0007. Pentatonics as superimpositions – abilities and techniques, part 2

Pentatonic-based chords could be controlled melodically. They behave pretty much as inversions of triads; just have significantly more of chord tones (what makes them supermelodic!).

Let`s pick five three-voiced fragments of the pentatonic, deployed widely, as discussed earlier. Those all have different melodic degrees:

b3 5 1*
4 b7 b3
5 1 4
b7 b3 5
1 4 b7

*Bold digits could be considered as roots of different kinds of “pentatonic triads”.

Notice that tones in columns are deployed narrowly (1 b3 4 5 b7 1 etc.). This could be used for melodic motion, without huge interval leaps.

Tones in rows remain deployed widely, as common chords (1 4 b7 b3 5 1 etc.).

In video this idea should look clearer.

Widely deployed pentatonic triads are always less than octave in range and could be inverted for greater intervalic variety:

4 5 1 4 b7 1
5 b7 b3 5 1 b3
b7 1 4 b7 b3 4
1 b3 5 1 4 5
b3 4 b7 b3 5 b7

Do not get fooled by numerous shapes – they are just the same initial pentatonic, just used with some sense and purpose.

Any tone of inversion also could be displaced by an octave – for even greater range and intervalic variety.

I know all this information might seem puzzling at first, especially when we deal with not only one, but three different kinds of pentatonic and use them as superimpositions over other chords. But proper classification of pentatonic triads and focus on right spots makes the whole system accessible to many. Ask my students. πŸ™‚

If you got the idea and are interested in fully detailed course or want to share your thoughts, contact me directly advancedharmonyblog@gmail.com

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0006. Pentatonics as superimpositions – abilities and techniques, part 1

Let`s discuss pentatonics in role of superimpositions, what benefits they give and how we could control them.

First of all, pentatonic (of any kind), built entirely of vertically stable tones, allows us to use pentatonic-based melodic lick in different harmonic contexts, with no modifications. Only condition – avoid tones and chromatics (remaining 7 tones of 12) should be rhythmically passive, unemphasized.

Let`s hear an example.

I think such feature is encouraging (because there`s no chance to fail). Moreover, ear and sense of phrasing are very positively provoked, when one exactly knows what notes are reliable for sure.

And if you are conscious about modal context, when playing pentatonics, they will help you to find the right fingering of modes (because only two modal tones still missing).

Pentatonics are even more powerful and interesting as a vertical structure, chord.

If we organize sounds of pentatonic not in a row, but skip every other one, we would get quite even intervalic pattern where fourths heavily prevail. (Such deployment is perfectly convenient for guitar players, for whom I have special fingering course.)

For example: A C D E G A C D E G A and so on. Bold notes are separated by such intervals: p4, p4, p4, M3, p4.

Wide deployment of pentatonics causes heavy quartal sound. 1 4 b7 b3 5 1 instead of 1 3b 4 5 b7 1.

(to be continued)

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0005. Types of chords vs types of pentatonics

Everybody knows that minor pentatonic reflects features of most minor chords, scales or modes (must be with b7 and 4), because of it`s evident structure: 1 b3 4 5 b7.

Measured from b3 (considered as new root), the same tones give structure of major pentatonic: b3 4 5 b7 1 = 1 2 3 5 6. It covers qualities of many major chords, scales or modes.

Following explanation is written with particular letters, to emphasize close relation between pairs of relative pentatonics, which in fact are the same thing.

  1. Minor pentatonic equaly reflects features of m7, maj7 and similar chords:

Am7 fits Cmaj7 as 1 b3 4 5 b7 (A C D E G) fits 1 2 3 5 6 (C D E G A)

Let`s discuss remaining asymmetric seventh chord types: dom7, 7alt, m7b5, m maj7, maj7#5.

  1. Features of dominant seventh chords are well reflected by minor pentatonic with major third (M3). Measured from 3rd degree it also perfectly fits with 7alt (enharmonically = m7b5).

A7 fits C#7alt (= C#m7b5) as 1 3 4 5 b7 (A C# D E G) fits 1 b2 #2(b3) b5 #5(b6) (C# D E G A)

  1. m maj7 features are reflected by minor pentatonic with major seventh (M7). Measured from b3rd degree it also covers maj7#5.

Am maj7 fits Cmaj7#5 as 1 b3 4 5 7 (A C D E G#) fits 1 2 3 #5 6 (A C D E G#)

Newly introduced types of pentatonic contain not only plenty of missing m2, M7 and tritone intervals, but also all four possible kinds of triad: major, minor, diminished and augmented. I dare to state, that three types of pentatonics, shown above, are various and versatile enough to act properly in whole range of musical situations.

That also could be proved by mathematical research, which shows us where pentatonics could be used as superimpositions (five-voiced chords).

pentatonics as superimpositions

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0004. Density of vertical texture

Density of chosen harmonic devices (quantity of degrees within) affects few crucial parameters of music: construction of arpeggio based melodic phrases, mix of prevailing intervals and force of functional gravity.

Triads have thinnest texture; prevailing intervals are thirds, fourths and their inversions. Functional gravity is evident (heavily determined by Western cultural environment).

In seventh chords we observe denser texture and greater variety of intervals: seconds and sevenths become common, tritones are much more frequent. Functional gravity is the same, excepting dominant seventh chords – those pull even stronger.

Pentatonics also could be considered as vertical formations, with very dense texture. In such conditions fourths, seconds and their inversions start prevail. Functional gravity becomes weak. Looks like the vertical and horizontal of music got really close to each other. Some modes have no more than five harmonically stable tones (phrygian, for instance), all remaining act like passing or chromatic.

Next list shows how superimpositions could be categorized by density of texture: into triads, seventh chords and pentatonics. Pentatonics are marked in bold font; some of them are not common minor/major type and would be explained in further posts.

superimpositions as triads, 7th chords and pentatonics

Pentatonic is powerful but yet underestimated harmonic device. I think it is because of limited intervalic structure of minor/major pentatonic (which lack some of characteristic intervals: m2, M7, tritone). Musicians are trying to alter pentatonics to fit whole range of musical structures, but they often fail to discover fundamental unifying principle. Hope I found simple and sufficient method how to overcome intervalic limitations of pentatonics and control them vertically. Great deal of upcoming materials would be entirely dedicated to this subject.

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