Correct chord naming.

Can someone please show me, by example, the context in which the correct name for a chord is determined from among the number of names by which it may be known. Thanks.

5 Answers


Are we talking about chord types (major, minor), root/quality chord symbols (e.g. C, Am, G7), or functional chord symbols (e.g. I, V, iv)?

Dec 01, 2015

Hi. Thanks for responding. I'm talking about the technically correct names for chords within a composition. For example, the notes of Em9 can also be called Gmaj13. So which is correct, when? What determines the correct name? Cheers.

Dec 02, 2015

It would depend on the key of the composition and the chord - where it is and its function in that context.

Feb 03, 2016

Thanks 'allegrotheory' - this much I do know, but can you give me an example to illustrate the point? Thanks.

Feb 03, 2016

First of all figure out what Key you are in, whether it is Major or Minor. Then you can determine what the correct names for the chords within a composition will be.

Your example of "the notes of Em9 can also be called Gmaj13" can also be called C major 9( #11) or A minor 13.


If we are in a Major Key, how many minor 9 chords can there be? 2

The minor 9 chord shows up on the:

  • II Minor (2nd defree of the major scale)
  • VI Minor (6th degree of the major scale)

The III Minor actually has a b9(minor 7(b9)) in it. So Em9 could be from 2 Major Keys: D Major and G Major.

If we are in a Minor Key, how many times does the minor 9 chord appear? 3

  • IV Minor for Harmonic Minor
  • I Minor for Melodic Minor (Descending) or Natural Minor
  • IV Minor for Melodic Minor (Descending) or Natural Minor

So Em9 could be from 2 Minor Keys: E Minor and B Minor.

Sep 18, 2016

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