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General Harmony/Orchestration/Theory Questions

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Mark, do you have good papers in Secundal Harmony - listing all of the occurrences like with the Auvil?

I've now had some time to look into this but nothing comprehensive is coming up. When I search terms like secundal harmony, tone clusters, and the like, one name keeps coming up - Henry Cowell. Maybe he was the first to use them extensively. In any case, the research that comes up is hardly theoretical. It's been very disappointing, as have many concepts we've wanted to study on 20th-century music. Atonal sets are about the only thing that have a substantial amount of research. It seems there's still a ton of work to be done in many other areas.

Haven't given the North a deep listening yet. Hopefully soon.

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Mark, do you have good papers in Secundal Harmony - listing all of the occurrences like with the Auvil?

 

I've now had some time to look into this but nothing comprehensive is coming up. When I search terms like secundal harmony, tone clusters, and the like, one name keeps coming up - Henry Cowell. Maybe he was the first to use them extensively.

 

 

Henry Cowell was a pioneer in the use of piano clusters, along Leo Ornstein and others at the turn of the century, but I think secundal harmony as different. Not black key, white key or chromatic clusters pressed by the elbow or forehand, but careful use of seconds, sevenths and ninths - whether they're major, minor or augmented.

 

That said my distinction owes a lot to Persichetti's 20th Century Harmony. For examples of 'Secundal Harmony' he lists the following:

 

Bartok: String Quartet No. 3

Blomdahl: Aniara

Copeland: Piano Sonata

Debussy: Preludes Volume II

Milhaud: Christopher Colomb

Poulenc: Promenades for Piano

Ruggles: Men and Mountains

Togni: Fantasia Concertante

Villa-Lobos: String Quartet No. 3

 

Whereas for Clusters, he lists:

 

Berg: Wozzeck

Bloch: Piano Sonata

Cowell: Silt of the Reel

Hovhaness: Magnificat

Ives: 19 Songs

Riegger: Music for Brass Choir Pt. 1

Varese: Ionisation

 

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Could someone help me with the chords from :57 onwards.

Sounds like Em7 -> CmMaj7/Eb -> ?/D -> ?/Db -> CMaj7

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Hmm...

Sounds to me like Em7/G -> Gmaj7 -> CmMaj7 -> Emin -> Dmaj -> CMaj7 -> B -> Caug11#5

Still, without a tonal center, this is, at best, an educated guess on my part.

Then again, if I were to assume that the default "keyless" tonal center is C-major, I come up with this chord progression:

iii - V - I7 - iii - V/V - I7 - V/iii – I

Definitely sounds like an Appalachian Chord progression at the penultimate cadence before "resolving" to the tonic.

Man, I hate atonal work.

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I can't really hear that. It feels like a chromatic descent in the bass to me - starting at G 48 seconds in. The last two before the cadence to CMaj9 sound like Bm/D and Db7b9. The last hinting at tritone substitution.

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I can't really hear that. It feels like a chromatic descent in the bass to me - starting at G 48 seconds in. The last two before the cadence to CMaj9 sound like Bm/D and Db7b9. The last hinting at tritone substitution.

It's all right if you can't hear it. I have perfect pitch, so that's how I came up with the notes.

Anyways, a chromatic descent is basically an Appalachian chord progression. I was just listening to the figured bass when I drafted that chord progression.

It took me a few passes to nail that last chord, and I didn't know what else to call it.

It's basically (and do contest this in the event that I'm wrong) a diminished chord (B - D - F) on top of an augmented chord (C - E - G#); i.e. C - E - G# - B - D - F.

What would you call such a chord?

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I have pretty good relative pitch and a piano my side, and I swear that you've got that last chord (the one before the C Major 9th) correct, except the lowest note is Db. I can hear the major 9th clash between the Db and the D, along with the open fifth (which in that register is unmistakable). I'd call it Dbm7(b9,#9).

I Googled 'Appalachian chord progression' but I couldn't find it. Is it from Appalachian Spring?

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Hmm...

After listening to that last chord again, I find that it's very, very muddy down there (must be a contrabassoon). So you're right. It was Db.

And I made a mistake in calling it an Appalachian chord progression. I meant to say Andalusian cadence.

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Yes.

Actually, despite its name, it isn't even a cadence. It's a descending tetrachord.

Alternatively, that chord progression could also be a lament bass (which would explain the descent beginning in the Phrygian mode and also fitting the overall sorrowful mood of the piece).

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Ok, I think there's a slight misunderstanding here. By chromatic, I'm talking about the bass voice descending by semitones, not the upper tetrachord from a minor scale (i.e. C-Bb-Ab-G).

 

I've written it out in Noteflight as I hear it. Take a listen.

 

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So was I. For a lament bass (a type of basso ostinato), there are two different versions: diatonic and chromatic.

For the diatonic version, it begins in is the upper tetrachord from the natural and wends it way down through semitones.

For the chromatic version, the semitones are all filled in (which appears to be the case for your rendition which seems to go like this: root -> semitone -> chromatic -> chromatic).

In light of this, I am confident in calling those last four chords (in your nicely executed rendition) a lament bass.

Also, I'm seeing in your rendition that for the final chord, you retain that the root is in fact a C and not a Db as you posited. Is this a mistake?

