Modewheel - a reference tool I came up with

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  • vizviz Frets: 4463
    edited February 6
    Very good, especially for the minor modes. But not always harmonically correct. e.g. for the C Mixolydian it has the 7th as A# whereas, and I might be wrong, I would have thought it was Bb to keep the alphabetical (and numerical, Bb being the flattened 7th of C) steps of the scale. I'm sure that would take a bit more coding. But wow, all these free tools I would have killed for as a youngster when I didn't even know there was only a semitone between E/F and B/C. I knew the 12th fret was an octave but counting up with a sharp after every note got me to the 14th! I didn't have a piano or any books and it shows you how bad the music education was then, grammar school too.
    That's an issue of enharmonic equivalence, but it's not really related to this. This device is there to show how the intervals of any given mode look and relate to one another. Getting into enharmonics would massively clutter things up and detract from its simplicity. I did hope that was immediately apparent, but perhaps, outside the course I wrote, that's not so.


    Yes but the problem is that F major has a Bb not an A# - so does all its modes. The tool is great, it’s SO simple and smooth, but this aspect is unfortunately a bit misleading. It suggests for example that there is such as thing as C# major.

    I don’t know how you could get round it but as a next stage of development would it be possible for it to account for the flat keys, F, Bb, Eb, Ab and Db? Other tools on the net struggle with this issue by the way; they either ignore it or show both alternatives which looks ugly. Could your note names maybe fade into their flat equivalents as the wheel turns? - that’d be amazing.
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  • flying_pieflying_pie Frets: 101
    That's really useful, especially for someone who still thinks in either major or minor rather than individual modes.

    BTW I've just installed the app and it's running fine on my phone. I just need to remember that Ionian is major when trying to align it...
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  • viz said:
    Very good, especially for the minor modes. But not always harmonically correct. e.g. for the C Mixolydian it has the 7th as A# whereas, and I might be wrong, I would have thought it was Bb to keep the alphabetical (and numerical, Bb being the flattened 7th of C) steps of the scale. I'm sure that would take a bit more coding. But wow, all these free tools I would have killed for as a youngster when I didn't even know there was only a semitone between E/F and B/C. I knew the 12th fret was an octave but counting up with a sharp after every note got me to the 14th! I didn't have a piano or any books and it shows you how bad the music education was then, grammar school too.
    That's an issue of enharmonic equivalence, but it's not really related to this. This device is there to show how the intervals of any given mode look and relate to one another. Getting into enharmonics would massively clutter things up and detract from its simplicity. I did hope that was immediately apparent, but perhaps, outside the course I wrote, that's not so.


    Yes but the problem is that F major has a Bb not an A# - so does all its modes. The tool is great, it’s SO simple and smooth, but this aspect is unfortunately a bit misleading. It suggests for example that there is such as thing as C# major.

    I don’t know how you could get round it but as a next stage of development would it be possible for it to account for the flat keys, F, Bb, Eb, Ab and Db? Other tools on the net struggle with this issue by the way; they either ignore it or show both alternatives which looks ugly. Could your note names maybe fade into their flat equivalents as the wheel turns? - that’d be amazing.

    I appreciate what you're saying. In my lessons, which are part of an introduction to music theory and the major scale, I discuss enharmonics, although not at the point at which the modes are first introduced. And there are two reasons for this.

    Firstly, I think enharmonics add confusion to that subject that isn't really helpful. You can perfectly understand the intervalic nature of the major scale (and most of music theory) without coming up against enharmonic note naming. It's left until a later chapter (actually the following one, I think).

    Secondly, and more fundamentally, I don't really like the convention. I completely appreciate its function in standard notation, but elsewhere, I don't really see the point. Calling the F in C# major 'E#' seems basically ludicrous to me.
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  • That's really useful, especially for someone who still thinks in either major or minor rather than individual modes.

    BTW I've just installed the app and it's running fine on my phone. I just need to remember that Ionian is major when trying to align it...
    Thanks for checking the app. It's odd that it works well on some phones and not others. Both my Android devices, it runs poorly on. I'm hoping getting better at app development will let me improve it.

    And I did think about labelling or numbering the modes on the wheel, but I thought it would lead to further visual clutter and make it less appealing.
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  • flying_pieflying_pie Frets: 101
    LeeCassidy said:

    Thanks for checking the app. It's odd that it works well on some phones and not others. Both my Android devices, it runs poorly on. I'm hoping getting better at app development will let me improve it.

    And I did think about labelling or numbering the modes on the wheel, but I thought it would lead to further visual clutter and make it less appealing.
    FWIW I'm using a Sony Xperia Z5 compact with Android 7.1.1

    I don't think it needs any different labelling. I was just joking that it takes my brain a bit too remember that Ionian is the major scale. 

    One thing for consideration though @LeeCassidy - I might be better if the wheel snapped to each note rather than free turning. It can be a bit fiddly to get it to sit neatly.
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  • vizviz Frets: 4463
    edited February 10
    viz said:
    Very good, especially for the minor modes. But not always harmonically correct. e.g. for the C Mixolydian it has the 7th as A# whereas, and I might be wrong, I would have thought it was Bb to keep the alphabetical (and numerical, Bb being the flattened 7th of C) steps of the scale. I'm sure that would take a bit more coding. But wow, all these free tools I would have killed for as a youngster when I didn't even know there was only a semitone between E/F and B/C. I knew the 12th fret was an octave but counting up with a sharp after every note got me to the 14th! I didn't have a piano or any books and it shows you how bad the music education was then, grammar school too.
    That's an issue of enharmonic equivalence, but it's not really related to this. This device is there to show how the intervals of any given mode look and relate to one another. Getting into enharmonics would massively clutter things up and detract from its simplicity. I did hope that was immediately apparent, but perhaps, outside the course I wrote, that's not so.


    Yes but the problem is that F major has a Bb not an A# - so does all its modes. The tool is great, it’s SO simple and smooth, but this aspect is unfortunately a bit misleading. It suggests for example that there is such as thing as C# major.

    I don’t know how you could get round it but as a next stage of development would it be possible for it to account for the flat keys, F, Bb, Eb, Ab and Db? Other tools on the net struggle with this issue by the way; they either ignore it or show both alternatives which looks ugly. Could your note names maybe fade into their flat equivalents as the wheel turns? - that’d be amazing.

