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Thread: Is the Perfect Fourth a Dissonance? If So, Why?

  1. #16
    Senior Member mikeh375's Avatar
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    .......................

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikeh375 View Post
    .......................

    Unknown.jpg
    Thanks, Mike! How now? Is that shade of purple against the green grass consonant or dissonant? Can it be expressed as a ratio? Would it matter if it were "green on top" rather than "purple on top," vertically speaking? Can we turn the cow upside down without affecting its sonance? And how much do the dark green trees, grey mountain and blue sky affect our perception? Or are such horizontal considerations mere academic distractions, hindering our intuitive grasp of the objective essence of bovine purplitude?
    Last edited by Woodduck; Aug-26-2019 at 00:26.

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    Senior Member jegreenwood's Avatar
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    I never saw a purple cow,
    I never hope to see one,
    But I can tell you anyhow,
    I'd rather see than be one.

    From the Academy of American Poets web site.

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    Senior Member EdwardBast's Avatar
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    The term dissonance applied to perfect 4ths is a common usage in the art and pedagogy of voice-leading where it is shorthand for "a tone (usually a non-chord tone) that needs to be resolved." No one believes it's an actual dissonance in the acoustic sense and no one conversant with the field gets confused about this. It's a non-issue.

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    ^^^ Does this mean we don't need the cow?

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    Senior Member mikeh375's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    Thanks, Mike! How now? Is that shade of purple against the green grass consonant or dissonant? Can it be expressed as a ratio? Would it matter if it were "green on top" rather than "purple on top," vertically speaking? Can we turn the cow upside down without affecting its sonance? And how much do the dark green trees, grey mountain and blue sky affect our perception? Or are such horizontal considerations mere academic distractions, hindering our intuitive grasp of the objective essence of bovine purplitude?
    It's the Milka cow. To paraphrase EdwardB, "No-one believes it's an actual cow in the physical sense and no one conversant with the field (ha ha) gets confused about this"....(sorry chaps )

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  12. #22
    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EdwardBast View Post
    The term dissonance applied to perfect 4ths is a common usage in the art and pedagogy of voice-leading where it is shorthand for "a tone (usually a non-chord tone) that needs to be resolved." No one believes it's an actual dissonance in the acoustic sense and no one conversant with the field gets confused about this. It's a non-issue.
    I'm glad to see that someone around here is man enough to admit that.

    Also, since "no one believes it's an actual dissonance in the acoustic sense," then it reinforces its harmonic quality, and adds credence to my theory that "C-F" is competing as a new root (F) in a C major scale: heard as "root on top."

    At the same time, it underscores that "F resolving to E" is a convention which was devised to counter this harmonic tendency.

    I notice Woodduck did not disagree on your observation.
    Last edited by millionrainbows; Aug-26-2019 at 12:25.
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    Senior Member EdwardBast's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    I'm glad to see that someone around here is man enough to admit that.

    Also, since "no one believes it's an actual dissonance in the acoustic sense," then it reinforces its harmonic quality, and adds credence to my theory that "C-F" is competing as a new root (F) in a C major scale: heard as "root on top."

    At the same time, it underscores that "F resolving to E" is a convention which was devised to counter this harmonic tendency.

    I notice Woodduck did not disagree on your observation.
    No. It supports none of this. It simply follows from the fact that CP music is triadically based and configurations containing fourths above the bass are not stable enough to be points of resolution in this system. They are either unstable second inversion triads, 4-3 suspensions, or other nonharmonic tones. It's simple CP grammar and voice-leading at work.

    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    ^^^ Does this mean we don't need the cow?
    I prefer chicken with a good BBQ sauce.
    Last edited by EdwardBast; Aug-26-2019 at 14:55.

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  15. #24
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    I'm glad to see that someone around here is man enough to admit that.

    Also, since "no one believes it's an actual dissonance in the acoustic sense," then it reinforces its harmonic quality, and adds credence to my theory that "C-F" is competing as a new root (F) in a C major scale: heard as "root on top."

    At the same time, it underscores that "F resolving to E" is a convention which was devised to counter this harmonic tendency.

    I notice Woodduck did not disagree on your observation.
    Always looking for those "gotcha" opportunities, aren'tcha?

    Of course I didn't disagree with EB. His observation is consistent with the very first sentence I wrote in this thread, "In brief: since "dissonance" and "consonance" have more than one definition...the answer is 'yes and no.'" Your response to that was "Not really."

    You want to confine the use of the words "consonance" and "dissonance" to specific theoretical contexts. While accepting conventional theoretical definitions, I'm interested in ALL factors that contribute to the SENSATION of consonance or dissonance. I was specifically provoked to consider this by the claim in the Wiki article you quoted with approval: "The perfect fourth is a perfect interval like the unison, octave, and perfect fifth, and it is a sensory consonance [emphasis mine]. By now I'm a little weary of having to emphasize the word "sensory" - will putting it in a bigger font and shocking pink do the trick? - but I'll dutifully repeat: I've been talking about the SENSATION of dissonance, using dissonance in its broad sense of "disharmony" or "clash."

    EB doesn't address this, but neither does he, as you do, deny that any acoustical factors exist which can enhance the sensory effect of dissonance. I realize (belatedly) that this isn't what you wanted people to talk about in this thread, and of course I know how annoyed you get when you can't exercise dictatorial control over what others are thinking and saying on your pet subjects.

    Speaking of pets, I think I'll go pet that cow. If Kermit thinks it's not easy being green, imagine what it's like being purple. Might we call it "pastoral dissonance"?
    Last edited by Woodduck; Aug-26-2019 at 16:33.

