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Maturing in harmony famliarization

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by LiquidMidnight, Jan 30, 2003.


  1. LiquidMidnight

    LiquidMidnight

    Dec 25, 2000
    I created this thread to see what others opinions and expierences have been. I have found that as I mature as a musician, my ear also mature's in understanding and appreciating deeper harmonic structures and textures. An example I always use is a simple one: Shine on You Crazy Diamond by Pink Floyd. I remember years back when I first heard that song, the motif chord sounded very dissonant to me. Now it sounds perfect. I've found that with many harmonies in many styles of music. What sounded dissonant to me back then, sounds perfectly in tune to me now.

    What are your thoughts and opinions?
     
  2. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    I've found that just the past year of learning theory and learning to understand the relationship between the notes I play helps me understand music better as a listener.

    I can hear strings of notes and (simple) harmonies almost inifinitely clearer than before... still SO far to go tho :)
     
  3. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Yeah, I've found that too, Liquid. I remember a finding 7b9 chords a bit dissonant to begin with.
     
  4. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well I never heard anything dissonant in that album from the first time I heard it!! :confused:

    You want "dissonant" try : (late) Schonberg, Berg, Webern, Stockhausen!! ;)
     
  5. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Heh - yes, but do they get any less dissonant as time goes on? :D
     
  6. JimK

    JimK

    Dec 12, 1999
    Western(i.e. not C&W) music has gotten more & more dissonant over the past 100 years(?).

    So-
    Maybe there's more "dissonance" on the airwaves; it becomes more & more relatable...our ears & brain become, over time, more receptive, maybe?
    The again, if you're a seeker, maybe it's just a matter of diving in & exploring stuff out of your personal comfort zone. One can only listen to Nursery Rhymes for so long. ;)
    Personally, the 1st time my uncle played some Coltrane for me...yecchhhhh! I think it was something from Ascension. It was a shock hearing a horn played in that manner. I was a total jazz newbie & had my own idea of what a Jazz sax should sound like(Sonny Rollins, Ben Webster, etc). That was a total myopic view as I later discovered.
    Frankly, it took me about 15 years before I could "get" Coltrane(not that I "get" him at all...I am at the point where, if I hadda, I could ditch every other album I own but the 50 or so of his I have). ;)
    This 15-year process incorporated a lot of listening, putting it away, listening, etc
    Reading about the man also helped immensely.


    I think what turns so many off of Jazz is the "dissonance"...whether 'real' or perceived by the listener.
    Just wanted to add-
    Listening is a skill that needs constant tweaking...that's too much like work for some.
     
  7. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    7b9 chords...

    root + flat 9th sounds horrible!!

    so how do you voice a min7b9/ maj7b9 to make it sound better?
     
  8. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Nope - they still sound dissonant now! So I can remember hearing Schonberg's "Pierrot Lunaire" at least 20 years ago and thinking it was very "grating"! I heard it again recently and it still sounds nasty!!

    Sometimes it even goes the other way - so I can remember our school music teacher playing us Stockhausen's "Gesang Der Junglinge" and thinking it was wonderfull!!

    It has taken me another 20 - 30 years to track down a CD copy and listening to it now, it is really just noise and some intriguing sound effects, insterspersed with a German boy talking.
     
  9. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    As opposed to Country & Western - which has never been dissonant, but it's always been painful :D :D
     
  10. Lovebown

    Lovebown

    Jan 6, 2001
    Sweden
    Well to start off, the most common chord with the b9 is the dominant 7th chord with an added b9th.

    It sounds pretty natural when used as the dominant leading to the tonic. Consider this common jazz progression: Dm7b5-G7b9-Cmaj7 (or Cm7) or A7b9-Dm7-G7b9-Cmaj/
    How you voice is of course up to you, but on the piano you'd probably would want the root, 3rd , 7th and b9th in there.

    As for Min7b9 ... I've seen these mostly resolving a 4th up most of the time.... So their tension is usually released pretty quickly and just a part of the circle of 5ths thang... and Maj7/b9..well that's a pretty uncommon chord and has a special color. To be honest I don't really know it's function - not even sure it has a function in diatonic harmony!

