Asked • 06/05/19

Does the bass note in a "slash" chord really have an associated interval?

I have a question about "slash" chords. Look at the chord E/G: <pre> E G♯ B G 1 3 5 ? </pre> G is the minor 3rd interval (♭3) in the key of E. However, I would have thought by definition chords cannot contain both minor and major thirds, so when looking at just the E major chord, can you really say the G is a ♭3? The way I think about it, the G doesn't have a relationship to the rest of the notes in the E major chord. In the E/G chord, G is a tone that is played "over" the top of the underlying E major chord. I wouldn't have thought the G necessarily *has* to be represented by an interval. I mean, the chord is called E/G not E/♭3. To that point, my observation is that in all other chord names - the altered notes, or any other special notes - are represented by an interval. E.g. G♯ m(maj7)♯5 Slash chords are the only chord names (that I'm aware of) which extend the chord name with an additional *note*, not an interval. I was assuming that this was because there is not actually an interval associated with the slash note (in context of the underlying chord). So... what is the correct way to think about the relationship of the G in E/G ? Is it correct to say that G is a ♭3 interval in this chord, or do you say it doesn't have an interval in this context?

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