"lower effect than the fifth; the seventh, B, has a higher effect than the sixth; but the eighth, C, has a lower effect than the seventh. If the effects of notes or chords depended wholly on the mathematical primes by which they are measured and located, or the ratios inherent in them, then the effects of the tonic, subdominant, and dominant chords would have been alike, for these chords are measured by exactly the same primes, and have exactly the same ratios. It is the position of the tonic chord which gives it its importance and not any special primes by which it is produced, nor any special ratios inherent in it. Notes by the power of 2 have a pure unmixed and invariable character. Notes by the first, second, and third powers of 3 have different degrees of centrifugal force; and the character of the notes produced by the first power of 5 depends on the character of the notes from which they are derived. The final character of notes and chords is determined by the amount of force which they have acquired from the way in which they have been derived, and from their position in the system. And no matter where these notes may be afterwards placed, like chemical elements, they never lose their original forces and tendencies. What Tyndal says of the inorganic chemical elements of the brain is true of the inorganic notes of music, "They are all dead as grains of shot." It is the organic state which gives the notes and chords their gravities and (levity|levities, and these two tendencies, the one upward and the other downward, constitute the vital principle of music. It is true that the mathematical operation is required to give birth and life to music, and that the mathematical system gives the knowledge of causes down to the law of gravitation, yet the artistic effects are fully realised from the tempered system deriving its organic harmony from this vital principle of music. The centrifugal tendencies of the notes of the subdominant, are too strong to be at all disturbed by the system being tempered. The enormous power of these chords corrects the effect which might otherwise arise from tempering, as the enormous power of the sun corrects the perturbations of the planets." [Scientific Basis and Build of Music, page 29]

In the progression - that is, the going on from one to another - of these triplets in harmonizing the octave scale ascending, Nature goes on normally till we come to the passage from the sixth to the seventh note of the scale, whose two chords have no note in common, and a new step has to be taken to link them together. And here the true way is to follow the method of Nature in the birthplace of chords.1 The root of the subdominant chord, to which the sixth of the octave scale belongs, which then becomes a 4-note chord, and is called the dominant seventh; F, the root of the subdominant F, A, C, is added to G, B, D, the notes of the dominant, which then becomes G, B, D, F; the two chords have now a note in common, and can pass on to the end of the octave scale normally. In going down the octave scale with harmony, the passage from the seventh to the sixth, where this break exists, meets us at the very second step; but following Nature's method again, the top of the dominant goes over to the root of the subdominant, and F, A, C, which has no note in common with G, B, D, becomes D, F, A, C, and is called the subdominant sixth; and continuity being thus established, the harmony then passes on normally to the bottom of the scale, every successive chord being linked to the preceding note by a note in common. [Scientific Basis and Build of Music, page 49]

where there stands an open door between the sixth and the seventh, these two having no note in common, it is easy and natural to slip out of the key into another, either in ascending the major or descending the minor octave; and in order to keep in the key, the two chords of these notes have to reach out to each other a helping hand, and compound in order to affiliate. This, however, by the law of sympathy and assimilation, which reigns in this happy, realm, they are always ready to do.1 [Scientific Basis and Build of Music, page 66]

See Also

subdominant sixth

Created by Dale Pond. Last Modification: Wednesday November 25, 2020 05:40:28 MST by Dale Pond.