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Does The "a" Tone Have A Subdominat Function In A C Major Harmony Context?

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does the "a" tone have a subdominat function in a C major harmony context?

 

for example in a C major harmony situation if i play a "d" (tone) it produces tension that wants to resolve to C (it's an usual tone played right before the tonic). likewise playing b also has this effect (actually greater since it's a leading tone). and g also has some of this effect. so basically it's the dominant function of the tones/harmony g-b-d.

 

but what about the a tone? i get the feeling that it takes you somewhere to another place like the feel of the subdominant function. it would make sense because the subdominant chord is f-a-c.

 

i ask this because the a chord is perceived as being part of the tonic family. but i think it's the other tones: c-e (from the a-c-e chord) that make this effect. come to think of it the d chord is viewed as being part of the subdominant family, in spite of the clear dominant (tension) effect of d, and that's because of the other 2 tones f-a (from d-f-a chord).

 

what's your opinion?

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It depends on context. Different tones can be part of different harmonies, or can tend towards other tones which are part of different harmonies, or both. That's what keeps it interesting.

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It depends on context. Different tones can be part of different harmonies, or can tend towards other tones which are part of different harmonies, or both. That's what keeps it interesting.

imagine a whole bar of c major tones, and the next bar only "a" tones in a row.. like eights one after the other, the whole bar filled with them..and only them..

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The submediant (VI: A,C,E) functions similarly to the tonic, as does the closely related mediant function (III: E,G,B) because of the two shared tones. The submediant is however more closely related to the subdominant than the subdominant is to the tonic, which means the submediant also functions similarly to the subdominant again because of the two shared tones (A,C). The progression I-VI-IV-V is incredibly popular because each successive harmony except for the dominant shares two out of three tones.

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The submediant (VI: A,C,E) functions similarly to the tonic, as does the closely related mediant function (III: E,G,B) because of the two shared tones. The submediant is however more closely related to the subdominant than the subdominant is to the tonic, which means the submediant also functions similarly to the subdominant again because of the two shared tones (A,C). The progression I-VI-IV-V is incredibly popular because each successive harmony except for the dominant shares two out of three tones.

and what about the single tone of a? does it have a tonic ("home") function or a subdominant one ("away")?

the reason i ask is because i finally started to think of the harmony of a melody separate from it's orchestration/chords. the melody should stand alone, like if somebody whistles it or sings it, it should have meaning, without some chords necessarilly playing behind it. that said, you can start a tune presenting the tonic (lets say C) or forming the tonic harmony (besides C adding a G or an E tone), and then, in an onbeat place you can hit the A tone (like "here's an A!", so not as a passing tone or a neighboring tone or whatever).

 

again a melody doesn't present you the whole chord/harmony that that tone belongs to (like say the A tone is not followed by an F to indicate that its the subdominant harmony of F, and is not even followed by E, or C to indicate the submediant A chord. it's just the A tone alone. again imagine the tune doesn't have chords behind it).

these are things so basic in music.. like i don't know how would we go further to write symphonies etc  if we don't even know what the function/feel of a basic tone of A is in the plain C major context. after we create the melody then we can harmonize it in all sorts of ways, but the melody itself has it's independent harmony.

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A single tone is a single tone. There is only harmony when two tones or more are considered. An A following a C chord could be interpreted as a suspension and thus an extension of the tonic, Csus6 C E G A, or it could be interpreted as changing the chord from a tonic C to a submediant Am7 A C E G. Depends on context and the implied function, if any.

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What you are hearing is the submediant function, which is half subdominant half tonic.

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i'm trying to study/analyze(cause i can't find information.. maybe you could recommend a link) choruses/verses and what differentiates them (harmonically). from the few song i studied i can draw a conclusion that choruses tend to start from a tonic point (c of e or g), then go to "dominant" or "tension" i would better say, then back to the tonic. while verses tend to go to a subdominant (or "away") (or maybe dominant too, i haven't concluded yet) place and leave you there hanging.

but this requires me to simplify all the tones into 3 categories: 1tonic (or i would say "home"), 2subdominant ("away") and 3dominant (or "tension").

 

basically 1tonic/home tones are: 1 C, 3(M3/m3) E/Eb, 5 G.  yes i view G as a tonic not a dominant. the reason why the G chord is dominant to C i think is because of the D and especially the B tone that bring the tension. that's why in a minor key like a minor, the e minor chord is not enough to be dominant, it has to have that major third (G#).. because that's the farthest tone (except the diminished fifth) that's the most unrelated to the tonic. from Hindemith's harmonic series: C-G-F-A-E-Eb-Ab-D-Bb-Db-B-F#.

so it's like going to the edge of a boat to the point you tip over, and you wish to go back to the center.

 

 

 

actually if i view it from hindemith's harmonic or related series, it's like this:

1. C is the root/tonic-home-.

2. G is the closest related tone, so it's a tonic-home- tone.

3. F. F is also very close related so it should be a tonic, but it definitely doesn't sound like tonic-home, but rather subdominant-away. why? i think it's because the fourth is the inversion of the fifth with the root changed! so root has shifted from C to F. that's why it feels like "another place".

