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Naming Chords on `Ukulele

Determining the correct name of a chord.

PUBLISHED: Jan 2, 2005 UPDATED: Jun 15, 2018 • VIEWS: 10 • LESSON CODE: UL42-misc-name

Instruments: ukulele Subjects: jazzchordstheory

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Naming Chords on `Ukulele

A Chord can have alternate names based on how it is being used. A chord's function is an important determining factor in naming a chord.

So unless you know the harmonic function of a given chord, you might not be able to accurately name it.

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Determining the Name of a Chord?

One very important step in determine the name of the chord is the figure out the root or letter name of the chord, which can only be determined by 1) the harmonic function or 2) asking the bass player. A bass player has extreme power in determining the name of a chord and its harmonic function. They can use the power for good or evil. A good example of this is the play all the open strings of a C tuned ukulele and and ask most players the name and you will either get Am7 or C6. If the real bass note or perceive bass note is C it might be C6, is the note A it might be Am7. If the harmonic function is a I chord in the key of C major it is C6. If it is the I chord in Am it's Amy if it is the VI chord in C is Amt, if it is the II chord in F major its Amy ... you get the idea. One really needs to know how it is being named.

A Chord can only be named in the context of how it is being used and after determining how it's functioning within that context.

  • A Chord can have alternate names based on how it is being used. A chord’s function is an important determining factor in naming a chord.

  • A Chord can NOT be named by its fingerboard shape.
  • A Chord can NOT be named by its lowest note.
  • A Chord might NOT have a root.

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Chord Spelling - An Alternate Approach • Updated: Nov 26, 2018

An alternate approach to determining the chord tones of any chord. Bottom-line is, it's the notes that make the chord, not the shape. A C chord is C, E, G - NOT this or that shape.

Creating Cool `Ukulele Chords • Updated: Mar 13, 2015

Cool Chords - These are the chords do not typically show up in chord dictionaries or song books. These are the chords players ask, "What is that chord?"

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A Guide to Advanced Ukulele Chords - Volume I
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Harmonic Analysis for Scale and Chord Selection
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Harmonic Analysis is the process used to determine the harmonic function of chords within a chord progression or song. A chord progression is defined as a sequence of chords, each chord has a root and is a particular chord type. The relationship of a chord's to a scale determines its function within that scale's tonality.

Related Lesson Files, Resources and Assets

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