Bauhaus-Universität Weimar

On the sensations of tone as a physiological basis for the study of music. Translated with the author's sanction from the third German edition, with additional notes and an additional appendix by Alexander J. Ellis
Helmholtz, Hermann von
Pabt III. 
degree, are placed in juxtaposition, we usually feel the transition 
to be very abrupt. But if the chord which connects them is one 
of the principal chords of the key, and has consequently been 
frequently heard, the effect is not so striking. Thus in the final 
cadence it is not unusual to see the succession / — a — c and 
g — b — cZ, the two chords being related through the tonic chord 
c — e — g, thus : 
/ — Çf — c g — b — d 
c — § — g 
Generally we must remember that all these rules of progression 
are subject to many exceptions, partly because expression may 
require exceptional abruptness of transition, and partly because the 
hearer’s recollection of previous chords may sufficiently strengthen 
a naturally weak relationship. It is clearly an entirely false 
position which teachers of harmony have assumed, in declaring 
this or that to be 4 forbidden.’ In point of fact nothing musical 
is absolutely forbidden, and all rules for the progression of parts 
are actually violated in the most effective pieces of the greatest 
composers. It would have been much better to proceed from the 
principle that certain transitions, which are disallowed, produce 
striking and unusual effects upon the hearer, and consequently are 
unsuitable except for the expression of what is unusual. Generally 
speaking, the object of the rules laid down by theorists is to keep up 
a well-connected flow of melody and harmony, and make its course 
readily intelligible. If that is what we aim at, we had best observe 
their restrictions. But it cannot be denied that a too anxious avoid¬ 
ance of what is unusual places us in danger of becoming trivial and 
dull, while, on the other hand, inconsiderate and frequent infringe¬ 
ment of rules makes compositions eccentric and unconnected. 
When disconnected triads would come together it is frequently 
advantageous to transform them into chords of the Seventh, and 
thus create a bond between them. In place of the preceding 
sequence of two triads 
f — a — c to g — b — d 
we can use a sequence of chords of the Seventh which represent 
the same compound tones 
/ — a c — d 
g — b — d - /.


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