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Also, I'm seeing in your rendition that for the final chord, you retain that the root is in fact a C and not a Db as you posited. Is this a mistake?

I always said that the resolution was a CMaj7 - it was the chord before it that we were talking about. We agreed about the diminished chord in the upper half, but not the lower half.

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Also, I'm seeing in your rendition that for the final chord, you retain that the root is in fact a C and not a Db as you posited. Is this a mistake?

I always said that the resolution was a CMaj7 - it was the chord before it that we were talking about. We agreed about the diminished chord in the upper half, but not the lower half.

My mistake, then.

So in light of everything we've discussed so far, what can we conclude from the chord progression?

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Also, I'm seeing in your rendition that for the final chord, you retain that the root is in fact a C and not a Db as you posited. Is this a mistake?

I always said that the resolution was a CMaj7 - it was the chord before it that we were talking about. We agreed about the diminished chord in the upper half, but not the lower half.

My mistake, then.

So in light of everything we've discussed so far, what can we conclude from the chord progression?

That like you said, it involves a lament bass, starting at the dominant (G) and ending on the tonic ©. Plus there's noticeable jazz infections to the harmony, as usual with North. It's all block voicing, which creates a dark, muddy sound in the lower registers, especially with the dense orchestration.

dragonslayer311.jpg

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Sharky every time we talk about North I remember this piece from my school days that always seemed in the same vein as his music. Check it out.

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Is that the actual handwritten score for the passage you posted?

If it is, bravo.

Ha! No, it's from another cue ('Triumphant Dragon'). It's something I saw posted on a blog.

Sharky every time we talk about North I remember this piece from my school days that always seemed in the same vein as his music. Check it out.

Hmm. I kinda of hear it in some of the dissonances, but it lacks the jazziness of North, or his strong Russian influences.

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<iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/C0YZ2mVfneM?rel=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

 

Can someone help my decipher these chords? The first one is Dmadd9, but after that it becomes intensely dissonant, almost clustral.

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Well it sounds like it follows a pretty straightforward tonal pattern, with a lot of chromatic second/ninth doublings in those quaver phrases. Ludwig would like that - what does he call it, "bristling?" I'll have to sit at the piano to try and work it out.

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Does anyone want to try and transcribe the running organ line that starts at 0:25? It appears in several other cues if it isn't clear enough here. I can get most of it but some of those higher points just blur together because of the rich harmonics of the mixture stops. Shouldn't have listened to music so loudly when I was younger. Sigh. Take note kids, if you care about how clearly you can differentiate between high frequencies.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gFTRNcvWTNc

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Sure, I'll take a crack at it.


Alright so I took a shot during my break. Just did the first phrase, it's pretty much the same after that, but with octave doubling and some minor differences. The same goes for all the other instances in the album.

210hjkx.jpg

By the way, did I mention how much I hate Noteflight?

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Sounds neat!

Do you want me try my hand at it? Some of those dyads get a bit complex, but I could whip something up tomorrow (have studying to do tonight lol)?

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By the way, did I mention how much I hate Noteflight?

What do you (and the other musical folk here) normally use for notation?

I've just become acquainted with LilyPond. It's the bees' knees! (Although that's from the perspective of someone with virtually no other experience of notation software.)

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I know the question wasn't directed at me, but I wanted to chime in, anyway.

I'm a Finale user. It's like the Pixar of notation software (Sibelius being the Dreamworks of notation software).

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Yeah, like TGP said, I'm a pencil and paper kind of guy. But when I need things notated for print, I use Finale. I've been thinking of switching over to Sibelius soon though.

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Basically. ;)

I've been hearing some better things about Sibelius. Greater flexibility. Any Sibelius users here?

By the way, did I mention how much I hate Noteflight?

What do you (and the other musical folk here) normally use for notation?

I've just become acquainted with LilyPond. It's the bees' knees! (Although that's from the perspective of someone with virtually no other experience of notation software.)

If you want an easy-to-use, aesthetically pleasing notation software to start off with, try Notion 3. That's what I started off with. It pretty much covers most of your basic needs, but doesn't have the really advanced stuff you could get with Finale. But it's still a good program!

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The little I've worked with notation software leads me to far prefer Sibelius. Finale is clunky, perhaps acceptable if you're ok with having to deal with a lot of computery shit while you try to think about what you're actually doing. Which I am not.

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If you want an easy-to-use, aesthetically pleasing notation software to start off with, try Notion 3.

Cheers; I'll make a note of that. My concern in the last week or so has been incorporating small fragments of score notation into text documents, and for that purpose LilyPond has proved to be brilliant. Not so sure how practical it is for producing larger scores. My upcoming beer bottle concerto might require a different program.

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Anyone with perfect pitch/a good ear for intervals want to try and figure out what temperament Jeremy Soule uses? I know he tunes everything to A=446.99 instead of A=440, but he also has something other than equal temperament going on. He's said it's not Pythagorean tuning I believe, even though it does sound very close to that.

I'm not sure that he does it outside of Skyrim as I don't really listen to his non-Elder Scrolls stuff, but any track from that album should be a demonstration. I just love how this opening chord shimmers in a slightly different way.

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