Klarinet Archive - Posting 000425.txt from 2000/09
From: "Lacy, Edwin" <el2@-----.edu>
Subj: RE: [kl] Tonic
Date: Tue, 12 Sep 2000 16:12:28 -0400
> Since my question about the tonic didn't receive any answers, I'm
> wondering if my question was so nonsensical or irrelevant (or
> uneducated) that people interpreted it as a poor attempt at
> humor rather than as a sincere question?
> Would anyone care to discuss how often 'real' music (as opposed to
> 'easy music for beginners', which is greatly simplified and edited)
> begins and/or ends on the tonic note or the tonic chord?
I don't think your question was regarded as either nonsensical or an attempt
at humor. Rather, I think the question is essentially unanswerable unless
someone has made a count of how many pieces begin or end on the tonic, and
that would tend to seem inconsequential to most players. The only thing
anyone could do would be to make a wild guess as the the answer.
It would make a difference whether a piece begins on the downbeat (thesis)
or with a pick-up note (anacrusis). In general, pieces which begin on the
accented part of a beat or measure would be somewhat more likely to begin on
the tonic, but this is by no means universal. Conversely, pieces that begin
on an unaccented beat or portion of a beat would be more likely to begin on
something other than the tonic. Most often, such pieces would begin on one
of the pitches of the dominant triad or dominant seventh chord, (scale steps
5, 7, or 2; occasionally 4) and would then resolve to one of the members of
the tonic triad (scale steps 1, 3 or 5). But, many other arrangements are
This gets at one of the mysteries or miracles of music. In our system, we
have only 12 pitches, and yet these 12 pitches have been used in countless
combinations and sequences. It's a little mind boggling to think that all
the music produced by the great composers is made up of different sequences
of this rather limited selection of musical materials.
Beyond those very general statements, the only thing I would know to do
would be to get several thousand scores and start counting!
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