Tag: fifth

• Polarity

The following video compares the perfect fifth with the perfect fourth. These notes are the next-door neighbors of the tonic. They are equally close to the center. They are both harmonious. Yet there is a great difference in their character. The difference between these two intervals is polarity. I learned this term from W.A. Mathieu,…

• Consonance and Dissonance

I just passed the 10,000 photo mark on the stop motion animations, good thing I’m not hand-drawing them like Winsor McCay! The one I’m working on, Real Girl, has a lot of dissonant notes in it. The melody ranges far from the roots and makes some slightly dizzying harmonic jumps. I want to use it…

• The Power of the Seventh Chord

The V chord, the major chord based on the 5, is a powerful compositional tool. It points, very clearly and with a lot of tension, directly at the tonic. If you want to lead the ear to the I, the V chord is the top-of-the-line triad. Why this is so is still a bit mysterious…

• The Compass Points

There are two basic directions on the lattice: multiplication and division. If I start with a note, and then multiply it by 3, or 5, or 7, I will get a harmony note with overtonal energy. Such a note is in the natural overtone series of the original note. Overtonal energy is stable, restful, it…

• The Major Seventh

The notes get more exotic as you move outward from the center. The ninth is quite consonant, but not nearly as consonant as the fifth. (Consonance and dissonance are descriptions of feelings; they are part of the flavor of an interval, and I don’t think the last word has been written on them yet. I’ll be…

• The Lattice

In 1739, the great mathematician Leonhard Euler published something he called a Tonnetz, German for “tone network.” It looked like this: Euler’s Tonnetz organizes the notes into a matrix, instead of a scale. Moving down and to the left represents motion by an interval of a fifth (V) in musical space. Down and to the right…

• The Major Third

Multiplying a note by 2 creates an octave, and multiplying it by 3 creates a perfect fifth. Multiplying by 5 gives yet another new note, the pure major third.5-1 5/1 is over two octaves above the original note, so you have to reduce it twice (divide by 4) to get it down into the same octave.5-4…

• Octave Reduction

Doubling the frequency of a note certainly changes it. The ear hears a higher-pitched note. But there is something in the essence of the note that does not change, a character that stays consistent through the octaves. This allows a process called octave reduction. When you’re working with notes as ratios, it’s convenient to multiply or…

• Notes and Intervals

A note, in music, is a sound with a particular pitch. Pitch is frequency, measured in cycles per second, or Hertz (Hz). The faster the vibration, the higher the pitch. A vibration, at, say, 220 Hz, all by itself is a note by that general definition. But the note doesn’t acquire its distinct personality until it’s…