What are Hybrid Chords?

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Hybrid Chords

Hybrid Chords


As the name might imply, a hybrid chord contains two elements: a chord root, and additional tones/tensions (except the 3rd) that spell out another chord. The first chord is labeled as A/D. We could analyze this as a D Major chord (so D is the root), missing the 3rd (no F♯), and the 5th (A), 7th (C♯), and 9th (E) spell out an A Major triad.

Likewise, the second chord (B/C♯) could be considered C♯ minor (C♯ root), missing the 3rd and 5th (no E or G ♯), and the 7th (B), 9th (D♯), and 11th (F♯) spell a B Major triad.

Berklee defines a hybrid chord as “A compound chord consisting of upper chord tones and tensions (except the third) and tensions above the indicated root. Also known as incomplete chords or chords without thirds*.” A hybrid chord is one of three categories of compound chords (Inversions, Hybrid Structures, Polychords).

*Berklee’s Glossary of Terms – Terms used in Harmony 4

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* This is an excerpt lesson taken from Behind the Score. Video lessons, PDF scores, and MP3 audio files related to this article can be found here: Practical Application of Genre & Styles