    I appreciate what you're saying. In my lessons, which are part of an introduction to music theory and the major scale, I discuss enharmonics, although not at the point at which the modes are first introduced. And there are two reasons for this.

    Firstly, I think enharmonics add confusion to that subject that isn't really helpful. You can perfectly understand the intervalic nature of the major scale (and most of music theory) without coming up against enharmonic note naming. It's left until a later chapter (actually the following one, I think).

    Secondly, and more fundamentally, I don't really like the convention. I completely appreciate its function in standard notation, but elsewhere, I don't really see the point. Calling the F in C# major 'E#' seems basically ludicrous to me.
    Well that’s why C# Ionian doesn’t really ‘exist’, and that’s the thing about the tool I’m trying to say. C# major (with 7 sharps) is actually Db major with 5 flats - and therefore F can indeed be an F. “A# major” would have three double-sharps as I’m sure you know!

    That’s why I’m saying it would be fantastic if the tool could deal with the flat keys. It’s not a modal issue, it’s not an enharmonic issue; it’s a keys issue. Though of course it applies to all the modes of all the flat keys too, so for example the relative minor (or Aeolian) of Db major is Bb minor, which also has 5 flats, not A# minor which would have 7 sharps. Similarly there’s no such thing as D# Dorian, F# Lydian or G# Mixolydian.

    It’s such a nice tool, and all it would need is for the 5 sharp notes all to be replaced with their flat equivalents for your C#, D#, G# and A# Ionians, and for F Ionian. You could leave them as they are for F# Ionian. Don’t know if it’s easy or even possible but it would make the tool perfect, that’s all. (And the F in F# Ionian ought really to be renamed as an E#, which you might not like and would add an additional level of programming complexity because it only applies to that one key). 

    By the way I completely agree that you can understand the major scale agnostically of key; in fact I made a compendium of all 7-note scales here: different colour scheme though!  

    http://www.guitaristtv.com/Downloads/Modes%202014_02_18%20-%20for%20GTV.xlsx
     
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  • @viz said:
    Well that’s why C# Ionian doesn’t really ‘exist’, and that’s the thing about the tool I’m trying to say. C# major (with 7 sharps) is actually Db major with 5 flats - and therefore F can indeed be an F. “A# major” would have three double-sharps as I’m sure you know!

    That’s why I’m saying it would be fantastic if the tool could deal with the flat keys. It’s not a modal issue, it’s not an enharmonic issue; it’s a keys issue. Though of course it applies to all the modes of all the flat keys too, so for example the relative minor (or Aeolian) of Db major is Bb minor, which also has 5 flats, not A# minor which would have 7 sharps. Similarly there’s no such thing as D# Dorian, F# Lydian or G# Mixolydian.

    It’s such a nice tool, and all it would need is for the 5 sharp notes all to be replaced with their flat equivalents for your C#, D#, G# and A# Ionians, and for F Ionian. You could leave them as they are for F# Ionian. Don’t know if it’s easy or even possible but it would make the tool perfect, that’s all. (And the F in F# Ionian ought really to be renamed as an E#, which you might not like and would add an additional level of programming complexity because it only applies to that one key). 

    By the way I completely agree that you can understand the major scale agnostically of key; in fact I made a compendium of all 7-note scales here: different colour scheme though!  

    http://www.guitaristtv.com/Downloads/Modes%202014_02_18%20-%20for%20GTV.xlsx
     


    Sorry, that was a typo. I meant F#major.

    You say it's not an enharmonic issue, that it's a key issue. I think I would say it's using a system/convention of using enharmonic names for the notes of keys, and that ultimately is done so that they can be easily written in standard notation. You can talk about the key of Bflat, for example, and use only sharps in just about every way other than standard notation and not encounter any issues.

    Setting Ionian to C# on this tool, it's perfectly intelligible what that scale is, what notes it uses, what note fits where in the order, etc. 

    I say all this, but it's not like I'm waging a jihad against the circle of fourths or anything. It's just that I think this tool is intelligible as it is. I accept what you're saying, that it is not describing the notes with respect to common practice in written music, but I feel it's effective for those who know that stuff and those who don't. And I think for those who don't, it may be a source of confusion.

    Creating it isn't too much of an issue for the website, at least I don't think it is. But the app, it would add a layer of complexity I can't work through yet, I'm afraid.

    That spreadsheet. Jeez, that's comprehensive, and a very cool resource. That would make a fantastic web library of some sort, especially with the bundled MIDI. I think I might just slightly prefer my colour scheme, though!


    By the way, I hope none of this comes across as aggro, or argumentative. I appreciate what you're saying, and taking the time to check this thing and feedback.

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  • LeeCassidy said:

    Thanks for checking the app. It's odd that it works well on some phones and not others. Both my Android devices, it runs poorly on. I'm hoping getting better at app development will let me improve it.

    And I did think about labelling or numbering the modes on the wheel, but I thought it would lead to further visual clutter and make it less appealing.
    FWIW I'm using a Sony Xperia Z5 compact with Android 7.1.1

    I don't think it needs any different labelling. I was just joking that it takes my brain a bit too remember that Ionian is the major scale. 

    One thing for consideration though @LeeCassidy - I might be better if the wheel snapped to each note rather than free turning. It can be a bit fiddly to get it to sit neatly.
    When I first made this, it actually did that (it rotated in 30deg steps), but I thought perhaps it might somehow distract the user. Like, if it didn't behave in a fashion that's immediately intuitive, that it might make it feel less usable. I wonder if it might be worth having that as an option? Perhaps a switch to toggle between a free rotating setting and that sort of snap-to. Keeping the UI clean is the challenge, but perhaps it could be an option in the drop down. I'll have a look into this. Thanks, Mr Pie!
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  • vizviz Frets: 4463
    edited February 11
    @viz said:
    Well that’s why C# Ionian doesn’t really ‘exist’, and that’s the thing about the tool I’m trying to say. C# major (with 7 sharps) is actually Db major with 5 flats - and therefore F can indeed be an F. “A# major” would have three double-sharps as I’m sure you know!

    That’s why I’m saying it would be fantastic if the tool could deal with the flat keys. It’s not a modal issue, it’s not an enharmonic issue; it’s a keys issue. Though of course it applies to all the modes of all the flat keys too, so for example the relative minor (or Aeolian) of Db major is Bb minor, which also has 5 flats, not A# minor which would have 7 sharps. Similarly there’s no such thing as D# Dorian, F# Lydian or G# Mixolydian.

