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Thread: Baroque "chord progressions"

  1. #136
    Senior Member TalkingHead's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JosefinaHW View Post
    I am going to refer people to this post next time someone says Bach is not a "Tier One" Composer (I hate those categorizations) or someone says the cantatas are boring! You have my eternal gratitude.
    Not at all!
    Really though, I wouldn't get upset if peope say things like that. It's often born out of ignorance of these works or maybe they've been exposed to really bad performances using huge orchestral forces and singers with 3cm vibrato.

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    Senior Member TalkingHead's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    Then you're taking liberties with the definition of "key" and "key signature." "Key signatures" define a diatonic scale that can be used in two modes, major or minor. The "key" of a work is defined in terms of the particular major or minor scale from which its principle pitches are drawn, and this is indicated by a "key signature."

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    Senior Member TalkingHead's Avatar
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    All I can say is that you should never leave home without your keys.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TalkingHead View Post
    Normally yes. But in the "371" there are a good few instances where Bach uses 3 flats (indicating C minor, for example) but in fact it "sounds" as F minor.
    It may seem strange to us but that happened in the minor key, though modern editions may update the key signature. As I remember it in a treatise by Charles Masson, a significant predecessor of Rameau, the minor key was derived there from the Dorian mode (or Church Mode I), not from what is called the Aeolian mode. So in D minor there is no Bb but rather B-natural, the sixth note of the Dorian scale.
    Last edited by Roger Knox; Apr-01-2019 at 17:40.

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    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EdwardBast View Post
    Saying a C major scale is harmonically unstable is absurd, by which I mean it doesn't even make enough sense to be incorrect. A C major scale is not a harmonic phenomenon. Saying there are "non harmonic" tones in a C major scale that "need resolving" is also a nonsensical statement. Any tone in a major scale can be a harmonic tone and any tone can be a non-harmonic tone. These terms have no meaning as you have used them because they only have meaning in specific contexts, which your statements have not provided. Harmonic tones often require resolution. The tonic note in C major can be a nonharmonic tone requiring resolution.

    Even a sympathetic reading of your statement suggests you don't know what the term nonharmonic tone means.
    Talking to you is like cutting your way through a dense overgrowth of academic accumulation, with bothersome gnats flying around to add to the drudgery.

    I'm not an academic thinker, as you apparently are. If you don't agree with my ideas, there's no need to start name-calling or making negative inferences. Get a grip, please!

    I'm looking at the C major scale itself as a harmonic reinforcer or indicator of the key of C major, and it does not do this as efficiently as it should, if what we wanted was a scale that reinforces the key of C major harmonically. As it stands, it appears that the C major scale is used not primarily harmonically, because it has tendencies which make it want to go to other keys; it is ambiguous in this sense. Because it does not reinforce C efficiently, I say it is harmonically unstable. More on this later.

    To address your assertion that scales are not harmonic phenomena (you did say that, didn't you?), I have the following:

    What are scales useful for, then? They are unordered, so there are cross-relations between every note in the scale with every other note. What does this mean? It means that scales have a harmonic content.
    What is harmonic content, and what are cross-relations in a scale? It means that every note is related to every other note:

    C Major scale: C-D-E-F-G-A-B

    Relations: First note, C:
    C-D; C-E; C-F; C-G; C-A; C-B

    Then, next note, D:
    D-E; D-F; D-G; D-A; D-B

    Then, next note, E:
    E-F; E-G; E-A; E-B

    Then, next note, F:
    F-G; F-A; F-B

    Then, next note, G:
    G-A; G-B

    Then, next note, A:
    A-B

    These intervals can be counted, to come up with a "harmonic content" of the scale:
    minor thirds: 2 (E-F, B-C)
    major seconds: 5 (C-D, D-E, F-G, G-A, A-B)
    minor thirds: 4: D-F, E-G, A-C, B-D)
    major thirds: 3: C-E, F-A, G-B
    fourths: 5: C-F, D-G, E-A, G-C, A-D
    tritones: 1: (B-F)

    20 relations; with 6 basic interval types (the rest are inversions): m2/M7, M2/m7, m3/M6, M3/m6, 4th/5th/, and tritone.

    Now, to address my assertion that the C major scale is unstable:

    The "diminished seventh" chord itself, supposedly built on the vii degree, is not really that at all: it's to be considered an incomplete G7 dominant (B-D-F), and should be resolved as that by assuming a G root, according to two respected sources: Walter Piston's Harmony and Schoenberg's Harmonielehre.

