Monthly Archives: June 2017

Chord Music

chord, in music, is any harmonic set of pitches consisting of two or more notes that are heard as if sounding simultaneously. Chords and sequences of chords are frequently used in modern West African and Oceanic music, Western classical music, and Western popular music; yet, they are absent from the music of many other parts of the world. In tonal Western classical music, the most frequently encountered chords are triads, so called because they consist of three distinct notes: the root note, and Intervals of a third and a fifth above the root note. Other chords with more than three notes include added tone chords, extended chords and tone clusters, which are used in contemporary classical music, jazz and other genres. An ordered series of chords is called a chord progression. One example of a widely used chord progression in Western traditional music and blues is the 12 bar blues progression. Although any chord may in principle be followed by any other chord, certain patterns of chords are more common in Western music, and some patterns have been accepted as establishing the key(tonic note) in common-practice harmony–notably the movement between tonic and dominant chords. To describe this, Western music theory has developed the practice of numbering chords using Roman numerals which represent the number of diatonic steps up from the tonic note of the scale. Common ways of notating or representing chords in Western music (other than conventional staff notation) include Roman numerals, figured bass, macro symbols (sometimes used in modern musicology), and chord charts.

The English word chord derives from Middle English cord, a shortening of accord in the original sense of agreement and later, harmonious sound. A sequence of chords is known as a chord progression or harmonic progression. These are frequently used in Western music. A chord progression “aims for a definite goal” of establishing (or contradicting) a tonality founded on a key, root or tonic chord. The study of harmony involves chords and chord progressions, and the principles of connection that govern them.

Many chords are a sequence of ascending notes separated by intervals of roughly the same size. Chords can be classified into different categories by this size:

  • Tertian chords can be decomposed into a series of (major or minor) thirds. For example, the C major triad (C–E–G) is defined by a sequence of two intervals, the first (C–E) being a major third and the second (E–G) being a minor third. Most common chords are tertian.
  • Secundal chords can be decomposed into a series of (major or minor) seconds. For example, the chord C–D–E is a series of seconds, containing a major second (C–D) and a minor second (D–E).
  • Quartal chords can be decomposed into a series of (perfect or augmented) fourths. Quartal harmony normally works with a combination of perfect and augmented fourths. Diminished fourths are enharmonically equivalent to major thirds, so they are uncommon.[36] For example, the chord C–F–B is a series of fourths, containing a perfect fourth (C–F) and an augmented fourth/tritone (F–B).

Harmony Music

In music, harmony considers the process by which the composition of individual sounds, or superpositions of sounds, is analysed by hearing. Usually, this means simultaneously occurring frequencies, pitches (tones, notes), or chords. The study of harmony involves chords and their construction and chord progressions and the principles of connection that govern them. Harmony is often said to refer to the “vertical” aspect of music, as distinguished from melodic line, or the “horizontal” aspect. Counterpoint, which refers to the relationship between melodic lines, and polyphony, which refers to the simultaneous sounding of separate independent voices, are thus sometimes distinguished from harmony. In popular and jazz harmony, chords are named by their root plus various terms and characters indicating their qualities. In many types of music, notably baroque, romantic, modern, and jazz, chords are often augmented with “tensions”. A tension is an additional chord member that creates a relatively dissonant interval in relation to the bass. Typically, in the classical common practice period a dissonant chord (chord with tension) “resolves” to a consonant chord. Harmonization usually sounds pleasant to the ear when there is a balance between the consonant and dissonant sounds. In simple words, that occurs when there is a balance between “tense” and “relaxed” moments.

Some traditions of Western music performance, composition, and theory have specific rules of harmony. These rules are often described as based on natural properties such as Pythagorean tuning’s law whole number ratios (“harmoniousness” being inherent in the ratios either perceptually or in themselves) or harmonics and resonances (“harmoniousness” being inherent in the quality of sound), with the allowable pitches and harmonies gaining their beauty or simplicity from their closeness to those properties. This model provides that the minor seventh and (major) ninth are not dissonant (i.e., are consonant). While Pythagorean ratios can provide a rough approximation of perceptual harmonicity, they cannot account for cultural factors.

