[Smt-talk] Semitonal Voice Leading

Ninov, Dimitar N dn16 at txstate.edu
Mon May 13 19:51:51 PDT 2013

Dear List,

I will agree with Ildar, affirming the statement that good voice leading does not depend on linear adjacent tendencies per se (although it is never completely detached from them). A conspicuous confirmation of this hypothesis is the voice leading in the brass section of a swing area big band, where a trio or quartet of saxophones may exercise all kinds of melodic gymnastics, frequently ignoring the "proper" rules of dissonant chord's resolution but maintaining the inner logic of a melodic chorus over a strong functional bass. In other words, this is a matter of style, not a matter of all-obliging stepwise motion.
As for a chord's  function, I do not think it exists per se, even if it were a major minor seventh chord by size. It could only be revealed in context, where, one has been prepared to hear a certain chord as a dominant seventh, and then, even if it resolves deceptively (elipsis) or does not resolve at all, we can determine it as a dominant seventh which goes astray. In the same logic, if we prepare the same chord as an altered subdominant with an augmented sixth, we do not expect it to resolve as a typical dominant seventh and do not think of it that way. The function of chromatically altered chords very often depends on the resolution. The multifunctional potential of a series of chords (7, 7b5, 7#5, half dim. 7, dim7., and the augmented triad) is fascinating, and yet to be fully explored.

With best wishes,


Dr. Dimitar Ninov, Lecturer
School of Music
Texas State University
601 University Drive
San Marcos, Texas 78666

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