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General Harmony/Orchestration/Theory Questions

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3 hours ago, filmmusic said:

I was wondering if anyone knows any bibliography (whole books/articles/dissertations) or passages from books on Diatonicism.

I can't seem to be able to find anything good...

 

Not sure I follow the question.  That is literally in most harmony books.  Might not be covered in chromatic or atonal harmony but most pre-20th century harmony books are covering mostly diatonic harmony.  If you want an intro book to harmony, Tchaikovsky is a good comprehensive intro, readable, brief, and is free

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12 hours ago, karelm said:

 

Not sure I follow the question.  That is literally in most harmony books.  Might not be covered in chromatic or atonal harmony but most pre-20th century harmony books are covering mostly diatonic harmony.  If you want an intro book to harmony, Tchaikovsky is a good comprehensive intro, readable, brief, and is free

I'm not sure how I can put it differently.

I'm searching for general information on diatonic major and minor without any chromaticism at all..

things like a formal definition, when it is used, what it conveys, such stuff..

I just want to use some bibliography for a dissertation..

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Have to speed run this right now, but you have a classic Williams lydian chord in there before it changes gears, with those distinct chord intervals really hammered home by the high strings to give that yearning, "pushing" quality. 

 

Here I thought you'd be asking for Return to the City. Now there's  some Williams juice!

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8 hours ago, Steve McQueen said:

@Nick Parker, @Loert, @Ludwig

Just a quick one: kind of want to know generally what is going on with the harmony here at the very beginning.  The opening chords are very striking, enhanced with the interplay between brass and strings.  Brief moment, but it has left a mark on me.

 

 

@Nick Parker rightfully points out the Lydian flavour of the strings here. This brings a sense of a hyper-positive state since the Lydian mode has the raised 4th degree of the scale.

 

There's also a raised note in the change of harmony that @Steve McQueen you ask about. An E-flat that's part of an E-flat major chord suddenly changes into an E-natural in a C major chord, and the feeling it evokes is, in this case, euphoric since it is when Jim finally sees a P-15 ("Cadillac of the Skies") in flight.

 

Interesting to see how Williams coordinates both the melody and harmony in these raised notes to emphasize and heighten the emotional expression of the music and the scene.

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One of my favorite Williams moments, there. I've always thought of it as almost suggesting a kind of major9 chord (which pop ups explicitly later on the piece--as a player I might play around with that if it were given to me as a lead sheet), or a suspended chord, giving it a more "aged", "mature" feeling in conjunction with the inverted Gbm chord, more wistful; the sus chord being between the melody note of Gb, the Db in the bass, and the B you're asking about.

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56 minutes ago, Score said:

 

It does not have a specific harmonic function that can be codified according to standard namings, so I would say, indeed, that it's an added note to the Gb minor chord. Saying that it is the perfect fourth of the chord does not add information, as it does not behave in the way fourths generally behave. The particular effect is due to the fact that the B, together with A and Gb = F#, suggests a B7 chord without the third, so the ear is somehow undecided. However, I interpret the main harmonic line simply as Gb minor resolving to Db major, with the melodic resolution of Gb to F being anticipated with respect to the harmonic motion. The B is "colour" in the bass register.

 

 

I just played the theme with a full B7 chord at that point.

Doesn't this version pop up somewhere in the score?

Or is this what @Nick Parkermeant?

 

edit: oh yes it does, at bar 27.

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2 hours ago, filmmusic said:

I just played the theme with a full B7 chord at that point.

Doesn't this version pop up somewhere in the score?

Or is this what @Nick Parkermeant?

 

edit: oh yes it does, at bar 27.

 

I was referring more to an Amaj9 chord, with the A, Db (C#), and B as the ninth, with a raised 6th in the key of A major (seriously, play the chord and absorb its dopeness--bottom to top, A,C#, F#, and B. Awwwww yeaaahhhh.....). I wouldn't want to take that chord as a B7, personally...nless you meant a Bm7, with an added ninth?(the Db)

Like @Score said, though, I see the basic progression as Gbm to Db.

