[Smt-talk] BELGIAN +6

Howard Cinnamon Howard.Cinnamon at Hofstra.edu
Mon Nov 21 12:32:41 PST 2011

Your ‘Belgian 6th’ is actually not a chord either. It is an extension of the G dominant-seventh chord that begins in measure 133 and results from a chromatic passing motion in the bass, leading from the root of that chord (m. 133) to its third (m. 135) that is placed in counterpoint to a collection of similar descending chromatic passing motions in the upper voices. Here the D-flat is actually a chromatic passing tone leading from the D-natural that precedes it (the fifth of the chord) to the C that follows (note the explicit voice leading in the bass clarinet, 2nd and 4th horns, 3rd trumpet and 2nd trombone). In all, your chord is part of an expanded V7/V in F leading to V7 and then on to I in measure 136. Nothing that exceptional, when Franck’s characteristic chromatic voice leading is taken into account. It is what William Gettle (whom I’m sure your remember from City College, years ago) used to call “creeping chromaticism” - chromatic voice leading that produces what seems to be chords that really aren’t functional harmonies.
Howard Cinnamon,
Hofstra University

On 11/20/11 11:38 PM, "Stephen Jablonsky" <jablonsky at optimum.net> wrote:


I beg to differ with you on one account. The Tristan chord is not a chord. At first it sounds like an Fø but after five long beats morphs into a  Fr+6 (B7b5/F), so the sound is not the same as Franck's example. Franck is using a Bø in root position with a Db in an inner voice and A on top as viiøb3/V.
On Nov 20, 2011, at 1:15 PM, Walt Everett wrote:

Stephen Jablonsky wrote:

This is just like the German augmented 6th chord but it is half-diminished, not diminished. I was wondering if there is a nationality associated with this phenomenon.

Applied to V, this might be called the Bayreuth or Bavarian 6th, honoring the Tristan chord, which precedes the Franck usage by three decades.  Just a bit flip, I called this chord the Levittown 6th when it resolves to IV in Billy Joel.  (This same function also occurs in the Beach Boys' "God Only Knows," perhaps why some have called it the "American" 6th.  As the Beach Boys song precedes the Joel example by nearly a decade, perhaps "Hawthorne" or "California" 6th would be a more appropriate label.  Joel's father, by the way, emigrated from Bavaria. . . . )  Good sources: Phil Lambert's "Brian Wilson's Pet Sounds" (*twentieth-century music* 5/1, fn 34), Dan Harrison's "Supplement to the Theory of Aug 6th Chords," Spectrum 17/2 and his "After Sundown" in Covach-Boone, eds, *Understanding Rock* pp 39-40 and n 13).

Walter Everett
Professor of Music
Department of Music Theory
The University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance
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weverett at umich.edu
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Prof. Stephen Jablonsky, Ph.D.
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