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Thread: Favorite use 1/2 dim chord

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    Default Favorite use 1/2 dim chord

    I love half diminished chords, what are your favorite examples in classical music?

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    Senior Member Rogerx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrpoodestump View Post
    I love half diminished chords, what are your favorite examples in classical music?
    You start, we follow
    Last edited by Rogerx; May-08-2018 at 04:55.

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    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
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    Schoenberg used them in his early Romantic works, like Transfigured Night, Pelleas und Mellisande, and Gurrelieder. It seems that Berg's Op. 1 Piano Sonata is full of 'em...
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    Senior Member Funny's Avatar
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    Haydn had a great time with the half-diminished 7th that naturally occurs in the major scale, i.e. the one built on the 7th scale degree (Ti-Re-Fa-La). He had a characteristic way of using it in a progression toward the dominant. It's the pronounced use of this chord, for instance, that ties together the two seemingly disparate sections (i.e. the main, slow part, and the out-of-nowhere lickety-split coda) of the 2nd movement of Symphony #79.
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    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
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    Half-diminished chords always sound like minor chords with an added sixth. Like, B-D-F-A sounds like a D minor sixth (D-F-A-B). Then, when you drop notes down a half-step, all kinds of new stuff emerges, and it's smooth voice leading. Like lower the B to Bb, and you get Bb-D-F-A, and Bb major seventh. Lower the D to Db, and B-Db-F-A emerges, a Db aug 7. Lower F to E, and you get B-D-E-A, and it's an E suspended seventh. Lower A to Ab, and get B-D-F-Ab, a fully diminished chord on B.
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    Senior Member Kjetil Heggelund's Avatar
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    Try Villa-Lobos Prelude no. 3 for guitar. Kind of like Debussy, who probably did something similar earlier

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    Senior Member Larkenfield's Avatar
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    Mahler’s Seventh opens with half-diminished chords. Such chords are effective for creating a sense of emotional ambiguity.
    Last edited by Larkenfield; Sep-15-2018 at 12:04.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Larkenfield View Post
    Mahler’s Seventh opens with half-diminished chords. Such chords are effective for creating a sense of emotional ambiguity.
    It also opens the final movement of Tchaikovsky's 6th. But is it a half-diminished chord?As I remember a half diminished seventh chord is a Root-Minor 3rd-Diminished 5th-Diminished 7th.

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    Senior Member EdwardBast's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by derin684 View Post
    It also opens the final movement of Tchaikovsky's 6th. But is it a half-diminished chord?As I remember a half diminished seventh chord is a Root-Minor 3rd-Diminished 5th-Diminished 7th.
    What you have described is fully diminished. Half diminished has a minor 7th.

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    Half-diminished chords always sound like minor chords with an added sixth. Like, B-D-F-A sounds like a D minor sixth (D-F-A-B). Then, when you drop notes down a half-step, all kinds of new stuff emerges, and it's smooth voice leading. Like lower the B to Bb, and you get Bb-D-F-A, and Bb major seventh. Lower the D to Db, and B-Db-F-A emerges, a Db aug 7. Lower F to E, and you get B-D-E-A, and it's an E suspended seventh. Lower A to Ab, and get B-D-F-Ab, a fully diminished chord on B.
    I mostly agree, but not with "always." The degree to which it has that flavor depends on the inversion and on the context. It can also sound like (and function as) a dominant ninth with the root missing.

    The elephant in the room is of course Wagner, whose work is an encyclopedia of uses for the half-diminished chord. The "Tristan chord" is only the most famous instance from his limitless repertoire of examples in every inversion, context, and orchestration. For me his most striking single example is probably a motif from Gotterdammerung, in which the half-diminished chord F#-C-Eb-Bb sounds over an A in the bass, which becomes the root of a dominant 7th when all four notes of the chord resolve to G-C#-E-A. Sounded softly in the winds and tremolo strings, the effect is spine-tingling.
    Last edited by Woodduck; Sep-22-2018 at 03:44.

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