    It’s such a nice tool, and all it would need is for the 5 sharp notes all to be replaced with their flat equivalents for your C#, D#, G# and A# Ionians, and for F Ionian. You could leave them as they are for F# Ionian. Don’t know if it’s easy or even possible but it would make the tool perfect, that’s all. (And the F in F# Ionian ought really to be renamed as an E#, which you might not like and would add an additional level of programming complexity because it only applies to that one key). 

    By the way I completely agree that you can understand the major scale agnostically of key; in fact I made a compendium of all 7-note scales here: different colour scheme though!  

    http://www.guitaristtv.com/Downloads/Modes%202014_02_18%20-%20for%20GTV.xlsx
     


    Sorry, that was a typo. I meant F#major.

    You say it's not an enharmonic issue, that it's a key issue. I think I would say it's using a system/convention of using enharmonic names for the notes of keys, and that ultimately is done so that they can be easily written in standard notation. You can talk about the key of Bflat, for example, and use only sharps in just about every way other than standard notation and not encounter any issues.

    Setting Ionian to C# on this tool, it's perfectly intelligible what that scale is, what notes it uses, what note fits where in the order, etc. 

    I say all this, but it's not like I'm waging a jihad against the circle of fourths or anything. It's just that I think this tool is intelligible as it is. I accept what you're saying, that it is not describing the notes with respect to common practice in written music, but I feel it's effective for those who know that stuff and those who don't. And I think for those who don't, it may be a source of confusion.

    Creating it isn't too much of an issue for the website, at least I don't think it is. But the app, it would add a layer of complexity I can't work through yet, I'm afraid.

    That spreadsheet. Jeez, that's comprehensive, and a very cool resource. That would make a fantastic web library of some sort, especially with the bundled MIDI. I think I might just slightly prefer my colour scheme, though!


    By the way, I hope none of this comes across as aggro, or argumentative. I appreciate what you're saying, and taking the time to check this thing and feedback.

    100%, good discussion. And thanks for checking my scales - I’ve done them for octatonic, hexatonic and pentatonic too!

    I really agree with you about simplicity: everything, from the system of sharps and flats, and frameworks like the circle of fifths, and harmonic and melodic naming comventions, right to the design of the piano keyboard and even the development of western music itself through the centuries - every element of the system is coherent with all the others, and like you say, it’s all been steered to make things easy. But unless you’re using the whole system, or at least more than one element of it, I suppose some solutions can indeed come across as over-complicated. 

    So if you think it’s easier on balance to approach modes purely aurally and not worry about how many degrees away from Ionian Dorian is - at least initially - then ok. And what we’re talking about would affect pianists much more than rock guitarists anyway - a pianist would actually find it very hard to think in A# major, it would hurt the brain too much! But for those who don’t read music or who don’t need to use harmonic or melodic theory or discuss with classical musicians, I guess names don’t matter as much. 

    Cheers

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  • viz said:
    @viz said:
    Well that’s why C# Ionian doesn’t really ‘exist’, and that’s the thing about the tool I’m trying to say. C# major (with 7 sharps) is actually Db major with 5 flats - and therefore F can indeed be an F. “A# major” would have three double-sharps as I’m sure you know!

    That’s why I’m saying it would be fantastic if the tool could deal with the flat keys. It’s not a modal issue, it’s not an enharmonic issue; it’s a keys issue. Though of course it applies to all the modes of all the flat keys too, so for example the relative minor (or Aeolian) of Db major is Bb minor, which also has 5 flats, not A# minor which would have 7 sharps. Similarly there’s no such thing as D# Dorian, F# Lydian or G# Mixolydian.

    It’s such a nice tool, and all it would need is for the 5 sharp notes all to be replaced with their flat equivalents for your C#, D#, G# and A# Ionians, and for F Ionian. You could leave them as they are for F# Ionian. Don’t know if it’s easy or even possible but it would make the tool perfect, that’s all. (And the F in F# Ionian ought really to be renamed as an E#, which you might not like and would add an additional level of programming complexity because it only applies to that one key). 

    By the way I completely agree that you can understand the major scale agnostically of key; in fact I made a compendium of all 7-note scales here: different colour scheme though!  

    http://www.guitaristtv.com/Downloads/Modes%202014_02_18%20-%20for%20GTV.xlsx
     


    Sorry, that was a typo. I meant F#major.

    You say it's not an enharmonic issue, that it's a key issue. I think I would say it's using a system/convention of using enharmonic names for the notes of keys, and that ultimately is done so that they can be easily written in standard notation. You can talk about the key of Bflat, for example, and use only sharps in just about every way other than standard notation and not encounter any issues.

    Setting Ionian to C# on this tool, it's perfectly intelligible what that scale is, what notes it uses, what note fits where in the order, etc. 

    I say all this, but it's not like I'm waging a jihad against the circle of fourths or anything. It's just that I think this tool is intelligible as it is. I accept what you're saying, that it is not describing the notes with respect to common practice in written music, but I feel it's effective for those who know that stuff and those who don't. And I think for those who don't, it may be a source of confusion.

    Creating it isn't too much of an issue for the website, at least I don't think it is. But the app, it would add a layer of complexity I can't work through yet, I'm afraid.

    That spreadsheet. Jeez, that's comprehensive, and a very cool resource. That would make a fantastic web library of some sort, especially with the bundled MIDI. I think I might just slightly prefer my colour scheme, though!


    By the way, I hope none of this comes across as aggro, or argumentative. I appreciate what you're saying, and taking the time to check this thing and feedback.

    100%, good discussion. And thanks for checking my scales - I’ve done them for octatonic, hexatonic and pentatonic too!

    I really agree with you about simplicity: everything, from the system of sharps and flats, and frameworks like the circle of fifths, and harmonic and melodic naming comventions, right to the design of the piano keyboard and even the development of western music itself through the centuries - every element of the system is coherent with all the others, and like you say, it’s all been steered to make things easy. But unless you’re using the whole system, or at least more than one element of it, I suppose some solutions can indeed come across as over-complicated. 

    So if you think it’s easier on balance to approach modes purely aurally and not worry about how many degrees away from Ionian Dorian is - at least initially - then ok. And what we’re talking about would affect pianists much more than rock guitarists anyway - a pianist would actually find it very hard to think in A# major, it would hurt the brain too much! But for those who don’t read music or who don’t need to use harmonic or melodic theory or discuss with classical musicians, I guess names don’t matter as much. 

