name this chord

  • Pedal C is played. C is the bass of the chord.
  • The notes directly above C are G (5th) and E (major 3rd).
  • The chord is definitely C something.

  • Add more notes from the data. Build your chord in 3rds
C E G         = C
C E G Bb       = C7
C E G Bb D     = C9
C E G Bb D F#   = C9#11
C E G Bb D F# A = C13#11

The chord is C13#11 in open voicing. It could be played by 3 trumpets and four trombones. See how the common intervals are in the bass clef and the compound intervals are in the treble clef.

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.