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ChristopherSchlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor
Joined: 08/09/05
Posts: 8,427
ChristopherSchlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor
Joined: 08/09/05
Posts: 8,427
11/15/2013 1:27 am
Originally Posted by: maggiorAre these just different names for the same thing? Is there any significance to this?[/QUOTE]
You can name any given chord from the perspective of any given note. The general principle is to aim for conceptual clarity & perceptual ease.

For example, you can take any group of notes and use any one of them as the root. Then identify the intervals from that root to each other note involved.

Let's use these notes: A, B, E.

If we choose the A to be the root, then we get:

A - root
B - 2nd
E - 5th

Asus2

If we choose the B to be the root, then we get:

B - root
E - 4th
A - minor 7th

B sus4min7 (no 5th)

If we choose the E to be the root, then we get:

E - root
A - 4th
B - 5th

E sus4

You can even pick a note not present!

If we choose the C to be the root, then we get:

C - root
E - major 3rd
A - major 6th
B - major 7th

C maj7 add6 (no root, no 5th)

Lots of options! So, which one should we use? The one that makes the most sense according to the context of the musical situation in which the chord is used.

If we are playing this:

|--------------------------------------------|
|--------------------------------------------|
|--2--2--2--2--2-----------------------------|
|--2--2--2--2--2-----------------------------|
|--2--4--5--2--4-----------------------------|
|--------------------------------------------|

Then it should be Asus2, because clearly the other chords surrounding it are rooted on A & this is ornamental embellishment of an A major chord (Asus2, A, Asus4, A).

But if we find that same chord in this situation:

|--------------------------------------------|
|--------------------------------------------|
|--2--1------2--1----------------------------|
|--2--2--4---2--2----------------------------|
|--2--2--2---2--2----------------------------|
|---------0----------------------------------|

Then it should be Esus4, because in this case the other chords surrounding it are rooted on E & this is ornamental embellishment of an E major chord (Esus4, E, Esus2, E).

And if we find it here:

|--------------------------------------------|
|--------------------------------------------|
|--2--2---0----------------------------------|
|--2--2---2----------------------------------|
|--2--3---3----------------------------------|
|--------------------------------------------|

I'd be willing to call it a C maj7 add6 (no root, no 5th) because the chord tones move toward a C major chord. But, it might make more sense to call it an Asus2 because the next chord is a first inversion A minor, all of which is in the key of C.

So, the lesson here is that while it's possible to assign complex names to a chord, it is not always the best option because it is not efficient. In this case, it doesn't help clarify anything about what's happening in the music, how the voices are moving. But in the earlier examples it was very clear that the name helped (rather than hindered) understanding of what was happening in the music.
[QUOTE=maggior]I found it interesting, but I don't know if it really means anything.

Not really. Certain groups of suspended chords are often very close to each other because they have groups of notes a 2nd, 4th or 5th apart. Same thing for diminished or augmented chords. They have very similar intervals, so are often interchangeably named. Again, the name comes down to how it functions in the context of the situation.

Hope this helps! Ask more if necessary!
Christopher Schlegel
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