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English Jon Chord at start of Scottish dance set (22) RE: Chord at start of Scottish dance set 17 Apr 07


So now were accompanying modal melodies with chordal harmony....historical precedence?

What exactly are the "Right Chords"? anyway.

Lets assume our tune is so rigid that it won't deviate from from a mode, say mixolydian. (G to G all on the white notes)

If you're arguing the case for heavy use of a F major chord (which is what people usually seem to like), lets look at the harmonic implications...

The melody is likely to have F natural leading back to the G more times than not, the F being the flattened leading note. Stick the Dominant (C) on top of that and you have paralel 5ths anyway leading to the D (dominant of G). Not great harmonic writing, but we'll let that go as it works, however clumsy.

You've also got a VII-I Cadence - this is so far removed from the Cycle of Vs that the ear will perceive it as a momentary shift of key to F Ionian, cadencing I-II, ie root to dominant of dominant.

If what we want is a standard dominant to tonic cadence, then the chord roots at these points must be D-G, put that against an F-G in the melody and the correct chords are clearly Dm - G ie v-I cadence.

This would be great if it wasn't for the fact that using classical triadic harmony in the context of a modal as opposed to keyed melody is rather akin to playing chopin on the hurdy gurdy. You can do it, but that's not really what it was designed for.

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.


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