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

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chapters, those chord types which repeat themselves most often throughout Whitacre’s
oeuvre are those with the most plausible triadic interpretations.
Interpretation
/0
/3rd
/7
/ntt
/0 no 5th
/3rd no 5th
/0 no 3rd
/7 no 3rd
/ntt no 5th
/ntt no 3rd
no triadic interpretation
Number of Chord Types
79
31
35
25
37
22
9
5
3
0
0
Table 11: Distribution of Whitacre’s chord types along the continuum of credulity
Effect of Added Tones
The idea that triads may be decorated with added tones is certainly not unique to
this thesis, but added-tone sonorities have never been sufficiently theorized until now.
Musicians seem content to state that added tones change the “color” or “flavor” of the
underlying triad, a description that does little to describe the experience of listening to
such a sonority. In 1930, Henry Cowell expressed his displeasure with such descriptions:
There has been sporadic use of the device of adding a second of some sort
to a common chord, with the excuse of ‘adding colour.’ This, of course, is
not a tenable explanation of why the particular second should be used, and
is a confusion of the theory and purpose of music. The purpose of every
note in a large chord may be to add colour to the composition as a whole,
yet from the standpoint of theory there must be some reason why the
chord used was one which, in the way it was handled, would produce
colour. To say that in such a group as C, D, E played together the D is a
colour-note does not explain why it should be there, nor why another note
would not be just as good as a colour-note; it merely gives a name.131
131
Cowell, pp. 115-116.
80