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I think the problem people are having in giving this chord a label is, as @Score implies, that it doesn't seem to match up with how they hear it. So calling it Cb7 (or B7) probably feels wrong because it sounds to them more like a Gb minor. Let's be clear then that any chord symbol we give it isn't the end of the analysis but the beginning.

 

Calling it Cb7 doesn't mean it can't have hints of subdominant to it. But I think it goes too far to say that the chord is a Gb minor when Wiiliams writes it as Cb7 (or the equivalent when the theme is in other keys) each time it appears.

 

I also think part of the problem is that a bVIIb7 in a major mode is extremely uncommon, so our ears aren't primed to hear it as such when the chord isn't complete and the notes emphasized are scale degrees 4 and b6, which are more typical of subdominant chords borrowed from minor and are heard regularly in film.

 

It's a bit like Luke's theme (the SW main theme), where the second chord of the theme sounds like a dominant chord but isn't V7. It's actually a four-note quartal chord (chord built in 4ths rather than 3rds) but has scale degree 4 in the melody against degree 5 in the bass, so masquerades as a dominant. But it wouldn't be right to give it a label of V7.

 

In any case, my point is that a chord symbol only tells you what notes are to be grouped together, not necessarily (and certainly not in this case) the nuances of its harmonic function, which can only be obtained through its context, something chord symbols don't do.

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22 minutes ago, Ludwig said:

 

 

 

It's a bit like Luke's theme (the SW main theme), where the second chord of the theme sounds like a dominant chord but isn't V7. It's actually a four-note quartal chord (chord built in 4ths rather than 3rds) but has scale degree 4 in the melody against degree 5 in the bass, so masquerades as a dominant. But it wouldn't be right to give it a label of V7.

 

 

about that:

I've written that it's a mixolydian V, dressed as a quartal chord.

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4 hours ago, Score said:

That's also why I do not hear it as a Amaj9 chord as you suggest, because the 9th (B) is too close to the bass to sound as a ninth, Also, it does not behave functionally as a 9th (it would have to descend). 

 

 

Funny thing: when I was in high school, I played this from the official book, which is what @filmmusic posted. However, not long after I learnt it as a junior, someone sent me a digitally typeset orchestral version of the piece they had made, and--I don't have it anymore so I can't check this--it had the A dropped down an octave (which I believe is not how Williams wrote it), which I started to tinker with as a curious little chicken and said, "Hey, this sounds pretty cool!" With that A way down there opening the chord up, it gave a very strong major9 feeling, or perhaps a min11 to me. Later on, when the piece has built to its beautiful climax, and is at that delamatory, soaring, descending moment, the Amaj9 pops in full force.

 

Overall, the progression from the minor iv to the tonic is one I've heard in many ballads, so I love that Williams took it one step further and muddied the waters with the B, that one note giving us so much more to chew on. I love the suspended, or to quote filmmusic, quartal quality it provides--Williams knows how to use those to maximum heart melting effect in ballads, such as in Cinderella Liberty. 

 

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On 11/8/2018 at 6:45 PM, filmmusic said:

This thing is bugging me.

What do you think is the B note (bars 9 and 11) in the left hand that goes up a tritone to F?

I think it's just an added note to the minor chord. Could it be more?

luke-and-leia-(brother-and-sister).png

 

So first of all, I see this progression as basically diatonic so I would rewrite it in its proper enharmonic form:

 

image.png

 

however I think it's easier to analyze in C# major:

 

image.png

 

which sounds like this: https://picosong.com/wX9m7

 

Now, personally, when I listen to this excerpt, what I feel as the "base harmony" is this (pay attention to the second bar for all the following exhibits):

 

image.png

 

i.e. the Gb minor (or F# minor) which @Score alludes to. This sounds like this: https://picosong.com/wX9u5

 

So what about the B in the original piece? What does it mean?

 

I think that it could be understood as a "compressed" suspension, i.e. a compressed version of this...

