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Thread: The Major Second Is Not Dissonant

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    Default The Major Second Is Not Dissonant


    C-D for example.

    Haven't you ever heard this as a harmonic when a note is filtered on a synth?
    C-G-C-G-C-D-E-G-Bb-C. I can't believe anyone would question this.
    Also, any electric guitarist can coax this overtone series from any open string: C-G-C-G-C-D-E-G-Bb-C.
    No difference tone, no amplification, I hear C-D as non-dissonant.

    In chords, it is commonly used in pop songs as a second, right next to the triadic third, distinguished from a ninth. It's used to create a very smooth, rich, harmonic sound.


    If anyone insists that C-D or any major second is a dissonance, then they are more academic than I realized, and I am very disappointed. I suggest that they avoid 'diaphonic' music, like the Bulgarian Women's Choir.

    With the advent of perfect equal temperament, Debussy obviously heard this as well; the modern piano tuned in ET creates a very consonant, colorful "sheen" of sound when major seconds are stacked, which Debussy obviously exploited in his use of whole-tone scales. It's very pleasing to the ear, and creates a dreamy sheet of sound. How could this interval, even when multiplied and stacked on itself, ever be called "dissonant?"

    Also, more proof: C-D suggests a stack of perfect fifths, as in C-G-D.

    As well, the M2 is in flatted seventh chords, next to the root, as in D7, where C is the flat seven. Mixolydian scales and seventh chords have always sounded more consonant than the major scale, with its ugly B-C and E-F. That's why untrained blues players, and trained jazz players favor seventh chords for blues progressions.

    The M2 may be called 'dissonant' in academic CP theory, but in reality, as a sound, it is consonant.
    Last edited by millionrainbows; Nov-09-2019 at 18:26.

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    Senior Member Kjetil Heggelund's Avatar
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    ...but sometimes it really wants to go down to the tonic or up to the 3rd

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kjetil Heggelund View Post
    ...but sometimes it really wants to go down to the tonic or up to the 3rd
    This proves nothing, harmonically. It's just a CP rule.

    C-D doesn't have to "resolve" up or down, except by academic CP rules. It's perfectly acceptable to the ear as a ninth chord (C-E-G-Bb-D), or as a "major 2" chord (C-D-E-G-C).
    Last edited by millionrainbows; Nov-09-2019 at 18:39.

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    Senior Member Bwv 1080's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by millionrainbows View Post
    or as a "major 2" chord (C-D-E-G-C).
    the mu chord!
    .........

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Given your fondness for calling people who disagree with you "academics," I'll adopt a similar practice and suggest that the idea of this thread is a specimen of rationalization, for which the term "academic" might not be inappropriate, in the sense that it relies on some system of concepts rather than simple sensory experience.

    From a non-"academic," purely sensory standpoint, we would say that a major second is relatively consonant or dissonant depending on what we're comparing it with. It's obviously less dissonant than a minor second, but it's also obviously more dissonant than a minor third. Dissonance, like other sensations - pain, pleasure, softness, hardness, smoothness, roughness, hot, cold - is relative. There are degrees of it. This is something we notice quite early in life, long before we're able to attend an "academy."

    Consulting the harmonic series as evidence, as you like to do, we don't hear a major second as an overtone. D is the 9th member of the series over a fundamental C, is quite remote from C, and is generally not even audible (on my piano I hear nothing above the 7th partial, Bb, no matter how hard I strike the C in the bass). But even if we could hear it, we would not be hearing a major second. Play an actual major second - the D above the fundamental - and the complex, clashing overtones which would assail our ears would make the relative dissonance of the interval unmistakably clear.

    It's actually amusing that after making the absolute statement that a major second is not dissonant, you begin citing musical contexts in which it's considered pleasant. Musical contexts? Pleasure? What are we talking about now? Do I misremember, or did you not recently denounce me as an "academic" in some earlier discussion for pointing out that the perception of dissonance is context-dependent? Yes, a major second can sound pleasant in certain musical contexts. So can any other interval. Pleasure is beside the point.
    Last edited by Woodduck; Nov-09-2019 at 20:44.

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    i suggest millionrainbows and Woodduck get a room together and try to procreate a real musician.

    This argument is vacuous and perfectly placed for the polemicist and her/his prey.

    Get in a choir and sing Gesualdo. You'll then learn music from the inside and know that this interval (and any interval) can be consonant or dissonant.

    Context is everything (and I mean the context of real music, not the fakery you seem to deal in).

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Johann Sebastian Bach View Post
    i suggest millionrainbows and Woodduck get a room together and try to procreate a real musician.

    This argument is vacuous and perfectly placed for the polemicist and her/his prey.

    Get in a choir and sing Gesualdo. You'll then learn music from the inside and know that this interval (and any interval) can be consonant or dissonant.

    Context is everything (and I mean the context of real music, not the fakery you seem to deal in).
    Since you agree with me ("the perception of dissonance is context-dependent" - post 5, paragraph 4), why would you condemn me to a room with millionrainbows? What did I ever do to you?
    Last edited by Woodduck; Nov-10-2019 at 01:07.

