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

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diminished triad with added 5, which serves to help temper the dissonance of the
root-position diminished triad.
Added 5,8 – In major, this tone combination is quite dissonant, as the downward
tendency of the added 5 is combined with the jarring quality of the added 8. The
tones engender two clashing triadic interpretations: the major underlying triad
competes with a minor triad whose root is the added 5 (see Figure 17). These two
chords never appear in the same diatonic collection, which is part of what gives
the combination its peculiarly dissonant quality. Both added tones want to
resolve downward into the tones of the underlying triad. In minor, however, this
chord is diatonic, and thus more stable, though somewhat ambiguous. The added
5 and 8 act as a potential root and third, attempting to appropriate the true root of
the underlying sonority as their fifth.139 Both the true triad and the potential one
are minor, giving this sonority an air of melancholy.
Figure 17: Inherent ambiguity in M(5,8), m(5,8), and M(5,9)
Added 5,9 – When added to a major triad, this tone combination acts similarly to the
(5,8) combination in minor: the two added tones combine with the root of the
underlying triad to form a second complete triad that competes for attention with
the true triad (see Figure 17).140 This time, however, both the real and potential
Both of these potential interpretations are two degrees removed from the default.
This interpretation is also two degrees removed from the default.