 

image.png

 

...which sounds like this: https://picosong.com/wX9uQ...

(note: I removed the anticipatory E# in measure 2 so you can hear the LH clearer).

 

...but without the upper C#:

 

image.png

 

which sounds like this: https://picosong.com/wX9J4/

 

I think that this "sound" is, on average, more familiar to people here - all that Williams does is join the A and B together (compare this audio with the first audio excerpt). Note, I'm not saying that this is how Williams got to the B in the first place (with an A and B separated apart), but it is one way of thinking of the meaning of those two notes.

 

Now, I guess the deeper question I ask myself is, why did Williams join the A and B together? I think there are different angles from which you can wrestle with this, but the best way is to realise the slowness of the change in accompaniment. @filmmusic 's post makes this really obvious: the accompaniment never changes quicker than every bar - it only goes faster at bar 17. So perhaps one can say that, Williams set off from the start to have a very static accompaniment. This, of course, is the "gimmick" of the piece - it starts very static and slowly gains movement until it reaches a climax, then calms down again, A.K.A. How To Write Romantic Film Music 101.

 

Now, slow, static chords are rife for opportunity with so-called colour tones, which in this case may be the B - but I think in this case, one may understand the presence of the B easier by looking at the last exhibit above and seeing the B and A as a suspension "glued together". This is at least how I understand it.

 

Lehman's Cb7/Db is interesting but ultimately I don't think it explains much. If you were to order the pitches in ascending order, you would get A B(Cb) C#(Db) F#. The Cb has a note a tone apart on either side - this just makes it an unlikely tone to treat as the tonic, IMO, and an unhelpful one. I more side with @Score's interpretation, that it is something like a Gb minor chord (iv), but with an added B(Cb), which I interpret as a "ghost" of a suspension.

 

(I don't know what those two pictures are doing down there, I can't get rid of them... 😳 )

 

image.png

image.png

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There is a D#/Eb that occurs together with B, F#, and A in the orchestral score mm. 19, 27, 29, then transposed to F major as the note G with Eb and Db in mm. 51, 53, 59, and 61. These chords are then all bVIIb7. It's also important that the Db is never grouped with the rest of this chord but remains apart from it (generally in the bass) suggesting the function of a pedal point rather than a chord tone with the upper voices. With these points, I'm not sure how there's any support for interpreting this as a minor iv. Sure the bVIIb7 is subdued because of the way it's scored, but the notes as the maestro wrote them in these cases all make dominant-seventh-type chords. Have a look especially at the harp part, where the notes of these chords are sounded simultaneously (without the tonic pedal closeby).

 

I miss @Sharky's voice in these discussions.

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3 hours ago, Ludwig said:

There is a D#/Eb that occurs together with B, F#, and A in the orchestral score mm. 19, 27, 29, then transposed to F major as the note G with Eb and Db in mm. 51, 53, 59, and 61.

 

 

This is true. However, my opinion is that bar 9, that we are discussing, is indeed ambiguous (and should be just considered and labelled as such) because it is neither strictly Gb min (because of the B), nor strictly Cb7 (because of 1 - the absence of the important note Eb, 2 - the presence of the Db, which is of course a pedal note but it also reinforces the Gb min feeling, and also, to my mind, 3 - the doubling of the A=Bbb, one of which in the bass). It is "both of them" at the same time, in a sense. It is true that the harmony is clarified at the points that you mention as Cb7 / Db, because the Eb appears, but the ambiguity of that point, at bar 9, remains. If we compare with other instances of the theme, then we find that bar 5 of the cue "13M4 - Leia Breaks the News", where the theme is stated in F major, has the chord (bottom to top) F-Db-G-Db-F-Bb, which is of course Bbmin6 / F... and then, again, Eb7 / F two bars later. Bar 15 of the cue "9M2 - Brother and Sister", where the theme is stated in A major, unambiguously has the chord Dmin7+, and Dmin6 two bars later, which are both very different from G7 that would be the equivalent of Cb7 in the case at hand. 