  16. #25
    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EdwardBast View Post
    ...It simply follows from the fact that CP music is triadically based and configurations containing fourths above the bass are not stable enough to be points of resolution in this system.
    "Triadically based" is the limiting factor, but ignores root movement. This limiter considers a second inversion F (C-F-A) as "unstable" because it does not have the root on bottom.

    They (fourths) are either unstable second inversion triads...
    As an interval, harmonically, a fourth is stable, and heard as root on top.

    "Fourth above the bass" must be qualified by specifying arbitrarily that "the bass must also be the root," which contradicts the harmonic gravity of the interval upwards, to root F.

    A second inversion F is not "unstable" unless it is considered to be a chord in the key of C.

    A root movement to F, via leading tone E-F, is not "unstable."

    Thus we see that the harmonic gravity of the key of C, using a C major scale, must be artificially preserved by deeming certain chords, with no root in the bass, as "unstable," or by using devices such as suspensions as justification.

    Again, we see that the note "F" in C major is problematic, and must be "harmonically nullified" by using arbitrary procedures and terminology; an imperfect solution to a basically flawed scale.
    Last edited by millionrainbows; Aug-26-2019 at 16:52.

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    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    Always looking for those "gotcha" opportunities, aren'tcha?

    Of course I didn't disagree with EB. His observation is consistent with the very first sentence I wrote in this thread, "In brief: since "dissonance" and "consonance" have more than one definition...the answer is 'yes and no.'" Your response to that was "Not really."
    By this reply, you want to deem arbitrary procedures and conventions as "definitions," which they are not.

    You want to confine the use of the words "consonance" and "dissonance" to specific theoretical contexts. While accepting conventional theoretical definitions, I'm interested in ALL factors that contribute to the SENSATION of consonance or dissonance. I was specifically provoked to consider this by the claim in the Wiki article you quoted with approval: "The perfect fourth is a perfect interval like the unison, octave, and perfect fifth, and it is a sensory consonance [emphasis mine]. By now I'm a little weary of having to emphasize the word "sensory" - will putting it in a bigger font and shocking pink do the trick? - but I'll dutifully repeat: I've been talking about the SENSATION of dissonance, using dissonance in its broad sense of "disharmony" or "clash."
    Your "sensation" of dissonance is just that: not in any way an objective definition, but simply a "sensibility" which arose as a convention. It's only good for that limited use. It requires tacit agreement, and repeated conditioning.

    EB doesn't address this, but neither does he, as you do, deny that any acoustical factors exist which can enhance the sensory effect of dissonance.
    A fourth is a fourth. It still retains all its inherent harmonic qualities as a fourth, regardless. Your "acoustic factors" are too ambiguous; there is a point at which pitch identity and intervallic qualities become obscured in the extreme upper registers of sound. So what? That's not what we're talking about. We're talking about the fourth as a clearly perceived interval, not about what happens when all pitches become indistinguishable.

    I realize (belatedly) that this isn't what you wanted people to talk about in this thread, and of course I know how annoyed you get when you can't exercise dictatorial control over what others are thinking and saying on your pet subjects.
    Irrelevant twaddle. And speaking of:

    I think I'll go pet that cow. If Kermit thinks it's not easy being green, imagine what it's like being purple. Might we call it "pastoral dissonance"?
    That's so funny I forgot to laugh.
    Last edited by millionrainbows; Aug-26-2019 at 17:07.
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  18. #27
    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    By this reply, you want to deem arbitrary procedures and conventions as "definitions," which they are not.
    Plain wrong. I haven't proposed any new definitions.

    Your "sensation" of dissonance is just that: not in any way an objective definition, but simply a "sensibility" which arose as a convention. It's only good for that limited use. It requires tacit agreement, and repeated conditioning.
    No "conditioning" or "convention" is needed to hear the clashing overtones of a fourth played in the bass register of a piano. Deaf, are ya?

    A fourth is a fourth. It still retains all its inherent harmonic qualities as a fourth, regardless.
    But its SENSORY qualities vary.

    Your "acoustic factors" are too ambiguous; there is a point at which pitch identity and intervallic qualities become obscured in the extreme upper registers of sound. So what? That's not what we're talking about.
    Hey there! Yo bub! It's what I'm talking about! (he said, waving his hands wildly)

    We're talking about the fourth as a clearly perceived interval, not about what happens when all pitches become indistinguishable.
    No, you're talking about a fourth as a conceived interval, not a perceived one. Perceptions don't submit to your conceptions. A "perfect fourth" is a concept. What it sounds like is another matter - and it can sound more or less consonant or dissonant.

    Irrelevant twaddle.
    To you, but nonetheless painfully true. You just can't bear having your pedantic lectures "derailed" by other points of view.

    That's so funny I forgot to laugh.
    Not surprising.
    Last edited by Woodduck; Aug-26-2019 at 18:12.

  19. #28
    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
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    MR said: By this reply, you want to deem arbitrary procedures and conventions as "definitions," which they are not.

    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    Plain wrong. I haven't proposed any new definitions.
    I didn't say that you "proposed new definitions."

    You simply deemed existing "definitions" as such, when they are
    not. "In brief: since "dissonance" and "consonance" have more than one definition..."

    If it has more than one, that's not a definition.
    Last edited by millionrainbows; Aug-26-2019 at 21:33.

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    Senior Member amfortas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    If it has more than one, that's not a definition.
    I thought just about all words have more than one definition.
    Last edited by amfortas; Aug-26-2019 at 22:21.
    Alan

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    Senior Member millionrainbows's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by amfortas View Post
    I thought just about all words have more than one definition.
    Then definitions don't mean anything in particular. Remember this next time you get into a discussion.

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