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Question about a series of chords in Goldsmith's Planet of the Apes

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Sparked on by recent discussion on suspended chords, I'd like to see others have a go at analysing these chords from Jerry Goldsmith's Planet of the Apes. This passage has always stuck with me. Tonal-sounding chords in an atonal context, though I've got a feeling that they're more colouristic than functional.

Here are the 8 chords with left to right being top to bottom (screen capture isn't working), with my attempts at naming each chord. These are all transcribed from Goldsmith's sketches.

Chord No. 1: Db-Bb-Eb-C-F-C = ?

Chord No. 2: Eb-Bb-Eb-C-F-A = ?

Chord No. 3: Cb-Bb-Cb-Bb-Gb-Bb = ?

Chord No. 4: Gb-Db-Eb-Ab-C-Eb = ?

Chord No. 5: E-B-E-A#-C#-F# = ?

Chord No. 6: Db-Ab-Db-F-C-G = Db Lydian 11

Chord No. 7: G-D-E-A-B-E = G 6/9

Chord No. 8: F-C-A-Db-Ab-Db = F #9 b13

The key theme is perfect fifths in the bass (with the exception of No. 1) juxtaposed with fifths, major triads or major thirds in the treble clef - together creating quite complex extended chords. This left hand/right hand class is pianistic in nature, and explains the enharmonic contradictions in the accidentals (i.e. A and Ab in No. 8).

As you can hear, above this the main theme (a 12 tone row) is played by muted violins and later alto flutes with muted horns.

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No one?

What about these dreamy quartal chords in TOTAL RECALL? 2:25 to 2:33 in Main Title/The Dream.

Chord No. 1: E-B-E-B-E-G#-A-D#-G#

Chord No. 2: D-G-D-B-D-G-B-E-A

Chord No. 3: C#-G#-D#-G#-D#-G#-C#-F#-B

With the bass line then moving down to B, with the Minor 9th chord above it, and the main theme moving from i to IV.

Played by synths and strings.

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Sparked on by recent discussion on suspended chords, I'd like to see others have a go at analysing these chords from Jerry Goldsmith's Planet of the Apes. This passage has always stuck with me. Tonal-sounding chords in an atonal context, though I've got a feeling that they're more colouristic than functional.

Here are the 8 chords with left to right being top to bottom (screen capture isn't working), with my attempts at naming each chord. These are all transcribed from Goldsmith's sketches.

Chord No. 1: Db-Bb-Eb-C-F-C = ?

Chord No. 2: Eb-Bb-Eb-C-F-A = ?

Chord No. 3: Cb-Bb-Cb-Bb-Gb-Bb = ?

Chord No. 4: Gb-Db-Eb-Ab-C-Eb = ?

Chord No. 5: E-B-E-A#-C#-F# = ?

Chord No. 6: Db-Ab-Db-F-C-G = Db Lydian 11

Chord No. 7: G-D-E-A-B-E = G 6/9

Chord No. 8: F-C-A-Db-Ab-Db = F #9 b13

I would call these polytonal chords. The spacing encourages hearing them in two halves. Also, the top half is always consonant (or only mildly dissonant) within itself but, in all but one case (chord no. 7), sharply dissonant with the bottom half. This kind of dissonant clash of two essentially consonant sounds is a key element of polytonality and characterizes much of the music in Star Wars, for example. Though here, the lack of rhythmic vitality and the strange timbres give the music that appropriate feeling of being in an alien-like land.

As for labels, there's no established way of doing that. I would probably just identify the intervals (omitting doublings) above the bass for the bottom half (not an established notation as far as I know), and do the same or give the implied triad for the top half, like this:

Chord No. 1: Db-Bb-Eb-C-F-C = Db6/9 + F5

Chord No. 2: Eb-Bb-Eb-C-F-A = Eb5 + Fmaj

Chord No. 3: Cb-Gb-Cb-Bb-Gb-Bb = Cb5 + Gbmaj [the second Bb you had is actually Gb in the sketch]

Chord No. 4: Gb-Db-Eb-Ab-C-Eb = Gb5/6 + Abmaj

Chord No. 5: E-B-E-A#-C#-F# = E5 + F#maj

Chord No. 6: Db-Ab-Db-F-C-G = Db5 + F5/9 (or Fsus2)

Chord No. 7: G-D-E-A-B-E = G5/6 + A2/5 (or Asus2)

Chord No. 8: F-C-A-Db-Ab-Db = Fmaj + Db5

The 12-tone row is layered overtop of these as something largely independent, a view supported by the fact that it usually isn't part of the polychord sounding.