 

So, the point is that JW did not assign a fixed chord to that bar of the theme, but varied the harmony almost each time, keeping the common features of the lowered 6th degree that descends to the 5th degree of the scale, and the 4th degree that descends to the 3rd degree. The rest changes, sometimes giving chords of the family of minor iv, sometimes giving bVIIb7.. If we absolutely want to assign a chord symbol to bar 9, that should just be used as a "list of the notes", then I propose either

 

Cb7 (no 3) / Db ,

   

or 

 

Gb min add4 / Db .

 

According to the "classical" rules of harmony, the problem with the first one is that the 7th is doubled, while the problem with the second one is that the add4 does not resolve.

 

8 hours ago, Loert said:

I think that this "sound" is, on average, more familiar to people here - all that Williams does is join the A and B together (compare this audio with the first audio excerpt). Note, I'm not saying that this is how Williams got to the B in the first place (with an A and B separated apart), but it is one way of thinking of the meaning of those two notes.

 

Now, I guess the deeper question I ask myself is, why did Williams join the A and B together? I think there are different angles from which you can wrestle with this, but the best way is to realise the slowness of the change in accompaniment.

 

I think what you discuss is a possible explanation of the "psychological" effect of that arrangement of notes (an effect which is probably due, in part, to cultural background, i.e., we have all heard hundreds of Romantic pieces with minor iv - I, and it's quite natural to interpret things in those terms, maybe too often). As to how JW decided to put A and B together, as I said, I am a strong supporter of the theory that it just came to him at the piano. I believe that playing the piano strongly shapes the harmonic ideas of a composer in a certain direction. Maybe he wanted to hit the A alone, slightly misplaced the thumb and hit both A and B, and decided that he liked it more :D

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2 hours ago, Ludwig said:

I agree with @Score that Williams treats the harmony at this part of the theme flexibly, offering either bVII or iv with various added notes. It's great that you point us to the other uses in the score itself! They're just further evidence that are mighty useful in trying to figure out what's going on at the start of the concert arrangement.

 

One more thing would add to this productive discussion is that Williams never "fleshes out" the harmony at this spot with a minor iv with an added 4th. In addition, "add4" isn't a standard label, probably because to add a 4th means you've got the 3rd, and having the 3rd and 4th at the same time is avoided in both classical music (having a suspension and its resolution at the same time) and in jazz (an "avoid" note). If the 4th is there, in jazz it's usually placed an octave higher to be an 11th (for minor chords, it would be the perfect 11th, for major chords, the sharp 11). Personally, I don't hear this harmony as jazzy or even Johnny's special brand of jazz-harmony-fused-with-classical-so-it-doesn't-sound-jazzy-anymore. The kind of thing @TGPtalks about as one of Williams' great stylistic achievements (which I completely agree with). Anyway, I don't hear it as that, but rather as a straight ahead late-Romantic style adapted into Williams' own style.

 

So speaking again of "familiarity", an add4 interpretation would be lower down my list than an incomplete 7th chord. But as @Score points out, either way the chord (excluding the bass pedal) is perhaps somewhat ambiguous at the start because the chord is incomplete. So one has to draw on either other statements of the theme that are fleshed out more at that spot and extrapolate backwards to the opening, or draw on a familiarity argument, which, depending on one's background, may elicit different interpretations.

 

I suppose for these reasons, I would still go with the bVII interpretation even at the start where the harmony's incomplete. But of course Williams does harmonize it with variants of minor iv as well, as @Score rightfully shows. The concert arrangement even has these as well, once the theme moves into A major at the end. So it's not as if we're supposed to hear the harmony the same way each time that part of the theme appears.

