In harmony the Greek word English art Polychord called ( from Greek poly ... and many chorda, string, which has in modern English in the form of chord meaning " chord " is assumed ) a composite of several chords sound.

Competing models for the interpretation of complex chords

The term is controversial because there are serious problems of definition. For example, in G major diatonic Six completely sound Cmaj9 # 11

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Well as the composition of the triads C major and B minor ( in the traditional German spelling: h- moll ) be interpreted so as Polychord:

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Hearing default, mandatory, however, this interpretation is not. Against the back-reference to a possible G- major tonality is the fact that the chord shown is for example used in modern jazz arrangements of musicians such as Duke Ellington and Dizzy Gillespie as a tonic chord in C major. The same argument, however, be argued against the interpretation as Polychord: For all the complexity of the sound from the ear is just yet based on only one and not two tonal centers. The reason for this lies in the so-called combination tones that occur when more sounds ( intervals or chords ) and have a reinforcing effect on certain tones of the multi- sound. The most amplified sound is perceived by the ear as the root. For example occurs in the interval 'on the combination tone f such that f ' c -f - and not c ' - is perceived as the root of this interval.

In the chord symbol font of jazz and its related styles, the Convention has established to record a Polychord in a way that resembles a mathematical fraction: The "upper" sound is the " counter ", the " lower " according to the " denominator ". This notation comes from the fact that can be grasped as virtually the only instrument fully coherent on the piano on which those chords, the two sounds are distributed exactly in this way to the left ( bass ) and right ( treble ) hand.

The chord symbol for the six sound presented above is in Polychord notation so

In any case, is clear from the definition of polychords that it is a very complex sound, he is described in the simplest model is a composition of two triads, that is in six parts. Just as often, the Polychord notation is also used in seven - or eight -part chords:

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Is a seven -part chord consists of a dominant over C and D- major triad. The chord symbol is in Polychord notation or in functional harmonic conception C13 # 11 Be particularly helpful to the Polychord notation proves in the layering of unrelated diminished seventh chords, where eight-voice sounds may result for the traditional chord symbols has no more common spelling:

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Here is the Polychord icon still the clearest and fastest comparatively readable representation of this highly complex, quite dissonant and in the ensemble is difficult to clean intoning sound.

For a jazz theoretical interpretation see: Upper Structure. It is typical of the multiple chords in jazz, that their voices are not mixed, by crossing each other and engage with each other, the function of the chord is clearly that of the lower chord. So let as opposed to a function harmoniously interpreted chord not all inversions. In the example above, so should the D- Durklang be started over the last played chord of C7 chord only gradually. Its primary definition is that of a triad over a tritone, ie a dominant seventh. Many jazz pieces, arrangements or Boogies etc., ends on the dominant seventh chord with above set sounds. The other forms are then derived by triads are played over chords with other functions. Upper Structure are then overall structure in which the upper structures are not included in the scale or tonality of the sound reason in the strict sense.

In the musical practice

Due to their tonal richness and complexity are polychords, as already indicated, played rarely fully consistent even on the piano. In ensemble playing, they are ideal for dynamic tutti passages, so that for example the final chord of modern big band arrangements, such as in the style of Bob Brookmeyer, Gil Evans and Maria Schneider is often a Polychord. Another Big Band, known for their impeccable work with such a complex harmonic structures, the Orchestra by Thad Jones and Mel Lewis.

The resultant by the dissonant nature of most polychords "hard" sound quality is also suitable for percussive, highly rhythmic ensemble passages, such as in 1913 in Igor Stravinsky 's famous ballet Le sacre du printemps, for example, in the episode " Danse des adolescentes ".

In the analysis of works of composers of classical modernism ( as Claude Debussy, Bela Bartok, Charles Ives and even Stravinsky ) is also the name of polychords as "bi - " or " polychord chords " back.

Simplistic models

Based on the principle of chord inversion has changed since the 1970s, the concept of the so-called slash chords (literally " slash chords " ) was established. This is a method to achieve Polychord -like complex sound effects by the musician puts a triad over a bass note chord strange. The name derives from the typical slash chord notation for these chords here, for example, C / C # could be and should not be confused with the above break -like symbolism for polychords. The advantage of the slash chords consists in the fact that they are also on other harmony instruments as the piano ( so for example, on guitar and vibraphone) are fully consistent representable because of their simpler structure.


Finally, it should be noted that the basis of all bi- and polytonality part of many music theorists is disputed. Specifically doubted that it was also the best-trained tonal hearing at all possible, to hear two or more tonalities at the same time; Rather, all tonal interpretable events 'll just moved into a bass or root on each. It is thus indeed a well-trained listener quite possible, even highly complex sounds such as the above-described analytically " by listening ", but not in the sense of two or more individual chords.

At an even more basic level, this skepticism is supported by the neurophysiology: It is assumed that the human ear is not able to perceive two objectively simultaneous acoustic events also absolutely simultaneously. Rather, the processing of the auditory impressions in the brain successes very quickly. The strictly separated heard 'll be back " composed " only in the responsible areas of the cerebral cortex.

However, the fundamental criticism of the conditions bitonal concepts can ultimately no aesthetic value judgment on the work of many and stylistically very different composers and improvisers reasons that were inspired by the described models.