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On Jun 9, 2012, at 4:26 PM, 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.
> Thanks for the advice, but let me make sure I understand what you are 
> suggesting.

I wasn't sure what you wanted because you wrote "either more complex 
harmony" and then mentioned modal in parenthesis. I filled in the "or" 
part as being outside of model harmony. Also, I thought you were 
soliciting suggestions and examples of what others do. Sorry if I 

> 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?

I was just trying to think what I do when I want to get away from 
hackneyed progressions.

> 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?

The effect of having a common pitch is that there is some anchor point 
which means that you can use more daring harmony but still keep things 
grounded. This is nifty if you have repeated notes in the melody.

> instead of using a vii (diminished) chord that if you drop the
> 7 down a half step, the diminished chord becomes a Major chord whose 3rd 
> and 5th degress are still in the original
> key signature........in this case your forced substitution of the a 
> flatted 7th, suddenly means that what was a C major
> is now a G major and the scale you are now using only differs from the 
> original key by one single F#.

In popular music, I almost never hear viiº chords. It seems to me, most 
pop, rock, and jazz use flatted 7th chords which work with mixolydian and 
dorian modes which you hear a lot. This may explain my attraction to 
Renaissance music, the harmony is so similar to the rock I grew up on.

> I think I don't understand the term counterpoint, especially chromatic 
> counter point.
> Can you give me a simple definition of what I can actually try or at 
> least steer me to a good
> book on the subject.


Chromatic adds color (of course). It can be powerful to move the bass up 
or down several notes by half steps and mix up the harmony with chords 
outside of the key scale.

> Is counterpoint used in modern songwriting, out of curiosity?

Check out Jethro Tull as an exception. They spring to mind. 

> 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.

We could say Bach follows the rules of common practice counterpoint and 
harmony, (some say they look at Bach and base the rules on him). You can 
look up the rules of counterpoint: move in oblique or contrary motion, no 
consecutive 5ths or octaves etc. The harmonic language expanded but 
composers still basically followed the rules until the end of the 19th 
century. Rameau literally wrote the book in 1722, laying out the rules of 
harmony, at that time. The rules of the common practice period are 
basically what college music students learn in 3 semesters of theory 
class. IMO, counterpoint isn't given a large roll (compared to classical 
music) or a disciplined approach in popular music. I suggested it in the 
spirit of new ways to look at things or tricks to give you new harmonic 

> Additionally, I've been using altered four note tunings on tenor banjo, 
> tenor guitar, baritone ukulele and
> fretless bass that purposefully avoid 3rds and 7ths so that I can be 
> modulating with impunity, knowing
> that all four open strings have several modes in common.
> As an example, I'm in love with a tuning that goes I, 5, 6, 9, lately. 
> From this tuning (and on the fly) I can play a I ionian, I dorian, I 
> lydian, I mixolydian scale
> and I can play a major triad, a minor triad, a sus2 or a sus4 chord 
> which alters the key signature of the piece I'm in.

I think I know what you mean, move anywhere and with no 3rd you are free 
to play major or minor chords or chords and scales in the modes you 
mentioned above it. However, if you want to really modulate, that is, give 
the listener a real sensation of changing key, 3rds and 7ths are very 
effective. Take the circle of fifths for example, by moving tritones 
chromatically up or down, you alternate between the 7th and 3rd of one 
chord and the 3rd and 7th of the next chord, ad infinitum. With looping I 
guess the no 3rd/7th thing can be pretty versatile. Like Per was saying, 
just change the pitch once and you already have four possible major or 
minor chords.

> It's a beautiful tuning that has so many possibilities. I'm just 
> discovering them as I speak.

Would love to hear.