 

 

I agree with what you wrote. By association of ideas (maybe also due to the passages being in the same key), this sequence reminds me of another use of a bVII chord, this time unmistakeably jazzy, occurring in "The Fountain Scene" from The Terminal. It happens here between 4:41 and 4:42,

 

 

The beautiful melody is presented in Db major, and in that bar it goes F - Db - Ab - Gb. Under the Ab (second half of the bar), we find a chord of Cb7 with the additions of the major 9th and the major 13th, i.e., the chord is (bottom to top): Cb, Gb, Bbb, Db, Eb, Ab. In enharmonic notation, easier to read, it would be B, F#, A, C#, D#, G#. Now, here the chord is definitely complete (6 notes!), but apart from that, it reminds me of the ROTJ case we have discussed. The harmonic resolution is different, but "not too much": it goes on with the chord of Bb min / G natural, which contains the key notes Db and F, as the Db major chord in ROTJ (the F reached melodically, also as in the ROTJ case). I perceive a similar harmonic strategy beyond these two examples. That whole theme is actually a wonderful example of interesting harmonies. 

 

 

 

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Excuse me, I have another basic question that may be dumb, but I'm very confused.

I see all referring to the tarnhelm progression (eg. in a minor, it's a minor chord going to f minor) as

i-bvi

 

shouldn't the flat be on the right, since then it shows that the third of the chord is flattened (f-ab-c)?

i-vib

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In honor of the new LLL set, I figured I'd ask a Potter question that's been bothering me for a while. It's about this incredible passage:

 

 

I've always thought of those gorgeously dissonant (?) brass harmonies as jazzy. But I'm not well-schooled enough in jazz to know whether that bit is actually influenced by JW's (extensive) jazz background. I think it'd be really cool if this was yet another example of JW's jazzy style shining through in even non-overtly-jazzy set pieces like this. Anyone have any thoughts? @Loert, @Jilal, @Score, and/or @Ludwig, or anyone else? 

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1 hour ago, Ludwig said:

 

If this were a jazz-based cue, at least harmonically, I'd expect to hear chords built in thirds with plenty of types of extensions (7ths, 9ths, 11ths, 13ths). And of course generally, Williams frequently draws on these kinds of chords in his writing, but they're not really found here. With all the clusters, polychords, and aleatory, my thinking is that the cue belongs more in the realm of Williams' atonal CE3K-ish writing influenced by such composers as Ligeti, Penderecki, Lutoslawski, et al. More detail on these kinds of cues can be found in a thread @Sharky started a few years back called "Johnny's Mystery Chords" that is filled with these kinds of chords in Williams' film music and explains more thoroughly what I'm getting at here. Hope that helps!

 

Thanks for the response! Now that you mention it I definitely agree that there's a lot of Ligeti, Penderecki, etc. here. I still can't shake the feeling that there's something jazzy about these few seconds, but maybe it's actually more because of the jolly rhythm and less because of the harmonies themselves:

 

 

In any event, it's hard not to marvel at JW's wild chords for this cue. Few composers today would attempt something like this for a climactic action scene. 

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On 12/18/2018 at 6:32 AM, Will said:

 

Thanks for the response! Now that you mention it I definitely agree that there's a lot of Ligeti, Penderecki, etc. here. I still can't shake the feeling that there's something jazzy about these few seconds, but maybe it's actually more because of the jolly rhythm and less because of the harmonies themselves:

 

 

In any event, it's hard not to marvel at JW's wild chords for this cue. Few composers today would attempt something like this for a climactic action scene. 

 

I agree with Ludwig that, stylistically, that passage is much more related to avant-garde writing than jazz. Maybe you get that feeling from the prominent "brass band", but harmonically it's definitely not jazz, in my opinion. I agree that it's really a passage to marvel at, and it's easily one of my favourite entries in JW's collection of avant-garde pieces. But all the dementor stuff in Azkaban is exceptional, as well as the whole Knight Bus ride sequence. It's the kind of stuff that showcases JW's exceptional aural imagination.

 

 

   

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2 hours ago, Kühni said:

What's this very brief transitioning chord during Gandalf's Farewell on strings here (right at 7:36)?