    The "diminished seventh" is not really a chord at all, with its unstable tritone; it just reveals a glitch in the harmonic system, and is really the result of contrapuntal voice-leading.

    The diminished seventh, with its tritone B-F, reveals the inherent instability of the C major scale, which was designed for "travel" out of the key, not to ultimately reinforce the key suggested by the scale. The diatonic C major scale, the chosen scale for most of our music, is also inherently unstable as far as being "totally tonal." It's built for movement, for unrest.

    The interval C-F is a fourth; if we hear this as "root on top," then F Major (complete with leading tone E-F) is established, subordinating C, supposedly the "home" key. All this is due to the fact of the tritone F-B in the C major scale.
    In this light, we can see the truth of George Russell's assertion that the Lydian scale is "more tonal" if one wants to establish the scale root as the key.

    The F lydian scale cycles through all 7 in perfect fifths before it circles back around to F, its key note: F-C-G-D-A-E-B (F). This is also why piano tuners start on F and tune by fifths.

    If we try to "stack fifths" starting on C, we get C-G-D-A-E-B-(F#?). It doesn't work for a C major scale, as it has an "F."

    When all the notes of a C major scale are sustained by ascending fifths, C-G-D-A-E-B, the consonance of perfect fifths falls apart when the clunker "F" is added on top.

    The C major scale is structured so that there is a "leading tone" E-F (establishing F), as well as B-C (establishing C).

    Significantly, the C lydian scale has a leading tone F#-G (establishing the more closely related V step of G) and B-C (establishing the scale key).

    I'm not criticizing the C major scale; it's perfectly suited for what it is used for: to travel to other key areas due to its inherent instability, the tritone B-F, which ultimately manifests as the diminished chord.

    In other words, the C major diatonic scale was designed to travel to other key areas, thus being inherently unstable, thus fulfilling its "harmonic destiny:" the diminished chord and the unravelling of the tonal fabric.

    The dissolution of tonality is inherent in the structure of the major scale.
    Last edited by millionrainbows; Apr-01-2019 at 19:47.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    That's interesting and surprising. A survival of modal thinking?
    Yes, that's it exactly! G minor - one flat. C minor - two flats. Evolution of minor from the Dorian mode.
    Last edited by Roger Knox; Apr-01-2019 at 19:33.

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  9. #142
    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
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    You guys are so academic! Do any of you know how to use a mode, or how to determine a scale or mode for playing over a chord progression, or do you just analyze Bach chorales? To each his own.

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    Senior Member mikeh375's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    You guys are so academic! Do any of you know how to use a mode, or how to determine a scale or mode for playing over a chord progression, or do you just analyze Bach chorales? To each his own.
    Yes to the first, no to the second...and you?

  11. #144
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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post

    I'm not criticizing the C major scale; it's perfectly suited for what it is used for: to travel to other key areas due to its inherent instability, the tritone B-F, which ultimately manifests as the diminished chord.

    In other words, the C major diatonic scale was designed to travel to other key areas, thus being inherently unstable, thus fulfilling its "harmonic destiny:" the diminished chord and the unravelling of the tonal fabric.

    The dissolution of tonality is inherent in the structure of the major scale.
    Diatonic scale is basically the most consonant and stable 7 note scale in 5-limit just intonation and related tunings (like 12 equal) - it's basically a consonant chord. I disagree that it has anything to do with atonality.
    You are also wrong when you talk about the tritone, because there is no tritone in classical meantone repertoire where we get a diminished fifth and augmented fourth. These are not ambigious in any way. I think that 12 equal is the only ambigious meantone tuning. All other accurate meantone tunings are not divisible by 2 and have no tritones (19 and 31 equal are well known. Much of classical music can be analysed as 12 notes out of 31, because there is almost no difference between 1/4 comma meantone and 31 equal.)
    7 equal (Thai/Central Africa) feels pretty consonant and along with 5-equal (close to Indonesia/African ) give opportunities for "serial" and "atonal" systems that actually don't sound like garbage, despite being completely symmetrical. That's because they have decent approximations (for their size) of various harmonics and someone can compose atonal/tonal music that doesn't sound annoying (too bad that harmony there is garbage).

  12. #145
    Senior Member EdwardBast's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    You guys are so academic! Do any of you know how to use a mode, or how to determine a scale or mode for playing over a chord progression, or do you just analyze Bach chorales? To each his own.
    This is a thread on Baroque chord progressions and by extension, Baroque theory. If you want to talk about modal improvisation in a modern context, why not start a thread on that instead of complaining about the subject matter under discussion here?

