## Putting Some Numbers on Tonal Gravity

I believe the sensation of tonal gravity is the most important driver of tension and resolution in tonal music, music that has a central key note. The tonic is like a sun, creating a gravitational field around it. The lattice is a beautiful map of this gravitational field, in harmonic space. Tonal gravity acts like…

## 100 Girlfriends

There is a passage, in my song Real Girl, that clearly showcases both kinds of dissonance — the kind that comes from harmonic distance, and the kind that comes from reverse polarity. This melodic passage occurs many times in the song, and it contains a rather dizzying series of tensions and resolutions. My friend Jody…

## Real Girl, Animated

Here is my third stop-motion animation of a full song. Real Girl uses a custom nine-note scale. It occupies the Southeast quadrant of the lattice, the zone of the natural minor, with two added notes — the 7, which allows for a major V chord in the progression, and the 7b5, a blue note that…

## Harmonic Distance

Harmonic distance is the total length of the connection between two notes on the lattice, as measured on the solid lines. The more tinkertoy sticks you traverse to get from one note to the other, the greater the harmonic distance. It’s not the same thing as melodic distance, which is a difference in pitch. Two notes can…

## Polarity Experiment

In the last post I did a consonance experiment, listening to intervals with wider and wider spacing. In that experiment, I kept the axis (3) and direction (multiplication, overtonal) the same, and increased the distance. This time I’ll keep the axis and the distance the same, and switch direction. Each illustration will compare a note with…

## 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…

## Another Major Second: The 10/9

When I started exploring the extended lattice beyond the central 12 notes, the first note that was really new to me was the 10/9 major second, also called the minor or lesser whole tone. Now I call it the 2-. The lattice extends forever in all directions. When you continue multiplying and dividing, generating new notes beyond the boundaries…

## The Minor Second

The last three notes (b6, b3 and b7) are related to each other. They all contain a reciprocal third. There is a family resemblance of sound and function. (They also all happen to be a little flat in equal temperament. On a guitar it’s a nice trick to bend them a little to sweeten them.)…