[Smt-talk] Augmented 6th chords

Myles Skinner mskinner at tierceron.com
Sun Nov 27 21:26:26 PST 2011

On 11/25/11 5:11 PM, Charles J. Smith wrote:
> Everyone now knows that the "French" 6th is a whole-tone chord, and that seems
> a curious coincidence, given the strong association of whole-tone sonorities
> with early-20th-century French music. Was it a coincidence? Did French
> composers have a much older predilection for these sonorities? Some evidence
> of frequent appearance of the "French" 6th in earlier French music might be
> interesting evidence in this regard, but of course there are lots of other
> whole-tone chords, too.
> If John Clough were still with us, I'm sure he'd be shaking his head at the
> strangeness of harmonic history...

I don't have the text in front of me, but I seem to remember Mersenne giving 
some solfege for a whole tone scale in l'Harmonie Universelle. Something like 
"ut, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ut" for the pitches C, D, E, F-sharp, G-sharp, 
A-sharp, and C.

Strange history, indeed.

Myles L. Skinner (unaffiliated)
PhD. Music Theory, University at Buffalo
Composer, Arranger, and Freelance Web Developer

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