Chord Track to create harmonies

I must be missing something. The chords that I can put in the chord track seem extremely limited?

I want to do this to create vocal harmonies. The song has one measure that is G Em#5 G. Another section is Am#5 Bm#5 etc.

Is there a way to put any m#5 chord into the chord track?

I’m not well versed in music theory so maybe my ignorance?



Could you please send a screenshot of your Add Chord editor window, to check, if you have all options here available?

No shame in not knowing stuff from music theory - we all have gaps.

An Xm#5 chord isn’t really a thing, or rather it is something else.

Let’s look at your Em#5 chord.

The notes that form an Em chord are E-G-B.

If we sharp the 5th it becomes E-G-B# or spelled another way E-G-C. Those notes are just a regular old C major triad with the E in the root.*

Am#5 = F/A
Bm#5 = G/B


  • this should of course be “bass” and not “root”

Martin thanks I will get that next time I’m in the studio.

Rodger thanks for the tips! I suspected something of the sort. This is a song I created and not really knowing what the chord names were for sure I punched them into one of the chord namer sites, that was the name they gave me. My guitar is tuned one step down so I’m actually playing in the open A position.

Interestingly I put them into band in a box (bad word here?) because I wanted to generate some ideas and a couple instruments that I don’t play. It had no problem with the chords and the sound was good (as I had created on guitar).

Thanks again,

Martin here is my screenshot. Look normal?

Looks normal to me. Was the other software that let you create this chord using more than triad chords?

As Rodger says a triad chord of Em#5 is just a C major which is presumably why Cubase doesn’t let you select it?

Thanks Nic.

Funny enough I had to look up triad chord hehe. Thought I knew what it was but didn’t want to assume.

So by “other program” if you are referring to Band In A Box I have included a screenshot of their chord picker.

The site I used to get the names of the chords I was very specific and put in only the strings that I was playing. I’m sure that is where the odd names came from?

Thanks to all this has been very educational for me. I tend to create music as what sounds good to me…kinda like the Beatles did only not as well hahaha. After I create the song then I often find myself having to have it make sense in a music “format” (sheet music, chord sheet etc.)

Here’s the chord picker

Thanks again

[Just speculating, but it looks in the image like the chord picker might be assuming the lowest note is always the root of the chord which would lead to some oddly named chords.] <= On closer examination I see this is wrong as there are chords showing different bass notes.

Anyway I wouldn’t trust its ability to correctly name chords since it took one of the most common changes that exists (I-IV-I) and changed it into something needlessly exotic (I-vi#5-I).

Mike, if you are interested in getting more grounded in music theory you might check out Inside the Music by Dave Stewart (not the Eurythmics guy). It’s a very gentle introduction to theory that’s easy to read.

Thanks Rodger I will check that out.

Just for clarification it was I that put those funny chord names into BIAB. I got them from a website where on a guitar neck you click on the string and fret for the ones you are playing and mute the ones you don’t play. Just wondering if by doing that the fingering would create a m#5 chord? If it were played on a piano, just those notes, would it be a m#5 chord? Maybe I’m complicating it but…curious minds.

I messed around in BIAB with that chord sheet and had it make a backing track using an acoustic guitar, organ and bass. Everything was spot on using those chords. They played beautifully with my guitar parts I created. Not saying that I wouldn’t have gotten the same result if I used C/E instead of Em#5? Just trying to grasp the concept.

Anyway everyone has been exceptionally helpful. Any other thoughts would certainly be welcomed!


It doesn’t really matter what instrument you play it on, ultimately it’s just that the notes of your Em#5 chord are the same as a C major. My musical theory is too limited to say whether there might be circumstances where you’d call it Em#5 instead. I think though that it’s more likely that software looks at the root note (or other) and makes decisions based on less than perfect algorithms.

I too tend to play chords on the guitar or keyboard and play around with fingering until I find something that works with a melody or whatever and sometimes I’ve looked them up and found esoteric names for what someone else will then point out to me is really just a slightly strange inversion of a pretty standard chord.

