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

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sonority (see Figure 16).137 The added 9 is more dissonant when attached to a
minor triad, as the 9 creates a tritone with the third of the triad.
Added t – This is the added tone with which listeners are likely to be most familiar. A
major triad with added t is a dominant seventh chord, while a minor triad with
added t is a minor seventh chord. Whitacre seems to prefer the sound of the
added t with a minor, rather than major, triad. When he does use the added t with
a major triad, the chord occurs only for a short duration, and Whitacre never
resolves the t downward as one would expect of the dominant seventh chord. The
conventional tonal progression V7-I is not found in any of the passages included
in this study.
Added e – This added tone lends the sonority an air of repose, possibly due to jazz
musicians’ tendency to use this added-tone sonority to represent the tonic triad.
While Whitacre does use this chord at moments of rest (at divergent cadences, for
instance), he never ends a piece with this added-tone sonority.
Multiple Tones
When more than a single tone is added to an underlying triad, the effects of the
individual added tones combine and interact with one another in a manner unique to each
combination of tones. It is thus appropriate to discuss the effect of multiple added tones,
especially the specific combinations of added tones that appear many times within the
repertoire. As more non-triadic tones are added to an underlying triad, the total effect
137
Again, this interpretation is one degree removed from the default.
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