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M. Ted (inactive) Music Theory Question (31) RE: Music Theory Question 11 Oct 00

The chord is a G11 (with the third dropped out). For those of you who want to think of it as suspension, that is probably also right, though not necessarily right, because "suspension" is a term that refers to a situation where notes from one chord are held over into another, and then resolve.

The name of the chord really depends on what is happening in the music, so those chord naming programs usually aren't very helpful. Also, the chord naming system, as well as the basic music theory that we talk about, come from what is called the "era of common practice", which is a round-a-bout way of saying that people did things that way once, but they don't necessarily do things that way now--

There are pieces of music written today that would use Mary's chord underneath a melodic line, with no chord change--(there are a number of TV and Film scores that use this device--and I must confess that I have used it). It is a great trick to use, because the cluster has elements of both the Tonic and dominant harmony, so you have a steady, rhythmic chord, with a drone like feel, and when you use a diatonic melody, the chord will change from a C chord to a G chord, depending on what the melody note is--

I am sorry if this is confusing--Folk and pop music tends to use chords in a fairly fixed way, but if you don't have to move very far from a particular genre to encounter situations where a much broader set of rules apply, and that is where the confusion begins--

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