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Thread: Baroque "chord progressions"

  1. #46
    Senior Member TalkingHead's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    I have an old Kalmus edition. Can you cite a few titles?
    Sure.
    For use of IV7:
    a) Jesu, joy of man's desiring;
    b) Nun ruhen alle Wälder;
    c) Ich dank' dir, lieber Herre.

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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    MR: "In CP, there is no major seventh chord."

    "The seventh degree, leading-tone, for all its importance a an indicator of the tonic through its melodic tendency, has not been treated as a basic structural factor in tonality. It remains a significant melodic tone, common to both modes. It is seldom regarded as a generator of harmony, but is usually absorbed into the dominant chord. The progression, leading-tone to tonic, may be described as melodically VII-I and harmonically V-I." -Walter Piston, Harmony, p. 33

    This treatment of the seventh degree supports what I am saying, as well as it weakens what you are saying.

    "It follows that the tonal structure of music consists mainly of harmonies with tonal degrees as roots (I,IV,V, and II), with the modal degree chords (III and VI) used for variety." -Piston, p. 34

    If the seventh degree cannot be used except melodically, as a leading-tone, or harmonically, as part of a V-I, this also supports my position that a C major seventh is not considered to be a chord unto itself.
    Here I am responding to the first line of your post only. I made a mistake in post #19 when I referred to harmony textbooks. Comparing common-practice harmony, Piston version (Harmony), and then Schenkerian analysis, I neglected to consider another important source: Schenker-influenced harmony textbooks such as Aldwell and Schachter's influential Harmony and Voice Leading; note the difference in title compared to Piston. Aldwell and Schachter acknowledge diatonic seventh chords of the dominant type and chords leading to the dominant (e.g. II7 and IV7) as functional with Roman numerals. But -- unlike Piston -- not I7 (a major seventh if in a major key) so I was wrong there. They don't acknowledge III7 or VI7 either, the 7th being considered a non-harmonic tone indicated by a figured bass numeral.

    None of my comments here or earlier concern the practice of particular composers; rather, they refer to common-practice and my question is: what is considered common-practice (CP) harmony in 2019?
    Last edited by Roger Knox; Mar-23-2019 at 17:55.

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    Senior Member mikeh375's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Knox View Post
    ......and my question is: what is considered common-practice (CP) harmony in 2019?
    Hi Roger,

    I'd suggest that if you are an untrained composer, CP involves chords (often simple common chords) without any concern for voice leading. The chord often becomes a digital audio block in DAW composing, to be shunted around as one sees fit. One could say that the chord in this instance exists in aural isolation if it is sampled.

    If one is trained (as I am) then for concert/art music the old principles of voice leading and good part writing still apply in tonal and expanded tonal practice if only for practical reasons. CP for me involves scale/mode invention (sometimes over more than one octave) and the creation of harmonic/melodic material from them using traditional principles, albeit modified. I often apply enharmonic practice and do take liberties depending on where the music, along with my proclivities and aesthetics take me. CP in my case is also a search tool to find material - the workman aspect of composing.

    CP as used by many untrained composers has yielded some very interesting and worthwhile musical results imv and the paradigm of sampled/block movement could be compared to French parallelism in the early 20thC. (Ades has exploited the concept of 'sampled' chords). The ubiquity of the DAW has also actually lessened the musical efficacy of such harmonic procedures imv, because of the ease with which music can be created digitally and the fact that everyone follows trends. However, one positive to come out of DAW dumbing down (DDD) so far as actual composition is concerned might well be more openness to unusual harmonic sequences as far as the composer is concerned, although the music created is still limited in scope because of genre limitations and perhaps ability.

    CP today has to include atonality too. For me I see that as another resource and one I have also taken advantage of. Whatever the definition of CP, control is obviously essential, along with a sense of adventure and open ears (and the odd serendipitous moment).

