Resolution (music)

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Dominant seventh tritone "strict resolution" (in C): a dissonance of a d5 resolves stepwise inwards to a consonance of a M3 or its inversion, a dissonance of an A4, resolves stepwise outwards to a consonance of a m6.1 About this sound Play inward 
Regular resolution in F major About this sound Play . One common tone, one note moves by half step motion, and two notes move by whole step motion.

Resolution in western tonal music theory is the move of a note or chord from dissonance (an unstable sound) to a consonance (a more final or stable sounding one).

Dissonance, resolution, and suspense can be used to create musical interest. Where a melody or chordal pattern is expected to resolve to a certain note or chord, a different but similarly suitable note can be resolved to instead, creating an interesting and unexpected sound. For example, the deceptive cadence.

Basis

"A dissonance has its resolution when it moves to a consonance. When a resolution is delayed or is accomplished in surprising ways—when the composer play with our sense of expectation—a feeling of drama or suspense is created."

Roger Kamien (2008), p.413

Resolution has a strong basis in tonal music, since atonal music generally contains a more constant level of dissonance and lacks a tonal center to which to resolve. The concept of "resolution", and the degree to which resolution is "expected", is contextual as to culture and historical period. In a classical piece of the Baroque period, for example, an added sixth chord (made up of the notes C, E, G and A, for example) has a very strong need to resolve, while in a more modern work, that need is less strong - in the context of a pop or jazz piece, such a chord could comfortably end a piece and have no particular need to resolve.

Example

An example of a single dissonant note which requires resolution would be, for instance, an F during a C major chord, CEG, which creates a dissonance with both E and G and may resolve to either, though more usually to E (the closer pitch), see Suspended chord. In reference to chords and progressions for example, a phrase ending with the following cadence IV-V, a half cadence, does not have a high degree of resolution. However, if this cadence were changed to (IV-)V-I, an authentic cadence, it would resolve much more strongly by ending on the tonic I chord.

See also

Sources

  1. ^ Benjamin, Horvit, and Nelson (2008). Techniques and Materials of Music, p.46. ISBN 0-495-50054-2.
  2. ^ Forte, Allen (1979). Tonal Harmony in Concept & Practice, p.145. Third edition. ISBN 0-03-020756-8.
  3. ^ Kamien, Roger (2008). Music: An Appreciation, 6th Brief Edition, p.41. ISBN 978-0-07-340134-8.







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