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I would call these polytonal chords. The spacing encourages hearing them in two halves. Also, the top half is always consonant (or only mildly dissonant) within itself but, in all but one case (chord no. 7), sharply dissonant with the bottom half. This kind of dissonant clash of two essentially consonant sounds is a key element of polytonality and characterizes much of the music in Star Wars, for example. Though here, the lack of rhythmic vitality and the strange timbres give the music that appropriate feeling of being in an alien-like land.

That's where we differ. I hear each chord as one sonority, not two separate halves. They seem more like upper structure chords than polychords, probably due to the omitted thirds and other important intervals. Take chord 4 and 5 (basically the same the chord moved down a whole step - just re-voiced and inverted). I've seen this chord in dozens of other scores and jazz charts (Jerry Fielding and Alex North come to mind) - and to me they're just upper structure Lydian chords.

That said, it's just a different way of looking at the same thing. I'm something of a jazzhead, so I'm always going to see relatively consonant polychords like these (compared to say Stravinsky's 'Petrushka' or 'Augurs' chords or Strauss's 'Elektra' chord) as single entities, for better or worse.

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I would call these polytonal chords. The spacing encourages hearing them in two halves. Also, the top half is always consonant (or only mildly dissonant) within itself but, in all but one case (chord no. 7), sharply dissonant with the bottom half. This kind of dissonant clash of two essentially consonant sounds is a key element of polytonality and characterizes much of the music in Star Wars, for example. Though here, the lack of rhythmic vitality and the strange timbres give the music that appropriate feeling of being in an alien-like land.

That's where we differ. I hear each chord as one sonority, not two separate halves. They seem more like upper structure chords than polychords, probably due to the omitted thirds and other important intervals. Take chord 4 and 5 (basically the same the chord moved down a whole step - just re-voiced and inverted). I've seen this chord in dozens of other scores and jazz charts (Jerry Fielding and Alex North come to mind) - and to me they're just upper structure Lydian chords.

That said, it's just a different way of looking at the same thing. I'm something of a jazzhead, so I'm always going to see relatively consonant polychords like these (compared to say Stravinsky's 'Petrushka' or 'Augurs' chords or Strauss's 'Elektra' chord) as single entities, for better or worse.

I should clarify that I didn't mean that one hears them only as two halves. The dissonant clash I mentioned is the unified sonority. So you actually get both at the same time. And I think it's possible to hear it this way as well. It's just that if you're very familiar with the sound, you'll likely tend to hear it only as the one sonority even though the halves are still there.

It's a bit like the way new words sound. For example, when they introduced the two-dollar coin over here, the name given to it was "toonie". When it was first introduced, the word clearly sounded like a combination of "two" and "loonie" (our one-dollar coin). But now it's so familiar that people surely hear it as its own new word, even though the derivation is clear.

My symbols for the chords emphasize the combinatorial aspect of the chord, but that's only because there isn't any one standard symbol that explains each one. You could, for instance, call the first chord Dbmaj7(add6/9), but that doesn't do justice to the spacing of the chord with the sixth and ninth situated below the third (!), or the fact that it lacks a fifth. So it doesn't sound like the chord the symbol suggests.

I'm guessing this is why you asked what to call them - you hear them as single sonorities, but there is no single chord symbol that captures what that sonority is exactly.

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has prometheus been eaten by mr shark !

is this polytonality the secret to JW's moody "something is going to happen music"....as apposed to action and themes ? I Love the jerry goldsmith examples. those leaping fifths he's so fond off...a,e,...db,ab.......f,c.........

T

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Re: Message from a Jedi - you mean this second half of this?

Yes, I'd say polytonal, along with the dissonant alterations/juxtapositions to ordinary minor triads that Ludwig mentions. BTW, that cue always reminded me of Prokofiev's underrated Canto Sinfonico Op. 57.

BTW, I like the shorthand Anette Davidson uses in her film film score guide for Alex North's A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE. A F#/E5 chord in this thread would be written as F#/E open.

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yes.....so do you think he applies "the wrong notes' in the lower part of the chords ? almost a dissonant bass ?

Been listening to "the Satan Bug" a lot lately . I really like that score.

T

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Not so much in the bass. More things like #11ths, Major 7ths, b13ths and so on in the middle register. Certain intervals that when combined give a dissonant 'crunch' - especially when played by brass.

Would you like me to have a crack at figuring out the chords in that cue?

