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Thread: Why do root movements a fourth away tend to weaken the tonality of the key?

  1. #16
    Senior Member jegreenwood's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    Well then, conversely, you seem to have come to the same conclusion as Woodduck and EdwardBast, that points to this thread being absurd and confusing. If that satisfies you, fine.

    I don't think Schoenberg's intent was to show how these root movements establish a large-scale tonal area, but rather to show tendencies in how they can weaken or strengthen tonal tendencies.

    No, I don't wish to point out the C major scale's uniqueness; it does what it does. Considering scales solely as vehicles for establishing tonality, there are other scales more suited for this, and the C major scale is not "perfect" in establishing tonality.

    The example I always use comes from jazz, in which scales are matched with chords in terms of their maximum harmonic compatibility.
    One tenet of jazz is: when playing over a C major seventh chord, DO NOT use the C major scale; use C lydian. Why? Because of the note "F".

    I haven't read the Charles Rosen material, and I didn't bring him up, so you should be careful who you ascribe these ideas to. The ideas I have exposed here all came from Schoenberg.
    As for your first comment - I am perfectly satisfied. That despite the fact I have no idea what you mean by weakening total tendencies in this context. Schoenberg and Rosen make sense to me. You do not.

    By the way, I never claimed you read the Rosen book (although you should). tdc mentioned it earlier in the thread as containing a similar concept.

    As for your comment on C Major, I should probably let it go, as I don't know enough about jazz harmony, but are you saying that a jazz player would feel differently about what to play over a D Major seventh - i.e. something other than D lydian. If so, why?
    Last edited by jegreenwood; Jul-22-2019 at 18:59.

  2. #17
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    Considering scales solely as vehicles for establishing tonality, there are other scales more suited for this, and the C major scale is not "perfect" in establishing tonality.

    The example I always use comes from jazz, in which scales are matched with chords in terms of their maximum harmonic compatibility.
    One tenet of jazz is: when playing over a C major seventh chord, DO NOT use the C major scale; use C lydian. Why? Because of the note "F".
    How does the Lydian mode "establish tonality" more readily or decisively than the Ionian (major) mode? If you play either a major scale or a Lydian scale from C to C, in which scale does tonality sound "more established"? That depends on what system of tonality your sense of tonal relationships, and thus your expectation of where the music is likely to go, is rooted in.

    To my ear, conditioned by the predominance of the major tonality in Western music, the major scale sounds more "stable," with the F suggesting resolution down to the E, the "color" note of the tonic chord, than does the Lydian, with its F# nudging me toward G and the dominant key of which G is the tonic (the F# feeling all the more unstable because it creates a tritone with the tonic C). In a piece of music with an established tonality of C major, I would normally hear the occurrence of an F# as suggesting a modulation, while the presence of an F would not create that expectation. If, on the other hand, I were accustomed to music in the Lydian mode and didn't bring to it expectations of common practice tonality, I would expect the opposite to be the case: the F# would not suggest movement to another tonal area, while the intrusion of an F might do so.

    For this reason, the idea of a particular scale as such being intrinsically "stable" vs. "built for movement," or serving to "establish tonality," seems to me untenable. A scale is a resource for a system of tonality, and its component notes will seem as stable or as unstable as the system dictates. In the tonality of jazz, the major scale's unstable "leading tone," the "B" in C major, ceases to lead and becomes a perfectly stable component of the tonic chord, proving that the B - and the scale as a whole - has no intrinsic tendencies.

    (About jazz: I agree that F# above a C major 7th sounds better than F, which can set up a frightful tritone with that no-longer-"leading" B. The F can still be used, though, if a particularly mournful color is wanted.)
    Last edited by Woodduck; Jul-22-2019 at 20:14.

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    Senior Member Bwv 1080's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post

    (About jazz: I agree that F# above a C major 7th sounds better than F, which can set up a frightful tritone with that no-longer-"leading" B. The F can still be used
    That is THE reason lydian tends to be used over major chords in Jazz, no other explanation is necessary, also when extending maj chords, the #11 is almost always used. Its just color - ii chords are still minor and IV chords, not #ivdim are used

    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    No, I don't wish to point out the C major scale's uniqueness; it does what it does. Considering scales solely as vehicles for establishing tonality, there are other scales more suited for this, and the C major scale is not "perfect" in establishing tonality.

