Linear Harmony #4 – Inner Roots and Voice Leading Pt. 2

…the effect is fluid and free, almost like a composition is improvising with itself. I like this technique and I use it often. Thinking about strong lines and counterpoint first, and chords and harmonic movement second can make it all happen. -Prof Sco

It’s striking how counterpoint can be melodic and harmonic. But we’ve known this since Bach (and earlier).

As a continuation of a earlier post about linear harmonic motion, here are a few more examples from my tune “Take it Inside”:

Ex. 1 is a good example of contrary motion and overall strong linear motion “justifying” a dissonance. This technique is a great way to make your music sound a little “out”, without having to taking off into the stratosphere. Don’t forget that Schoenberg was doing this 100+ years ago.

Here’s an out-of-time reduction:

M106 Cont Motion, vc leading..

Ex. 1) The harmony is indistinct, but the voice-leading is strong. Contrary motion between the top and bottom voices, whether they grow closer or move farther away, is the simplest and perhaps strongest way of “justifying” dissonance. Consider the Dmi/Bb “chord area” – we’re moving in and out of dissonance, and the upper line then becomes more crunchy as it descends, eventually hitting a minor 9th with the bass (if he happens to be playing the “root”), or a minor second with the second voice. Does it sound dissonant? You be the judge. Does the voice-leading make it work? I think  yes.

Ex. 2 is a score reduction of the same passage. The entrance is in M. 3 of the chord loop, and the ensemble passage is a six-bar phrase–but who’s counting. I want the time to feel like it’s floating, as is the harmony:

106-Reduction

Ex. 2) The ensemble entrance is “off-center”, and the rhythms heighten this effect. The upper voice is doubled at the lower octave, which sounds strong and rubs hard against the lower voices, but the strong linear motion makes it all ok.

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There’s a lot going on in Ex. 3, some of which might seem vague and indistinct due to the fast tempo. In M. 152 there’s an immediate departure from Fmaj, which doesn’t even come back to consonance till the second beat of M. 154–the same “off-center” lines happen in M. 155-57. Then in M. 158 the ensemble voicing is close, and the 4 voices move independently, and together form inner or layered chords, which to my ear happen when the bass player doesn’t play low roots, and the horn voicings take on an inner harmony of their own (again, see my earlier post for more on inner roots).

There’s a lot of tension and resolution in a few short bars, which go by fast, so all the listener might hear is a melodic passage with interesting and colorful harmony, and gestures that the soloist can react to in the upcoming solos.

M152 All

Ex. 3) More development, voice leading, inner roots and playing around the chord tones.

This passage, with all its chromatic motion, dissonant intervals, inner harmony and cool linear harmony, defies standard “music theory” description; the effect is fluid and free, almost like a composition is improvising with itself. I like this technique and use it often. Thinking about strong lines and counterpoint first, and chords and harmonic movement second can make it all happen.

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“Take it Inside” full score and audio:

TII Page One

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About Scott Healy

LA composer and performer.
Gallery | This entry was posted in Arranging/Orchestration, Free Jazz, Harmony, Improvisation, Jazz Arranging, Jazz Composition and Analysis, Jazz Theory, Linear Harmony, Orchestration, Theory and Harmony and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Linear Harmony #4 – Inner Roots and Voice Leading Pt. 2

  1. macmahler says:

    Veddy interesting-will have some thought s on this. BTW have not run into Joon, but did mention you at the Whaleto be cont.

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