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Determining SUS chords

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Re: Determining SUS chords

Postby GilesAnt » Sun Apr 29, 2018 3:15 pm

Yes Peevy I agree - I didn't realise such a good example was so close at hand. If the chord is voiced C - F - B (with an F bass) the dissonance sounds softer than F-B-C.
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Re: Determining SUS chords

Postby wireman » Sun Apr 29, 2018 4:07 pm

GilesAnt wrote:Chord notation does relate to the key of the music - a chord of Bflat major would be common enough in music in the key of F major. However if the music were in F# major this chord would be notated as A# major. In simple music this won't often be very important, but it does become more relevant in complex harmony..

It certainly makes sense to use the chord root from the key of the music, my point is more that once you choose the chord (Fsus4) then its notes are defined by the intervals that chord defines and in no way relate to the key that chord appeared in.
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Re: Determining SUS chords

Postby GilesAnt » Sun Apr 29, 2018 5:58 pm

wireman wrote:It certainly makes sense to use the chord root from the key of the music, my point is more that once you choose the chord (Fsus4) then its notes are defined by the intervals that chord defines and in no way relate to the key that chord appeared in.

I take your point - if you decide (rightly or wrongly) to call a chord F#m7, for example, then the notes of the chord are determined. Of course choosing what to call a chord isn't always simple.
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Re: Determining SUS chords

Postby Sam Inglis » Sun Apr 29, 2018 9:04 pm

I've just spent a happy ten minutes looking at arrangements of Happy Birthday, and I can't find any that treat the aforementioned note as a suspension. They invariably treat it simply as an appogiatura played simultaneously with the third of the chord; if it was a suspension it would be played instead of the third.

At least half of them also credit it as a traditional song, which is a bit poor.
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Re: Determining SUS chords

Postby Peevy » Sun Apr 29, 2018 10:01 pm

Hi Sam

I don’t think anyone would bother to name that chord in Happy Birthday as a Fsus4# (assuming some kind of F chord on that melody note in the key of C major). It’s the melody which provides the augmented fourth and resolves to the third. But I suppose technically speaking that if the chord were named for every note in the melody, then it’s a good example of the sus4# in action.
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Re: Determining SUS chords

Postby Sam Inglis » Sun Apr 29, 2018 10:14 pm

But surely the point of a suspension is that the suspended fourth or second takes the place of the third, rather than co-existing with it?
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Re: Determining SUS chords

Postby GilesAnt » Mon Apr 30, 2018 9:53 am

That's an interesting new direction Sam. I think there is a fairly fine line between passing notes, suspensions and appogiaturas. And open to debate of course. What would we call the note on BIRTH-day for example.

One thing I would say is that it would be a rather weak/lazy arrangement that included the suspension/appogiature AND the resolution simultaneously. You would probably find this sort of thing in a simple music book where the tune is shown with supporting guitar chords, or easy piano.

Hence my voicing of F - C - F - B resolving to F-C-F-A (speaking as a keyboard player). Slightly richer would be F-C-G-B resolving to F-C-F-A (a double suspension, or a double appoggiatura, or an entirely different chord?)

It may well be that in the case of Happy Birthday nobody would bother to notate it as a sus4# however we are only using this as an example, and personally I think it stands the test. Not all music is melody plus simple supporting chords so sometimes we do need ways of notating complex arrangements/progressions.
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Re: Determining SUS chords

Postby Peevy » Mon Apr 30, 2018 11:38 am

Hi Sam

The melody notes on the word Peter would be B to A (in C major)

The third in Fsus4# on the first syllable of Peter wouldn’t be played as it would clash with the melody note B, the B being the augmented fourth of the chord in the melody, so the chord Fsus4# is played authentically without the third on the first syllable.

On the second syllable chord F, the A in the melody resolves the suspension as the third in the F major chord.

So the third in Fsus4# would be omitted (on a piano/keybord).

As GilesAnt has said, in reality, no-one would bother to notate the two melody notes as different chords.

