PeterthePapercomPoser Posted October 7, 2020 Share Posted October 7, 2020 Now that I think about it I am not sure why throughout music history harmony has been understood to be grounded on the bass note and elaborated by stacking intervals up from that root or ground. I guess since we live on a planet with gravity that forces us to stand on the ground the analogy between the ground and the lowest notes of music forced us to think of harmony as originating from the bass. But what would an alien who lives on a gas giant and flies around in it's clouds hear music like? Would they hear harmony as originating in the highest notes and stacking downwards as it defines itself? It's easy to say from our perspective that harmony is defined as it is stacked upwards although usually after the 5th or the 7th, any additional factors of chords tend to become "color tones". Stacking chords from the top down on the other hand tends to have a completely transformative effect on the notes above it. But maybe that's just our bias as "ground-based" musicians? Example: Starting with a major chord and stacking upwards basically leaves the "quality" of the chord unblemished (i.e. a major chord with some extensions). Starting with a major chord and stacking downward a minor third leaves you with a minor 7th chord - a completely different sound than what you started with. Stacking downward a major third leaves one with an augmented major 7th chord - another totally different quality/character of chord. With each new stack downwards the overhanging harmony can often be radically transformed into something completely new. I don't know if anybody here besides myself sometimes thinks of harmony in this way. My personal favorite is using bass notes that are non-harmonic tones such as having an 11th in the bass. 1 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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