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Topic: Dominant Chords, Doublings of Active Tones, Voice-Leading, etc.

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  1. #11

    Re: Dominant Chords, Doublings of Active Tones, Voice-Leading, etc.

    "Orchestral music tends to have anywhere between 2-5 different independant voices at once, with many more dependant voices providing re-inforcement for those independant voices in either parallel octaves or unisions."

    I think everyone had a good point on this. I found this quote particularly useful. It seems even the most complex symphonies are at root only four-part harmony duplicated many times in a vertical configuration (exceptions abound I'm sure)

  2. #12

    Re: Dominant Chords, Doublings of Active Tones, Voice-Leading, etc.

    Exactly right.

    I would add that the qualification about changing at cadences and other "significant places" is VERY important in orchestration. One of the reasons I always point out that RK's principles are more precisely followed in music by Mendelssohn than in music by Mozart is that the latter is MUCH more subtle about this. Often in the course of a Mozart orchestral phrase an instrument will start as independant and then go into doubling, or vice versa. But it is ALWAYS at some expressive place in the phrase. This is a powerful tool for the advanced orchestrator, and it falls under the principle: ORCHESTRATE THE PHRASING, just as a pianist will shape a phrase.

    Quote Originally Posted by dalek3
    This is how I understand it myself as a music student with the disclaimer that I might be explaining incorrectly given that I am still learning:

    David Huron in his paper "Music Perception" wrote:

    Tonal Fusion Principle. The perceptual independence of concurrent tones is weakened when their pitch relations promote tonal fusion. Intervals that promote tonal fusion include (in decreasing order): unisons, octaves, perfect fifths, ... Where the goal is the perceptual independence of concurrent sounds, intervals ought to be shunned in direct proportion to the degree to which they promote tonal fusion.

    In other words, parallel unisions, octaves, and 5ths cause two voices to seem as one in the mind of the listener.

    If two voices are meant to be independant from each other, and move independantly (i.e. no tonal fusion), they should move independantly for their entire existance (i.e. they should never have parallel unisions, octaves, 5ths).

    If two voices are supposed to be dependant and "tonally fuse" together (done for orchestration purposes to make a voice stand out more), then they should move in parallel unisons, octaves, or fifths for the duration of their existance and never move independantly.

    The thing that confuses the ear is if two formerly independant voices suddenly tonally fuse together and sound as one, or two dependant voices suddenly split apart.

    Of course in instrumental textures, voices can be created or destroyed pretty much at any time.

    4-part Harmony is based on 4 independant voices that are created at the fiirst note of the piece (the chorale) and exist all the way through to the final note, where they all terminate. This prohibits parallel unisons, octaves and fifths in 4 part harmony through the entire piece.

    In instrumental textures, to "change" a voice from dependant to independant or vice versa, it essentially has to be destroyed and recreated, which can be done by clearly delineating that the voice has changed or is gone, through a sufficient pause, different rhythm, texture, a cadence, or some other major change in the music... It is largely up to the ear to determine whether the listener thinks of it as the same voice or regards it as a new voice. If the listener thinks of it as the same voice, it must remain as it was before, independant or dependant, otherwise it will confuse the listener's ear and mind so to speak.

    Orchestral music tends to have anywhere between 2-5 different independant voices at once, with many more dependant voices providing re-inforcement for those independant voices in either parallel octaves or unisions.

    Now I must ask the theorists in this forum - did I explain that correctly or are there inaccuracies in what I said?

    Mike
    Alan Belkin, composer
    Professor of Composition
    University of Montreal

    http://www.musique.umontreal.ca/pers...n/e.index.html (links to examples of my music, as well as my online textbooks)

  3. #13
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    Re: Dominant Chords, Doublings of Active Tones, Voice-Leading, etc.

    I have another question- in the Strings section, they are always talking about octave doubling, 3rds or 6ths. In the sprit of modern music (jazz?) why can't the strings do other intervals or even modern 7ths? Is this because there are only "4" voices in the string section: Violin, Viola, Cello and Bass, or is it that strings just don't sound good with other intervals?

    Thanks!

