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Here is the post in question: Chord has every note of the harmonic minor scale. Name?

Transcript of events that have occured:

Maika Sakuranomiya: What is the name of the first chord in these bars? I see an extremely strange type of chord in the first bar of the attachment below. This is the beginning of the fourth movement of Beethoven's 9th Symphony. It has all of the notes of the D harmonic minor scale: D-E-F-G-A-B♭-C♯-D, with F as the bass. What is the name of this chord? Is it an III+13 in D minor, which is Fmaj13♯5?

User45266: (Changes title from What is the name of the first chord in these bars? to Chord has every note of the harmonic minor scale. Name?) Imagine users reading the former title of this question on, say, the Hot Network Questions list. Nobody would understand what the question was about (even our own users)! That's why I tried to make the title more specific. It draws more interest, and doesn't force people to click it to understand what the question is asking, which I try to avoid on this site unless there's a good reason.

Maika Sakuranomiya: Good point, User45266. I actually have kinda expected this question would end up in the Hot Network Questions List. But somehow it didn't for some reason. And it is closed as "off-topic."

User45266's edit seemed awesome because his / her edit looked like if my answer was going to end up as a Hot Network Question. However, it did not. Instead, my question received a downvote, and it was closed as "off topic":

"Questions about transcribing or finding a particular song, including identifying chords, notes, key and time signatures, or similar elements, are off-topic since they are rarely useful to future readers."

Note: My post in question is not completely based on analyzing chords. I didn't include additional information on the Meta question here because it was getting too long.


So, the question here is: Why did my question end up being off-topic while it appeared to become a viral post? Is there a way to fix this?

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    Asking for the "name of a chord" and "identifying chords" are the same thing. The fact that your question asked for the name of the chord is why it was off-topic. – Todd Wilcox Apr 15 at 17:18
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user45266 here.

I'm sorry, I may have unintentionally misled you. When I said

"Imagine users reading the former title of this question on, say, the Hot Network Questions list."

, I wasn't really predicting that it would be an HNQ. I just meant it in the general case. I have seen this on other sites, though, where the post did go viral, so I was referring to those instances as an example.

I cannot give any real prediction as to why this did/did not end up on the HNQ list, but I think that it certainly could have attracted a bunch of attention, giving it the "hotness" required. Shame it didn't.


In the interest of avoiding a(nother) discussion over the downvotes here on this site, I'll turn to the off-topic part now. The closure notice says that it was closed as off-topic because:

"Questions about transcribing or finding a particular song, including identifying chords, notes, key and time signatures, or similar elements, are off-topic since they are rarely useful to future readers." – Todd Wilcox, ttw, David Bowling, Doktor Mayhem

First of all, I have a huge amount of respect for all of these users. And technically, your question is about chord identification, so it would fall under the off-topic blacklist. This gets interesting, though, as the description says that it's because it's rarely useful to future readers.

Is it, though? I feel that the question could have use to future readers, although I may be a little biased, since I love me some complicated 13th chords. But how useful is useful enough?

The answers shed a little light; one of them talks about polychords and the limitations of chord naming. That, to me, is useful to future readers.

The other answer is actually challenging the transcription itself. If that post is correct and the sheet music is wrong, then your question is pretty useless to future readers, in my opinion (and in that case, I could see why the downvote was given). No disrespect intended, though.

In short, to me at least, this is one of those corner cases where I could see it being voted as off-topic or on-topic. I trust those users to decide what kind of content gets onto this site, so I'm not too worried; we're in good hands. I've voted to reopen, as a way to get my fellow reviewers to at least mull it over again, but at the end of the day, it's up to the community to decide.

Also, maybe one of the voters-to-close will offer a different explanation of why they voted to close. They'll probably be more helpful in that regard than I can be; I'm mostly speculating, and I'm not a moderator (as you astutely noted in another question, we've but three, and I'm not sure our site needs more).

Also, I appreciate the "him/her".

  • Thanks, User45266. I will go over the SE policies and my posts so I can remember what is on-topic and off-topic for the site. – Maika Sakuranomiya Apr 15 at 6:38
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    I voted to close because identifying one chord in one edition of one piece is only helpful for that one particular situation, as mentioned in the help center. The thing about identifying chords or their function is that the names and functions of chords depend greatly on the context. Even something "obvious" like C-E-G could actually be an Am7 chord with an omitted root, or at least it could sound like an Am7 without the root in a certain context. So to me it is indeed not helpful to future readers to identify a single chord name or chord function in a single specific context. – Todd Wilcox Apr 17 at 16:51
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    The question seems pretty plainly off-topic to me as a chord-identification question, but opinions can vary, and sometimes even off-topic questions can result in good and useful answers. On another note, I find OP's statement peculiar: "User45266's edit seemed awesome...." It was a good and helpful edit made in the spirit of clarification, but OP reversed it on spurious grounds; I was the one who rolled-back from OP's change to your edit again; but I guess OP was convinced in the end ;) – David Bowling Apr 21 at 4:21
  • Good point. I have edited my original question - could you go back, please? – Maika Sakuranomiya Apr 21 at 12:46

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