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Melodic chaos with harmonic grounding

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So, I have finished the first movement of my Weather Music Suite. I have already posted it for feedback. Now, I'm thinking about the second movement. This one I know I want to have represent windy weather.

If you look at the structure of the Suite as a whole, it makes sense. Here is the structure:

  • First Movement - Sunny Weather - G major - String Quartet + Piano - Ternary form
  • Second movement - Windy Weather - D minor - Flute + Piano - Form unknown
  • Third Movement - Cloudy Weather - G minor - Unknown instrumentation - Form unknown
  • Fourth Movement - Storm - C minor - Piano solo - Form unknown - Interlude afterwards
  • Fifth Movement - Snow - Bb major - Flute + String Quartet - Form unknown
  • Sixth Movement - Rain - E minor - Instrumentation unknown - Form unknown
  • Seventh Movement - Rainbow - G major - All the instruments that have played in previous movements - Sonata form


As you can probably tell from this alone, the second and third movements serve to bring in the fourth movement, the most intense movement of the entire suite. I was even thinking of having the third movement end on a diminished 7th to really bring the point home that all this is leading to the most intense movement of the suite.

To get across the windy feel of the second movement, I was thinking of doing these things:

  1. Increase the tempo from Moderato to Allegro
  2. Add the flute, since it is a woodwind instrument that is easy to play fast scalar passages on
  3. Get rid of the strings entirely or at least the violins so that the flute isn't overwhelmed
  4. Make the melody inherently chaotic, like the wind
  5. Use a lot of 16th notes to keep the momentum going
  6. Ground this melodic chaos with harmonies that make sense both in relation to the melody and the key


The easiest way I know of to make the melody sound chaotic is to have the flute play 12 tone rows. But that makes it hard to harmonize in a way that makes sense with the key of D minor. I mean, here are the harmonizations that make sense for each of the chromatic pitches in D minor:

  • C - C major or C minor, F major
  • C# - C#° or C#°7, A or A7
  • Db - E°7?
  • D - D minor, G minor or G major, Bb major
  • Eb - C minor
  • D# - What the?
  • E - C major, A or A7, C#° or C#°7, E°7
  • F - D minor, F major, Bb major
  • F# - D7?
  • Gb - What the?
  • G - G minor, C minor or C major, E°7
  • G# - What the?
  • Ab - F minor?
  • A - A or A7, D minor, F major, A minor
  • A# - Um, Bb major?
  • Bb - Bb major, G minor
  • B - G major?


As you can see, most of these notes, I am able to harmonize with either diatonic harmony or not all that many alterations to a diatonic chord. But a few notes just seem too weird if I go the 12 tone route. I mean, how would you harmonize a D# if it showed up suddenly in a D minor piece? It is just so weird of a note to harmonize in D minor. And there is 1 note that in its sharp form seems weird to harmonize but in its flat form is very easy to harmonize and is native to the key. Yep, it is that Bb/A# enharmonic equivalence.

So if 12 tone composition is going to lead to extremely weird harmonies if I try to stick to the key of D minor, how else can I get across melodic chaos without relying on 12 tone composition(besides, 12 tone serialism isn't my thing, nor is any other form of atonality). If I use scales such as here:

or here:

Which coincidentally, both of those pieces are in A minor. But anyway, if I use scales to get all 12 notes in the octave, is my melody really chaotic in nature? I mean sure, it is chromaticism, but it is ordered chromaticism. In other words, there isn't really any chaos, is there if I rely on the chromatic scale? 12 tone composition and the chromatic scale are like opposite ends of the melodic chaos spectrum.

Chromatic scales are easy to harmonize but are ordered, not chaotic. 12 tone composition is hard to harmonize within a single tonality, but is as melodically chaotic as possible. What I need is some sort of middle ground between these 2, melodically chaotic, but at the same time, easy to harmonize. Is there anything I can do that will achieve both of these things?

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Supossedly atonal melodies harmonized with tonal progressions are not atonal music. Because you are harmonising the melody.

I think this is unreal:


If you do that, .... how? How can EACH NOTE be in a different tonality? Impossible. Or that mixture of chords (some of them undefined) would lead you to a non functional system, perhaps.

There are many many resources to give a feeling of chaos. However, ..., with that idea I would use music by chance, using some random method.

But if you are in a forever tonal world, I would do this: harmony in a tonality, melody (flute) in another one. To make it effective, the melody needs to draw the guide tones of each chord in the other tonality (it works best with not too short notes), arpeggios, etc... Which tonalities ? It dependes on the clash you want. Besides, you could be changing them. Finally resolve in a common tone of the tonalities.

This technique is called SUPERIMPOSITION, and, in short, is a sort of bitonality.

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My style is mainly impressionism, so I'm not a huge fan of the dramaticism of Beethoven and his German friends. I hear 'wind' musically as a soft drone of the strings in tremolo with perhaps a rising/falling melody on top. It's not chaotic or atonal but it is in a different mode—maybe Lydian?—to enhance the mystery of what wind is.

Unless you want the piece to sound less-than-ideal, my advice is to stay away from mixing atonal and tonal harmonies. You're a Classical/Romantic at heart, so I really don't see a need to branch out into serialism/tone rows at this point. However, this is your piece so do what feels right to you.

Happy composing!

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