 

As a chord, you could call it DbM7/F, but I think there's a better way to understand it. The chord sounds a bit muddy because of a C and Db in the strings that are just a semitone apart. But the C was in the previous chord (Fm) then resolves a chord tone (hard to tell if it's Ab or Db, but the chord turns into a purely consonant chord anyway). So it's a kind of suspension, really. Which means that it's probably best understood as a plain Db major chord with a suspension added overtop.

 

You can hear this suspension more clearly a bit earlier in the cue. At 6:37, the singer sings C over Fm/C, so the C is consonant. Then the chord changes to DbM while the singer hangs onto the C, creating a beautiful suspension that resolves down to Ab (resolves by skip down instead of the more typical step down). So I think the later chord you point to is a rearrangement of this same one, it's just that the C sounds more biting because it's in the same instrument and right beside the Db.

 

So at the spot you point to, it's probably best to call the chord a DbM/F with a suspension.

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So, I've been trying to get an answer to this for a while, but haven't had any luck.

 

In a very touching scene

Spoiler

at the end of

the film Fences,

Spoiler

Mykelti Williamson's character struggles through his brain damage to play the trumpet, and produces

a sound (spoiler for the film) I've heard a few times elsewhere, mainly in a jazz context.  One example in particular comes to mind: In Kaze's "Triangle" prominently from 6:32-6:42 and 16:33-17:07.

Is there a name in trumpet technique for this?  Obviously the Fences clip isn't intentional in-character, but there would have had to have been a way to communicate that sound to the trumpet performer, and the Kaze clip is obviously intended.  How is this sound produced, and how might I notate it?

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On 5/14/2019 at 1:31 PM, Gnome in Plaid said:

So, I've been trying to get an answer to this for a while, but haven't had any luck.

 

In a very touching scene

  Reveal hidden contents

the film Fences,

  Reveal hidden contents

a sound (spoiler for the film) I've heard a few times elsewhere, mainly in a jazz context.  One example in particular comes to mind: In Kaze's "Triangle" prominently from 6:32-6:42 and 16:33-17:07.

Is there a name in trumpet technique for this?  Obviously the Fences clip isn't intentional in-character, but there would have had to have been a way to communicate that sound to the trumpet performer, and the Kaze clip is obviously intended.  How is this sound produced, and how might I notate it?

 

That is a brass/wind technique of blowing into the instrument without buzzing your lips. Very simple. This was me doing it into a trombone because I needed the effect for a mockup.

BrassBlowing.wav

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Hi guys,

 

I am currently studying the Harry Potter scores and I am amazed by one chord progression.

It's the beginning of the chamber of secrets theme.

 

 

 

 

The introduction is based on two chords (from 00:00 to 00:13)

 

C Eb G B E : Obviously a Cminor major 7 (The James Bond chord !)

 

followed by :

 

B C Eb F# Ab : what the *** is that chord and what function does it represents.

 

I have spotted the Hungarian minor mode which is a minor mode with augmented 4th.

 

So in Cmin : C D Eb F# G Ab B C

 

I am hearing the chord being a vi minor major (like the imperial march) Ab B Eb with added C and F# in order to create some dissonnance and the horror of the chamber.

 

But I'm not sure that is what Williams had in mind. Work also with a more classic VI Major : Ab C Eb with added B and F#

 

What do you think about this ?

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I think there are essentially two things going on here:

  1. The bottom note C going down to the B, which is melodically motivated and brings to mind something like the Darth Vader motif (compare C C C B to G G G Eb).
  2. The G being "bisected" into F# and Ab (i.e. down and up a semitone); Williams does something similar in HP1 (D going to C# and Eb) - in fact he does something similar almost every time he does suspense.

I think you are right to bring up the Imperial March as I think it comes from the same grammar. Williams does something similar at the end of Visitor in San Diego.

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33 minutes ago, Disco Stu said:

I encountered this (imo) achingly beautiful chord.

 

I won't say anything of the context, just imagine it voiced for string quartet.

 

How would you describe this vertical harmony?