    Keith Walls

  4. #14

    Re: Dominant Chords, Doublings of Active Tones, Voice-Leading, etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by KeithW
    I have another question- in the Strings section, they are always talking about octave doubling, 3rds or 6ths. In the sprit of modern music (jazz?) why can't the strings do other intervals or even modern 7ths? Is this because there are only "4" voices in the string section: Violin, Viola, Cello and Bass, or is it that strings just don't sound good with other intervals?

    Thanks!

    Keith Walls
    Perfect unisons, perfect octaves, and perfect fifths are considered perfect consonances. If they move in parallel they "tonally fuse" into a single voice from the listener's perspective.

    Major or minor thirds or sixths are considered imperfect consonances, which can move in parallel yet still retain their independence from each other.

    All other intervals such as 7ths are dissonant, and unresolved/parallel dissonances (i.e. dissonances that do not turn into consonances) were prohibited in renaissance theory... restrictions slightly lessened as time went on, still in classical harmony there were many rules regarding proper handling of dissonances.. of course in many 20th century techniques dissonances are used freely and frequently and do not resolve in many cases.

    Mike

  5. #15
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
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    Re: Dominant Chords, Doublings of Active Tones, Voice-Leading, etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by dissolva
    I would almost never even use the root of a dominant chord in a voicing, let alone double it in a modern (jazz) accompaniment context unless its in the melody note. talk about unhip.
    Yes, but the moment you start leaning too heavily on tritone substitutions, et. al., you start flirting with the other extreme, which is the "too hip" dark angry jazzer disease, where the lack of grounding and clever harmonic play become unhip in their own excess.

    Sometimes just landing the chord can be the hippest thing.

    If hipness even is a thing. Which, according to Tower of Power is questionable, and they are certainly funky enough to consider authoritative on the subject.

  6. #16

    Re: Dominant Chords, Doublings of Active Tones, Voice-Leading, etc.

    I am not able to put into words how much I am appreciating the time and effort you have all put into fleshing out and explaining this subject. I have been trying to teach myself music theory for the past two years...slogging through old and worn theory classics I have checked out from the library. This is an area I have never fully understood the principle behind. Because of your efforts, today I had an A-Ha! experience...thank you so much!

    Beverly

  7. #17

    Re: Dominant Chords, Doublings of Active Tones, Voice-Leading, etc.

    I liked the way Beverly put it. I have also had the "A-ha" experience at this forum and when you're studying by yourself, they are few and far between. I would like to see more arranging books on arranging for singers. They too are few and far between.

  8. #18

    Re: Dominant Chords, Doublings of Active Tones, Voice-Leading, etc.

    Actually RK DOES treat vocal writing, particularly choral, but I don't know if Gary plans to include it -- vocal simulation is another bag entirely.

    There is a magnificent orchestration book in French, by Koechlin, which has a huge chapter on the voice, but it's VERY hard to obtain, and costs a fortune.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron St. Germain
    I liked the way Beverly put it. I have also had the "A-ha" experience at this forum and when you're studying by yourself, they are few and far between. I would like to see more arranging books on arranging for singers. They too are few and far between.
    Alan Belkin, composer
    Professor of Composition
    University of Montreal

    http://www.musique.umontreal.ca/pers...n/e.index.html (links to examples of my music, as well as my online textbooks)

  9. #19
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    Re: Dominant Chords, Doublings of Active Tones, Voice-Leading, etc.

    Concerning expanding 4 part textures on the vertical plane with the resulting doublings, Kent Kennans book The Technique of Orchestration lays the concept out with progressive and perfect clarity (a CD also comes with recorded examples.) In the symphonic literature Brahms symphonies and his other orchestral works are chock full with this approach.
    Dave Connor www.daveconnor.net

  10. #20

    Re: Dominant Chords, Doublings of Active Tones, Voice-Leading, etc.

    ???!!!!OK I understand that the purpose of all this is to learn from the beginning but.....while learning the basics it may be useful to tell that rules are there to be broken.Yes you can divise string parts to get 9 or more different parts, yes you can.....do what you want if you know what you're doing and why.I'm not talking about atonal music, let's just look again at Debussy's "Prelude a l'apres midi d'un faune" written in 1892.Aren't we in 2006????
    just my opinion, great idea to put that forum really.just let people get some perspective.

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