The fundamental tone of a chord; the lowest tone, unless the chord is inverted.

Called also fundamental note, generator, and ground note?. (1) A note which besides its own sound gives overtones or harmonics. (2) That note from amongst whose overtones any chord may be selected, i.e., the chord of CGE, is produced from the vibration of the lowest note C, therefore C is said to be the root of this chord.

An attempt to reduce chords to their roots forms the chief part of many treatises on harmony, but almost insuperable difficulties are met with in consequence of certain overtones being omitted in our scale and other sounds being introduced which can only be obtained by a minute subdivision of the monochord. The flat seventh and the eleventh? of nature are unused, and various notes are arbitrarily inserted in the modern scale in order to obtain more or less of temperament?. Some authors derive all their chords, or rather all those called fundamental (which constitute but a very small number of the chords actually in use), from three roots – the tonic, subdominant, and dominant. Others, again, insist on only two roots, the tonic and dominant. Not a few modern musicians use the word root without reference to any mathematical laws, and only as describing a note on which, when either expressed or implied, a chord is built up. (A Dictionary of Musical Terms Novello, Ewer and Co., London, pre-1900)

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