[Smt-talk] The Ubiquitous Triad

Victor grauer victorag at verizon.net
Sat Jul 19 15:07:08 PDT 2014

On Fri, 7/18/14, Conor Cook <conor.p.cook at gmail.com> wrote:

 "Fascinating.  Isn't the triad
 ultimately just the distillation of all possible
 simultaneous consonances?  Namely, unison/octave, third
 (major or minor, but not both), and perfect fifth? 
 That is, as an outgrowth of Western counterpoint,
 specifically.  Is this a historical aspect explored

Yes, indeed. It's explored pretty thoroughly in my recently published e-book, "The Life and Times of a Musical Virus," ostensibly about the history of the rhythm section/continuo, but also about the birth of the so-called "common practice" tonal system that developed in tandem with it. While "triads" in some form or other can be found in Western music dating all the way back to the Middle Ages, a musical practice based specifically on triadic formations as a fundamental basis originated at a very specific time and place -- Italy in the early 16th century (see for example Edward Lowinsky's "Tonality and Atonality in 16th Century Music," p. 62). As noted by Lowinsky, this "revolutionary" development appears to have come out of nowhere. Yet it very quickly became the basis for just about everything that followed in the Western "classical" tradition, from the baroque to the classical and even the romantic periods, all the way down to the popular music and
 jazz of our time. 

Victor Grauer
Pittsburgh, PA, USA



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