How are we supposed to use a basic idea from the previous exercise if none of them simply stayed on tonic the whole time? I switched to VIIaug in bar 2, for example, then switched back to tonic 2 beats into bar 2. This, as you explained, would be called a neighbor chord and is a form of prolongation? How does this work within the context of this entire worksheet?? I don’t think it does. Unless you make the argument that you flip it to diminished for the leading chord to minor ii (for #13 in the worksheet), or would do the same leading tone augmented chord for V in other examples. If you simply meant use a basic idea that prolongs tonic in the most rudimentary way (according to someone I know lol, staing on I the whole time) then why would you write use “a” basic idea from the previous exercise, and not specifically write one that stays on tonic the entire time? I am open to the idea of me being completely wrong about this, and if I am, I would like an explanation as to why. Thank you
First, let’s look at the guidelines:
1. Take a basic idea that you wrote for exercise 3-2-1.
2. Decide on the kind of repetition that you will use.
3. Write the harmony under the two bars of the repetition.
4. Now, using the same rhythms as the basic idea, write the new notes of the repetition. If the basic idea has a chord tone, the repetition must be a chord tone in the new harmony.
We also have to make the assumption that within the course, we are using traditional diatonic harmony. This means that any chromatically inflected chords should make sense within the context of the chord chart – either through movement within a single key, modulation, modal borrowing, etc.
Nothing stops you from going outside this restriction, however, when you change the rules of the game, the ultimate effect is different.
I am not exactly sure about your progression, but the way I understood it, you have:
I | bVII+ – I (pipes “|” are considered a barline and the + means augmented)
I | vii+ – I
I | VII+ – I
Notice that none of these really fall within standard diatonic harmony. If we use C major as the key, bVII+ is a Bb+ which is not diatonic and not standard from modal borrowing, vii+ is a Bm+ is really just a G in first in version (B,D,G), VII+ would be a B+, which fits nicely with it’s chromatic neighboring tones, but is non-functional.
Now you point out, that staying on the I chord is the most rudimentary way, and I will accept that it is less complicated, but it is and will always be a viable, and useful option. None the less, in exercise 3-2-1, the guidelines specifically state, “This could be as simple as one chord – the tonic. Or it could be multiple chords.” You have the option to add additional chords.
Getting back to your examples, depending on the kind of repetition you choose, the goal is to preserve some aspect of the relationship between the two neighboring chords, not every aspect.
So if we choose for instance, statement response, we get these possibilities:
I | vii+ – I | V | vii+/V – V = I | V6 – I | V | V6/V – V
Obviously I-V6-I is very functional and will work with statement response repetition, as well as exact and model-sequence.
I | bVII+ – I | V | IV+ – V
You could call the IV+ a bVII of V, but the effect is the same (V moving to IV and violating functional rules). This makes the whole thing sound odd. In reality, it sounds like the bVII+ wants to modulate somewhere else, like biii. If you do modulate, you could have a really cool sound:
I | bVII+ – biii (eb minor) | biii | bVII+/biii – #iv
Interesting sounds, but probably outside the scope of most beginning composers trying to learn diatonic harmony.
I | VII+ – I | V | VII+/V – V
This one sounds good to my ears.
Remember this course teaches things in the context of traditional classical form, harmony, and melody. In this sense, we do want to keep things relatively diatonic and simple for the sake of learning the concepts. Once learned, you should begin to experiment.
In the appendix B, I give you a lot of possibilities for progressions to experiment with. Not all of these are pure tonic prolongation, in fact, many of them aren’t, but I wanted to open more possibilities.
Ultimately, you can justify anything you do as a composer, if you take into account how people will hear it. If you are trying to do something, and it’s not working out theory-wise, but it still sounds good, then use it. Just be aware, that you may have to adjust things down the road to make it fit within the context of repetition and modulation.
I recommend looking at classical composers like Mozart, and Beethoven to see how they handle basic ideas and their repetitions, and then if you want to start expanding harmonic possibilities, keep moving forward in time (romantic, early 20th century, currently living composers, etc.) Many of them will not follow the classical expectations.
Good question though.
thank you. working on this alone can be frustrating, but you do tend to leave all the breadcrumbs necessary to come to the right conclusions. I will take this as a sign I need to be more diligent.