Download Added-Tone Sonorities in the Choral Music of Eric Whitacre

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Added 2,5,9 – This tone combination presents a nearly immovable wall of sound, as it
fills not only the full fifth of the underlying triad but also a whole step higher.
Though this combination is quite stable when added to a major triad, the sonority
takes on the attributes of a dominant seventh chord in second inversion when
added to a minor triad.
Added 2,5,t – Because of the tendency of added 2 and 5 to emphasize the underlying triad
by filling it, the added (2,5,t) strongly represents a minor or dominant seventh
chord, depending on the quality of the underlying triad. Again, Whitacre never
resolves the dominant form of this sonority as expected in common-practice tonal
Added 2,6,9 – Whitacre only uses the added (2,6,9) with major triads, where the added
tones lend the sonority an impressionistic, whole-tone feel. The sonority is not
dissonant and may be sustained for quite a while without the listener feeling a
need to move on. Whitacre sometimes uses this chord as a tonic.
Added 2,9,e – This combination is only used with major triads. The sonority is quite
ambiguous, containing all of the qualities of the added (2,9) discussed above. The
added e fills the third between the added 9 and its would-be third, while the added
2 fills the space between the third and fifth of the new triad. The two triads
compete for primacy in the listener’s ear.
Added 5,9,t – This sonority is distinctly unresolved, and Whitacre uses it for both major
and minor triads. The added 5, as usual, lacks stability, while the added t subverts
the tendency of the added 9 to act as a potential chord root.