    Cheers

    Hmm, I'd disagree and say that's not really what I'm doing, and that you can't divorce intervals from modes, at least not unless you want to regard them as unrelated happenstance. And the intervallic relationship between the modes is actually a central point of this tool, and what it was originally designed to convey. The only aspect of theory convention I've dispensed with here is the enharmonic note naming. Otherwise, this is entirely standard stuff.

    I also don't agree it'd hurt a pianist's brain to ditch thinking in terms of enharmonic naming conventions. I maintain the only real issue is with notation. Otherwise, it's no more intellectually taxing or complex to use all sharps or all flats, just different to classic/orthodox convention. I mean, Eflat major is no trickier to think of than Bflat major, despite having one more flat. Adding a few extra sharps or flats by extending the reach of either direction in the circle of fifths/fourths doesn't make it any trickier to understand. The only problem is notating it. 

    Would you mind sharing the other tools you made? Particularly interested in where you went with the penta- and hexatonic scales. There's a lot of ground to be covered there.
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  • Firstly, I think enharmonics add confusion to that subject that isn't really helpful. You can perfectly understand the intervalic nature of the major scale (and most of music theory) without coming up against enharmonic note naming. It's left until a later chapter (actually the following one, I think).

    Secondly, and more fundamentally, I don't really like the convention. I completely appreciate its function in standard notation, but elsewhere, I don't really see the point. Calling the F in C# major 'E#' seems basically ludicrous to me.
    I disagree. Spelling scales correctly is not an optional extra. There is no D# in either C melodic Minor or C Harmonic minor. In a diatonic scale you must have precisely one of each note present so if your scale root is F# you must call the leading note E#, otherwise you will have 2 Fs and no Es.
    "Working" software has only unobserved bugs.
    Parroty Error: Pieces of Nine! Pieces of Nine!
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  • LeeCassidyLeeCassidy Frets: 38
    edited February 12


    Firstly, I think enharmonics add confusion to that subject that isn't really helpful. You can perfectly understand the intervalic nature of the major scale (and most of music theory) without coming up against enharmonic note naming. It's left until a later chapter (actually the following one, I think).

    Secondly, and more fundamentally, I don't really like the convention. I completely appreciate its function in standard notation, but elsewhere, I don't really see the point. Calling the F in C# major 'E#' seems basically ludicrous to me.
    I disagree. Spelling scales correctly is not an optional extra. There is no D# in either C melodic Minor or C Harmonic minor. In a diatonic scale you must have precisely one of each note present so if your scale root is F# you must call the leading note E#, otherwise you will have 2 Fs and no Es.
    Well, purely intellectually speaking, it's entirely optional. The sonic/arual properties of each mode conveyed in this tool, the intervals displayed, the sequences, and basically everything else apart from the convention of spelling scales that way, is conveyed perfectly intelligibly.

    The tool works perfectly well on all other fronts. I would say from that standpoint, it is completely optional.

    You might have not seen, but I said earlier, I believe that convention's only purpose/benefit (to paraphrase you, of having 'precisely one of each note [letter name] present') is for standard notation. I can't see what other use it has. What's wrong with having an F and an F#, instead of E# and F# outside of standard notation? Nothing, as far as I can tell.

    Is it proper form for a classic approach? No, and I would never say it is. It's just I personally have never appreciated what I consider to be an unnecessary spillover from standard notation  I think people should know about it, and of course observe it in standard notation, and wherever else they feel they'd like to, for that matter. But I think it's a non-issue to not observe it where it serves no purpose other than to simply use convention. I'd go even further and say it makes more sense to not observe it, and keep things rationally 'purer', and simpler.
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  • Phil_aka_PipPhil_aka_Pip Frets: 7445
    edited February 12
     I'd go even further and say it makes more sense to not observe it, and keep things rationally 'purer', and simpler.
    Sorry mate, I couldn't disagree with you more. It's not more rational, neither is is purer or simpler.
    "Working" software has only unobserved bugs.
    Parroty Error: Pieces of Nine! Pieces of Nine!
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  • BradBrad Frets: 190
    I like the idea of this, and I understand your reasons for wanting to keep it as simple as possible but I think there needs to be the inclusion of flats, either on the wheel itself, or on a separate wheel perhaps?

    The reason I say that is because I think it's important to be consistent from a naming perspective. How do we spell a C7 chord? Of course it's 1 3 5 b7 whereas the wheel would suggest 1 3 5 #6 and I think that has a knock on effect for understanding chord/scale/arpeggio relationships. In C, any A is a type of 6th, regardless if A# sounds the same as Bb, it's still a type of 6th. So now is Mixolydian 1 2 3 4 5 6 b7 or is it 1 2 3 4 5 6 #6? Is this gonna cause further pain down the road?

    As I said, I like the concept so please don't think I'm doing it down.   
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  • vizviz Frets: 4463


    Firstly, I think enharmonics add confusion to that subject that isn't really helpful. You can perfectly understand the intervalic nature of the major scale (and most of music theory) without coming up against enharmonic note naming. It's left until a later chapter (actually the following one, I think).

    Secondly, and more fundamentally, I don't really like the convention. I completely appreciate its function in standard notation, but elsewhere, I don't really see the point. Calling the F in C# major 'E#' seems basically ludicrous to me.
    I disagree. Spelling scales correctly is not an optional extra. There is no D# in either C melodic Minor or C Harmonic minor. In a diatonic scale you must have precisely one of each note present so if your scale root is F# you must call the leading note E#, otherwise you will have 2 Fs and no Es.
    (I always think E7#9 is a horrible name for the Hendrix chord - surely it’s really a b10? I know extensions are supposed to be odd numbers but that top note is a minor 3rd not some sort of augmented 2nd)
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  • @viz why do you say that? E9 is a commonly used chord and augmenting an interval within a chord is a commonly used technique for adding 'spice', so why not E7#9?

    @LeeCassidy since posting that last thing I've begun to muse on how one would go about writing code to generate the correctly-named notes given the required intervals. I could do it using a data-driven technique but if I did, I don't think it would help anyone who read it to understand the thought processes involved. It occurred to me that I get the required result by a method I've not thought about sufficiently to code it, yet it must be there in my brain because I've been taught music theory. If I can think of soething suitable I'll let you know, if you want it.
    "Working" software has only unobserved bugs.
    Parroty Error: Pieces of Nine! Pieces of Nine!
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  • BradBrad Frets: 190
    viz said:


    Firstly, I think enharmonics add confusion to that subject that isn't really helpful. You can perfectly understand the intervalic nature of the major scale (and most of music theory) without coming up against enharmonic note naming. It's left until a later chapter (actually the following one, I think).

