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Masterclass: THEORY 201 - Harmonic Extensions


Monarcheon
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Instructor: @Monarcheon
Students Allowing: 5
Initial Writing Requirement: 16 - 32 bars, piano or harp
Special Requirement: Must include 3 of the 4 harmonic functions below
Initial Writing Requirement Deadline: April 8th

Masterclass No. 3 will the first in a series of two classes on basic harmonic extensions: 
*Italian Augmented Sixth Chord
*French Augmented Sixth Chord
*German Augmented Sixth Chord
*Neapolitan Sixth Chords

Basic Guidelines:
Augmented Sixth chords are used, typically as a way to create maximum harmonic tension before resolving to the dominant. The basic way to structure these are to take the dominant of whatever key you happen to be in, and go one half step up above and below it and place it as an interval. 
Example:
D minor -> Dominant: A -> Go up one half step above/below: B-flat, G-sharp.
The "type" of augmented sixth chord that results from this is dependent on what other notes you add.

  • If you add the tonic of the tonic key, it becomes an Italian Augmented 6th chord
  • If you add the tonic of the tonic key and the major supertonic of the tonic key, it becomes a French Augmented 6th Chord (my favorite!)
  • If you add the tonic of the tonic key and the minor mediant of the tonic key, it becomes a German Augmented 6th Chord

Examples:
D minor -> Dominant: A -> Go up one half step above/below: B-flat, G-sharp
[D G# Bb] - Italian
[D E G# Bb] - French
[D F G# Bb] - German 

Notice that the German chord, if restacked with the Bb on the bottom will sound like a dominant 7th chord. It is NOT a dominant 7th chord. This is very important when analyzing. Remember these augmented sixth chords mostly always resolve to the dominant. You typically use these chords in minor keys, but this is not always necessary.

Neapolitan 6th Chords are based on the tonic of minor key, as a way of creating last minute tension before resolving to the tonic or the dominant. The basic structure of these are to take the minor second of the tonic key and create a major triad.
Example:
E minor -> Tonic: E -> Half step up: F -> Spell chord: [F A C]
In classical harmony, these chords are almost always in the first inversion, because it serves as a predominant (iv chord), where the bass moves stepwise up to the dominant. Another way to extend this is to have the Neapolitan Sixth chord, then go to a tonic chord in the second inversion before moving to the dominant. 

 

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Exercise Harmonic Extension.pdf

Hi Monarcheon,

Here is my piece for this masterclass. I used all four harmonic extensions you mentioned and I tried to blend these with the mood of the piece.
I have notated the extensions above the chords so that you can easily find them.

I can't believe that harmonic extensions had such a huge role in the mood of a piece! I feel like I have a million more possibilities!

*I am sorry, my piece is one measure too long. Hopefully you can forgive me.

Exercise Harmonic Extension.pdf

Maarten

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Pretty good use of the requirements! A comment not about those: In all measures like m. 11, the A-sharp in the right hand conflicts with the A-sharp in the left hand, resulting in confusing-sounding resolutions. 
The main issue I see here is your spelling of the Neapolitan 6th chord; it should be C E G, since it's a minor second up from the tonic, not an augmented unison. You may think that's just semantics, but it's very important to spell your chords correctly. 
Your transition out of the N6's coming out of all measures like m. 12 need to be a little bit smoother... maybe define the chord a little bit better on the subsequent chord spelling.
Overall, nice job!

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9 hours ago, Monarcheon said:

Pretty good use of the requirements! A comment not about those: In all measures like m. 11, the A-sharp in the right hand conflicts with the A-sharp in the left hand, resulting in confusing-sounding resolutions. 
The main issue I see here is your spelling of the Neapolitan 6th chord; it should be C E G, since it's a minor second up from the tonic, not an augmented unison. You may think that's just semantics, but it's very important to spell your chords correctly. 
Your transition out of the N6's coming out of all measures like m. 12 need to be a little bit smoother... maybe define the chord a little bit better on the subsequent chord spelling.
Overall, nice job!

 

Thank you!

I have changed all the errors you mentioned.

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OK, not sure if the chords are right, but I like how they sound. I did it in D major...

I used the celesta sound, hope you don't mind. It was fine with the lullaby.

I was in doubt with the German... is the 3rd always minor? I mean, even if we are in a major tonality... In measure 18 I did it so: D - F...

little lullaby.pdf

https://soundcloud.com/user-406660501/little-lullaby

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Hm...
Your Italian one is good. The others I have a bit of problems with. The German one is mostly okay, but the Neapolitan chord is always a half step from the tonic chord. I see that you add an Eb in that chord later, but it should be pretty immediate, otherwise it just sounded like a iv chord.
The other musical gestures you have I won't comment too much on for the purposes of the class, but I found measures 10 and 19 to be a really weird way to cadence. Some of your chord markings are also wrong. 
I would also suggest you find a way to fit those chord into 4 bar phrases better to more potently create tension for the audience; basically, don't make it feel like it's tagged on at the end.
Overall, quite nice. :)

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All right, this is what I've got. Turns out I've run into these chords before (actually just the German one) without knowing their right names. Decided on a short waltzy thing because it's just easy and I figured I should be focusing on using the chords effectively. Hopefully I managed that.

HarmonicExtensions1.mp3

HarmonicExtensions1.pdf

Edited by KJthesleepdeprived
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