TonalityGUIDE - basic tonal music theory and analysis for undergraduates
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Introduction to tonality More about the TonalityGUIDE analysis tool kit Clefs, note labels, intervals and transposition
chord identification understanding voice-leading style awareness

The ToolKIT, which is accessible from all pages of the site, outlines the three main analytical skills that aims to develop. It also links to a short introduction to the study of tonality as well as a reminder of some basics (note and interval labels, clefs and transpositions).

Understanding Voice-leading
introduction general characteristics interval succession resolution of tension embellishing progressions

introduction | unaccented passing notes | accented passing notes | appoggiaturas | anticipations | neighbour notes

Tonal music would be rather dull if it consisted simply of chord progressions that followed the various rules and guidelines set out in the first four sections of 'Understanding Voice-leading'.

Fortunately, there are a many ways of embellishing these progressions, and it is these embellishments that help make melodic writing distinctive. Although you find different patterns of embellishment characteristic of particular composers or eras, there are a fairly small number of basic types that are common to most styles.

There are two main types of embellishment: consonant and dissonant. The arpeggios below are a good example of a consonant embellishment of a chord progression.

This section, however, concentrates on dissonant embellishments. Most tonal composers up until the beginning of the twentieth century prefered to avoided an excess of prominent dissonances. As is discussed in resolution of tension, the general rules for avoiding prominent dissonances are that they appear on an unaccented part of the bar and are introduced and resolved by descending stepwise motion. The less these guidelines are followed the more dissonant the music becomes.

The Tonality GUIDE tonal music analysis tool kit
information and orientation as you browse around
chord identification
understanding voice-leading
style awareness

© Copyright Thomas Pankhurst

TonalityGUIDE - Tonal Harmony and Voiceleading - Table of Contents