Well this can easily end up in the super deep end of the pool. But a couple of thoughts.

While there are some cases where 2 (or more) chords may consist of the exact same notes (perhaps with different enharmonic spellings) but have different names, these usually (always?) occur in 4 note chords and importantly those chords will have an ambiguous tonal center when played on their own. It is only when these chords are used in context that the tonal center becomes clear, and hence the proper name to use in that specific instance. The diminished 7 chords are the best example - Cdim7 consists of C-Eb-Gb-Bbb where a F#dim7 consists of F#-A-C-Eb. If you look carefully you’ll see both chords use the same notes.

However your Em#5 chord is not ambiguous at all - the notes E-G-C (or E-C-B#) just scream that the chord’s tonal center is the C note. Why? First look and see if there are 2 notes in the chord that form a Perfect Fifth when arranged in any order. In this case C-G is a P5. This tells us that C is most likely the tonal center. This is further confirmed when we look at the C-E interval which is a major 3rd which tells us this is a simple major triad & its root is a C note.

The order of the notes (AKA their inversion) within a triad will effect how the chord sounds, but not what the chord is.

Basically Occam’s Razor applies to music theory - the simplest and most straightforward answer is usually correct.

Wow all good stuff. I’m learning more everyday.

Thanks for the great conversation.

Another book that might also be useful is
Chord Progressions For Songwriters by Richard J. Scott

This is a comprehensive catalog of western chord progressions. But what brought it to mind in this discussion is that it has a section in the appendix that gives a formula for every chord type that tells you how to construct the chord. For chords with lots of notes (5+) in them it also tells you which intervals are commonly omitted in actual use. Other appendixes are also quite useful - as is the book itself.

One other thought is that it is much easier to think about theory stuff if you use Roman Numeral notation to look at progressions rather than focusing on the chord names. E.G. I-V-I instead of C-G-C. The reason is that the numerals are focusing on the harmonic role the chord is playing, where the chord name just tells you what notes comprise the chord. For example a C chord is always gonna consist of the notes C, G & E no matter how it is musically used. But that same C chord is both a I chord in the key of C Major and a V chord in F Major.

Thanks for tip Rodger!

This has peaked my curiosity. I’ve played for 50 years and do indeed know a ton of chords. Yet I seem to “make up” some fingerings that sometimes stumps me on what it would be called. Sure I’m making it too difficult.

I have seen a lot of “odd” jazz chords that have “odd” names. How would they fit in Roman Numeral notation? Or are they an animal all their own?


They fit, with symbols added to each Roman Numeral.

There are basically 2 different ways that roman numerals get used. The first is used by folks in classical music, harmonic analysis & music scholars and for this discussion can be ignored. You can tell they are used like this if you see small sub & super-script numbers at the top and bottom right corners of the numeral. These numbers will often be 3, 6, 4, & 7 - but these numbers bear no relationship to how we use numbers in chord names (e.g. A6, C7).

Folks doing pop, jazz and other contemporary music use the numerals as a way to describe a progression that is independent of a specific key and much more casual in how it gets used. They (we?) will stick anything onto the numeral that gets used on letters in chord names - Imaj7, V7, IVsus2… Some folks, but not all, do minor chords in lower case.

Why use numerals instead of letters?

Being able to describe progressions independent of key is pretty useful. For example if I show you this progression I-IV-V7-I and tell you to play it in C Major then you’d play C-F-G7-C, but in G Major it would be G-C-D7-G.

And while that can be useful, another (and I think more important) reason is that using letters emphasizes the actual notes being played, while numerals emphasize the role the chord is playing in the progression. So in C Major C is a I chord while in G Major it is the IV chord. Exact same chord but the role it plays is different depending on the key.

I think using letters is optimized for playing while numerals are more useful for writing.

I just got an email from Coursera with a list of classes they think I might be interested in taking. One of them on beginning music theory I figured might be useful for some folks here. You can audit Coursera classes for free or they charge if you want a certificate. It starts in a few days.

That does look interesting…thanks Rodger.