But in a surprise twist, the winner of the smoothest voice-leading in the above progression, was not a standard function progression at all; it was the I chord moving to the vi chord to start the progression. This happens because it has two common tones rather than just the one associated with chords that have roots separated by P5.
Before reading on, take a moment to find the IVI between a C major triad and all triads that are diatonic to C major or C minor. As you can see the smoothest voice-leading possible between a C major triad and a different triad is the one half-step necessary to create E minor, the mediant. In the next closest category two half-steps , there are three chords: A minor the submediant , A-flat major the borrowed submediant , and F minor the borrowed subdominant. Of the four smoothest chords, three are chords whose roots are separated by a third.
Anytime a progression has two chords whose roots are separated by a M3 or a m3, we call this mediant harmony. Do not confuse this with tertian harmony; tertian harmony is any harmony that uses chords built by stacking thirds. This has nothing to do with the root movement within a progression. Rather than the structured rules and tendency tones of standard diatonic harmony, mediant harmony relies on the smoothness of voice-leading between two chords to create interesting new colors and progressions within a somewhat tonal framework. For any major or minor triad, there are eight possible mediant chords: one major and one minor chord for each of the four mediant pitches.
For example, the four mediant pitches for C are E mediant , E-flat borrowed mediant , A submediant , and A-flat borrowed submediant. Each of these four pitches can have either a major or minor chord built off of it for a total of eight possible mediant chords. Before looking at the completed chart below, find the IVI for each of the eight possible chords. After you group the mediants by IVI, also note how many common tones there are between the C major and each chord.
There are three categories of mediants.
Unlocking the Mysteries of Diatonic Harmony
The following descriptions compare describe the relationship to any major or minor chord:. Listen to the following progression. This is the most common usage, referring to the arrangement of musical phenomena around a referential tonic, as found in European music from about to about , using two modal genera, major and minor. In major and minor harmonies, the perfect fifth is often implied and understood by the listener even if it is not present.
To function as a tonic, a chord must be either a major or a minor triad. Dominant function requires a major-quality triad with a root a perfect fifth above the affiliated tonic and containing the leading tone of the key. This dominant triad must be preceded by a chord progression that establishes the dominant as the penultimate goal of a motion that is completed by moving on to the tonic. In this final dominant-to-tonic progression, the leading tone normally ascends by semitone motion to the tonic scale degree Berry , 54; Brown , 4; Burnett and Nitzberg , 97; Rogers , A dominant seventh chord always consist of a major triad with an added minor seventh above the root.
To achieve this in minor keys, the seventh scale degree must be raised to create a major triad on the dominant Duckworth , ; Mayfield , The last of these progressions is characterized by "retrograde" harmonic motion. The consonance and dissonance of different intervals plays an important role in establishing the tonality of a piece or section in common practice music and popular music. For example, for a simple folk music song in the key of C Major, almost all of the triadic chords in the song will be Major or minor chords which are stable and consonant e. The most commonly used dissonant chord in a pop song context is the dominant seventh chord built on the fifth scale degree; in the key of C Major, this would be a G dominant seventh chord, or G7 chord, which contains the pitches G, B, D and F.
This dominant seventh chord contains a dissonant tritone interval between the notes B and F.
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In pop music, the listener will expect this tritone to be resolved to a consonant, stable chord in this case, typically a C Major cadence coming to rest point or a deceptive cadence to an A minor chord. In this kind of music all the constituent tones and resulting tonal relationships are heard and identified relative to their tonic" Susanni , In this sense, "All harmonic idioms in popular music are tonal, and none is without function" Tagg , However, "within the continuing hegemony of tonality there is evidence for a relatively separate tradition of genuine folk musics, which do not operate completely or even mainly according to the assumptions or rules of tonality.
