Most dissonant...

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by BrianT, Apr 8, 2008.

  1. BrianT

    BrianT Member

    I remember in my teens (years ago now) trying to come up with the most dissonant chord I possibly could. In the end I settled on a six note chord combining C major and F# major triads, which I thought was pretty good at the time.

    Thing is, when I listen to that chord now I just think it sounds kinda jazzy - not eye-wateringly dissonant like I used to.

    Any of you composery types out there got any really ear-bending chords? Or what gets your vote for most dissonant piece you know/have played?
  2. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    C+F# - isn't that Stravinsky's famous 'Petrushka' chord?

    Tone clusters are the theoretical ultimate in dissonance within any given scale. Henry Cowell's piano piece 'Tiger' makes liberal use of them, as do many of his other works. In fact, I've got a book of Cowell piano stuff if you want to borrow it - it's all pretty 'way out', despite being over 50 years old.

    Anyone have any examples of microtonal tone clusters? Doesn't Ligeti's 'Atmospheres' use them?
  3. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    Not sure about Petrushka. Are you thinking about the first chug-chug bit from The Rite of Spring? That certainly uses two stacked triads.

    No microtones, but it certainly uses clusters with every string player choosing a different note from a written 'block'. Penderecki does this in his 8th Symphony with the choir playing ocarinas - contrary to what you might think, it's quite a nice (if a bit eerie) sound.

    ps. Thank God. An intelligent dialogue on The Mouthpiece. Won't be long before the yobs destroy it!
  4. Bunnymonster

    Bunnymonster Member

    Prokofiev's ballet Romeo and Juliet uses a chord near the beginning which gradually builds across the whole orchestra, eventually using 11 of the 12 chromatic pitches!

    Very dramatic and very scary when listened to with your eyes closed!:eek:
  5. Matt Lawson

    Matt Lawson Member

    6 notes, covering an octave and a fourth.

    C-F#-B-C-C#-F is pretty nasty!

    Just bung as many semitones and tritones in there as you can, without it become a cluster instead of a chord!
  6. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    No, I think I was thinking of Petrushka:
    Some of the specific analysis from Music A-level did stick!

    Not sure what the stack from the RoS is, though I do know which bit you mean. Don't think it's two tritone-separated major chords, from aural memory, but I'm not particularly sure...

    On microtonal clusters, the intellectual might of Wikipedia once again chimes in:

  7. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Again from Wikipedia:
    I'm not sure that your sentence makes sense, I'm afraid.
  8. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    I think we're both right! The Petrushka 'chord' is a series of rising intervals creating a motif, whereas the chord in The Rite is indeed a chord (all notes played together) consisting of two triads stacked up. Haven't got the score to hand, but I remember that from college.
  9. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    I hate to disagree, but I think it does appear a number of times as a straight chord. Random quotes from the internet seem to think so too, e.g.

    "the famous 'Petrushka chord', a C major chord and an F-sharp major chord played at the same time or arpeggiated together", from
  10. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    I'll check.....;)
  11. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    To mix a metaphor, dissonance is in the eye of the beholder. The western equal-tempered scale would sound wierd to those cultures that never bothered with equal temperament - a lot of Afrikan music, Australian Aboriginal music, even a lot of Eastern European folk musicians would, until the advent of radio, have found a western chromatic scale sounded slightly out of tune. Equal temperament is a con trick, albeit a very clever one. It's just that we're all so used to it...

    In the early days - by which I mean 12th century - a major third would have been considered a dissonant interval by the like of Leonin and Perotin. Consonances were 4ths and 5ths only, hence the open, sparse sound of the harmonised plainchant of the period.
  12. HBB

    HBB Active Member

    And the thought of a tritone was unmentionable - the number of times I was told off for not adding in accidentals to raise the 4th!
  13. David Mann

    David Mann Member

    The opening bar of "The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea", as far as I can work out, has a basically f minor chord with added ?2nds, ?4ths for most of the band while the euphs and baris seem to have a Cb major chord that is revealed as the band dims away. Lovely!
  14. oh no the wonder and dread of the tritone :)
    i think i have actually tried (and failed miserably, i add) trying to count how many times that it is actually used in Stravinsky's Firebird :(
    I'm sure there are more dissonant notes than the tritone though, i'm sure there are a few by Shostakovich, but none spring to mind :(
  15. Jimmy_2121

    Jimmy_2121 Member

    I believe the Rite of Spring chord is two superimposed chords, one of Fb and the an Eb7, correct me if I'm wrong, the result is rather dissonant. There is a wonderful video clip of the composer playing the 'augurs' scene on the piano and turning towards the camera wearing an eccentric grin on each of the accents!

    I'm sure that much of the music we consider to be not unusual in terms of their levels of dissonance would have offended many of not too distant generations, especially in the band world!
  16. Anno Draconis

    Anno Draconis Well-Known Member

    Never mind, Ligeti, Penderecki and Stravinsky, my dad thought Triumphant Rhapsody was too dissonant. Although, in his defence, there are some good crunchy 2nds in it :D
  17. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    Have at look at No.216 from the 371 Bach Chorale harmonizations by Riemenschneider, called Es ist Genung! so nimm, Herr. Bach uses three rising tones to emphasise the first words. It is considered on of Bach's most 'way out' chorales and was used by Alban Berg as the last Coda of his violin concerto, as it corresponded with his tone-row.

    I arranged (along with two other chorales) it as a warm-up for four cornets/trumpets and can forward a copy on Sibelius if anybody wants it.
  18. JesTperfect!

    JesTperfect! Member

    In A Level recently we had to study 'The Hunt' from Planet of the Apes (the older version) - there are some pretty nasty chords going on in that!
    Will find my anthology and have a quick look to see if I can put a name to any of them.
  19. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

  20. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    So that's where that came from! I did wonder about this unexpected burst of melody when Oxford Symphony Orchestra performed this piece...

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