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sdjknights

Debussian Harmony

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I remember, during my studies, being taught of, I think, three types of chords that Debussy used in place of traditional dominants, but can't remember all of them. I can remember some of the definitions and some of the names, but I will concede that even those memories may be a bit wrong. Does anybody know what I'm thinking of exactly?

 

What I think I remember there being was a tritone chord starting from the dominant note, a tritone chord starting at the diminished 5th, and a dominant 7th chord starting at the diminished 5th. Like I say, I'm not sure of these, and I would also quite like to know what these are called.

 

Also, my first post. Hello all

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You seem to be talking about the dominant chords with a flattened 5th. Those became very common at the end of the 19th century.

 

Eg., in the tonality of C you can have things like G-B-Db-F, G-B-Db-F-A, G-B-Db-F-Ab, etc. They're usually in 2nd inversion (the Db in the bottom), and resolve to tonic chords conventionally: Db-F-G-B --> C-E-G-C

 

The interesting thing is that G-B-Db-F contains a minor 7th (G-F), an augmented 6th (=7th), and 2 tritones, and it's a synthetic chord.

The other interesting thing is that it's very ambiguous and can belong to different keys at the same time:

G-B-Db-F = altered dominant in C, but also, French 6th in F

C#-E#-G-B (enharmonic equivalent) = altered dominant in F#, French 6th in B

 

An almost equivalent concept is the jazz term 'tritone substitution', in which the V7->I cadence (eg. G7->Cmaj) is substituted for IIb7->I (Db7->I).

It's the same thing: and augmented 6th: Db7 = Db-F-Ab-Cb = Db-F-Ab-B

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Cool, do these chords set up "whole tone" type scales/themes? Did he also ever just hold that chord for a long time and play on it rather than use it as part of a flat II7 to I ?

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I'm mostly talking about the chord (G)BDbF, acting as V (instead of Fr 6th). An example is the ending of Schubert's quintet

To this basic "frame" one can add 9ths and 13ths, creating a chord "family". Scriabin even uses b5th + #5th

 

You can use whole tone, octatonic, and acoustic scales with that (usually still as V). Check out the finale of Rimsky's concerto or anything by T. Monk.

 

In Scriabin's middle period there are tons of examples of this chord family, in tonal contexts.

As his style progresses, the chord becomes more "static" (and it's used w/ the scales I said). The Mystic chord belongs to this family.

 

As I said the chord can resolve to many different things, so you cand do whatever you want.

 

Oh, and you can treat the Db as a C#-appoggiatura to D (creating a normanl V7), as in the 2nd chord of Wagner's Tristan

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Yeah, but yours are only Italian 6ths or/and dominant 7ths without 5th. There's no dim. 5th

 

Oh!

Albert, but if you want the chord with the dim 5th, you may detect it at first chord of the same music!

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Guest Kibbletime

they are called altered or extended dominants i think. like dominant seventh with sharp ninth. or flat fifth. or my favourite dominant thirteenth without the third. popular among impressionists and gershwinists.

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