 

image.png

 

Ab9/13#, without the third, so it is neither major nor minor. The 13# is enharmonically equivalent to a minor 7th (F# = Gb), but the fact that it is notated as F# rather than Gb seems to suggest that it is going to resolve upwards to G. What is the next chord?

 

 

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Could the chord be alternately described as a Bb minor seventh in the third inversion with a raised third (F, which is now the 7th)? 

23 minutes ago, Score said:

 

Ab9/13#, without the third, so it is neither major nor minor. The 13# is enharmonically equivalent to a minor 7th (F# = Gb), but the fact that it is notated as F# rather than Gb seems to suggest that it is going to resolve upwards to G. What is the next chord?

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, SteveMc said:

Could the chord be alternately described as a Bb minor seventh in the third inversion with a raised third (F, which is now the 7th)? 

 

 

No, that would be made of Ab - Bb - Db - F# (the given chord has Eb and no Db). Also, the interval of perfect fifth between the lowest note (Ab) and the first note on the top of it (Eb) enforces the perception of Ab as the fundamental of the chord. The interval of a perfect fifth between Eb and Bb, on the other hand, could make one perceive Eb as the fundamental and, because of the top F# = Gb, it could be perceived as Ebm/Ab (Eb minor with Ab in the bass); however, it is not written like that. Anyway, for chords that fall out of standard pre-1900 harmonic schemes, there is no real point in trying to give names, except if one wants to express in a compact way the list of notes. And then, any version is correct as long as the notes are right.   

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3 hours ago, Score said:

What is the next chord?

 

Yes, I want to know this too as well as what chords came before it.

 

Harmony is best understood as a contextual thing since, as @Score and @SteveMc have already pointed out, this vertical "slice" this can have several interpretations. And if non-chord tones are considered, then the possibilities become extensive indeed since each note could be on its way to resolving to the chord tone, and may be doing so at the same time as another note in the "chord". For example, following @Score's lead, maybe the F# is on its way to resolving to a "real" chord tone of G to produce an EbM/Ab (whatever that would mean in context). Or maybe the F# will resolve to G at the same time that the Bb will resolve up to C to give an AbM7. Or maybe F# will resolve to G, and the Ab (which seems like a stable note) is actually a non-chord tone that resolves down to G as well, resulting in an EbM/G chord. Beethoven's actually written this with exactly the chord @Disco Stu cites (voiced differently but with F#!). It's in the slow movement of his Bb Piano Sonata, Op. 22. Here's the relevant bit:

 

beethoven-op22-2nd-mvt-excerpt.jpg

 

But likely the many interpretations of Stu's mystery chord would whittle down to one when heard in its context. So, what piece is this from, and where in the piece is it?

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1 hour ago, SteveMc said:

I must have done something wrong when transposing into tenor clef!:pat:

Thanks!

 

No problem! Just a curiosity... why did you want to transpose from bass to tenor clef (of all clefs)? :huh:

 

 

38 minutes ago, Ludwig said:

 

Yes, I want to know this too as well as what chords came before it.

 

Harmony is best understood as a contextual thing since, as @Score and @SteveMc have already pointed out, this vertical "slice" this can have several interpretations. And if non-chord tones are considered, then the possibilities become extensive indeed since each note could be on its way to resolving to the chord tone, and may be doing so at the same time as another note in the "chord". For example, following @Score's lead, maybe the F# is on its way to resolving to a "real" chord tone of G to produce an EbM/Ab (whatever that would mean in context). Or maybe the F# will resolve to G at the same time that the Bb will resolve up to C to give an AbM7. Or maybe F# will resolve to G, and the Ab (which seems like a stable note) is actually a non-chord tone that resolves down to G as well, resulting in an EbM/G chord. Beethoven's actually written this with exactly the chord @Disco Stu cites (voiced differently but with F#!). It's in the slow movement of his Bb Piano Sonata, Op. 22. Here's the relevant bit:

 

beethoven-op22-2nd-mvt-excerpt.jpg

 

But likely the many interpretations of Stu's mystery chord would whittle down to one when heard in its context. So, what piece is this from, and where in the piece is it?