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I would call these polytonal chords. The spacing encourages hearing them in two halves. Also, the top half is always consonant (or only mildly dissonant) within itself but, in all but one case (chord no. 7), sharply dissonant with the bottom half. This kind of dissonant clash of two essentially consonant sounds is a key element of polytonality and characterizes much of the music in Star Wars, for example. Though here, the lack of rhythmic vitality and the strange timbres give the music that appropriate feeling of being in an alien-like land.

That's where we differ. I hear each chord as one sonority, not two separate halves. They seem more like upper structure chords than polychords, probably due to the omitted thirds and other important intervals. Take chord 4 and 5 (basically the same the chord moved down a whole step - just re-voiced and inverted). I've seen this chord in dozens of other scores and jazz charts (Jerry Fielding and Alex North come to mind) - and to me they're just upper structure Lydian chords.

That said, it's just a different way of looking at the same thing. I'm something of a jazzhead, so I'm always going to see relatively consonant polychords like these (compared to say Stravinsky's 'Petrushka' or 'Augurs' chords or Strauss's 'Elektra' chord) as single entities, for better or worse.

I agree. When I play them on the piano, it's clear that there's a jazz influence - I'd reserve a polytonal classification for situations where there are clear triads present and juxtaposed. There's enough interlocking in the first few harmonies and lack of any solid tonal identity in either "component", that is, the trumpets or trombones taken individually, for me to hear these as big extended chords. Plus, the horns sort of function as a bridge between the trumpets and trombones by sharing notes from both sections/parts, further eliminating a sense of polytonal juxtaposition.

I'd analyze them as extended/added-tone (I tend towards the latter) chords, with respect to the top note, taking that as a sort of melody that is harmonized in a Debussyian kind of way, by seeing what triads can be formed by changing around the voicings.

Sooo doing that, I find that...

Chord 1 is a Bb minor with an added 4th and 2nd

Chord 2 is an F7 with an added 4th

Chord 3 is sort of a BM7 without a 3rd

Chord 4 is an Ab major with an added 4th

Chord 5 is an Ebm7

Chord 6 is a DbM7 major with an added #4th

Chord 7 is a G major with added 2nd and 6th

Chord 8 is the only one that feels like it could be polytonal in its original voicing, but I'd probably still call it a DbM7 with added augmented 5th, especially since the other parts then resolve it to a clear Db realm

Keeping the melody line and bass line (whether that gives an inversion or an added-tone in the bass) both intact, that makes sense to me.

Now, analyze that progression as you will... Db with chromatic excursions?

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My interpretation's a bit different.

Chord 1: Bbm11/Db or Bbmadd4/Db

Chord 2: Eb69#11 (No 3)

Chord 3: BMaj7sus2 or BMaj9 (No 3)

Chord 4: Gb6/9/#11 (No 3)

Chord 5: E6/9/#11 (No 3)

Chord 6: DbMaj7#11

Chord 7: G6/9

Chord 8: F#9,b13 (this last one's a bit like an altered chord)

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... the horns sort of function as a bridge between the trumpets and trombones by sharing notes from both sections/parts, further eliminating a sense of polytonal juxtaposition.

A good point that I hadn't noticed before. I listened to the whole cue once again and found that the chords sound somewhere in between a polytonal and jazz chord interpretation. What makes their analysis so frustratingly elusive is that they don't sit comfortably with either solution.

As you point out GreyPilgrim, there isn't enough of a tonal sense of each half to hear it as fully polytonal - another good point I'd agree with for most of the chords. On the other hand, a jazz view seems strained, as four of the chords lack the all important third or the seventh - the two most fundamental notes of any jazz chord.

This reminds me of the controversy that surrounded the sextet, Verklärte Nacht, in which Schoenberg wrote a chord that looked like an Ab9 with the ninth in the bass (!). The Vienna Music Society refused to perform the work for that reason (!!) because they claimed that the sonority was a "non-existent" chord (!!!). Well, of course the chord exists, they just didn't recognize it as a classifiable sonority because ninth chords never have the ninth in the bass.

My point is that once a sonority ventures far enough away from what is normal for a certain type of chord, we should probably consider using different terms to describe it. In Schoenberg's case, the ninth chord is only apparent and is formed by passing motion in almost all the voices. So it's a passing sonority - a contrapuntal chord, if you will.

In the case of Goldsmith, we might search for a way to describe these strange chords in a way that best describes our perception of them, which for me lies neither fully in a polytonal nor a jazz context. An unusual analysis for an unusual passage would make the most sense to me. Now just don't ask me what that is...

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I agree, and I'm usually content to leave my "analysis" of these more unusual things in the realm of the vague, but I thought I'd give this one a go in a somewhat clear way.

I can feel the eyes rolling as I once again preach that such moments are ruled more by pure feeling than theory. ;)

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