    The example I always use comes from jazz, in which scales are matched with chords in terms of their maximum harmonic compatibility.
    One tenet of jazz is: when playing over a C major seventh chord, DO NOT use the C major scale; use C lydian. Why? Because of the note "F".
    Scales don't establish tonality, harmony does. (try playing F Lydian over a d minor chord). Scales can imply harmony, but then the upper extensions dont matter much, in jazz, you really just need to get the third and the seventh right - everything else can be altered

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    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    (About jazz: I agree that F# above a C major 7th sounds better than F, which can set up a frightful tritone with that no-longer-"leading" B. The F can still be used, though, if a particularly mournful color is wanted.)
    That's the point; the dissonant tritone F.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bwv 1080 View Post

    Scales don't establish tonality, harmony does. (try playing F Lydian over a d minor chord). Scales can imply harmony, but then the upper extensions dont matter much, in jazz, you really just need to get the third and the seventh right - everything else can be altered
    Then you are purposely ignoring the points I am making which involve scales. I'm not interested in bickering. I've made the points I'm going to make about the C major scale and its tritone F.

    The ideas here about root movement are Schoenberg's, not mine.
    Last edited by millionrainbows; Jul-23-2019 at 10:36.
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    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
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    The Schoenberg ideas seem simple to me, and they make sense both vertically and horizontally.

    A root movement going clockwise (a fourth up) from C to F is what Schoenberg calls a "strong" or "ascending" progression; the root of the first chord is "degraded," becoming only the fifth of the second chord. Since the root of the first chord is weakened, We tend to hear the second chord as the new tonic.
    Going counter-clockwise (a fifth down) from C to F produces the same result.

    A root movement going counter-clockwise (a fourth down) from C to G is a "descending" progression. The fifth of the first chord, an "inferior" tone, always advances to become the root of the second chord. As the root of the first chord is unaffected, and its "inferior" tone is advanced, we tend to hear the first chord as remaining the tonic.
    Going clockwise (a fifth up) from C to G produces the same result.

    More on this can be found in Schoenberg' Harmonielehre, p. 140.
    Last edited by millionrainbows; Jul-23-2019 at 16:46.
    "The way out is through the door. Why is it that no one will use this method?"
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    "In Spring! In the creation of art it must be as it is in Spring!" -Arnold Schoenberg

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    Senior Member mikeh375's Avatar
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    There's not much evidence of lydian scalar planing or harmony in earlier jazz...swing and trad...a different tenet then.
    Last edited by mikeh375; Jul-23-2019 at 10:43.

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    Senior Member Bwv 1080's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    That's the point; the dissonant tritone F.



    Then you are purposely ignoring the points I am making which involve scales. I'm not interested in bickering. I've made the points I'm going to make about the C major scale and its tritone F.

    The ideas here about root movement are Schoenberg's, not mine.
    Yes I am, the Schoenberg point about root movement is clear and well stated. I have read the book and also remember being taught this in undergrad theory. I don’t buy using this as an argument for the Lydian mode having some special mojo over the major scale. Jazz players may use the #11 when extending or improvising on major chords, but they still use diatonic harmony based on the major scale - ii, Vdom, vii dim, etc. modal jazz, on the other hand, tends to not use functional harmony

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    Senior Member Bwv 1080's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikeh375 View Post
    There's not much evidence of lydian scalar planing or harmony in earlier jazz...swing and trad...a different tenet then.

    Yes, because these upper extensions came along with bebop

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    Senior Member mikeh375's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bwv 1080 View Post
    Yes, because these upper extensions came along with bebop
    yep..ex jazz guitarist here...

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    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bwv 1080 View Post
    Yes I am, the Schoenberg point about root movement is clear and well stated. I have read the book and also remember being taught this in undergrad theory. I don’t buy using this as an argument for the Lydian mode having some special mojo over the major scale. Jazz players may use the #11 when extending or improvising on major chords, but they still use diatonic harmony based on the major scale - ii, Vdom, vii dim, etc. modal jazz, on the other hand, tends to not use functional harmony
    I use my ears. When you play an F against a C major seventh chord, it sounds too dissonant, ugly, like it doesn't fit. That's because F is really the "set-up" note for travel out of C major, and it has a leading tone which reinforces this new key, E-F.

    Most jazz players simply avoid F, and exploit the rest of the C major scale's similarity to a C major pentatonic C-D-E-G-A-B-D.

    The Lydian scale, on the other hand, avoids the tritone F and reinforces G with leading tone F#-G. G is a more closely related key to C. George Russell based his Lydian Chromatic Concept on this. Who am I to argue with George Russell? If he were alive, I'd carry his luggage.