 

This is a very nice example, @Ludwig ! So, that combination of notes can exist in classical harmony (who is more classical than Beethoven?) as a double harmonic appoggiatura. In that example, Ab delays its resolution to G of the Eb major chord, while F# is reached melodically and also resolves to G. I think the different voicing is crucial here. In the Beethoven example, the bass note is Eb, which has a strong tonic character due to the presence of the perfect fifth (Bb) and the previous Bb7 chord; the final stable chord (reached when the two appoggiaturas resolve) has the major third (G) doubled one octave apart. In @Disco Stu 's example, if the resolution were the same, with that voicing we would reach (from bottom to top): G - Eb - Bb - G, which would be a first-inversion Eb major with the bass note doubled in the highest register. Such a doubling of the major third, when the major third is in the bass, is considered quite "bad" from the perspective of classical harmony, as far as I know. The voicing given in Beethoven's case, instead, is considered correct, because the Eb is in the bass and so the doubling of the major third is not "disturbing". Of course, principles of aesthetics changed with time. But it's interesting to see that the mere transposition of one note (Ab) one octave down can lead to such a big difference; the two resolutions to Eb definitely have very distinct effects. 

 

So, we really need to know what comes before and after that chord! 

 

 

  

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15 minutes ago, Score said:

why did you want to transpose from bass to tenor clef (of all clefs)?

I mean to say alto clef! Too many errors!  anyway, I plugged the chord into MuseScore to hear it, as Stu suggested, played by string quartet.  

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OK OK!  I was just curious of contextless reactions to the harmony :)

 

As for how it resolves, @Ludwig @Score @SteveMc, y'all tell me!  Tonal ambiguity is the name of the game with this entire piece.

 

 

So this is at the very beginning, the introduction, of an absolutely enchantingly lovely piece called Fantasy for English Horn, Harp, and Strings by my newest obsession, Walter Piston.

 

Please correct me if I set this up incorrectly!

 

So the piece starts in a nice, grounded tonal center of C (?) and it make the magical (fantastical?) modulation at the end of the third measure into the chord I originally posted.  The kind of quiet change in sonority that sends chills down my spine.  You tell me what happens next, because it's both mysterious and familiar.  The chord forms a bed for the next 2 or 3 measures, setting up the entrance of the English horn.

 

Screenshot 2019-07-01 at 19.36.39.png

 

Here's the whole thing.  It's my own score video I put on Youtube, actually.  The theme returns at 6:22.

 

 

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16 hours ago, Ludwig said:

Vincent Persichetti

 

The other great American pedagogue-composer of the era!

 

Thanks a lot for your analysis!  The quiet dynamic plus the "major 2nds/minor 7ths and perfect 4ths/5ths" harmony makes this piece so atmospheric.  I love it!

 

Here's another little part of the intro I love.  It's got that E-F minor 2nd in the violins with the B underneath.  And then the movement up to the A makes it sound like a major third, perfect fourth, and minor seventh all at the same time.  Very woozy sounding.

 

image.png

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2 hours ago, Score said:

Thank you @Disco Stu , for advertising this nice piece!

 

No problem!  It's beautiful but pretty minor in his oeuvre.  I consider his 5 String Quartets (esp. the third) and 8 Symphonies (esp. the sixth) to be the must-listen heart of his career.

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What is this Horner chord at 0:16?

 

Horner used this chord quite a few times such as in Krull and Star Trek II, but I'm trying to understand what exactly is it.  Would this be considered a cluster or tri-tonal?  I hear D minor, D major, and G major but is there a better way to explain this harmonic choice than just poly chords?

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44 minutes ago, Kühni said:

What's the chord at the reveal of dead T-Rex here?

 

Do you mean at 0:37? It's D minor with an F in the bass. The chord just before it is D major with an F# in the bass.

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