Monday, January 09, 2006

Where's the Third?

A lot of the online piano lessons use something called shell chords (my term) where the third is taken out of the left hand. What we have is the root, the fifth, and the octave, or seventh of the chord played in the left hand while the right takes care of melody.

Someone recently asked me if this were a true chord. For example, a C Major chord without the third isn't what most would call a "true" chord since the triad from which it is derived is comprised of the root, third, and fifth.

I suppose technically it's not a true Major chord, but, when I was working with the music, I didn't like the way the third sounded in the left hand. It made the chord too muddy and dense. Not quite the sound I was after. So I took it out. And now I have something I like to use. I really don't know the exact technical name for this left hand voicing, but shell seems to fit nicely.


  1. Anonymous9:31 AM

    I believe it is known as a harmonic interval, more specifically a 'perfect fifth' and the 'shell' chord is known as the 'extended chord'. Hope that helps.

  2. Anonymous9:42 AM

    Oh and one more thing I forgot. It is notated as 'minus 3' or -3 after the name of the chord although it's highly unconventional since it's not a chord but the nomenclature would be proper. We don't usually see minuses except in Jazz and the most common is minus five.

  3. Anonymous3:36 PM

    A root, fifth and octave is a (5) or (no 3rd) chord. Commonly called a "power chord" in the rock world.