Author Topic: Chords by Seconds and Sevenths  (Read 180 times)

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whitebark

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Chords by Seconds and Sevenths
« on: September 15, 2017, 01:43:19 PM »
Another class of chords may be constructed from the intervals of seconds and sevenths. The least dissonant version of this type of chord consists of two major seconds, for example C-D-E.  More dissonant versions include minor seconds - C-D-E flat   or C - D flat - E flat.   A triad of two minor intervals is intensely dissonant, for example C - Dflat- D natural.

Chords by seconds can be inverted in various ways. For example the first inversion of the C-D-E would be D-E-C (an octave higher).  In addition to inverting the chords, you can modify the sound by using wider spacing of the notes or adding notes that double the ones in the basic triad. 

Adding notes in steps of a second above the basic triad can be done, which is similar to how the familiar chords in thirds are extended with 7ths and 9ths.   With chords in seconds, this results in something like a tone cluster, a topic that deserves its own separate discussion.

For more discussion of this type of harmony, see Persichetti's 20th Century Harmony textbook and Alan Belkin's new video on the topic:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hzrLZ9AFijM&t=0s

I've attached a PDF file showing examples of chords in seconds and sevenths, along with a mp3 file.

Exercise: write a short keyboard piece using chords in seconds and sevenths.






« Last Edit: September 27, 2017, 05:30:21 PM by whitebark »

Ron

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Re: Chords by Seconds and Sevenths
« Reply #1 on: September 15, 2017, 01:50:18 PM »
Thanks for picking this up, Jay. I've been somewhat distracted lately.
Ron
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whitebark

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Re: Chords by Seconds and Sevenths
« Reply #2 on: September 15, 2017, 05:37:35 PM »
You're welcome, Ron. I'm still trying to figure out how to use this inherently dissonant class of chords.

Ron

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Re: Chords by Seconds and Sevenths
« Reply #3 on: September 16, 2017, 05:03:12 AM »
I think the key is consistency. If you have a passage of harmonic intervals of thirds and 6ths and suddenly throw in a minor 2nd, well, it's going to be jarring. On the other hand, if you have a passage of major 2nds and minor 7ths, they will begin to sound less dissonant. Wider spacing also reduces the dissonance. A series of minor 2nds can have its uses.
Ron
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whitebark

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Re: Chords by Seconds and Sevenths
« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2017, 04:39:33 PM »
Here is an exercise using chords in seconds:

sound:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/xj94pfq9sxev34r/Chords_by_Seconds.mp3?dl=0
pdf:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/3no9prn6ro9vwo2/Chords%20by%20Seconds%20exercise.pdf?dl=0

The triad consisting of two major seconds can have a whimsical character.

Ron

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Re: Chords by Seconds and Sevenths
« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2017, 09:41:37 AM »
Here you go.
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whitebark

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Re: Chords by Seconds and Sevenths
« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2017, 01:41:44 PM »
Nice example, Ron. Your exercise is a more pure form of harmony based on seconds, as compared to my example where those chords are more of a special effect.