Tip #120 – Writing and Building Polychords

Polychords are when multiple chords (particularly triads) are played at the same time. They are used to expend the harmony and offer an interesting blend of acoustic colors.

While there is no limit to the combined chord qualities of the number of chords used to build a polychord, typically people make polychords just out of two triads.

Below is a representation of a poly chord with the proper notation (similar to a fraction sign):

Notice how this polychord above can also be written as a Bb13 chord with no 7th.

That being said, some polychords can ultimately be jazz chords (and this term is used lightly, as no chord belongs exclusively to a genre of music) with upper extensions. So, that is up to you, the composer, to play around with triadic combinations.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read! Feel free to comment, share, and subscribe for more daily tips below! Till next time.

Author: Bryan M. Waring

Bryan Waring is a graduate of USM's School of Music with a B.M. in Performance – Composition and is now attending Belmont University for a M.M. in Commercial Media – Composition & Arranging. During his time at USM, he studied violin with Dino Liva and composition with Dr. Daniel Sonenberg, as well as has premiered several pieces during the semiannual Composer's Ensemble concert series. In 2017, Bryan was a writer for the original musical theater work of "Molded By The Flow," directed by Paul Dresher and Rinde Eckert. Outside of school, Bryan has been involved with writing music for videogame developers at Portland's CI2 Lab, collaborating with the King Tide Party, and studying with Larry Groupé (Straw Dogs) in San Diego. Now living in Nashville. Along with composing, Bryan teaches music to children, receiving the Master Teacher Award for his work at ESF Camps; and does audio engineering for live ensembles. Besides talents in music, Bryan is a team-player in any competitive work environment; equipped with skills in leadership, organization, mathematics, creativity, communication, and managing. On the side, Bryan has worked as a model for several skilled artists in the New England area. Among his other accomplishments include obtaining the rank of Eagle Scout in April 2013 with a project of building a side parking area with guide rails for Webb Mountain Park in Monroe, CT.

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