Early Western religious music often features parallel perfect intervals; these intervals would preserve the clarity of the original plainsong. These works were created and performed in cathedrals, and made use of the resonant modes of their respective cathedrals to create harmonies. As polyphony developed, however, the use of parallel intervals was slowly replaced by the English style of consonance that used thirds and sixths. The English style was considered to have a sweeter sound, and was better suited to polyphony in that it offered greater linear flexibility in part-writing. Early music also forbade usage of the tritone, due to its dissonance, and composers often went to considerable lengths, via musica ficta, to avoid using it. In the newer triadic harmonic system, however, the tritone became permissible, as the standardization of functional dissonance made its use in dominant chords desirable. Most harmony comes from two or more notes sounding simultaneously—but a work can imply harmony with only one melodic line by using arpeggios or hocket. Many pieces from the baroque period for solo string instruments—such as Bach’s Sonatas and partitas for solo violin and cello—convey subtle harmony through inference rather than full chordal structures. These works create a sense of harmonies by using arpeggiated chords and implied basslines. The implied basslines are created with low notes of short duration that many listeners perceive as being the bass note of a chord.

Disco Music

Disco is a genre of dance music containing elements of funk, soul, pop and salsa. It achieved popularity during the mid-1970s to the early 1980s. Its initial audiences in the U.S. were club-goers from the gay, African American, Italian American, Latino, and psychedelic communities in Philadelphia and New York City during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Disco can be seen as a reaction against both the domination of rock music and the stigmatization of dance music by the counterculture during this period. Disco was popular with both men and women from many different backgrounds, with dances including The Bump (1974), The Hustle (1975) and Y.M.C.A. (1978). The disco sound often has several components, a “four-on-the-floor” beat, an eighth note (quaver) or 16th note (semi-quaver) hi-hatpattern with an open hi-hat on the off-beat, and a prominent, syncopated electric bass line. In most disco tracks, string sections, horns, electric piano, and electric rhythm guitars create a lush background sound. Orchestral instruments such as the flute are often used for solo melodies, and lead guitar is less frequently used in disco than in rock. Many disco songs use electronic synthesizers, particularly in the late 1970s. Disco was a key influence in the later development of electronic dance music and house music. Disco has had several revivals, including in 2005 with Madonna’s highly successful album Confessions on a Dance Floor, and again in 2013 and 2014, as disco-styled songs by artists like Daft Punk (with Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers), Justin Timberlake, Breakbot, and Bruno Mars—notably Mars’ “Uptown Funk”—filled the pop charts in the UK and the US.

The music typically layered soaring, often-reverberated vocals, often doubled by horns, over a background “pad” of electric pianos and “chicken-scratch” rhythm guitars played on an electric guitar. “The ‘chicken scratch’ sound is achieved by lightly pressing the strings against the fretboard and then quickly releasing them just enough to get a slightly muted scratching [sound] while constantly strumming very close to the bridge.”[67] Other backing keyboard instruments include the piano, electric organ (during early years), string synth, and electromechanical keyboards such as the Fender Rhodes electric piano, Wurlitzer electric piano, and Hohner Clavinet. Synthesizers are also fairly common in disco, especially in the late 1970s.

The rhythm is laid down by prominent, syncopated basslines (with heavy use of broken octaves, that is, octaves with the notes sounded one after the other) played on the bass guitar and by drummers using a drum kit, African/Latin percussion, and electronic drums such as Simmons and Roland drum modules. The sound was enriched with solo lines and harmony parts played by a variety of orchestral instruments, such as harp, violin, viola, cello, trumpet, saxophone, trombone, clarinet, flugelhorn, French horn, tuba, English horn, oboe, flute (sometimes especially the alto flute and occasionally bass flute), piccolo, timpani and synth strings, string section or a full string orchestra. Most disco songs have a steady four-on-the-floor beat, a quaver or semi-quaver hi-hat pattern with an open hi-hat on the off-beat, and a heavy, syncopated bass line. Other Latin rhythms such as the rhumba, the samba and the cha-cha-cha are also found in disco recordings, and Latin polyrhythms, such as a rhumba beat layered over a merengue, are commonplace. The quaver pattern is often supported by other instruments such as the rhythm guitar and may be implied rather than explicitly present.

Songs often use syncopation, which is the accenting of unexpected beats. In general, the difference between a disco, or any dance song, and a rock or popular song is that in dance music the bass drum hits four to the floor, at least once a beat (which in 4/4 time is 4 beats per measure), whereas in rock the bass hits on one and three and lets the snare take the lead on two and four (the “backbeat”). Disco is further characterized by a 16th note division of the quarter notes as shown in the second drum pattern below, after a typical rock drum pattern. The orchestral sound usually known as “disco sound” relies heavily on string sections and horns playing linear phrases, in unison with the soaring, often reverberated vocals or playing instrumental fills, while electric pianos and chicken-scratch guitars create the background “pad” sound defining the harmony progression. Typically, all of the doubling of parts and use of additional instruments creates a rich “wall of sound”. There are, however, more minimalistic flavors of disco with reduced, transparent instrumentation, pioneered by Chic.