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Glossary

  • Bitonality: The simultaneous use of two tonalities or keys. This device was widely used in the first half of the 20th century by composers such as Igor Stravinsky, Sergei Prokofiev, Darius Milhaud, etc. Richard Strauss was among many other composers who disapproved of the device, arguing that the simultaneous presence of two tonalities is not easily perceived and that one tonality necessarily subordinates the other.

  • Church Modes: The term "mode" refers to the arrangement of whole steps and half steps to form a scale. There are eight church modes which were formulated by ca. 1000 and were defined, each according to final (the pitch on which melodies in that mode end), the intervallic relationship of other pitches to the final (the scale type). There are four finals -- d, e, f, g -- and for each final there is a high ambitus, termed authentic, and a low one, termed plagal, thus yielding the total of eight modes. Pre-seventeenth century music was largely based on the church modes. Although the church modes were neglected by composers of the subsequent centuries, they have found favor again in the twentieth century by composers of both serious and popular music.

  • Extended Tertian Chords (9th, 11th, 13th): Extended tertian chords are built using diatonic tones and are normally used in root position only. The ideal voicing places the tone that names the chord (9th, 11th, 13th) in the uppermost voice, but this is not always possible. The rule of thumb is: try to place the dissonances as high in the chord as possible. The 9th, 11th, and 13th all resolve down by step. When this is not possible, they should stay on the same note. Doubling rules: Always keep the 7th of the chord and the note that forms an interval of the 7th below the "naming tone." In the 9th chord, keep the 3rd; in the 11th chord, keep the 5th; and in the 13th chord, keep the 7th.

  • Pedal Point: Also called pedal or organ point. It is a sustained tone in the lowest register, occurring under changing harmonies in the upper parts. In tonal music, pedal points often occur on either the dominant, preparing a climatic return to the tonic, or on the tonic, as the final statement of the tonic at the conclusion of a work.

  • Pentatonic Scale: It is a scale consisting of five pitches: scale degrees 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6. Treated as a source of pitches for chords, it produces only two triads (for a scale, C-D-E-G-A, these are C major and A minor), which tend to compete for tonal focus. Other chords include C add6 (C-E-G-A), A minor minor 7th, quartal and quintal chords, and chords which sound like fragments of C9 and A minor 11th. The pentatonic scale contains no minor 2nds, major 7ths, or tritones.

  • Quartal and Quintal Chords: They are chords formed by stacking perfect 4ths or 5ths on one another. Because the content of these chords is close to some extended tertian chords, we use the term "quartal" and "quintal" only when the display emphasizes them. The famous "Viennese trichord" or "Viennese quartal chord" is related to the quartal chord for it consists of a perfect 4th plus a tritone.

  • Whole-Tone Scale: It is a scale consisting only of whole tones. It has six pitches in each octave and lacks all intervals consisting of an odd number of semitones, such as the minor 3rd and perfect 5th. The whole-tone scale has often been used to represent the sensation of floating or drifting. Tritone is associated with the whole-tone scale.

(c) 1998-1999 Spb Modern Classics