    Secondly, and more fundamentally, I don't really like the convention. I completely appreciate its function in standard notation, but elsewhere, I don't really see the point. Calling the F in C# major 'E#' seems basically ludicrous to me.
    I disagree. Spelling scales correctly is not an optional extra. There is no D# in either C melodic Minor or C Harmonic minor. In a diatonic scale you must have precisely one of each note present so if your scale root is F# you must call the leading note E#, otherwise you will have 2 Fs and no Es.
    (I always think E7#9 is a horrible name for the Hendrix chord - surely it’s really a b10? I know extensions are supposed to be odd numbers but that top note is a minor 3rd not some sort of augmented 2nd)
    Hmmm that's a good question. I'd argue that it's because a 3rd is already in the chord (and very importantly along with the 7th) and it's the 9th that is being added to a dominant chord and altered, rather than another a 3rd (or 10th). Otherwise we could also call it E7b3 in that case, which I think would be even worse! wink  

    What about a chord where the 9th isn't already a # in say, G9 - is that a problem here? There is no double sharp with the raised 9th in this case so is viewing it as a #9 ok in this instance? 

    I get where where you're coming from though, there are problems with it and it doesn't always follow logic. There just came a point where I just had to accept any idiosyncrasies for an easy life. The G Altered Scale is a G major with all the notes flattened, but I always view Cb as a B natural and think of it as a 3rd against G7Alt rather than a b4, so it's not something I'm particularly precious or evangelical about.

     That being said, dealing with altered chords/scales and the resulting anomalies only made sense from having a solid grounding in the basic foundations of theory. I'm all for streamlining learning, but only using #'s is only dealing with half the information in my opinion.
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  •  I'd go even further and say it makes more sense to not observe it, and keep things rationally 'purer', and simpler.
    Sorry mate, I couldn't disagree with you more. It's not more rational, neither is is purer or simpler.

    No need to apologise. But I can't see how it can be disputed that my method is simpler. The difference is the extra step of observing the enharmonic note naming convention. If it's an extra step in the process, I fail to see how it can't be considered more complex. Rationally purer is a little more subjective I guess, but I see keeping the note names constant as 'purer', from an analytical point of view.

    Something of a horses for courses bit, this, I guess.

    Brad said:
    I like the idea of this, and I understand your reasons for wanting to keep it as simple as possible but I think there needs to be the inclusion of flats, either on the wheel itself, or on a separate wheel perhaps?

    The reason I say that is because I think it's important to be consistent from a naming perspective. How do we spell a C7 chord? Of course it's 1 3 5 b7 whereas the wheel would suggest 1 3 5 #6 and I think that has a knock on effect for understanding chord/scale/arpeggio relationships. In C, any A is a type of 6th, regardless if A# sounds the same as Bb, it's still a type of 6th. So now is Mixolydian 1 2 3 4 5 6 b7 or is it 1 2 3 4 5 6 #6? Is this gonna cause further pain down the road?

    As I said, I like the concept so please don't think I'm doing it down.   
    I'm not sure I understand. In the Ionian mode, the 7th is a major 7th, or one half step from the 8th. If you want to create a dominant 7 chord, you would simply take the 1st, 3rd, 5th, and 7th notes of the Ionian mode, and flatten the 7th. I'm unsure why you'd confuse it with the 6th.

    If you raised the 6th to the equivalent of a flattened 7th, surely the fact that you still have a 7th step after the 6th would let you know you'd made a mistake, no?

    Also, how would one go about having a heptatonic scale with a two 6th steps? 
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  • @viz why do you say that? E9 is a commonly used chord and augmenting an interval within a chord is a commonly used technique for adding 'spice', so why not E7#9?

    @LeeCassidy since posting that last thing I've begun to muse on how one would go about writing code to generate the correctly-named notes given the required intervals. I could do it using a data-driven technique but if I did, I don't think it would help anyone who read it to understand the thought processes involved. It occurred to me that I get the required result by a method I've not thought about sufficiently to code it, yet it must be there in my brain because I've been taught music theory. If I can think of soething suitable I'll let you know, if you want it.
    I know how to do it in JS, it's Java I've got to improve on. But I've no interest in doing it, for all the reasons I've already given. You are free to make your own version, of course. The JS is available on github if you'd like it.
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  • @LeeCassidy just a quick one on your previous point, I think that "adding enharmonic equivalence" isn't an extra stage one adds to the process. You clearly think it is, hence your assertion that to omit that final stage makes the process simpler. I don't see it that way. If anything, I count inclusively the note names to get the name of the required note, then modify the result with sharps or flats depending on whether the the first note was sharp/flat and any qualification of the required interval. EG (1) A minor 3rd from C# would have to be an E of some kind, knowing that C-E is a major 3rd and that starting from C# subtracts a semitone thus making the interval a minor 3rd, I can leave my E unmodified. EG (2) suppose I need a minor 6th from Eb: the target note is therefore a C, but Eb-C is a major 6th, so I need to flatten my C to make it a minor 6th. I can't spell it as B because that would be an augmented 5th. Coding that in procedural logic is not so easy.
    "Working" software has only unobserved bugs.
    Parroty Error: Pieces of Nine! Pieces of Nine!
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  • BradBrad Frets: 190
    edited February 13

    Brad said:
    I like the idea of this, and I understand your reasons for wanting to keep it as simple as possible but I think there needs to be the inclusion of flats, either on the wheel itself, or on a separate wheel perhaps?

    The reason I say that is because I think it's important to be consistent from a naming perspective. How do we spell a C7 chord? Of course it's 1 3 5 b7 whereas the wheel would suggest 1 3 5 #6 and I think that has a knock on effect for understanding chord/scale/arpeggio relationships. In C, any A is a type of 6th, regardless if A# sounds the same as Bb, it's still a type of 6th. So now is Mixolydian 1 2 3 4 5 6 b7 or is it 1 2 3 4 5 6 #6? Is this gonna cause further pain down the road?

