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This question asks how the term "chord" is defined. Bich Pham posted this answer:

A chord is pretty much any combination of the notes that sound pleasing to the ear. If you are playing around with chords, just take the root, the third, or the 5th and substitute it with any other note in that scale and see what it sounds like. Ask yourself what does it feel like when you hear each one of those combinations. With enough ear training and practice, you should be able to play any combination of notes and make them sounds good. If you end up with a weird sounding chord, see if you can change a note or 2 and make it not weird again.

You can use combinations/permutations in statistic to analyze it but I would not spend too much time on it. I would not try to make any mathematical formula for them either. The key is to play around with different combinations as much as possible until you get the sound and the expression that you want.

Another user expressed disagreement with the first sentence, commenting that "a chord does not have to be pleasing to the ear." Accordingly, the user edited the first sentence to remove the contentious part:

A chord is pretty much any combination of the notes that sound pleasing to the ear.

It seems like the rest of the post reiterates the author's original idea that a chord must be pleasing:

  • "see what it sounds like"
  • "ask yourself what does it feel like"
  • "you should be able to ... make them sound[] good"
  • "change a note or 2 and make it not weird"
  • "get the sound ... you want"

Bich seems to be proposing a definition wherein a chord must sound good. At least, this was the original phrasing, and the following statements seem to reiterate and support that idea.

I disagree with the content of Bich's answer, and because of that disagreement, I think the edit actually improves the post. But whether I agree with Bich's content shouldn't be the basis of an edit, as I understand it. My understanding is that edits shouldn't depart from the original intent and shouldn't make changes to the content of the answer. I don't think Bich's original statement was unclear--he seems to be saying something very specific (albeit wrong, in my opinion). Redacting it seems to change the meaning by deleting the controversial part.

On the other hand, the original user (Bich, in this case) always has the ability to roll back an edit. Moreover, the definition seems so blatantly wrong that a charitable reading might suggest Bich didn't truly mean what he actually wrote. Are these reasons to make edits to correct very obvious errors in content? Is the edit appropriate in this case? I can see that removing glaring errors might improve the site, and I understand the desire to give a charitable reading--it's an important part of academia. I have refrained from making such edits to correct glaring errors. But if the original user can always roll back the edit, maybe these corrections are okay if they are aligned with a charitable reading? Or is it wrong under any circumstances to change the content, even if the original author may not mean what they say?

EDIT:

On further thought, the statement "With enough ear training and practice, you should be able to play any combination of notes and make them sounds good" seems very important, and I overlooked this initially. In stating this, the user expresses the idea that any combination of notes will sound good to a trained ear. So when Bich defines a chord as "any combination of notes," the addendum "that sound good" is auxiliary because any combination of notes will sound good to a trained ear. Adding or removing "that sound good" doesn't change the meaning because it's implied throughout. Moreover, this isn't a fundamental distinction for Bich because any combination of notes should sound good with practice and training. The edit improves the post by removing a distraction which we can reasonably infer isn't fundamental to Bich's meaning.

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Removing words that have meaning shouldn't be done lightly, but IMO it could be justified as a clarification if it seems that the removed words are a distraction from the overall meaning of a post.

You've reasonably pointed out some places where it might seem that the author is suggesting that being 'pleasing' is an important distinction, but perhaps there is evidence the other way too : "With enough ear training and practice, you should be able to play any combination of notes and make them sounds good" could suggest that being 'pleasing' or 'not pleasing' isn't a fundamental distinction, but a question of what is wanted at a particular time. This might be reinforced by the idea that one can "play around with different combinations as much as possible until you get the sound and the expression that you want".

So in general terms I understand your concern, but I also think helping new users make their posts more upvote-worthy is an honourable thing. In this particular case I guess it hinges on how important those words to the OP, and we may not know until he comes back to us...

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  • @jdjazz people will have different opinions on how differently new users should be treated - sometimes attempts to be too welcoming can make the place seem even madder than it is! I think it's always something to bear in mind though, especially when the person seems like they can at least write coherently and might be a useful future contributor. – topo Reinstate Monica Nov 19 '17 at 14:59
  • This is very helpful, and I think it hits the nail on the head. I had overlooked the importance of the statement about making any combination of notes sound good. With more thought, it seems like this statement is very close to the user expressing the edited idea that a chord is any combination of notes. Adding or removing "that sound good" is auxiliary because any combination of notes will sound good to a trained ear. The statement is not a fundamental distinction, and it could lead other readers to miss the point of Bich's post. – jdjazz Nov 19 '17 at 15:04
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    haha, as you were replying, I was deleting my post so I could remove that part of my comment. I misinterpreted you initially--I don't think you're suggesting that new users should be treated in any dramatically different way. Your point seems to be a very reasonable one: in a borderline case where the edit leans toward being appropriate, helping a new user is a good thing to do. But the edit still must stand up on its own as a valid edit, separate from how new the user is. Thanks for taking the time and thought to explain this to me. – jdjazz Nov 19 '17 at 15:09
  • @jdjazz thanks but all only my opinions - and I tend to be in a minority of one on this site! – topo Reinstate Monica Nov 19 '17 at 15:27
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Even if the edit is sustainable, as you concluded in Edit , IMO one should refrain from editing substantial, relevant content in an answer. Leave a comment and perhaps a down-vote, and let the OP decide if they want to modify their answer.

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    Thanks for the reply. I think the difference is (1) whether or not there any change to substance and (2) whether the original author would agree with the edited form. My conclusion here is that there was no change whatsoever to substance and that the original author would agree with the edited form. I think those two criteria weren't met in the earlier case you reference. – jdjazz Nov 19 '17 at 23:56

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