Harmonic Conditioning

The main body of the LCC and its practical application, including all 4 published versions of Book 1 with their inserts: the 1959 tan cover; the 1959 light green cover Japanese edition; the 1970‘s white cover, which adds an illustrated River Trip to the 1959 edition, and the currently available Fourth Edition, 2001.

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Harmonic Conditioning

Postby Andrew » Tue Dec 16, 2008 12:55 pm

If you have a piano, go up to it and play a middle C and a Db a flat ninth above.

Then, play a chord starting on middle C on bass, then add E, A, Db, F# B.

The result is that the initial dissonance of the flat nine is hidden within the rest of the harmony. C and Db are distant, but when you add the notes that relate to both (A E B F#) the result makes the distant relationship sound less distant. Still fairly dissonant, but the dissonance is more dreamy and uncertain rather than biting.

This is what I call harmonic conditioning, the process of presenting dissonances in a more consonant state because of the underlying harmony being used. It conditions the ear to notice less of the dissonance.

You can also try sustaining a chord (C, E F# B) and solo with G lydian. You could even solo up to E lydian for a more ambigious sound. The result is a polytonality, connected by the inner voices, conditioned to cound more ingoing. E, B, and F# both relate to C lydian as well as E lydian.

But this is just one type of harmonic conditioning. You can also make dissonances appear less dissonant by placing the right notes on the right strong beats. This is what Bach did.
One way I hear Coltrane and Mccoy Tyner and many others employing harmonic conditioning is by stating a motif and then restating the motif outside the tonal order. If were one to all of a sudden go out of the tonal order it would create dissonance, but the repeated motif gives it connection (listen or relisten to A Love Supreme, "Ackowledgement" especially the last part of Trane's solo)

Does this make sense? Do you have any more examples of harmonic conditioning?
"Life finds a way"- Wayne Shorter
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Postby monicacp » Tue Dec 16, 2008 1:47 pm

I think your thoughts on harmonic conditioning are brilliant. I tried the example you gave, and its amazing how two notes that completely rub against each other can be ok when these quartal harmonies are implied. I also found it interesting that when you start out with just the C and the Db a flat ninth above, how much of a difference it makes to just add an E. With just that one added note it makes it much less dissonant already. Then as you add the following notes to the chord you suggested, it slowly becomes less dissonant in a way, because with each added note to the chord, it pulls your ear in to a different sound the new tonality gives off.
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Postby Andrew » Tue Dec 16, 2008 2:06 pm

You hit it right on when you mentioned the quartal hamonies employed. I had talked a little about quartal harmony in the previous post "Revisions on Previous Posts." There's more possibilities when quartal harmony is employed.

In the second example I chose the quartal harmony C F# B E because it's able to satisfy from a C Lydian melody all the way up to an E Lydian. The C quartal chord and E lydian melody only produces one dissonance, C against e lydian, whereas a tertian chord C MAJ 7 produces two dissonances, C against E lydian and G against E lydian. quartal chords are more ambigious and require more notes to really define themselves, but it's better that way because it leaves you open to experiment with different tonalities.
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Postby dds1234 » Wed Dec 17, 2008 12:38 am

I've always just related things of this matter to the circle of fifths. Seems fitting in my opinion. It's still so odd...
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Postby lydian1 » Tue Dec 30, 2008 1:43 pm

Yes, Harmonic Conditioning is a subject that I have learned about just recently. Someone demonstrated it to me in September, and I found it very useful
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Postby strachs » Wed Dec 31, 2008 6:35 am

It's kind of like chromatic passing notes, even in early music (Baroque, Classical). If held for any amount of time, they would be unacceptably dissonant (back then, at least). But because they are sounded so briefly, and usually on unaccented beats, they kind of don't matter.

What you're talking about, though is SUSTAINED dissonances being made to disappear. That's a cool subject. Again, how do you make a dissonance sound not so dissonant, while sustaining it?

About halfway between these two extremes (passing note dissonance vs. sustained dissonance) is the dissonances of the Romantic era. One example is measure 20 of Debussy's Clair De Lune (http://www.4shared.com/file/78331055/1c ... d=f916286f). Out of context, this combination of notes is quite dissonant. But even though it is sustained for a full measure, the bass notes are part of an ascending sequence, and the dissonance is resolved in the next measure, when the bass notes ascend one step further.

Anyway, little digression. Sorry.

BTW, can anyone think of some EXAMPLES of this in action? That would be cooler still.
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Postby Andrew » Sun Jan 11, 2009 2:37 am

I think there is one Ives song, called "The Masses." If I remember, I think it has quite a lot of sustaned dissonances made consonant. I don't have the sheet music for it though, so I don't know what exactly he is doing.
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