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    Senior Member Bwv 1080's Avatar
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    All-interval 12 note chords are not necessarily dissonant in certain contexts

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    Senior Member Woodduck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bwv 1080 View Post
    All-interval 12 note chords are not necessarily dissonant in certain contexts
    One could produce such a chord by dropping a piano out a window. How dissonant it seems might depend on where you're standing on the sidewalk.
    Last edited by Woodduck; Nov-10-2019 at 09:21.

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    Senior Member mikeh375's Avatar
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    Timbre also has a bearing on how an interval is perceived. Two oboes at forte or more playing a maj2nd can be harsh depending on the surrounding music and register - in fact similar timbres (and especially strident ones) often increase the perception of dissonance. Tempering dissonance to taste and/or effect with instrumental colour is a skill hard won in orchestration.
    To my ears, the maj2nd is not dissonant at all, but one has to acknowledge as Wooduck has said, that context matters greatly because that is where it is encountered.

    Speaking of encounters, I'm no peeping Tom, but what room and where? I'll supply the popcorn...
    Last edited by mikeh375; Nov-10-2019 at 11:30.
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    Major seconds are associated with small-number intervals. From WIK:
    Major seconds can occur in at least two different frequency ratios:9:8 (about 203.9 cents) and 10:9 (about 182.4 cents). As you can see, the 9/8 interval is almost the same size as an equal tempered second (200 cents). It's only off by 3.9 cents. This is very close!

    By contrast, our ET major third is 400 cents, and a "real" major third, in just intonation, corresponds to a pitch ratio of 5:4 or 386.31 cents; this 400 cent "third" is 13.69 cents wider than the 5:4 ratio! Ugly, ugly!

    Also, note that there are TWO harmonics associated with the major second:



    Origin of large and small seconds and thirds in harmonic series.


    Clearly, the fifth and second are the preferred intervals in equal temperament; the major third (considered a "consonance" in CP theory) is NOT.
    Last edited by millionrainbows; Nov-10-2019 at 14:02.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodduck View Post
    One could produce such a chord by dropping a piano out a window. How dissonant it seems might depend on where you're standing on the sidewalk.
    I see The Who have been up to their old tricks...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Johann Sebastian Bach View Post
    i suggest millionrainbows and Woodduck get a room together and try to procreate a real musician.

    This argument is vacuous and perfectly placed for the polemicist and her/his prey.

    Get in a choir and sing Gesualdo. You'll then learn music from the inside and know that this interval (and any interval) can be consonant or dissonant.

    Context is everything (and I mean the context of real music, not the fakery you seem to deal in).
    I think you got it wrong as well; Woodduck seems to be in agreement with you concerning context.

    I think the "context" argument is weak, especially since C-D, a major second, is a relatively close interval, and can be used in a stepwise melodic context. As such, the "resolution" or "tension" has more to do with the movement of voices, rather than harmonic tension.

    As a harmonic entity, there is no question in my mind that it is consonant. This was proved in spades to me after hearing The Bulgarian Women's Choir.

    https://youtu.be/AFgzzWT3zX4



    __________________________

    Also, listen to Billy Gibbon's use of the major second in his solo from Sharp Dressed Man (at 1:54); we hear the splendor and magnificence of the major second through a Marshall speaker cabinet:

    https://youtu.be/Pn2-b_opVTo



    Clearly, Gibbons is using the major second (b7-root) as a harmonic entity, not as a "melodic" procedure.
    Last edited by millionrainbows; Nov-10-2019 at 14:27.

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    Senior Member mikeh375's Avatar
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    The context argument is not weak imv when you factor in timbre, dynamics and orchestration. In fact it is a deciding factor in the perception. I'm with you in that it's not a dissonance to modern ears, but context really does matter.
    Last edited by mikeh375; Nov-10-2019 at 14:18.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikeh375 View Post
    The context argument is not weak imv when you factor in timbre, dynamics and orchestration. In fact it is a deciding factor in the perception. I'm with you in that it's not a dissonance to modern ears, but context really does matter.
    You seem to be conflating the "voice/counterpoint" argument with the "harmonic" argument when you say "In fact it is a deciding factor in the perception."

    Counterpoint resolution and tension of a major second in a melodic line is not so much based on harmonic perception of the major second as it is a desire to reach a goal of resolution, which is a consonant chord.

    The major second is therefore seen as a linear "aberration" of a consonant chord, not as a harmonic entity unto itself. In this context, it remains a linear excursion in the melodic realm.

    You even acknowledge this when you say "I'm with you in that it's not a dissonance to modern ears, but context really does matter."

    "Context" is not perceptual, it's cerebral; as result of counterpoint rules and considerations, not harmonic perception. This conclusion is bolstered by the existence of threads such as "
    How can I make sense of all of these arbitrary voice-leading rules?", where the "listening intuition/perception" is confounded by "rules" which seem to have no connection to the perception of the music.
    To CP academics, it's all brain, no ear.
    Last edited by millionrainbows; Nov-10-2019 at 14:48.

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