(Tried to upload a little image of the notation but failed)
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Re: Determining SUS chords

Postby Sam Inglis » Mon Apr 30, 2018 12:42 pm

Peevy, I get the idea, it's just that none of the actual arrangements of Happy Birthday I can find do that. In every single one I could see, the B note of the first syllable of 'Peter' is sounded over an accompaniment that includes the A. Also, if it was a suspension in the traditional sense, the B would be held over from the last chord of the previous bar, which it isn't. So I'm still doubtful that there is any real sense in calling it a suspension -- it's just a non-harmony note in the melody.
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Re: Determining SUS chords

Postby GilesAnt » Mon Apr 30, 2018 1:54 pm

Sam is right, a suspension should indeed be held over from a previous chord. That is rather the point of it.

Finally forced to resort to a text book I see that this sort of note is described as an 'accented auxiliary note' - which is a new one on me, but 'non-harmony note in the melody' is surely the same thing.

I guess sophisticated arrangements of Happy Birthday are a bit thin on the ground - hence the sounding of the B simultaneously with an accompanying A. Even if it isn't a suspension it does weaken the effect and a keyboard player would almost certainly omit the A.

This is not to say that sus4# doesn't exist, just that Happy Birthday isn't such a good example after all. I'll have a look at Jingle Bells and see if I can find one in there!
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Re: Determining SUS chords

Postby Peevy » Mon Apr 30, 2018 3:28 pm

Ah you’re both right about the suspension thing (my wrong terminology). Possibly a better description would be that the note B creates tension (against the note C (perfect fifth) in the Fsus4#) which is resolved onto the A. The augmented fourth is resolved onto the major third.

I would still say however that in the most perfectly perfect of Happy Birthday transcriptions the third in the sus4# should be omitted on the first syllable of Peter in any chordal accompaniment to said tune.

Let’s hope Peter’s having a very happy birthday!
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Re: Determining SUS chords

Postby GilesAnt » Wed May 02, 2018 11:36 am

Just thinking more about this, a suspended chord is not quite the same as a suspension.

Traditionally a suspension has a preparation chord, the suspension, and then resolution. However a suspended chord (sus4 etc) can be used in isolation. An earlier post in this thread was pointing out that chord notations stand alone and don't have to relate to the key for example - similarly a sus4 chord can stand alone.

So you could still have your Happy Birthday chord as sus4#.
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Re: Determining SUS chords

Postby Peevy » Wed May 02, 2018 6:28 pm

Hi GilesAnt

I had wondered about this too afterwards and am inclined to agree that maybe a suspension and a suspended chord aren’t quite the same thing.

A suspension in the ‘old?’ sense of four part harmony a la Bach chorales etc. if I remember rightly (and I’m not sure that I do! :oops: ) has, as you say, a preparation chord with a note (or notes) held over and then resolved. Whereas a sus chord can just happen without any preparation at all.
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Re: Determining SUS chords

Postby artzmusic » Sun May 06, 2018 1:40 am

In the case of the song Happy Birthday in C, the F chord would usually be played while the B note is sung. The reason is to keep the song to a simple 3 chord variety so as to make it easy for even the beginner musician. And the dissonance has become commonplace.

In truth, the B note would be harmonized more exactly with the Fdim chord. Fdim is comprised of the root, b3rd, b5th, b7th. So the note C would not be present.

So in place of the F chord you would now play two chords: Fdim and then F. Only a musician would care to play it this way since the public would not really be discerning enough.

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Re: Determining SUS chords

Postby artzmusic » Sun May 06, 2018 12:44 pm

To add to my post above....

To make the line in question more musical and to set you up for the Fdim you may find this walking bass line interesting without actually making it complicated.

The word Happy gets a C chord with a B bass note so for a guitarist's quick notation it might look like this: C/B Am7 Am7/G D7/F# Fdim F .

Now the ear can hear the Fdim in context and it sounds better.

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Re: Determining SUS chords

Postby Sam Inglis » Sun May 06, 2018 1:12 pm

GilesAnt wrote:Just thinking more about this, a suspended chord is not quite the same as a suspension.

