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

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More Credible-------------------------------------------------------------------------Less Credible
/0 /3rd /7 /ntt /0 no 5th /3rd no 5th /0 no 3rd /7 no 3rd /ntt no 5th /ntt no 3rd
Table 9: Continuum of credulity for added-tone sonorities
When a chord type presents multiple possible interpretations, analysts are free to
choose a less plausible interpretation if the musical context suggests such a thing.
However, the farther removed the alternate interpretation is from the default
interpretation along the continuum of credulity, the less plausible the alternate
interpretation becomes. For instance, one could quite plausibly interpret our example
013578t chord type as a M(2,5,9,t)/4 chord rather than a m(1,5,8,t)/0 (one step further on
the continuum of credulity), while an interpretation of the sonority as a m(1,5,6,8,t)/5
chord with no fifth is considerably less credible (8 steps removed from the default
An interpretation of Whitacre’s chord types as added-tone sonorities enables the
analyst to detect similarities in sonorities that were not evident before. The chord types
0247, 038t, 0579, and 025t, for instance, seem at first to be unrelated to one another.
When analyzed as added-tone sonorities, however, they are all seen to be various
inversions of the same musical entity: a major triad with added 2 (see Figure 15). If the
quality of the underlying triad is disregarded, even more connections may be made
among chords, reducing Whitacre’s 245 chord types to just 58 combinations of added
tones. The number of added tones ranges from one to four: Whitacre uses nine individual