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#1696692 - 06/16/11 10:26 PM B major triad indicated by 6/4??? Hunh?
Smilodon Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/30/09
Posts: 52
Hey folks, good evening,

My piano teacher explained to me about how triad inversions can be described by a number over a number; As in the case of B major triad indicated by 6/4. I don't understand this at all.

I am sure it is simple, can someone please give me an explanation of what this means?

Thanks!

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#1696697 - 06/16/11 10:33 PM Re: B major triad indicated by 6/4??? Hunh? [Re: Smilodon]
Rostosky Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/30/11
Posts: 3339
Loc: Lost in cyberspace.in the UK.
_________________________


Rise like lions after slumber,in unvanquishable number. Shake your chains to earth like dew
which in sleep has fallen on you. Ye are many,they are few. Shelley

Founder and creator ofRostoskys 13th crystal skull project

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#1696714 - 06/16/11 11:09 PM Re: B major triad indicated by 6/4??? Hunh? [Re: Smilodon]
Andy Platt Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/28/10
Posts: 2439
Loc: Virginia, USA
That link should help. 6/4 would be the second inversion.

In second inversion, for Bb major, the F is the bottom note. Next comes the Bb which is a perfect fourth and next up is the D which is a sixth (from the F at the bottom). It would be called a 6/4.

I don't personally like that notation and I don't think my teacher has used it. But it's useful to know because it pops up in theory books. And if you find some old music, it can have figured bass which uses this.

I also like this link (wikipedia).
_________________________
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  • Haydn - Sonata in Gm, Hob. XVI/44

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#1697202 - 06/17/11 06:32 PM Re: B major triad indicated by 6/4??? Hunh? [Re: Smilodon]
wayne33yrs Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/31/11
Posts: 1872
Loc: Sheffield UK


is that similar to this?


Edited by wayne32yrs (06/17/11 06:34 PM)

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#1697257 - 06/17/11 10:17 PM Re: B major triad indicated by 6/4??? Hunh? [Re: Smilodon]
Pianoflage Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/11/11
Posts: 18
Well, if you're reading from fakebooks you'll normally see something like what wayne32yrs posted. I've only ever seen figured bass in theory books, and as far as I know it serves no practical purpose.
_________________________
Learning:
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#1697334 - 06/18/11 03:30 AM Re: B major triad indicated by 6/4??? Hunh? [Re: Smilodon]
wayne33yrs Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/31/11
Posts: 1872
Loc: Sheffield UK
Well I've slept since my last post and now figure Bb 6/4

here goes, is like saying

the 6th inversion of the Bb chord/the first note of the 4th inversion of Bb
=
F, B, D / Bb

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#1697335 - 06/18/11 03:40 AM Re: B major triad indicated by 6/4??? Hunh? [Re: wayne33yrs]
Studio Joe Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/28/07
Posts: 1803
Loc: Decatur, Texas
Originally Posted By: wayne32yrs
Well I've slept since my last post and now figure Bb 6/4

here goes, is like saying

the 6th inversion of the Bb chord/the first note of the 4th inversion of Bb
=
F, B, D / Bb


It's not that complicated. It is simply the 2nd inversion of Bb. (F, Bb, D) The numbers indicate the intervals relative to the lowest note in the chord. From F to Bb is a 4th, from F to D is a 6th.
_________________________
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#1697339 - 06/18/11 04:00 AM Re: B major triad indicated by 6/4??? Hunh? [Re: Smilodon]
Studio Joe Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/28/07
Posts: 1803
Loc: Decatur, Texas
Originally Posted By: Smilodon
Hey folks, good evening,

My piano teacher explained to me about how triad inversions can be described by a number over a number; As in the case of B major triad indicated by 6/4. I don't understand this at all.

I am sure it is simple, can someone please give me an explanation of what this means?

Thanks!


That would indicate a second inversion of B major triad. (F#, B, D#) The numbers in the fraction indicate the intervals relative to the lowest note of the chord. F# to B is a 4th, F# to D# is a 6th.
_________________________
Joe Whitehead ------ Texas Trax

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#1697341 - 06/18/11 04:09 AM Re: B major triad indicated by 6/4??? Hunh? [Re: Smilodon]
Terez Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/10/11
Posts: 130
Figured bass is essentially one of those relics that music theorists can't bring themselves to abandon. It's an oversimplification of chord inversion, and IMO it makes harmonic analysis too confusing because the numbers like 6/4 interfere with suspension notation. I think it would be a lot simpler to analyze chords like so:

vii˚7 / 3

Meaning the chord is in the first inversion (third in the bass). And it would be more in line with the letter-name indications, which go like this:

B˚7 / D

But good luck trying to get theorists to all agree on it.
_________________________
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Terez

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#1697416 - 06/18/11 10:08 AM Re: B major triad indicated by 6/4??? Hunh? [Re: wayne33yrs]
wayne33yrs Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/31/11
Posts: 1872
Loc: Sheffield UK
Originally Posted By: wayne32yrs
Well I've slept since my last post and now figure Bb 6/4

here goes, is like saying

the 6th inversion of the Bb chord/the first note of the 4th inversion of Bb
=
F, B, D / Bb




I can't make heads nor tails of the other explanations, but here's how my thought process was working!
Sorry if it's my post that's made this thread go really wide lol


Edited by wayne32yrs (06/18/11 10:11 AM)

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#1697501 - 06/18/11 02:01 PM Re: B major triad indicated by 6/4??? Hunh? [Re: Smilodon]
chrisbell Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/11/07
Posts: 1377
Loc: Stockholm, Sweden
Ze problem here is the mixing of metaphors.

The six-four designation belongs in Functional harmonic analysis and is 'usually' given to the Dominant:
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#1697514 - 06/18/11 02:24 PM Re: B major triad indicated by 6/4??? Hunh? [Re: Smilodon]
wayne33yrs Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/31/11
Posts: 1872
Loc: Sheffield UK
I see my effort to help has just caused confusion, I got it totally wrong!

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#1697533 - 06/18/11 03:14 PM Re: B major triad indicated by 6/4??? Hunh? [Re: wayne33yrs]
Studio Joe Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/28/07
Posts: 1803
Loc: Decatur, Texas
According to Chris, everybody got it wrong. (including Smilodon's teacher)
_________________________
Joe Whitehead ------ Texas Trax

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#1697548 - 06/18/11 03:38 PM Re: B major triad indicated by 6/4??? Hunh? [Re: Studio Joe]
wayne33yrs Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/31/11
Posts: 1872
Loc: Sheffield UK

Originally Posted By: Studio Joe
According to Chris, everybody got it wrong.


I need a wider monitor!

Just looking back at what you put, I really am laughing out loud, lol smile


Originally Posted By: Studio Joe
It's not that complicated
.



Edited by wayne32yrs (06/18/11 03:40 PM)

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#1697915 - 06/19/11 04:16 AM Re: B major triad indicated by 6/4??? Hunh? [Re: Terez]
kevinb Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
Originally Posted By: Terez
Figured bass is essentially one of those relics that music theorists can't bring themselves to abandon. It's an oversimplification of chord inversion, and IMO it makes harmonic analysis too confusing because the numbers like 6/4 interfere with suspension notation. I think it would be a lot simpler to analyze chords like so:

vii˚7 / 3

Meaning the chord is in the first inversion (third in the bass). And it would be more in line with the letter-name indications, which go like this:

B˚7 / D

But good luck trying to get theorists to all agree on it.



Figured bass notation survives, I guess, because we need some way of indicating the notes that make up a chord which is more compact than writing out the actual notes -- and it's less ambiguous than some of the alternatives. It was never intended to be written along with note names (Bb 6/4) but alongside the actual notes on manuscript. As such, it's compact and pretty straightforward to follow when you get used to it.

As a method of analysis or description it is unhelpful, as you say, but that was never its intention. Figured bass is a performance notation, so it needs to be compact and easy to assimilate, which it is.

It's interesting and, I think, rather odd that some of the terminology associated with figured bass survives, even though its use in performance has pretty much died out. It's quite common to hear musicians talk about '6/4 chords' -- meaning second inversions of the major triad -- without really understanding what the '6' and the '4' actually are.

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#1697963 - 06/19/11 08:29 AM Re: B major triad indicated by 6/4??? Hunh? [Re: Smilodon]
joflah Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/09/09
Posts: 355
Loc: St. Louis, MO, USA
B major in 6/4 inversion is any B major chord (B, D#, F#) with the F# (the 5th) as the lowest note, or bass. That is the second inversion of the chord. The numbers 6 and 4 are the intervals above the bass note (F#), that the upper notes will be if they are in the lowest octaves possible. So, say the bass is at F#2. Go up a 4th and you have a B2, go up a 6th and you have a D#3.
That's where the numbers come from, but all you have to remember is that 6/4 means the second inversion of a triad, with the 5th as the bass note, for any triadic chord.
_________________________
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