    As I said, I like the concept so please don't think I'm doing it down.   
    I'm not sure I understand. In the Ionian mode, the 7th is a major 7th, or one half step from the 8th. If you want to create a dominant 7 chord, you would simply take the 1st, 3rd, 5th, and 7th notes of the Ionian mode, and flatten the 7th. I'm unsure why you'd confuse it with the 6th.

    If you raised the 6th to the equivalent of a flattened 7th, surely the fact that you still have a 7th step after the 6th would let you know you'd made a mistake, no?

    Also, how would one go about having a heptatonic scale with a two 6th steps? 
    It's there on the wheel, make C Mixolydian with it and it results in C D E F G A A#. I'm not confusing a 7th with a 6th, I'm saying the wheel suggests that it does.

    How can you explain to someone that C7 is C E G Bb, that it's constructed in the way you describe (1 3 5 7 of Ionian but with a flattened 7th) and the mode used is a major scale with a b7 (heavy emphasis on Bb here), but then get them to look at the wheel for Mixolydian and the result is C D E F G A A#? I'm saying the wheel itself is something that could lead to the sort of confusion you're trying to avoid. Bb is b7 of C, end of story, not A# because Ab, A and A# are a type of 6th. 
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  • Brad said:
    LeeCassidy said:

    Brad said:
    I like the idea of this, and I understand your reasons for wanting to keep it as simple as possible but I think there needs to be the inclusion of flats, either on the wheel itself, or on a separate wheel perhaps?

    The reason I say that is because I think it's important to be consistent from a naming perspective. How do we spell a C7 chord? Of course it's 1 3 5 b7 whereas the wheel would suggest 1 3 5 #6 and I think that has a knock on effect for understanding chord/scale/arpeggio relationships. In C, any A is a type of 6th, regardless if A# sounds the same as Bb, it's still a type of 6th. So now is Mixolydian 1 2 3 4 5 6 b7 or is it 1 2 3 4 5 6 #6? Is this gonna cause further pain down the road?

    As I said, I like the concept so please don't think I'm doing it down.   
    I'm not sure I understand. In the Ionian mode, the 7th is a major 7th, or one half step from the 8th. If you want to create a dominant 7 chord, you would simply take the 1st, 3rd, 5th, and 7th notes of the Ionian mode, and flatten the 7th. I'm unsure why you'd confuse it with the 6th.

    If you raised the 6th to the equivalent of a flattened 7th, surely the fact that you still have a 7th step after the 6th would let you know you'd made a mistake, no?

    Also, how would one go about having a heptatonic scale with a two 6th steps? 
    It's there on the wheel, make C Mixolydian with it and it results in C D E F G A A#. I'm not confusing a 7th with a 6th, I'm saying the wheel suggests that it does. 

    How can you explain to someone that C7 is C E G Bb, that it's constructed in the way you describe (1 3 5 7 of Ionian but with a flattened 7th) and the mode used is a major scale with a b7 (heavy emphasis on Bb here), but then get them to look at the wheel for Mixolydian and the result is C D E F G A A#? I'm saying the wheel itself is something that could lead to the sort of confusion you're trying to avoid. Bb is b7 of C, end of story, not A# because Ab, A and A# are a type of 6th. 
    God, the quoting here can be a bit of a pain in the arse!

    C D E F G A A#. I'm still unsure how you think somebody can confuse the sixth and seventh steps here. Quite plainly, there are seven steps. So long as you can count, I don't see the issue.

    In the case of C7, how would I explain that the 7th is a whole step from the 8th? As best I can tell, what you describe is only an issue if you expect enharmonic naming. Who's to say I would spell the chord with a Bflat? I've stated what I think of this convention, and I would likely spell it as A#. And again, I maintain no information is lost, beyond the enharmonic naming convention who's only purpose is to make writing standard notation easier.

    Nobody should be looking at this tool, set to Mixolydian, to work out chords. They of course can, but I would not suggest it. They should, like everything else I can think of, be basing their chord spellings around the Ionian mode and the Aeolian mode. To get a dominant 7 chord, they should take the 1st, 3rd, 5th, and 7th notes in the appropriate key, and then lower the 7th by one semitone. Whether they call that lowered 7th a Bflat or an A# is neither here nor there for the chord's construction, function, or sound, and I maintain nor for an understanding of it.

    A, Aflat, and A# are not 'a type of 6th', unless you're deadset on using enharmonic naming conventions. There's nothing special about those notes outside of that convention that makes them reserved for the 6th in the key of C.
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  • @LeeCassidy just a quick one on your previous point, I think that "adding enharmonic equivalence" isn't an extra stage one adds to the process. You clearly think it is, hence your assertion that to omit that final stage makes the process simpler. I don't see it that way. If anything, I count inclusively the note names to get the name of the required note, then modify the result with sharps or flats depending on whether the the first note was sharp/flat and any qualification of the required interval. EG (1) A minor 3rd from C# would have to be an E of some kind, knowing that C-E is a major 3rd and that starting from C# subtracts a semitone thus making the interval a minor 3rd, I can leave my E unmodified. EG (2) suppose I need a minor 6th from Eb: the target note is therefore a C, but Eb-C is a major 6th, so I need to flatten my C to make it a minor 6th. I can't spell it as B because that would be an augmented 5th. Coding that in procedural logic is not so easy.
    There are only a finite number of circumstances where enharmonic equivalent names are needed, identifiable by the polar coordinates of the 0 point of the mode names image. In JS, I'd likely just set up a switch statement to handle those. That's how I'd initially approach it off the top of my bonce, anyway.
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  • vizviz Frets: 4463
    edited February 13
    Brad said:
    viz said:
    (I always think E7#9 is a horrible name for the Hendrix chord - surely it’s really a b10? I know extensions are supposed to be odd numbers but that top note is a minor 3rd not some sort of augmented 2nd)
    Hmmm that's a good question. I'd argue that it's because a 3rd is already in the chord (and very importantly along with the 7th) and it's the 9th that is being added to a dominant chord and altered, rather than another a 3rd (or 10th). Otherwise we could also call it E7b3 in that case, which I think would be even worse! wink  

    What about a chord where the 9th isn't already a # in say, G9 - is that a problem here? There is no double sharp with the raised 9th in this case so is viewing it as a #9 ok in this instance? 

    I get where where you're coming from though, there are problems with it and it doesn't always follow logic. There just came a point where I just had to accept any idiosyncrasies for an easy life. The G Altered Scale is a G major with all the notes flattened, but I always view Cb as a B natural and think of it as a 3rd against G7Alt rather than a b4, so it's not something I'm particularly precious or evangelical about.

