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Off-Topic Closure

Sure, no one likes "What key is this completely diatonic pop song in", or "what is C-E-G-A♯", or their million uninspiring counterparts. But the close reasons we have seem to expressly forbid "chord/key ID" -style questions, on the grounds that they are "basic analysis".

What about questions that are about identifying chords or keys where the circumstances render it above "basic analysis"? Like some complicated chord, or a song with a hard-to-define key? Are these on-topic? For example, if someone asks what chord D-G-A-C is (which would have answers going into explanations much more advanced than "these are the notes, so this is the chord symbol") ?

They also mention the notion of "not being useful to future readers". How useful are we talking? Is this an absolute reason? Could questions that have use to future readers but are about key identification be allowed?


I guess my question is: Which should take priority: Clear exclusion of a topic or the reason behind that exclusion when determining topicality?

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    Taking a look at a selection of questions that have actually been closed as "basic analysis questions", most of them already seem to be covered by the wording of the next close reason (... identifying chords, notes, key and time signatures...). – topo Reinstate Monica May 6 at 14:23
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    I'm not sure what's more advanced about identifying D-G-A-C; because it's not a diatonic triad? Anyway, I think the main thing about chord identification is whether the question is asking to identify a particular chord from a particular song, since outside of the context of that song, the answers won't be useful to future readers. At the same time, identifying a chord outside of the context of the song isn't always possible (D-G-A-C is an example of context being important), so then there isn't really one answer. – Todd Wilcox May 6 at 18:27
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A really important role on whether these kind of questions get closed or not is the phrasing. It's important for OP to show what kind of research they have done, if they have done any. Basic questions that can be answered by the simplest Google search are usually closed here. So, a question like

I have the notes C E G. What is this chord?

is bound to get closed, since this is something you can easily find that on the first Google search. Whereas a question like:

I know that chords are formed by stacking thirds on the root. I have the notes C E F# G and the analysis said that it is a C add #4 (or C#11). Are these names correct? Which one should I use?

This sample question shows some kind of research (or knowledge) by OP and is asking something more.

They also mention the notion of "not being useful to future readers". How useful are we talking?

The whole point of the StackExchange Q&A Sites is that when some random Internet user has a question, he'd Google Search it. People are bound to search stuff like "Why are there 7 notes in an octave", "Why is the guitar tuned like it is?" etc, and this site will turn up on Google's results, but it's not so likely for someone to search "What is this chord?".

I know what you'll say. There are Internet users that'll search stuff like "what are the chords/time signature/key for X song?", but still questions like those are rarely not closed in this site, since there are numerous sites around the web answering them.

Could questions that have use to future readers but are about key identification be allowed?

Some of them are. In this regard "basic" questions refer to questions like "I have two sharps in the key signature, what key is this?", which like above can be answered by a simple Google search. Questions though, like "I have two sharps, but there are many notes out of D major used. What key would that be?" are more likely to be allowed.

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