Chic "Everybody Dance"


deus ex machina
Apr 27, 2012
I have been on a Chic kick lately thanks to Sergio and Shawn. Now, either I am seeing things, or even Nile has the couple of the chord names in "Everybody Dance" wrong. It's clear that the first chord in the song is Cm7. However, the second chord looks like an F major chord played on the 4th fret with the addition of a 9th interval on the bass string. Everyone seems to assume that the bass note is the root note. However, if one examines the notes in the chord, one discovers that they are Ab, C, Eb, and Bb, which would make this chord Abadd9, not Bb11. The notes in Bb11 are Bb, D, F, Ab, and Eb (Bb11 is Bb7 plus the note Eb). Nile does not appear to fret or play the high E string, but that omission does not change the chord. I believe that the third chord is the same shape moved up two frets, which would make the chord Bbadd9.

In the drawings shown below, the number in the circle represents the finger that is used to fret the chord.


The song is in the key of Cm/Eb. The notes in key of Cm/Eb are Eb, F, G, Ab, Bb, C, and D.

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Yowzah yowzah yowzah! :dancing:

Yeah, I get confused trying to properly name fragmented chords too.
I can see how Nile can claim that the Abadd9 voicing that is used in "Everybody Dance" is Bb11. If one makes Bb the root note, the chord contains a perfect 4th (Eb) and a minor 7th (Ab). An 11th and a 4th are the same note in a scale. However, if we make Bb the root, the chord does not contain a 3rd (D) or a 5th (F). The note C is a major second above the note Bb. If we allow C to take the place of D and pretend that the chord has a 5th, we have Bb11sus2. However, since there is no 5th, what we really have Bb7sus2sus4. Another name for this Abadd9 voicing is Ab/Bb because it is an Ab chord with Bb in the bass.
The other thing to keep in mind is that by his own admission Nile rarely plays the full chord voicing, he mostly plays triads. It's very common in funk, reggae, and disco to only play the top end of traditional chords and let the bass sort out the root.
I'm going to post this again for those who may have missed it the first time. This is a terrific doco, any music fan would enjoy.

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Niles is calling out chords based on the bass note - he made mention of that in the video early on. The main thing is that you have a way to communicate the changes with your bandmates. Personally, I'd call the chord Ab/Bb since it's an Ab with a Bb in the bass. I'd call it an Abadd9 if the intention was to have an Ab in the bass.