Power chords are especially problematic when trying to apply classical functional tonality to certain varieties of popular music. Genres such as heavy metal , new wave , punk rock , and grunge music "took power chords into new arenas, often with a reduced emphasis on tonal function. These genres are often expressed in two parts—a bass line doubled in fifths, and a single vocal part. Power chord technique was often allied with modal procedure" Everett , Much jazz is tonal, but "functional tonality in jazz has different properties than that of common-practice classical music.
These properties are represented by a unique set of rules dictating the unfolding of harmonic function, voice-leading conventions, and the overall behavior of chord tones and chordal extensions" Terefenko , Jean-Philippe Rameau 's Treatise on Harmony is the earliest effort to explain tonal harmony through a coherent system based on acoustical principles Girdlestone , , built upon the functional unit being the triad , with inversions. According to Choron, the beginnings of this modern tonality are found in the music of Claudio Monteverdi around the year , but it was more than a century later that the full application of tonal harmony finally supplanted the older reliance on the melodic orientation of the church modes, in the music of the Neapolitan School —most especially that of Francesco Durante Choron , xxxviii, xl.
The "transitonic" phase of tonality he connected with the late Monteverdi. The romantic tonality of Berlioz and especially Wagner he related to "omnitonic order" with its "insatiable desire for modulation" Hyer , His prophetic vision of the omnitonic order though he didn't approve it personally as the way of further development of tonality was a remarkable innovation to historic and theoretic concepts of the 19th century Simms , The principal example of this "unitonic order" tonality he saw in the Western plainchant.
The conception of the relationships that exist among them is awakened in the intellect, and, by the action of sensitivity on the one hand, and will on the other, the mind coordinates the tones into different series, each of which corresponds to a particular class of emotions, sentiments, and ideas.
Hence these series become various types of tonalities.
Cadential 6-4 Chord Progression
We conceive this order and the melodic and harmonic phenomena that spring from it out of our conformation and education. Should we say that the blues scale s consist s of all the pitches used in the blues? That leaves us with the entire chromatic scale plus many pitches in between, which is such a broad category as to be useless. Do we understand the blues scale to be the set of points on the pitch continuum that are frequently, but not exclusively, visited by blues practitioners?
One can play blues perfectly well on equal-tempered piano; does that mean that microtones are an optional embellishment, or is the piano insufficient for full blues expressiveness? Nevertheless, rhythm is extremely important to understanding the blues, and blues harmony nearly always goes hand-in-hand with syncopation and swing. The vocal melody uses diatonic minor for the beginning of the song.
Starting at , however, the tonality switches to blues, accompanied by a funkier and more syncopated rhythmic feel. Can blues tonality be considered independently of rhythm? Or are the two inseparable? This is fertile soil for future research. The musical traditions of the African diaspora are as fundamental to our culture as those of Europe. American popular music has touched every corner of global culture. We do music students a grave disservice if we send them out into the world ignorant of the blues.
Popular musicians, who tend to be self-taught, already effectively treat blues as a core concept, a chord-scale system on an equal footing with common-practice tonality Green, , p. Some jazz theorists do as well.
Jaffe divides harmony into three distinct tonal systems: diatonic harmony as described by tonal theory, modal harmony, and blues. Given how pervasive the influence of jazz and rock are in all other Western music, the music academy at large should address blues as part of standard theory pedagogy.
In order to do so, we must arrive at a consensus as to what blues tonality consists of. This paper represents a step in that direction; I hope that it will become one among many. Green, L. How popular musicians learn: A way ahead for music education. Ashgate Publishing Group. Harrison, M. Contemporary music theory level three: A complete harmony and theory method for the pop and jazz musician. Hal Leonard. Jaffe, A. Something borrowed something blue: Principles of jazz composition.
Advance Music GmbH. Kubik, G. The African matrix in jazz harmonic practices. Black Music Research Journal , 25 1 , — McClary, S. Conventional wisdom: The content of musical form. Stoia, N. Mode, harmony, and dissonance treatment in American folk and popular music, c. Music Theory Online , 16 3. The common stock of schemes in early blues and country music. Music Theory Spectrum , 35 2 , — Sutcliffe, T.