    I'm not responding to your longer post because you're just restating ideas you've been posting for years and inserting more or less randomly into threads whether they have anything to do with the subject of the thread or not. I've already pointed out about twenty errors in the contents of that longer post in this thread and elsewhere.
    Last edited by EdwardBast; Apr-01-2019 at 21:51.

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  14. #146
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikeh375 View Post
    The next seismic shift in musical thought after Wagner and Schoenberg's developing ideas was the emancipation of rhythm. Stravinsky takes the credit there obviously, but as time progressed, his innovations where developed by others to a point where it became a major contributor to the demise of modern music because rhythm, as John Adams has said, is "the great unifier ". Its ability to anchor the listener with regular pulse and aid in comprehension was subjected to what could be construed as the linear equivalent to Wagner's investigation of chromaticism but with more serious disorientating results.
    Could you elaborate a bit? Disorienting in what way?
    Last edited by Woodduck; Apr-01-2019 at 22:20.

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  16. #147
    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
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    Diatonic scale is basically the most consonant and stable 7 note scale in 5-limit just intonation and related tunings (like 12 equal) - it's basically a consonant chord. I disagree that it has anything to do with atonality.

    The 12 equal is equally related to a Pythagoran stacking of 3/2s: just stack 'em and even out the leftover comma, and viola! you have 12 ET.

    By contrast, look on p. 39 of Doty's Just Intonation Primer and notice how a five-limit major scale is constructed. It consists of three interlocking major triads built on the tonic (1/1), dominant (3/2), and subdominant (4/3) scale degrees.

    Begin by tuning a major triad on the tonic (1/1). This gives us the scale degrees 1/1, 5/4, and 3/3. Next, another major triad on the dominant degree, the fifth of the previous triad (3/2).This yields two additional tones, 9/8 and 15/8. Finally, we obtain the subdominant degree by tuning a fifth below (or a fourth above) 1/1, and then construct our last triad on this tone. This process gives us our final two scale tones, 4/3 and 5/3. Expressed in scale order, starting on the tonic, the scale degrees are 1/1, 9/8, 5/4, 4/3, 3/2, 5/3, and 15/8.

    Syntonon Diatonic 200dpi 1.jpeg

    Although the Syntonon diatonic has advantages over a Pythagoran ditone (generated from 3/2s and 4/3s), because of the ditone's weird thirds, it has the same "hierarchy" problems as modern scales because of its internal structure: the subdominant was generated by "changing direction" and going down a fifth (up a fourth) from 1/1 to the subdominant, now in-octave as a 4/3. This "harmonically degrades" the hierarchy of a stack of perfect fifths, in the same way that in modern scales, F-C-G-D-A-E-F sounds more consonant than C-G-D-A-E-B-F.
    Last edited by millionrainbows; Apr-02-2019 at 01:01.
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  17. #148
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    I'm not an academic thinker, as you apparently are.
    Much of what you say sounds pretty academic to me. Maybe it's just that I'm a naive intuitive autodidact who's easily fooled by name-dropping, diagrams, and scientific-sounding terminology.

    I'm looking at the C major scale itself as a harmonic reinforcer or indicator of the key of C major, and it does not do this as efficiently as it should, if what we wanted was a scale that reinforces the key of C major harmonically.
    Why look at a scale as a "harmonic reinforcer"? It's just a scale. What does "reinforces the key of C major harmonically" mean? Do keys need reinforcements? How can a scale reinforce a key?

    it has tendencies which make it want to go to other keys; it is ambiguous in this sense.
    I don't find it ambiguous or having tendencies or wanting to do anything. It's just an array of pitches sitting there waiting for music to give its pitches tendencies.

    The C major scale is structured so that there is a "leading tone"
    "B" is a leading tone only if music is structured so that "B" leads to "C." This thread has actually been talking about music in which it doesn't. In jazz, for example, seventh and ninth chords are often stable: "B" needn't "lead" anywhere - neither to "C" in C major, nor to "A" in A minor - even in a final cadence. Post-CP music has removed many "tendencies" from scales - or, more accurately, shown that they aren't inherent in the scales to begin with but merely imputed by convention.

    I'm not criticizing the C major scale; it's perfectly suited for what it is used for: to travel to other key areas due to its inherent instability, the tritone B-F, which ultimately manifests as the diminished chord.
    A dim7 is constructed of overlapping tritones. It isn't something tritones "manifest."