    The maj7th chord (or any other) can be defined as either a shape, an audio snippet, a sample (even fully scored!) and in someone like Ravel, more often than not, a beautiful moment. (I'm especially partial to his minor 9ths, especially if the 7th is in there too...aaahhh Chloe....
    Last edited by mikeh375; Mar-24-2019 at 11:32.
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    Here's an example of a modern-day usage of a major seventh chord, as a chord, to counter Bach's use of it. A simple, ubiquitous example which I'm sure everyone has heard.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Knox View Post
    ... my question is: what is considered common-practice (CP) harmony in 2019?
    In art music - you are free to use any sonority available (including microtonal techniques). There is no such thing as common practice.

    If you are after top 100 pop music, stick to major and minor chords, natural major and aeolian scales, tonics - G, F#/Gb, F , because they allow good, low bass that translates both to stadium rock or EDM festivals and streaming/radio/TV...

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    A Misunderstanding

    Popular music, jazz harmony, composition, 20th-21st century developments, music technology and many other aspects of music are fascinating to me, and I appreciate the responses and the variety of interests and accomplishments they represent.

    I taught music theory and composition at the undergraduate university level, up to the end of the 1980's. My question should have been much more specific: "What is understood in 2019 music teaching as the common-practice harmony of western classical music that was composed in c. the 18th-19th centuries?" That is what the term meant when I was studying harmony in the late 1960's-1970's. (We didn't use the abbreviation CP then.)

    I'm referring to harmony textbooks (they do contain examples of great classical composers' music), and not specific composers or works, in order to make a broad comparison. In 2019, do we still take common-practice harmony to be harmony of the 18th and 19th centuries? If so, which harmony are we referring to, taking as reference points these two books extensively used in North America, or their equivalents and successors?

    1. Piston's French-derived Harmony or,
    2. Aldwell and Schachter's Schenker-influenced Harmony and Voice-Leading.

    I know there are other approaches, but I haven't kept with post-1990 developments, textbooks or teaching in music theory. Here, my purpose is to identify the source of conflicts that came up in this particular thread (that now seem to have abated, to be sure).

    My hunch is that they come from differences in when and where people posting here studied music theory, and especially whether they used French-derived books like Piston's, or Schenker-influenced ones like Aldwell and Schachter's.

    Whether or not we agree on this I feel we can learn from each other. Everyone has different areas of knowledge, and I do not want my above comments to imply rancor against anyone, or assumed superiority, or anything else, except that I feel some clarity has been lacking in this thread.
    Last edited by Roger Knox; Mar-24-2019 at 21:07.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mikeh375 View Post
    Hi Roger,
    I'd suggest that if you are an untrained composer, CP involves chords (often simple common chords) without any concern for voice leading. The chord often becomes a digital audio block in DAW composing, to be shunted around as one sees fit. One could say that the chord in this instance exists in aural isolation if it is sampled.
    It depends on what part of the CP era, 250 years at least(!), is under discussion. In the Baroque Era and early Classical voice-leading is extremely important, with some configurations looking like diatonic 7th chords only occurring as the result of linear phenomena. Later the same "chords" occur with less strict, if any, linear justification.

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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    That's correct. If it was applicable, we'd have Bach using what could be called major seventh chords. You said "chord progression," not "CP chord progression."
    I question what major seventh chords have anything to do with whether Baroque music has chord progressions or not. I find it hard to understand how someone could reach that conclusion when it’s possible to hear the chord sequences and harmonic cadences.

    "That's all Folks!"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Knox View Post
    A Misunderstanding

    Popular music, jazz harmony, composition, 20th-21st century developments, music technology and many other aspects of music are fascinating to me, and I appreciate the responses and the variety of interests and accomplishments they represent.

    I taught music theory and composition at the undergraduate university level, up to the end of the 1980's. My question should have been much more specific: "What is understood in 2019 music teaching as the common-practice harmony of western classical music that was composed in c. the 18th-19th centuries?" That is what the term meant when I was studying harmony in the late 1960's-1970's. (We didn't use the abbreviation CP then.)