    Jazz, and Russell's Lydian concept, is based on harmonic consonance and tonal gravity on a chord-by chord basis. The C major scale is clearly less suited for this than a Lydian is, if we are establishing C as our most stable, congruent center of tonal gravity.

    Western diatonic harmony clearly has a different agenda than jazz; it is designed for travel outside of the home key.
    Last edited by millionrainbows; Jul-23-2019 at 16:44.
    "The way out is through the door. Why is it that no one will use this method?"
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    "In Spring! In the creation of art it must be as it is in Spring!" -Arnold Schoenberg

    "We only become what we are by the radical and deep-seated refusal of that which others have made us." -Jean-Paul Sartre

    "I don't mind dying, as long as I can still breathe." ---Me

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    Senior Member Bwv 1080's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    The C major scale is clearly less suited for this than a Lydian is, if we are establishing C as our most stable, congruent center of tonal gravity.

    Western diatonic harmony clearly has a different agenda than jazz; it is designed for travel outside of the home key.

    Still not addressing my point - why is tonal harmony in both Jazz and Classical music based upon the triads built off the major chord rather than the Lydian mode? Jazz uses ii, not II and viidim, not viimin7. The #11 is just color. You contradict your whole point with Schoenberg if you try to do a ii-V-I off the lydian mode - ii becomes a dominant seventh chord and V is a major 7th - how does this establish tonality?

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    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bwv 1080 View Post
    ...why is tonal harmony in both Jazz and Classical music based upon the triads built off the major chord rather than the Lydian mode? Jazz uses ii, not II and viidim, not viimin7. The #11 is just color. You contradict your whole point with Schoenberg if you try to do a ii-V-I off the lydian mode - ii becomes a dominant seventh chord and V is a major 7th - how does this establish tonality?
    Why shouldn't jazz use a major scale on a "I" chord, and the triads built from it?

    The problem arises that the 4th degree is dissonant to a major chord, and has a strong tendency to resolve to the 3rd. Also, if the major seventh is present in the chord, the 1st (8th) scaler step is relatively dissonant, having a tendency to "resolve" to the seventh.

    The "pretty" notes are 2, 3, 5, 6, and 7. These form a minor pentatonic scale which can be constructed on the third of a major chord.

    On the other hand, the Lydian scale is used for soloing over major seventh chords, and it is not one of the scales which jazz players use for construction of chords or for harmonic purposes.
    Last edited by millionrainbows; Jul-23-2019 at 20:04.
    "The way out is through the door. Why is it that no one will use this method?"
    -Confucious

    "In Spring! In the creation of art it must be as it is in Spring!" -Arnold Schoenberg

    "We only become what we are by the radical and deep-seated refusal of that which others have made us." -Jean-Paul Sartre

    "I don't mind dying, as long as I can still breathe." ---Me

  16. #28
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Is V-I really a "stronger" progression than IV-I? In isolation, perhaps. But in a musical context, not always. Handel's choruses and Wagner's operas typically end with IV-I (plagal cadence), with an effect of great power, release, and finality which V-I would not equal. Did Schoenberg consider this? How would he account for it?

  17. #29
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    I use my ears. When you play an F against a C major seventh chord, it sounds too dissonant, ugly, like it doesn't fit. That's because F is really the "set-up" note for travel out of C major, and it has a leading tone which reinforces this new key, E-F.
    I use my ears too, and they tell me that the F sounds rough over a C7 not because it wants to set up the key of F but simply because it's fiercely dissonant with both E and B. What it really wants to do is simply to resolve down to E.

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    Senior Member Bwv 1080's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    Why shouldn't jazz use a major scale on a "I" chord, and the triads built from it?

    The problem arises that the 4th degree is dissonant to a major chord, and has a strong tendency to resolve to the 3rd. Also, if the major seventh is present in the chord, the 1st (8th) scaler step is relatively dissonant, having a tendency to "resolve" to the seventh.

    The "pretty" notes are 2, 3, 5, 6, and 7. These form a minor pentatonic scale which can be constructed on the third of a major chord.

    On the other hand, the Lydian scale is used for soloing over major seventh chords, and it is not one of the scales which jazz players use for construction of chords or for harmonic purposes.
    I think you just paraphrased what I said, which gets back to what does the Lydian mode have to do with Schoenberg's observation about root movement?
    Some Jazz tunes do use chords built from diatonic modes, I dont have a Lydian example, but So What and Impressions are built on chords diatonic to the Dorian mode - but there is no real concept of functional harmony in these pieces.

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