Tagg, P. Everyday tonality. Titon, J. Early downhome blues: A musical and cultural analysis. University of North Carolina Press. Turek, R. Tymoczko, D. Geometry of music: Harmony and counterpoint in the extended common practice. Oxford University Press. Van der Bliek, R. The Hendrix Chord: Blues, flexible pitch relationships, and self-standing harmony.
Popular Music , 26 2 , — Wagner, N. Music Theory Spectrum , 25 2 , — Weisethaunet, H. Popular Music , 20 01 , 99— Thanks for that, I have been thinking about this subject for quite some time.
Variation (music) - Wikipedia
Elaine perhaps needs to listen a bit more. Trying to define blues tonality, and tonality is what it is, tonality being knowing or feeling what the central tone is, using traditional theory based on European harmony of the 19th century is quite difficult, if not impossible. I am thinking that that the blues tones, and there are many, are perceived as alterations of traditional tones, meaning those that appear on the piano, that create an emotional response in the listener based on their alterations, sharpening or flattening, from traditional tones.
Whatever happens in the music, we still feel the tonic as the tonic and not as anything else even if the chord is a dominant 7th, despite any inclusions of what would normally be considered in standard theory as a tonic to that dominant. A7 is the tonic, not D. In other words, I agree with you entirely. Pingback: How universal is music language? Anthropology Mapping Ignorance. This question only makes sense, from the perspective of theory, in situations where this home changes during the course of a piece of music.
Or, what you might need to do to establish a different home, or to get back to your original home. It seems to me that you are more interested in describing the feel of blues, and not its harmonic functions. While I agree that blues has a vast array of sounds and pitches that are difficult to categorize, or are completely uncategorizable, the aspects of blues that do relate to the establishment of tonicity are exceptionally congruent with Western common practice, jazz and most other folk musics in America.
Just as the major and minor universes incorporate various scales and modes, so does blues the blues scale itself, Mixolydian, Dorian, etc.
When taken as a fundamental category unto itself, it makes perfect sense. I want our theoretical language to match the listening experience. I dispute that establishment of tonality in blues is congruent with common practice. In common practice and jazz for that matter , you establish the key center by looking for cadences, for V-I progressions or the equivalent.
Blues asserts the tonic through metrical placement and reassertion only, since V-I is often not present. A lot of bad analysis of blues is based on looking for cadences, thus the ridiculous assertion that blues in A is really in D because of the A7 to D movement. The overtone scale has flat 7, and flat 5 way in the upper partials. Flat 3rd, not really. The closest scale to the natural overtone series is Lydian dominant. A great scale, but more Eastern European than bluesy. Thank you for taking the time to write this, Ethan! I remember that in his improvisation class at Hampshire College, Yusef Lateef said that the primary scale in audiophysiopsychic music his name for jazz was the mixolydian major with a lowered seventh , and that was the scale for young improvisers to learn first and best, not the major scale.
I wrote a little thing on Quora about the limited utility of time signatures in the blues, kind of related. Defining blues tonality and the blues scale In order to teach blues tonality, we must first arrive at a precise definition for it. Is the blues scale dissonant? Is blues really a form of modal mixture? Turek and McCarthy see blues as arising from the adding of the flat seventh to diatonic chords: The lowered seventh present above each root imparts a dominant seventh quality to each chord. Blues harmony We can treat the blues scale as the roots of a set of accompanying chords, the same way we do with diatonic scales and modes.
Roots of blues tonality Blues tonality is a set of harmonic practices distinct from those of Western common-practice tonality. Blues tonality and genre Nearly all American popular and vernacular is informed by blues. Blues tonality and rock Rock harmony is mostly diatonic, but it features some characteristic deviations from the conventions of tonal harmony as well. Suggestions for future research It is challenging at best to pin down American music by genre. References Feld, S.
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