    I'm referring to harmony textbooks (they do contain examples of great classical composers' music), and not specific composers or works, in order to make a broad comparison. In 2019, do we still take common-practice harmony to be harmony of the 18th and 19th centuries? If so, which harmony are we referring to, taking as reference points these two books extensively used in North America, or their equivalents and successors?

    1. Piston's French-derived Harmony or,
    2. Aldwell and Schachter's Schenker-influenced Harmony and Voice-Leading.

    I know there are other approaches, but I haven't kept with post-1990 developments, textbooks or teaching in music theory. Here, my purpose is to identify the source of conflicts that came up in this particular thread (that now seem to have abated, to be sure).

    My hunch is that they come from differences in when and where people posting here studied music theory, and especially whether they used French-derived books like Piston's, or Schenker-influenced ones like Aldwell and Schachter's.

    Whether or not we agree on this I feel we can learn from each other. Everyone has different areas of knowledge, and I do not want my above comments to imply rancor against anyone, or assumed superiority, or anything else, except that I feel some clarity has been lacking in this thread.
    Hm, what you teach in schools and early university courses is simplifications, distortions and anachronisms. The main point of music theory education is to develop practical skills ( and musicianship), not to teach some idealised theories.

    We may do a statistical analysis on forgotten, but mediocre (not too original) composer styles in a chosen age and get an idea what the common practice was. Famous composers are not that good models, because many of them have too individual style. (We can see such analysis done usually on Bach and Mozart works - search academic university papers databases - and there are discrepancies between theory and practice in resolutions of dissonances and voice leading, which, of course, can be expected, because music is art form, not something that can be reduced to set of rules. Following blindly music theory book instructions will always lead to boring and mechanical end product.)

    It is also disappointing that almost (I have seen only in English that doesn't do this and it's out of print, translation from German) every music theory book that is useful for teaching - not just advanced, dry theory- omits details on historical tunings. I'm pretty sure that many composers from the past would have experimented with more "progressive or radical" modulations and chords, if they weren't out of tune in the optimized for meantone gamuts (basically diatonic scale; meantone extensions have commas that make romantic chord progression - think Liszt - to require enharmonic shifts and splitted keys on keyboards, so you need more advanced keyboards or unfretted string instruments) in the historical tunings.

    The best books on common practice are these that basically teach historical methods. These are very good, imo:

    "The Art of Accompaniment from a Thorough-Bass: As Practiced in the XVII and XVIII Centuries" (2 volumes) - Arnold (Bach, Vivaldi etc lovers may find this one interesting,)

    "Music in the Galant Style" - Gjerdingen (Mozart fans will love this)

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    ...but there are certain ways of thinking which are codified into rules, and do not change, such as parallel fifths, resolving dissonance, what dissonance is, and NO MAJOR SEVENTH CHORDS!

    It sounds like there is a resistance to seeing academic theory as old-fashioned, outdated, and inflexible. Perhaps this is because it has been institutionalized into the dominant ideology.

    I urge all theorists to escape from the fold and explore new methods of music theory, which dare to go outside the box into more chromatic, less diatonic territory.
    Last edited by millionrainbows; Mar-25-2019 at 12:25.

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    Senior Member mikeh375's Avatar
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    The point about learning theory (especially the old fashioned stuff) as a composer has not really been touched on and might be worth mentioning. When one learns from species counterpoint all the way through to atonality, the experience of handling notes via exercises is also giving a composer insight into his own aesthetics. A composer will find natural affinities with certain ways of doing things and will also probably discard techniques deemed unappealing. This process of exposure to, practice of (especially) and finding (developing) an instinctive affinity when choosing preferred techniques is of paramount importance during formative years and in this regard, the value of academic theory and earlier esoteric theory/practice can't be overstated imv. Academic learning for a composer is akin to an instrumentalist learning scales and arpeggios - once mastered, one can then concentrate on the music.

