GCSE MUSIC - HARMONY AND TONALITY

- Tonality 

- Cadances

- Harmonic devices

- Key signatures 

- Chord types

- Modulation

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Tonality

Major - sounds happy, bright

Minor - sounds sad

Atonal - sounds very strange (the music is not in a key)

Modal - sounds somewhere between major and minor (likely to be folk music, very old music or world music)

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Tonality - Diatonic and Chromatic

Diatonic - melody which sticks to the notes of the key.

Chromatic - melody which uses several notes not in the key ('accidentals' - extra sharps or flats)

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Tonality - Consonant and Dissonant

Consonant - a chord in which the notes sound right together.

Dissonant - a chord in which the notes clash to create a 'dischord'.

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Tonality - Harmonic Devices

Pedal - a repeated note in the bass which does not change.

(Inverted pedal) - a repeated note in a higher part which does not change.

Drone - one ore more notes which are sustained under the rest of the music.

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Degrees of the Scale

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Cadences - Perfect Cadence

  • v - i (e.g. G to C in C major) Bom bom!
  • Sounds like a complete close to a phrase or piece.
  • Often found at the end of a phrase or piece.
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Cadences - Plagal Cadence

  • iv - i (e.g. from F to C in C major)
  • Sounds like the amen at the end of a hymn, rested.
  • Often found at the end or a phrase or piece.
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Cadences - Imperfect Cadence

  • i - v (e.g. from F to G in C major)
  • Sounds like the end of a question phrase to which there is going to be an answer phrase. It will not feel like the piece could finish on an imperfect cadence - left dangling.
  • Often found at the end of a phrase before another one.
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Cadences - Interrupted Cadence

  • v - vi (or anything except i) (e.g. G to Am in C major)
  • Sounds like it is going to be a perfect cadence and the piece phrase is going to end but it is 'interrupted', surprises you at the last moment.
  • Often found just before the end of a piece.
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Key Signatures

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Modulation

A modulation is when a piece changes key. 

  • Dominant (the key a 5th up - e.g. C to G)
  • Subdominant (the key a 5th down - e.g. C to F)
  • Relative minor (e.g. C to Am) or relative major (e.g. Am to C)
  • Tonic (means back to the home key)
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Chord Types

Major - sounds happy (4 semitones between the bottom two notes and 3 semitones between the top two).

Minor - sounds sad (3 semitones between the bottom two notes and 4 semitones between the top two).

Dominant 7ths - sounds like a major chord with an extra note at the top to make it sound more jazzy.

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