theories of tonal convergence
Derivations of melodic choices. So, what are these pages about? Basically the pull or tonal gravity between musical elements. And that by simply defining things by chord type, and exploring the color tones associated with each of these three families of chords, lines of tonal convergence emerge, each of which creates it's own unique essence and degree of tonal gravity. As a player evolves through understanding the American styles with an eye towards how convergence or the resolution of tension is achieved, we find ourselves on a pathway of a gradually increasing numerical complexity. So, are we tracing the pathway created from the 5 pitch pentatonic / folk music colors on through the 7 pitch major scales? Then towards the 12 tone jazz / chromatic division of the octave, while along the way searching for... the blue notes? The filtering these pitches through each of the 3 chord types of equal temper harmony? Yep. That's along the lines of where these ideas are going. Here are the 3 choices of chord type as described above, followed by a more detailed description of where these topics evolve within the text.
|Two minor 7||Five 7th||One major 7th|
Format wise, once each of the 3 chord types are examined individually, the colors generated are combined together into a tonal convergence chart. This chart simply combines the convergence possibilities, one from each of the 3 chord types, as defined through the 2 / 5 / 1 motion, creating various ways to reshape the tonal gravity of this cadential motion within equal temper. From this 2 / 5 / 1 convergence pathway, we reshape the convergence motion anyway we decide. Mix and match elements of one with another, search for coolness with the blue notes within a diatonic harmonic environment, create vamps between odd colors, look for new cycles of chords ect. So as to better get a sense of this convergence chart for the emerging artist, these possibilities follow a chromatic presentation, providing a chromatic perspective of how we create and release tension. these convergence possibilities, so, perhaps easier to label theoretically and remember while also eventually providing the learner with a deeper sense of the inherent tonal gravity of a convergence solution, based solely on it's intervalic proximity to the tonic, i.e., as say in a half step, tonic motion. For as we shall see stylistically, the most non-diatonic of choices pitchwise are so oftentimes the essential coolness to create the more modern American sounds of today.
Inside or outside? The scale choices for each of the individual chord types are basically organized from "inside" to "outside." By this I mean that "inside" scale choices are simply more diatonically generated, thus easiest to apply to a particular chord change and sound for the most part consonant. "Outside" choices are more non-diatonic to harmony at hand and thus potentially create greater tension. Both "inside" and "outside" choices contain groups of notes from which beautiful melodies can be created over that particular harmony. As one moves further "outside", the greater tension potentially demands greater levels of understanding and organization. This concept is sometimes known as the "strength of the player," the stronger improvisers being able to manage greater amounts of dissonance in their melodic lines and still make musical sense. Oftentimes being "out there" is simply a lessening of tonal gravity, allowing greater freedom for our soaring spirits. After a bit of doing it, it's not all to hard to get out there, the trick is oftentimes getting back in a convincing manner, landing on one's musical feet so to speak. The idea of creating a cool diatonic idea which gradually evolves away from this tonal center to points beyond then evolving back, is in one sense how improvised musical dialogue is defined in this text.
So why are these different lines of tonal convergence potentially important for the creative musician. Well, as one increases their melodic choices, does their range of expression potentially increase? Can we develop a greater intimacy between thought and statement and perhaps a better sense of creating, sustaining and releasing musical tension by expanding the colors on our palette? Hard to say, each of us must choose for ourselves. Do folk, blues and rock players usually concern themselves with tonal convergence? Being for the most part diatonically generated, these styles like to tell verbal stories and thus tend to keep the music in the background, the story being the predominant aspect of the art form. For instrumental jazz and modern players, and the adventuresome blues artist or fusion rocker, getting "there" from different directions is a potential source of improvisational coolness, potentially creating a vast quantity of musical ideas. So, in all tonal probability, the "you can't get there from here" becomes "you can get here from there." And if not already happening, this might be a good juncture to begin a notebook containing your favorite musical ideas, and convergence pathways, which oftentimes lead into "themes" and structure for original compositions.
Of the three families of chords... The dominant seven (V7) chord family, home of the tritone, having the widest array of color combinations, has the largest selection of scale choices and substitutions in the following discussions. "Musical proofs" crunch down the pitches into the theory of the more complex choices and concepts. Quite a bit of our harmonic resource within the dominant color is diatonically generated, but due to it's role to provide a sense of instability, create tension and direct harmonic traffic, we seem to accept a wider range of colors with dominant textures as compared to the role players of stability, the tonic major 7th and minor 7th chord types. Thus, four musical proofs dedicated to outlining the dominant colors.
Thinking from the root of the chord. There are 50 listings in the tonal convergence chart, about half of which are diatonic or modal, thus perhaps easier to theoretically assimilate for the advancing learner. For the other half of mostly non diatonic examples and substitutions, understanding it's numerical theory from the root of the chord is always recommended.
As some of the material is of a rather advanced nature, background links to the musical resources, the major scales, modes, chord construction, function etc. are included as hyperlinks within the text for the emerging improviser. Grasping the various types of tension that surround the dominant 7th family, the substitutions and "outside" scale choices are generally directed toward the jazz artist, for so little of this level of the theory ever gets into the more diatonically tonal styles of American music. That for each of us, new cool ideas can come from any style, which we can shape in our own artistic directions. Just all part of the 10% inspiration, 90% perspiration search thing for the evolving creative musician.
So, with this in mind... pick and click and off ya go!
|Two minor 7|
|One major 7th|
|tonal convergence chart|
It is good to have and end to journey toward, but it is the journey that matters in the end. Ursula K. Le Guin