    Obviously one also needs to balance the insights gleaned from tradition with newer techniques too for a fully rounded and informed approach to finding one's own voice, but in my opinion newer techniques are best sought out after one has a good grasp of tradition. The reason I say this is because a chromatic field used without any control could be construed as charlatanism - anybody can create a cacophony. To create a cogent expression is to know yourself and to know yourself requires knowledge of what is possible and that is what theory can give you.
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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    NO MAJOR SEVENTH CHORDS!


    There is a whole chapter on them in the "Art of ..." If you don't believe in this book (which is basically compilation), check C.P.E. Bach talking about major sevenths ( I can't understand why do you think there was no such thing as theoretical concept back then):

    free download:
    https://imslp.org/wiki/Versuch_%C3%B...ilipp_Emanuel)

    English translation:
    https://www.amazon.com/Essay-True-Pl.../dp/0393097161

    Any practice is just a style: if you follow certain rules, you will sound in a particular way. I don't think that there is right and wrong in music.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BabyGiraffe View Post
    in
    Any practice is just a style: if you follow certain rules, you will sound in a particular way. I don't think that there is right and wrong in music.
    I agree BG. Theory (technique) does enable you to find yourself though because even practising (say) triple counterpoint in a Bachian way, you are exercising your creative muscle and training yourself to seek out perhaps motivic development and any music hidden or implied in an idea. This clearly has major benefits further on when ideas come at a later stage and whilst at first the exercises will sound like pastiche, once the principle is learnt, then one applies invention and imagination to the technique - imagination and invention which has been informed by the experience of learning.
    All said though I absolutely agree that anything should and very often does go, unless you are about to take an exam, or have no idea how to express yourself in a succinct and artful manner - it might be advisable to try some learning in the latter case.
    Last edited by mikeh375; Mar-25-2019 at 16:56.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikeh375 View Post
    ...Obviously one also needs to balance the insights gleaned from tradition with newer techniques too for a fully rounded and informed approach to finding one's own voice, but in my opinion newer techniques are best sought out after one has a good grasp of tradition. The reason I say this is because a chromatic field used without any control could be construed as charlatanism - anybody can create a cacophony. To create a cogent expression is to know yourself and to know yourself requires knowledge of what is possible and that is what theory can give you.
    I understand the old ways well enough to know an archaic concept of harmony when I see it. In CP theory, there are many chords which don't exist, and I use them as chord changes to solo over. Such as E minor 9 to Eb Maj 13 b5 (or as a polychord F Major over Eb Maj) to D Maj 13 b5 etc. This is modern harmonic thinking which has no need to "resolve" any of these chord tones contrapuntally. It's a whole different way of thinking.
    It's touching that you pay homage to the past (while dissing me as a possible charlatan), but I've moved on, and have bigger fish to fry.
    Last edited by millionrainbows; Mar-25-2019 at 17:16.

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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    I understand the old ways well enough to know an archaic concept of harmony when I see it. In CP theory, there are many chords which don't exist, and I use them as chord changes to solo over. Such as E minor 9 to Eb Maj 13 b5 (or as a polychord F Major over Eb Maj) to D Maj 13 b5 etc. This is modern harmonic thinking which has no need to "resolve" any of these chord tones contrapuntally. It's a whole different way of thinking.
    It's touching that you pay homage to the past (while dissing me as a possible charlatan), but I've moved on, and have bigger fish to fry.
    MillionR, you completely and utterly misunderstood me - I'm not dissing you, I don't know you, let alone your compositional competence or what you do in music.
    I also agree with you about modern compound/bitonal etc. harmony as I often think in those terms (I used to play jazz guitar and all those chord designations are still with me and yes I too soloed over many a complicated sequence. There is no need to resolve anything academically and hasn't been for a long time. The old ways are a good foundation though in order to develop from, this I know to be true, even if it is not for everyone. Boil the fish, it's healthier.
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