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When noting chords, is it proper to note the root as R or I?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Dragzole, Jun 5, 2014.

  1. Just don't know, any response appreciated!
  2. Bainbridge


    Oct 28, 2012
    "R" is alright. "I" refers to a tonal function, specifically the tonic chord. If you're using numerals at all for the root of a chord, use Arabic: 1 3 5
  3. Thank you!
  4. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    Generally you would not use Roman numerals to describe an individual pitch.
    the by-no-means-official convention is:
    Chords are Roman numerals I ii iii Iv V vi vii(dim)
    upper case indicate major chords, lower case minor​
    Chord tones or scale tones are Arabic numbers 1 3 5 7 ect
    although R 3 5 7 is just as clear.

    these are not 'official' rules, many go their whole musical lives doing it differently, some may even insist this is 'wrong', but it's handy for avoiding confusion.
    Blueszilla likes this.
  5. lyla1953


    Jul 18, 2012
    So let me ask a question if I may...

    Given this statement above =
    "Chords are Roman numerals I ii iii Iv V vi vii(dim)
    upper case indicate major chords, lower case minor"

    In general terms:
    While learning about chromatic intervals (major) the formula states that the root is a perfect unison and each note/tone of the major diatonic scale is either a major or a perfect 4th/perfect 5th or perfect octave and each half step + or - from the scale notes is a minor note, diminished note or augmented note depending. Soooooo using the C chromatic and major scales as an example. The 3rd scale degree of the Cmaj scale or E is described a a major 3rd.

    However, Using the chord answer this same E note is described as a iii or minor chord.

    Making the huge assumption that I have all this generally understood - why is one a minor 3rd and the other a major 3rd yet the same note is represented?

    Is it as simple as; when discussing chords the E is described as minor 3rd chord
    and when talking intervals its a major 3rd note?
  6. jd-ns


    Sep 28, 2010
    In your example (key of C major):
    --The distance to the third scale degree (E) is a major 3rd interval from the root (C).
    --If you want to create a chord starting from this third scale degree (E) in the key of C your notes are E G B D which is a minor 7th chord. (*or E G B D F which is m7b9)
  7. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    jd-ns has it right. One is intervals, the other is a chord. different things.

    In C major
    • the interval of C to E is a major 3rd.
      • The "major 3rd" in this case says : the interval between these notes is major
    • the chord whose root note is on E is a iii minor chord.
      • The "minor 3rd" in this case case says "this chord is minor"
    Spoken English "Minor 3rd" is ambiguous. Is it an interval? is it a chord?
    This confusion is exactly why it is clearer to use Roman numerals for chords and Arabic numerals for intervals.
  8. Clef_de_fa

    Clef_de_fa Guest

    Dec 25, 2011
    this is really clear when you understand some basic music theory ... even in French ... it is just obvious to me that the interval is major but the chord you can create on top of it is minor.

    Also these rules feel very official to me. It seems to be offical way to write thing in classical world.
  9. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    As it is in every music text I have seen.

    and yet some object to this notation being presented as an 'official rule'
    and claim to have never seen it in their long studio careers.
    I'm sure this is the case for some.

    So I stress the advantage of clarity , rather than insiting "this is the correct way"
    Bainbridge and DiabolusInMusic like this.
  10. DiabolusInMusic

    DiabolusInMusic Functionless Art is Merely Tolerated Vandalism Supporting Member

    +1. I stress to my students that we learn music theory. Music science doesn't exist. There is no correct way and you can use theory to explain literally any path you might end up taking.

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