Traditionally a suspension has a preparation chord, the suspension, and then resolution. However a suspended chord (sus4 etc) can be used in isolation. An earlier post in this thread was pointing out that chord notations stand alone and don't have to relate to the key for example - similarly a sus4 chord can stand alone.

So you could still have your Happy Birthday chord as sus4#.

But if there is no preparation and no resolution, then nothing is being suspended. I suppose that you could choose to refer to the chord F - Bb - C as Fsus4 regardless, because it has a sort of internal tension that is characteristic of suspended chords even if that tension is not released. However, I'm not sure the same is true of the chord F - B - C, and I suspect there's likely to be an alternative description which makes more sense in context. For instance it might be thought of as a G11 with a few notes missing.
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Re: Determining SUS chords

Postby GilesAnt » Sun May 06, 2018 3:53 pm

Sam - I think the point is that although you are correct in terms of traditional harmony, theory etc, the use of modern chord symbols in published music means that a chord can be designated sus4 (or anything else) in isolation of its harmonic or melodic context. I think this practice has evolved largely to assist with guitar/ukulele accompaniments - possibly home keyboards too.

With respect to your G11 with a few notes missing, I suppose this just shows the variety of approaches to harmony, and its analysis. I don't agree on this one however, as the B definitely resolves to the A, and the underlying harmony is an F chord after all. I can see it is debatable whether this might be a non-harmonic melody note, or it might be a suspension. My view is that in theory any note of the scale can have a sus4 chord built upon it - it just so happens that is you build one on the 4th note of the scale you end up with an augmented 4th (to stay within key).

As Peevy points out, this wouldn't happen in Bach chorale style harmony, but my text books tend to use chord symbols within a tonal context. So chords are labelled V7 or ii7 etc. Personally I find this more useful as it makes the harmonic understanding more generic, although I can see that for simple accompaniment purposes G7 or D min7 are quicker to read.

Rick - I will definitely try out your alternative harmonies, as the sound of that augmented 4th is sounding increasingly jarring to my ears the more we discuss it.
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Re: Determining SUS chords

Postby SecretSam » Thu May 17, 2018 5:25 pm

A sus chord isn't a mode of any common parent scale. It is simply a chord where the third is omitted to make it neither major (or dominant) nor minor.

You kind of expect the fourth to resolve downwards …

Functionally, a sus chord can lead to the V7 built from the same root. So instead of the classic jazz progression ii m7 - V7 - I, you could play (or, more accurately, compose) Vsus - V7 - I.

You can also move sus chords around freely - they don't lock on to a parent key strongly.

The Wikipedia entry on this is pretty good.
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Re: Determining SUS chords

Postby GilesAnt » Sun May 20, 2018 10:44 am

The Wikipedia for suspended chords is Ok as far as it goes - and does highlight the difference in modern terminology between a suspension and a suspended chord. However it also notes that a suspended chord is more often than not treated as a suspension.

Not quite sure what to make of your statement - A sus chord isn't a mode of any common parent scale. Are you saying that a sus4 isn't one of the normal chords built on the notes of a scale?

Anyway the 4th does usually resolve to the 3rd as you say. And if you happen to build the sus4 on the 5th note of the scale the resolution will create a dominant chord to which you can add a 7th. John Egan made this point earlier in the thread.

But you can build it on any other note of the scale as well. If you build it on the 4th degree, well....see earlier posts.

The relation between sus4 chords and key/tonality all depends on context. Your own example is highly functional in establishing tonality. On the other hand a series of sus4 chords played independently might well obscure tonality.
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Re: Determining SUS chords

Postby artzmusic » Tue May 22, 2018 1:11 pm

Sam, here is something I enjoy playing as related to your V7sus V7 I. It actually involves a sus4 and a sus2 in the same chord. Use the triad a whole step lower and place the V7 bass note with it.

For example, in the key of C you could play G7sus F/G C. (quick guitar notation) In this case the sus4 doesn't resolve but the sus2 (the note A) does.

Anyway this voicing is very popular and anyone trying it will likely be incorporating it into their playing all the time.

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