     That being said, dealing with altered chords/scales and the resulting anomalies only made sense from having a solid grounding in the basic foundations of theory. I'm all for streamlining learning, but only using #'s is only dealing with half the information in my opinion.
    @viz why do you say that? E9 is a commonly used chord and augmenting an interval within a chord is a commonly used technique for adding 'spice', so why not E7#9?

    Basically because the whole point of that chord is the juxtaposition between the major 3rd and - an octave above - the minor third. That’s what gives it its sound, that’s why it defines bluesy rock. Is it a major chord? Is it a minor chord? Answer: it’s both - it’s blues. It completely doesn’t make sense to think of it as an augmented 2nd. Before I knew the name of that chord I used to call it the major/minor 3rd chord  I know it sort-of doesn’t matter, but to me it just seems to be the wrong spelling. It’s like saying “you’re” instead of “your”. 

    And maybe that summarises my comment with modewheel. Spelling conveys meaning, and I just can’t help feeling that 7ths “should” be 7 letters up from the tonic. 

    @Phil_aka_Pip, in terms of programming, what would be needed is three backgrounds; one with 5 sharps, one with 5 flats, and one with 6 sharps including an E#. The position of the wheel causes the backrounds to flick from one to the other:

    For the 7 natural Ionians, it’s the background with sharps. 

    For the accidental Ionians, it’s the background with flats, except ...

    For F# Ionian, it’s the background with sharps, including E#. 

    Obviously for many of the positions, not every one of the above accidentals would be visible, but it’s probably easier to limit to three backgrounds than to have 12 unique combinations.

    Anyway, whatever, it’s still a very elegant tool. 
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  • Lee, any solution I could give you would be coded in either some kind of pseudocode, or in C. The latter would be definitive of the method, as you could compile it and see it run. I don't know whether either notation would be any good to you. Interesting problem, though.

    I'd still urge you to find a solution for it. As it is, the results are "wrong" to those of us who have been taught theory, and do no favours to those who haven't because it lets them think wrongly.

    Once upon a time I had the idea of a kind of slide rule (a physical one, made with strips of card), which I guess is your idea put into a straight line. You would have note names on one strip (with all their enharmonic equivalents) and intervals on another strip. You'd slide the intervals strip along the notes strip until the root is next to the note you want, then read off the target note for your desierd interval. Thing is, you'd still have to use your human intuition to select the right names for the notes indicated, and being able to codify how you would do that in a language precise enough to be executable by a machine is something I haven't solved yet.
    "Working" software has only unobserved bugs.
    Parroty Error: Pieces of Nine! Pieces of Nine!
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  • Lee, any solution I could give you would be coded in either some kind of pseudocode, or in C. The latter would be definitive of the method, as you could compile it and see it run. I don't know whether either notation would be any good to you. Interesting problem, though.

    I'd still urge you to find a solution for it. As it is, the results are "wrong" to those of us who have been taught theory, and do no favours to those who haven't because it lets them think wrongly.

    Once upon a time I had the idea of a kind of slide rule (a physical one, made with strips of card), which I guess is your idea put into a straight line. You would have note names on one strip (with all their enharmonic equivalents) and intervals on another strip. You'd slide the intervals strip along the notes strip until the root is next to the note you want, then read off the target note for your desierd interval. Thing is, you'd still have to use your human intuition to select the right names for the notes indicated, and being able to codify how you would do that in a language precise enough to be executable by a machine is something I haven't solved yet.
    That slide rule thing is basically exactly what I was originally thinking of, yeah. I initially imagined the card with the holes in it being like those old punch cards used for programming old mainframes haha.

    By the way, I did a music degree, so I'm also from the classic school. I didn't consider this stuff until many years afterwards. I wish I'd thought of it there. I reckon I'd have been fired from a canon!
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  • vizviz Frets: 4463
    edited February 13
    Lee, any solution I could give you would be coded in either some kind of pseudocode, or in C. The latter would be definitive of the method, as you could compile it and see it run. I don't know whether either notation would be any good to you. Interesting problem, though.

    I'd still urge you to find a solution for it. As it is, the results are "wrong" to those of us who have been taught theory, and do no favours to those who haven't because it lets them think wrongly.

    Once upon a time I had the idea of a kind of slide rule (a physical one, made with strips of card), which I guess is your idea put into a straight line. You would have note names on one strip (with all their enharmonic equivalents) and intervals on another strip. You'd slide the intervals strip along the notes strip until the root is next to the note you want, then read off the target note for your desierd interval. Thing is, you'd still have to use your human intuition to select the right names for the notes indicated, and being able to codify how you would do that in a language precise enough to be executable by a machine is something I haven't solved yet.
    It’s quite simple, conceptually at least, by polar coords like Lee said. If the top of the Ionian arc is, say (0,1), then when it’s at 30 degrees, ie for C# major, you need to flip the background to the flats background, so when 0.35<x<0.65 and 0.35<y<0.65, you show background number 2. Etc. 
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  • BradBrad Frets: 190

    God, the quoting here can be a bit of a pain in the arse!

    C D E F G A A#. I'm still unsure how you think somebody can confuse the sixth and seventh steps here. Quite plainly, there are seven steps. So long as you can count, I don't see the issue.

    In the case of C7, how would I explain that the 7th is a whole step from the 8th? As best I can tell, what you describe is only an issue if you expect enharmonic naming. Who's to say I would spell the chord with a Bflat? I've stated what I think of this convention, and I would likely spell it as A#. And again, I maintain no information is lost, beyond the enharmonic naming convention who's only purpose is to make writing standard notation easier.

    Nobody should be looking at this tool, set to Mixolydian, to work out chords. They of course can, but I would not suggest it. They should, like everything else I can think of, be basing their chord spellings around the Ionian mode and the Aeolian mode. To get a dominant 7 chord, they should take the 1st, 3rd, 5th, and 7th notes in the appropriate key, and then lower the 7th by one semitone. Whether they call that lowered 7th a Bflat or an A# is neither here nor there for the chord's construction, function, or sound, and I maintain nor for an understanding of it.

    A, Aflat, and A# are not 'a type of 6th', unless you're deadset on using enharmonic naming conventions. There's nothing special about those notes outside of that convention that makes them reserved for the 6th in the key of C.
    Because Bb is the b7 of C not A#, irrespective of whether they sound the same or if it is still a seventh step.