    /Lovebown
     
  11. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    thank you very much :)
     
  12. Lovebown

    Lovebown

    Jan 6, 2001
    Sweden
    No prob ;)

    And yes, I belive the ears can get used to certain amount of consonance/dissonance . Certainly an ear that has listened to a lot of experimental 60's jazz and modern classical music will tolerate more "dissonance" than someone who only likes C&W.

    Sometimes personally I feel what is usually conceived as dissonant can be as "pretty" or even "prettier" than something consonant.

    /lovebown
     
  13. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    Well it's all about contrast IMO..

    The age ol' thang of ying-yang, good-evil, light-dark, Jedi-Sith etc etc

    I think dissonace in music can be easier accepted if you're taken there as a listener. I was listening to some Mingus CD that my dad bought me on Christmas day and my mum commented that it was 'horrible'...
    The thing is, it was! ...but because you're taken there through a progression that gets more a more dissonant, you dont notice until you sort of 'step back'... whereas someone who just walks in the room with think "Heck, what is this sh1t!?!"

    Know what I mean??
     
  14. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Yeah - it's about context.
     
  15. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I think it is different for every person. I grew up in the 60s when everybody was listening to the Beatles and drippy pops songs that I got heartily sick of. Catchy melodies and simple tunes were everywhere and things like Stockhausen/Schonberg were a breath of fresh air and I was really intrigued by the records my next door neigbour (who was older than me) - like Soft Machine.

    So I grew up with "Dissonant" stuff as the cool music, that nobody else knew about and the records that nobody else had but me.

    But as I have learned more about harmony, I come to appreciate the craft that went into some of the Jazz standards - e.g. melodic ballads that I really hated as a teenager - my Mum and Dad loved Jazz then - and I now listen to far more melodic songs than I ever did, when I was 13-16!! ;)
     
  16. LiquidMidnight

    LiquidMidnight

    Dec 25, 2000
    Yeah, but when you get down to it, some things are just plain dissonant. There's no getting around it no matter how developed your ear or understanding of harmony is. If you threw two polychords together, like a C#7 and an F maj 7th, it's probaly going to sound dissonant no matter what. It's basically up to you if you like that dissonance or not.
     
  17. JimK

    JimK

    Dec 12, 1999
    Of course!
    I mean, suppose you're composing & you want to convey some abstract emotion to a listener?
    How would you, say, put "manic depression" to music(Like Jaco's "Crisis"?)

    How about an exploding star?
    (Like Coltrane attempted on his Interstellar Space album).

    Suppose you wanted to thumb yer nose at the critics & wrote a "chord" that required everyone in the orchestra playing a different note?
    (Like the last "chord" to Charles Ives' 2nd Symphony). I also liked how Ives duplicated the sound of "out-of-tune" marching bands he recalled hearing around his New England neighborhood.

    How 'bout what The Beatles & George Martin did on "A Day In The Life"(That long dissonant chromatic climb).

    BTW, I think both Bruce & I have said-
    What sounded "dissonant" to us way back when...still sounds "dissonant" today.
     
  18. JimK

    JimK

    Dec 12, 1999
    It's about voicing.
    You can, of course, stack the ROOT & b9 in close proximity...that will sound dissonant. That may give the composer exactly what he's hearing, too.
    I know exactly what you're sayin'-
    We used to do "My Old School"(Yellowjackets' tune from one of their later albums). There is a chord in this tune named "G/G#"...I played the "G#" while the guitarist played a "G". If he chose to play this with, say, a Barre chord...MUD. It sounded as though I was playing the wrong note, too!

    It's all about the voicing. ;)
    You can also separate them...nowhere does it say the ROOT needs to be "in" the played chord.
    I think I talked the guitarist into playing only a B-D-G on his higher strings. I played the "G#" on my "E"-string.

    Yer min7b9 & maj7b9:
    In "C", the guitar can play the upper triad-
    G-B-Db

    While the bass can play the ROOT(C)
    Does that work with 'no third'? It does yield an ambiguous sound(if I'm hearing it in my head...no guitar handy). ;)

    Try this chord...C7#9
    C-E-Bb-D#
    1-3-b7-#9

    I see an E-Bb
    ...& an E & D#.
    Looks like it should sound "bad"(?)
    It's a cool chord/sound, IMO.
     
  19. moley

    moley

    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Yeah - I love 7#9 chords too. They're good with a #5 too.