4. A. it's also close related, but here's where my trouble is. the major sixth is the inversion of the minor third. hindemith says that the root between 2tones forming a minor third is none of 2tones, but a major third down from the low note(e.g.:F is the root of A-C). but he says that if we have to choose from the 2 we should choose the bottom tone from the minor third interval. meaning that the root between C and A is A. this means that once again the root has changed so we are in a subdominant - "away" place. (i hope this is somewhat correct)

5. E is also rather related, the root between C-E is C, so it's tonic/home.

6. Eb is the one with the problem but it's established that C is the root, so it's again a tonic/home. although it's starting to get farther from the tonic.

7. Ab (minor sixth) is the inversion of the major third, so the root changes => subdominant/away. (so in A minor harmony, hitting the F tone will sound subdominant/away)

8. D. hindemith says that's really no root from the seconds forward (minor second and sevenths).(again if he has to choose he would chose to upper tone as the root, like D being the root between C-D) so from now on, we're getting in the dominant/"tension" (distant related) tones.

9..the rest is more and more dominant/tension/distant.

the last F# is rather unusable, i think he said.

 

so that's how i would view the tones.

a lot of hit songs have 1 tone per bar/chord, so a single tone is enough to play a tonic/subdominant/dominant function. think of the chorus of "yellow submarine" just an example..

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My impression is that you're taking a few facts you've learned about music theory, and now you are trying to infer all the rest of music theory from those few facts.  If you decide to be a music major in college you take not one, but several courses just about harmonic function with thousands of pages of reading for each course.  

 

I think some more general reading will start to make things clearer.  Put your questions on hold for a bit and just read, and read, and read until it starts to come together.  Music theory is such an enormous subject, you have to do a fair amount of study before it starts to come together in your brain and allow you to accurately analyze music you hear or scores you see.  

 

Here is a good explanation of the basics of harmonic function:  http://www.teoria.com/en/tutorials/functions/intro/  You can click through the different pages with the right and left arrows, and it has examples you can listen to, while looking at the score.  teoria.com has a good set of tutorials on basic music theory, and also a section full of articles about particular topics, when you start to feel like you have a grasp of the more basic information.  Put your questions on hold for now and just read and read and re-read.  

 

If you want to get a good textbook, (which may have a better organized introduction to various topics than what you can get from an assortment of websites), you can ask for recommendations.  I've got "Harmony" by Walter Piston.  (Which could use better footnotes and a more extensive index.)  

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My impression is that you're taking a few facts you've learned about music theory, and now you are trying to infer all the rest of music theory from those few facts.  If you decide to be a music major in college you take not one, but several courses just about harmonic function with thousands of pages of reading for each course.  

 

I think some more general reading will start to make things clearer.  Put your questions on hold for a bit and just read, and read, and read until it starts to come together.  Music theory is such an enormous subject, you have to do a fair amount of study before it starts to come together in your brain and allow you to accurately analyze music you hear or scores you see.  

 

Here is a good explanation of the basics of harmonic function:  http://www.teoria.com/en/tutorials/functions/intro/  You can click through the different pages with the right and left arrows, and it has examples you can listen to, while looking at the score.  teoria.com has a good set of tutorials on basic music theory, and also a section full of articles about particular topics, when you start to feel like you have a grasp of the more basic information.  Put your questions on hold for now and just read and read and re-read.  

 

If you want to get a good textbook, (which may have a better organized introduction to various topics than what you can get from an assortment of websites), you can ask for recommendations.  I've got "Harmony" by Walter Piston.  (Which could use better footnotes and a more extensive index.)  

thanx for the link. that's pretty well organized for a website. i red the chapters i was interested in in walter piston's harmony, but overall i must say i'll probably bug you guys from time to time with this sort of questions..

i'm not a stranger to the typical music theory, in fact i have a big book right on my desk which i red a couple of years ago and recheck from time to time, and i also read articles or theory stuff from time to time. the thing is i could never find the fruitfulness in these typical music theory. yes, i learned a few fancy chords/substitutions idk.. modulation.. but that's not the core of the music imo. especially now that i'm more interested in melody.

that's why i'm searching for more unconventional theories, which make me astray from the general path, and that's why i ask with you guys, to see if something is clashing or some theory generated abnormalities.

i'm happy with short answers too, like "yes" / "no" for my posts. and i keep writing thinking it's good for a forum to have text like this written (to bring visitors/new forum members). not to mention, writing these posts forces me to think more critically and find a big part of the answer by the time i finished asking the question. so don't feel bad if you don't have the patience to reply to my posts, i more than understand.. lol..

 

oh, lately i've also been watching this guys theory lessons. https://www.youtube.com/user/AustinTPatty/videos

maybe the link could be of any help to someone.

 

anyway, thanks for the links, and happy holidays.

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Ooh!  I hadn't seen those before!  Thanks for that video series!  I'm definitely at the point where I still just need to read, so that's why I was recommending it.  Every few pages I get a major epiphany, usually about something that had been mentioned in passing previously, but never really explained.  

 

"...not to mention, writing these posts forces me to think more critically and find a big part of the answer by the time I finished asking the question..."  <---  You are very wise!  

 

(:

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