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Topic: When is "dissonance" allowed? Breaking the Rules.

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  1. #1
    Senior Member Styxx's Avatar
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    When is \"dissonance\" allowed? Breaking the Rules.

    Stay in musical terms as defined - \"A harsh or disagreeable combination of sounds; discord.\" -The American Heritage Dictionary of The English Language.
    I am curious,
    When is it acceptable in a musical composition to use \"dissonance\"? Also, do you feel we are more or less sensitive to discord today? Can a piece be exclusively written using \"discord\" or does it become natural within and less dissonant? Yes, I am [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/crazy.gif[/img]

  2. #2

    Re: When is \"dissonance\" allowed? Breaking the Rules.

    Great topic,
    but you could write a book on it. I\'ll try to be a little shorter. First, the conception of dissonance has changed a lot in musical history. In the beginning of polyphony fifth and forth were consonants, and thirds and sixth dissonance, later (baroque) it was the opposite: a fifth (without third was percieved as a dissonance), a third a consonance.
    In the renaissance you had to prepare each dissonance, which means the note that will sound dissonant (for exemple a seventh in a chord) had to be \"prepared\": it had to be heard in the previous chord and *held* into the new one (where it\'s dissonant) and then it had to \"resolve\" itself in descendin movement (It is the pricipe of tension / release). So it was very strict. Later romantic period, you could attack dissonances directly (generally intervals like diminuished fifth, septh, 9th etc. Without preparing it and even without resolving it.
    Now with Schönberg they say the dissonance got \"autonomous\", which means you can just use it as a \"normal\" chord without resolving *ever*. The problem with this writing is that the dissonance become too normal to be perceived as a dissonance, so the global harmonic impression is static (the writing includes *only* dissonances). When you are repeating always dissonant chords, there is no more shock or surprise. Chords used have often up to 5 or 6 notes, all intervals used, but especially 5th diminuished an major 9th.
    To get even more dissonant you can refere to composers like Ligeti and Penderecki using clusters - the most dissonant accord created from defined pitches (just hit 20 notes in a distance of half a tone at the same time). I will not go into details, but there are very interesting aspects to clusters.
    To go even further you can think of sounddesign, just noise.
    But dissonance is always a very subjectiv matter, and always depends on the style of music (or historical period).
    Markus.

  3. #3

    Re: When is \"dissonance\" allowed? Breaking the Rules.

    Styxx,

    Going off of today\'s musical standards and acceptance, I would say that dissonance can be used whenever the feeling stirkes you.

    Now, don\'t get me wrong, a tune made up of nothing but stacked minor seconds may not be concitered music to some people. Other people, like Bernard Herrmann who loved to use minor second motives, it is completely accecptable. For an example of this, check out The Twilight Zones End Credits (I think). It is nothing but a two note motive layered on top of each other at various pitch levels and durations. I\'m sorry if that is the wrong cue, but I think it\'s right.

    Anyway, back to your question. I think dissonance can be used freely and without resolution. Where does it say that modern composers have to follow the \"rules\" of composition. (Well, besides when your getting graded on following the rules, of course! [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smirk.gif[/img]) If what you hear in your head is dissonant, have at it then!

    I could go on forever about this. It was one of my greatest areas of arguments with my former professors and classmates. Well, that and my ideas about Mozart, but I won\'t go into that right now. Maybe someday I\'ll write a book and title it, \"Jon\'s Rules of Music and the Universe: If you don\'t like it Piss Off\" [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]

    I don\'t think it will sell though. What do you think?

    Jonny
    www.jonnylostinc.com


    By the way, I believe this is post number 99. Drumroll please!

  4. #4
    Senior Member Styxx's Avatar
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    Re: When is \"dissonance\" allowed? Breaking the Rul

    John,
    Thanks a lot! Because of your 99 posts, all my drums are rolling down the street!
    I believe you are right about the Twilight Zone.
    [ QUOTE ]
    Well, that and my ideas about Mozart,

    [/ QUOTE ] What about Mozart? We use the \"Mozart Effect\" here at our school. But that\'s another discussion for some later opportune time.
    Dissonance! What exactly is it?

  5. #5

    Re: When is \"dissonance\" allowed? Breaking the Rul

    When is \"dissonance\" allowed? \"Breaking the Rules\"


    What Rules ???

    Ira Kraemer

  6. #6
    Senior Member Styxx's Avatar
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    Re: When is \"dissonance\" allowed? Breaking the Rul

    [ QUOTE ]
    When is \"dissonance\" allowed? \"Breaking the Rules\"


    What Rules ???

    Ira Kraemer

    [/ QUOTE ]

    HA! [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]

  7. #7

    Re: When is \"dissonance\" allowed? Breaking the Rul

    When it works... [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]

    Atleast thats how I view it on film and in game music... when it works, its al fine and dandy.

  8. #8

    Re: When is \"dissonance\" allowed? Breaking the Rules.

    [ QUOTE ]
    Stay in musical terms as defined - \"A harsh or disagreeable combination of sounds; discord.\" -The American Heritage Dictionary of The English Language.
    I am curious,
    When is it acceptable in a musical composition to use \"dissonance\"? Also, do you feel we are more or less sensitive to discord today? Can a piece be exclusively written using \"discord\" or does it become natural within and less dissonant? Yes, I am [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/crazy.gif[/img]

    [/ QUOTE ]

    When is something that sounds bad allowed??

    Easy...

    When it sounds good! [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]

  9. #9

    Re: When is \"dissonance\" allowed? Breaking the Rul

    I would add, at the humble level of an amateur who loves classical as much as jazz and \"pop\" music, that IMHO it simply, and totally depends on the kind (style) of music you are attempting to do at one moment.
    If your goal is to sound in some piece as Rameau, there is a minimal set of harmonic \"Rules\" to stick to, \"dissonances\" to avoid or prepare, etc...
    If your goal in another piece is to sound like Schoenberg or some Terminator movie track, you are far more free with your range of accepted intervals.
    One kind of music demands a lot of rules to sound \"authentic\" , another one lets you more on your own.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Styxx's Avatar
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    Re: When is \"dissonance\" allowed? Breaking the Rul

    By the way, who was the lazy SOB that decided to stop at 88 keys for the piano instead of 90? Correct me if I am wrong but aren\'t two black keys missing either at the low registrar or the high or one on each end? And why the heck did they decide to stop at 88? Come to think of it, I could use two extra notes right about now!
    Ah, heck. I don\'t even know what to do with 88 half the time yet alone 90.
    Maybe that\'s why we have so much trouble with dissonance.... [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]

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