How's this for a practical definition of a chord:   A chord is a collection of tones of the same duration and articulation, sounded together.  If even one is sustained, either from a previous combination or into one that follows, the texture is contrapuntal and must be treated as such.  
Yesterday, suspecting that the edition from which I had been playing was wrong, I consulted a fine edition of the Brahms Ballade, Op 10, No. 4.  Changing pedal at every bar line, as indicated by the editor (Jossefy), clearly identifies imaginary chords: In fact, there are no chords at the beginning of this remarkable piece, nor in the "piu lento" section.
Brahms, having marked "with pedal" at the top of the page, calls for a murky mix of sounds so improbable that clarifying their possible theoretical identities entirely obscures the point of the music.

 


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