    It not about making standard notation easier to write, it's about communicating a shared common language and understanding. If someone were to ask me to play a C chord, there is an expectation (or there should be) that I'd play a C major chord. In the same way if dealing with C7 there is an unspoken understanding that it involves Bb not A#. If someone were to use/say A#, well of course I'd get where they were coming from, adapt and the sound would still be correct. But there has never been anything I've ever read/discussed with people where A# has anything to do with C Mixolydian. It's either a C Major scale with a b7 or mode 5 of F major.

    Chords, scales and modes are inextricably linked so people should be able to work out chords with this tool. What happens when someone wants C Phrygian, they find out it is mode 3 of Ab major and can be used over a C-7 chord which consists of the notes C Eb G Bb? They apply the tool and come out with C C# D# F G G# A#? I agree it doesn't alter the sound (that's not my point) but is that not going to cause more confusion than the time honoured conventions you seem to be against? You can view it this way because you already have a solid grounding in music theory, but what about people that don't already have that? Unless your plan is to get people to only look at music theory from the perspective of sharps? What happens if someone then opens up a Real Book?

    It's like saying I'm going to refuse to use a silent 'K' when spelling because I might get confused between knight and night, or because the 'K' is not sounded when saying the words knock, knee and knowledge. True, it doesn't really make any sense as a rule and nor does it change the sound or meaning of these words when speaking, but there are other implications than just for the written word.

    A, Ab and A# are not a type of anything by themselves, they only take on life in relation to other notes and placed in context and in my opinion the context has to be correct as much as it can be from a learning perspective.  

    @viz I disagree that it's both major and minor (although I do get why you see it that way), it's an altered dominant that can be used as either functioning to create tension moving to the I chord, or non-functioning for a vamp.

    Play G9 where the 9th is the top voice like this x-10-9-10-10-x
     lowering it by semitone gives us G7b9. Conversely raising it by a semitone gives us a #9. We're altering the 9th in any case, regardless of the fact the #9 happens to be the same as a b10. I agree it doesn't make sense to think of it as an augmented 2nd either because it isn't, it's a type of 9th because it's above a 7th.

    Anyways I'll bow out now as it seems we're just going round in circles. Like i said, I like the concept and i think it has potential. Good luck with it!   
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  • vizviz Frets: 4463
    edited February 16

    Brad said:


    @viz I disagree that it's both major and minor (although I do get why you see it that way), it's an altered dominant that can be used as either functioning to create tension moving to the I chord, or non-functioning for a vamp.

    Play G9 where the 9th is the top voice like this x-10-9-10-10-x lowering it by semitone gives us G7b9. Conversely raising it by a semitone gives us a #9. We're altering the 9th in any case, regardless of the fact the #9 happens to be the same as a b10. I agree it doesn't make sense to think of it as an augmented 2nd either because it isn't, it's a type of 9th because it's above a 7th.


    @Brad - Cheers and very interesting points. You’ve given me a lot to consider, which I highly appreciate. 

    I confess I was referring to its use as a tonic like in Purple Haze - x7678x; I hadn’t considered it in a V position. As a tonic chord, that top note just sounds like a minor 3rd (actually minor 10th) to me, and to be an altered (raised) 9th it would have to sound like an augmented 2nd because the 9th is above the 8th too. I know what you’re saying about 9 chords, but hearing it as a form of 9th doesn’t make musical sense to me, my brain can’t actually do it. It’s not that I see it that way, it’s that I hear it that way.

    I think the convention of using odd numbers in chord naming is a good way of being able to describe all the notes by the time you get to 13. Given that the fundamental part of the chord is typically the triad, so the 1, 3 and 5 are already described, and the 7 is so important, the system logically extends until it reaches 13. But the convention does need some inherent flexibility, because odd numbers don’t necessarily always give the aural sense of the note, hence why you have to have (and are allowed to have) ways of describing 2 4 and 6 without having to say bb3, aug3, aug5 or dim7 or whatever all the time. Above the octave, if you need to refer to a major or minor 3rd (or 10th) you don’t have to say dim11 or #9. So you can say b10, if that’s what it is, just like you can say b3. I think so anyway. Maybe I should say “E7 add b10” or”E7 add m10”. 

    The more interesting point is when the chord is used as an altered chord in dominant position, and thanks for raising that. I normally play the version that avoids the minor 3rd - 12 (11) 12 13 13 x as an altered dominant and hadn’t considered what it means for the Hendrix chord. I have to say that, to my ear anyway, it’s still a minor 3rd (or minor 10th). Again the ear is the most important thing, but I think the theory backs it up. Take x7678x resolving to A major for example. That has a G at the top. It’s an altered chord - actually it’s taken from the altered scale, ie. 1 b2 b3 b4 b5 b6 b7 8. So when you hear the G, it’s not an F## altered up from an F#; the altered scale doesn’t even have an F#, in fact there’s nothing sharp about the altered scale! It’s a G, altered down from the G#. If you listen to the interval from the note below in the chord, the 7th (the D), if the G were a #9, it’d have to be an augmented 3rd from b7 to #2 (D, E, F##); I’m saying it’s a 4th from b7 to b3. When I listen to it and sing the notes I hear b7, 1, b2, b3. In fact I think I’m making the very point you made about the b7 in mixolydian.

    All that begs the question about the major 3rd at the bottom of the chord - by my argument that’d actually have to be a diminished 4th, which would be ok-ish but doesn’t make much sense either. But my get-out clause here would be to say that it’s still a major 3rd, because I hear the bottom of the chord as being part of E7, and the top half having a dash of E super locrian superimposed on top. You can check that by swapping the major and minor 3rds round - x7579x - it sounds ludicrous. It’s far better to have a normal E7 as the first three notes, with a minor 3rd on top. (Or you could say it’s all based on the half-whole scale, which is octatonic and has room for a major and a minor 3rd anyway). By the way, I’d name x7975x as Em7addM10 or something; I think you’d call it Em7dim11. Either way it looks as horrid as it sounds!

    Anyway, what I want to say is that primarily it’s the musical sound that shouts minor 10th to me, and the notation conventions are flexible enough to spell it how it really sounds, so to me it’s always going to be an E7b10. That’s the beauty of theory - if you hear an altered 9th, you can call it an E7#9 and that’s all good.  

    Fascinating, and thanks!
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