    The C major scale is also perfectly suited for not traveling to other tonal areas. Any scale is suitable for traveling or not traveling to other tonal areas. It depends on the conventions of the music utilizing the scale. Music using a pentatonic scale, from which the tritone relationship is missing, may "want" to shift its tonal center from C to A or E if a melody is shaped in such a way as to make us hear it that way. Tonal instability is a property of music, not of scales.

    The C major scale hasn't changed for centuries, but what composers do with the notes in it has. The scale has not told them what they must do; they have told the scale - tritone, leading tone, and all - what to do.

    In other words, the C major diatonic scale was designed to travel to other key areas, thus being inherently unstable, thus fulfilling its "harmonic destiny:" the diminished chord and the unravelling of the tonal fabric.

    The dissolution of tonality is inherent in the structure of the major scale.
    The fact that a tritone can be found between two notes of a scale doesn't dictate the ways in which that interval will be used, or whether it will be used at all (maybe it will be called "the devil" and avoided). It doesn't have to be used to build diminished chords any more than the seventh scale degree has to resolve to the eighth. The fact that within the Western tonal system certain notes of a scale can be used to create an effect of harmonic instability doesn't justify calling the scale itself unstable. But still less does it justify the leap of logic that would connect harmonic instability - "ambiguities" and "tendencies" - to the "dissolution" of tonality. Instability, ambiguity and tendencies presuppose tonal expectations, which they frustrate or satisfy for structural and expressive purposes. Once the tritone is "emancipated" (to use Schoenberg's curious term) from tonality, it is not unstable and not ambiguous, because there is no longer a stable state - a tonic - to which it "tends," or about which uncertainty can be felt.

    To say that the dissolution of tonality is inherent in the structure of the major scale is like saying that the dissolution of democratic society is inherent in a free press and the right to vote. We can talk and vote ourselves into dictatorship, but that doesn't make the loss of political rights inherent in the structure of democracy.
    Last edited by Woodduck; Apr-02-2019 at 07:25.

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  19. #149
    Senior Member Larkenfield's Avatar
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    ‘The "diminished seventh" chord itself, supposedly built on the vii degree, is not really that at all: it's to be considered an incomplete G7 dominant (B-D-F), and should be resolved as that by assuming a G root, according to two respected sources: Walter Piston's Harmony and Schoenberg's Harmonielehre.’
    ——
    Add the A of the C-major scale to the B-D-F and you have the half-diminished chord that naturally resolves to the E minor chord of the scale. Mahler started off his Seventh Symphony with a half-diminished chord but did not resolve it to the tonic. B-D-F is part of the half-diminished and is much more than an incomplete dominant seventh because it has a different root than a dominant G chord.
    Last edited by Larkenfield; Apr-02-2019 at 01:17.
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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post


    ...
    Syntonic comma and Pythagorean comma (and similar differences) are called unison vectors in tuning theory, because they can be tempered to unison without distorting too much the final scale (which can be represented by different unison vectors and ratios).

    Depending on what we will play, we can have many different interpetations of diatonic scale in just intonation, using ratios like 10/9 =minor whole tone, 27/20 = acute fourth, 27/16 = pythagorean major sixth etc. These are all valid ratios and can actually be heard in real performances when the orchestra plays, despite not existing in normal textbooks.
    Ben Johnston has some string quartets, I think, where he notated just intonation; I can imagine how horrific it looks for an end result that will sound basically the same as letting the players to use their ears (of course, he uses some enharmonic tricks in his compositions, but you get what I mean - it's probably not worth it to overcomplicate the notation for minor results).

    How we will rationalize the construction of various scales for keyboards is another topic. The method you mentioned was popularised by Zarlino, but he also mentions that this 7-note scale is expanded to 21 pitches gamut (by multiplying the scale steps with other ratios), not 12. It was known way before Zarlino to Greeks and Romans and they didn't rationalize it with chords. Their theory was based on tetrachords.

    12 equal is not just a simplified representation of 5 or 3-limit (generated by perfect fitths) diatonic. Hexatonic, octatonic, various "blues/oriental/gypsy/ethnic" or symmetrical 9, 10, 11 (this one is the chromatic, skipping the tritone) notes scales exist in it and are better represented in bigger divisions of the octave (and lead to bigger "tonalities" that are not generated by stacking perfect fifths).
    It is interesting that all this stuff became popular (at least in art music, pop/folk music is still stuck in a pentatonic/diatonic frame) only after adoption of 12 equal, because in the Classical/Baroque/Renaissance/Medieval era they would be distorted (at least when played on organs and harpsichords, and piano ).

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