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Thread: Melodic chaos with harmonic grounding

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    Senior Member caters's Avatar
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    Default Melodic chaos with harmonic grounding

    So, I have finished the first movement of my Weather Music Suite. I will post it for feedback later. But now, I'm thinking about the second movement. This one I know I want to have represent windy weather.

    If you look at the structure of the Suite as a whole, it makes sense. Here is the structure:

    • First Movement - Sunny Weather - G major - String Quartet + Piano - Ternary form
    • Second movement - Windy Weather - D minor - Flute + Piano - Form unknown
    • Third Movement - Cloudy Weather - G minor - Unknown instrumentation - Form unknown
    • Fourth Movement - Storm - C minor - Piano solo - Form unknown - Interlude afterwards
    • Fifth Movement - Snow - Bb major - Flute + String Quartet - Form unknown
    • Sixth Movement - Rain - E minor - Instrumentation unknown - Form unknown
    • Seventh Movement - Rainbow - G major - All the instruments that have played in previous movements - Sonata form


    As you can probably tell from this alone, the second and third movements serve to bring in the fourth movement, the most intense movement of the entire suite. I was even thinking of having the third movement end on a diminished 7th to really bring the point home that all this is leading to the most intense movement of the suite.

    To get across the windy feel of the second movement, I was thinking of doing these things:

    1. Increase the tempo from Moderato to Allegro
    2. Add the flute, since it is a woodwind instrument that is easy to play fast scalar passages on
    3. Get rid of the strings entirely or at least the violins so that the flute isn't overwhelmed
    4. Make the melody inherently chaotic, like the wind
    5. Use a lot of 16th notes to keep the momentum going
    6. Ground this melodic chaos with harmonies that make sense both in relation to the melody and the key


    The easiest way I know of to make the melody sound chaotic is to have the flute play 12 tone rows. But that makes it hard to harmonize in a way that makes sense with the key of D minor. I mean, here are the harmonizations that make sense for each of the chromatic pitches in D minor:

    • C - C major or C minor, F major
    • C# - C#° or C#°7, A or A7
    • Db - E°7?
    • D - D minor, G minor or G major, Bb major
    • Eb - C minor
    • D# - What the?
    • E - C major, A or A7, C#° or C#°7, E°7
    • F - D minor, F major, Bb major
    • F# - D7?
    • Gb - What the?
    • G - G minor, C minor or C major, E°7
    • G# - What the?
    • Ab - F minor?
    • A - A or A7, D minor, F major, A minor
    • A# - Um, Bb major?
    • Bb - Bb major, G minor
    • B - G major?


    As you can see, most of these notes, I am able to harmonize with either diatonic harmony or not all that many alterations to a diatonic chord. But a few notes just seem too weird if I go the 12 tone route. I mean, how would you harmonize a D# if it showed up suddenly in a D minor piece? It is just so weird of a note to harmonize in D minor. And there is 1 note that in its sharp form seems weird to harmonize but in its flat form is very easy to harmonize and is native to the key. Yep, it is that Bb/A# enharmonic equivalence.

    So if 12 tone composition is going to lead to extremely weird harmonies if I try to stick to the key of D minor, how else can I get across melodic chaos without relying on 12 tone composition(besides, 12 tone serialism isn't my thing, nor is any other form of atonality). If I use scales such as here:



    or here:



    Which coincidentally, both of those pieces are in A minor. But anyway, if I use scales to get all 12 notes in the octave, is my melody really chaotic in nature? I mean sure, it is chromaticism, but it is ordered chromaticism. In other words, there isn't really any chaos, is there if I rely on the chromatic scale? 12 tone composition and the chromatic scale are like opposite ends of the melodic chaos spectrum.

    Chromatic scales are easy to harmonize but are ordered, not chaotic. 12 tone composition is hard to harmonize within a single tonality, but is as melodically chaotic as possible. What I need is some sort of middle ground between these 2, melodically chaotic, but at the same time, easy to harmonize. Is there anything I can do that will achieve both of these things?

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    You can "harmonize" any pitch with any chord. Why don't you actually improvise something (or many things and then choose the best, it is way easier these days when software will just record your playing, so you don't have to muse over notating correctly each note duration)?

    Better start writing short songs until you become better. Then start doing extended form compositions.
    And stop overthinking. Mozart composed hundreds of cliche pieces before becoming any good or slightly original. You aren't going to suddenly compose a masterpiece, so better learn to walk, before climbing (or whatever the idiom was).

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    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
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    Any note can have 12 functions. I don't want to list them.
    "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

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    Senior Member mikeh375's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by caters View Post
    .....As you can see, most of these notes, I am able to harmonize with either diatonic harmony or not all that many alterations to a diatonic chord. But a few notes just seem too weird if I go the 12 tone route. I mean, how would you harmonize a D# if it showed up suddenly in a D minor piece? It is just so weird of a note to harmonize in D minor. ...
    Enharmonically with a Neopolitan 6th harmony...see not so weird after all....be daring too and don't just use it in 1st inversion! You could harmonise Eflat with an A flat major chord that alternates between itself and D minor to give a nice turbulent, restless feel....just a suggestion. I know you are after harmonic grounding (presumably in a stable tonal sense?), but perhaps you should consider more adventurous progressions first instead of trying to fit chromatics over simple harmonic practice...again just a suggestion.
    Last edited by mikeh375; Jul-20-2019 at 15:06.

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    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
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    Are you talking root movement, or notes within a chord?
    "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

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    Senior Member mikeh375's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    Are you talking root movement, or notes within a chord?
    Nothing particularly specific. Just a simple alternating chord progression (a grounding) to improvise over as a suggestion to get Caters out of her academically correct rut. All inversions possible obviously when moving from one to another as indeed are pedals. Why not merge the two keys somewhat by adding e and a flat to the D minor scale and use that as a basis for exploration (hell I'd add fsharp/gflat too as that can also be easily tied in academically to the chord sequence if one felt the need).....other solutions are available to those who explore with a sense of adventure...
    Of course the harmony and melody is only a part of the whole. The invention applied to the scoring and idiomatic writing along with foreground and background techniques (the 'production' in modern digital,DAW parlance I suppose), will also contribute to the success or failure of the music.
    Last edited by mikeh375; Jul-21-2019 at 14:18.

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    Senior Member Larkenfield's Avatar
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    "That's all Folks!"

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    Senior Member mikeh375's Avatar
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    This might be inspirational for you too...especially later in the piece.




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