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Rick Walker wrote:
On 6/8/12 8:43 PM, Ed Durbrow wrote:

Either or … ?
Use common tones to modulate. For example take the A in an F chord and use it as the 7th in a B chord to modulate to E.

In the particular example that you use, does this just mean that if I were to play an F chord as, say, the IV chord in Cmajor that I could then follow it with B major (and not a B diminished which would keep me in C major) just because it shares the pitch, A from the original chord progression?

There's actual 3 chords in Ed's example

F  B7   E

where F and B7 are linked by the common note A
and E is a "major chord a 4th up from a 7th chord" which is a very common pattern (cadence/resolution)

You might want do do that if you suddenly felt that just dropping
from F major to E major was a bit clunky.

Not sure if this is correct, but if it is, do I only need to have one common pitch in two chords that are in different
key centers?

If you can find 2 chords that are linked by a common note then it may well 
sound good.

It can be a way of shifting the harmony smoothly without an obvious 
discontinuity while
most of the music sticks to an expected key structure.

Is counterpoint used in modern songwriting, out of curiosity?

no, not in any 'strict' sense
it's barely used at all these days

I, of course, have heard it in J.S. Bach's music, though I"m not sure I understand what he's doing harmonically speaking.

He has 2 or more musical strands interlocking in a way that conforms to some very strict rules which were originally developed for vocal music.

Imagine you play a big bar chord on a guitar, and then move it up 2 frets.
Probably you just broke 3 of the fundamental rules of counterpoint.

So, why on earth would you want to learn those rules?

Those six notes on the guitar, all transposing up a tone won't
give the listener the impression of 6 separate musical lines.

If you learned to play a 3 part transcription of vocal counterpoint
on guitar then even though you've dropped the number of 'voices' from
6 to 3 you 'll get something that is somehow "bigger" for the listener.

It's all about creating the illusion (or sustaining the reality) of
independent musical voices so they don't group together in one big lump.

Ultimately, those rules are what makes Bach's music sound so different to Jazz, the chords are roughly the same, but the way each independent
line moves is very different.

Key phrases:  'voice leading'  'contrary motion'

Any book with 'Counterpoint' in the title would take you methodically
through those rules.
To catch a hint of what counterpoint can do for you, compose a piece
where as often as possible the melody goes up when the chord goes down and
vice versa.


In short, it's a big universe of stuff that can be usefully assimilated
in total or in fragments, or harmlessly ignored.


:-) so what you really want is a trick to play with.

Have a look at the 4 note "diminished" chord as used by jazz players

B D F Ab  (plus any transpositions)

Can be thought of as being built on the 7th degree of an harmonic minor.

Now, that chord is perfectly palindromic (if you will, and each of it's 
could be considered as the root of the chord)

So play that chord on piano, then pick a note at random and drop it a 
Play again, and you have an inversion of a 7th chord (often called 
dominant seventh).
Go back to the diminished, and pick another note to drop by a semitone,
again you get a 7th.
In all 4 cases the it is the note that drops a semitone that becomes the 
root of the new 7th chord.

So...from any 7th chord you can *raise* the root by a semitone to get a 
diminished...pick one of
the other notes..drop it a semitone and get to a *different* 7th chord in 
a different key.