Originally posted by RKVS1:
Is there a term for 2-tone chords, or chords that are missing one of the main triad notes (1,3 or 5)
I've heard "power chord" used when just the root and the 5th is played, and I'm not sure how "power" became the chosen word, but that's not the aspect of the question I'm interested in right now.
For the situation I'm thinking of, the word "open" or "ambiguous" or "transfer" might work better.
For want of a better term, I would call them "ambiguous" in most contexts. Generally, it is the third above the root of a triad that is the determining tone in whether the triad is major or minor. An open 5th with no intervening 3rd is ambiguous. It could be used in a number of places where one wanted to keep the harmony ambiguous, but for the most part that would have been considered a non-standard usage.
As for calling them "power chords," this is a terminology (and technique) originally used by guitar players, who wanted to make their part in an ensemble more prominent. By using only the root and fifth of the chord, they get more volume (and strangely enough, even on the piano, you'll get overtones that suggest a major chord).
more of RKVS1:
Measure 20's chords are:
EbM7, Bb, F7, g, F7,F or
4M7, 1,57, 6m, 57,5, (in key of Bb)
Measure 21 FIRST chord contains 3 Bb's and 1 D, while the next chord adds a G so it has Bb, D, D, G
So the second chord is a Gminor triad, while the first chord could be Bb Major triad if an F was added, or a Gminor triad if a G had been added.
OK, don't get too worked up over this particular one. A fairly common voicing for a chord could just be the root and the third (recall what I just said about it being the determinant interval), often with the root tripled. In fact, this is such a common resolution for a dominant (well, looky there, that's what precedes it!) that it is given special consideration.
My point is that it is a kind of swing chord ... it is almost the Bb that the last 2 F chords in Measure 20 would normally fall too and its almost the Gminor triad that the next 4 measures are rooted on.
Seems like there might be a tidy little name for this thing... "modulating ambiguosichord " or something. (hopefully something other than THAT.)
Ah, yes, well, isn't g minor the relative minor to Bb
Major? Actually, even if one were to ignore the triple-root idea presented just above, the resolution from the dominant to the submediant is very commonly referred to as a deceptive resolution (see what I wrote above about this), which also underscores the whole Major/relative minor relationship.
Yes, even more Bob...
A similar thing happens 2 measures later as the tonal center shifts from Gminor to Cminor.
The chords up to then are
g?Bb? (the chord mentioned above) g,D7,g, |bar| Ahalfdim, D , g, and then 2 more ambiguous chords, dX and G7X
(so far its been
i(?) , i , V7 , i , |bar| ii halfdim , V , i , dX , G7X ) (in Gminor.)
The last two chords in the measure contain the following notes.
(beat 4) F G D A and (beat 4&) F G D G
The first would be some form of a Dminor chord, and the second some form of a G(Major or Minor)7th chord, but the Bb or B which would declare it as a major or minor is missing.
(the next chord is a Cminor triad which sets the tone for the next several measures)
so the progression to the first Cminor chord, (as expressed in Cminor) would be ii . (V7 or v7), i
Here's a handy hint for deciphering weird chords: rearrange them so you can stack them in thirds (all lines or all spaces). When dealing with extended harmonies, it is common to leave many of the notes out of the stack. So your first chord (FGDA) stacks D F A (C) (Eb
) G, an 11th chord. 11th chords are usually just suspensions, though. Check the harmony just prior: is there a G that appears to be held over?
The second (FDGD) stacks G (Bb
) D F; a 7th chord. Wait, no third??? OK, let's see what follows: a c minor chord. Hmm, sounds like a secondary dominant (or if you're going to c minor, then the dominant in c minor). Why no third? Sometimes voice leading
can lead you into a strange spelling for a chord. It happens.
I see the point of leaving the determining note out of the chord ... it makes the transition a bit less abrupt ... but I'm just wondering if there is an accepted or common terminology for the technique or the chords used.
Actually no, this is not really any particular technique. A composer will make lots of decisions on voicing harmonies in deference to voice leading (making the inner voices smoother with mostly stepwise motion) or playability, especially for keyboard instruments. In this particular case, it was apparently felt acceptable that the third be omitted in favor of, most likely, one or the other of the above.