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  1. #1

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    This seems counterintuitive, since they are simply displaced by an octave. There must be some kind of acoustical phenomenon that explains it, in terms of the difference between the frequencies.

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  3. #2

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    I’m not certain, but my physics-based hunch goes something like this:

    For sake of simplicity, assume you have two signals that are pure sine waves. If you sum them in the human ear, it will be perceived as both the original signals plus two more sine waves at “beat frequencies” that are the sum and difference between the two original frequencies. The sum and difference signals are usually lower amplitude than the original signals, but can certainly be audible. When the two original frequencies are far apart (like a minor 9th) they are generally not noticed. But when the original sine waves are close in frequency (like a minor 2nd) the difference frequency can be heard and can sound unmusical since it generally is out of key. Of course, this beating phenomenon is very useful when we tune.

    Beat (acoustics) - Wikipedia

  4. #3
    Yes, I'd thought of the "beat" aspect but it seems that since the beats are more audible with the minor 2nd, so that would be the one sounding more dissonant, though it's the opposite.

  5. #4

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    The minor ninth and minor second are the same pitch class, but don't sound the "same" harmonically.

    This is why I think of scales as needing to be comprised of two octaves in order to capture everything. The chord tones live in the lower octave, the extensions live in the upper octave.

    This can be a little misleading on the guitar because almost all the usual stock 6 and 5 string major and minor chords have just ones and fives in the lower octave and the chord tones in the upper octave. This helps playing the guitar unaccompanied where the extra octave below fills in for the missing bass player, but those chords can sometimes position the chord tones over the lower octave in such a way to make them sound more like extensions, and confuse you as to whether a note is supposed to be a second or a ninth, etc... (because it depends which octave you think of as the chord tone octave, the "empty" one below or the full one above).

    Once you play with a bassist and drop the guitar's redundant lower octave and play the "upper" remaining octave as either the "true" chord tone octave (triads) or treat it as a rootless extension octave (fancy), then it gets clearer which notes are doing what.
    "Bent my ear to hear the tune and closed my eyes to see."

  6. #5

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    min 9 more dissonant than min 2?
    Says who?

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  7. #6

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    This seems counterintuitive, since they are simply displaced by an octave. There must be some kind of acoustical phenomenon that explains it, in terms of the difference between the frequencies.

    It all depends on contexts, man...
    Even if there is no context - if you hear something more or less dissonant that means we subconciously apply some context to it.

    Acoustics has alsmot nothing to do with that... it describes sounds physically.

    Consonance and dissonance are musical notions, and music is absolutely cultural thing.

    It is like colours - physics can describe it, biology can describe how eye sees it and all..
    but the blue seems to be peaceful colour to many in our culture and at the same time it is dangerous in another culture.... it is nothing about physical or biological thing.

    So try to figure out the context you hear it in..

    In my opinion supposedly minor 2 to modern ear of a musician involved in modern music can sound more like a 'single sound', colouristic cluster, dissonant extra harmonic... and minor9th is too diatant for that.. thatnk to distanst you can hear it better so it tends to resolve more...
    But it is one of the possible ideas aas I do not really know how you hear it.

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vladan View Post
    min 9 more dissonant than min 2?
    Says who?
    Yes that's exactly what I thought. I use min9 chords all the time and they don't sound at all dissonant to me, I often prefer them to min7 (depending on the context).

    Min 2 has a bit more 'rub' if you play it next to the minor 3rd like Bill Evans did. But I don't hear it as particularly dissonant, more 'moody/atmospheric'.

  9. #8

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    Um, you sure you haven't got that backwards?

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop View Post
    Yes that's exactly what I thought. I use min9 chords all the time and they don't sound at all dissonant to me, I often prefer them to min7 (depending on the context).

    Min 2 has a bit more 'rub' if you play it next to the minor 3rd like Bill Evans did. But I don't hear it as particularly dissonant, more 'moody/atmospheric'.
    There's a difference between the 9 in a m9 chord and the m9 interval.

  11. #10

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    Ok I assumed OP meant chords.

    If it’s intervals I’m not sure which one sounds worse!

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by ll00l0l View Post
    Yes, I'd thought of the "beat" aspect but it seems that since the beats are more audible with the minor 2nd, so that would be the one sounding more dissonant, though it's the opposite.
    I think the minor 2nd interval is much more dissonant than the minor 9th. You don’t?

  13. #12

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    Sometimes, for a Cm7, I play xx574x. Just xxx74x would work. m2 interval. Dissonant, sure, but musical in that situation.

    But, I don't think that x5xx4x sounds as good against Cm7.

    minor intervals occur in b9 chords of course. I've never thought to just play the two notes a m9 apart.

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar View Post
    minor intervals occur in b9 chords of course. I've never thought to just play the two notes a m9 apart.
    Are you sure? I play these 7b9 grips all the time:

    C7b9: x3232x
    G7b9: xx5464
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  15. #14

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    Maybe I'm misunderstanding something, but a m9 chord has a M2 (major 2nd) interval as the 9th. A-C-E-G-B (the A to B is a major 2nd). So, a minor 2nd is not the same interval. mb9 chord (A-C-E-G-Bb) would be the same apples to apples comparison. No?

    Also, when you spread a chord out you tend to get less dissonance. So if you play a A against a Bb in the same registry, it's more dissonant than A against a Bb that's an octave higher. Or, at least that's how we perceive it... I think the bleating or dissonant pulsing between the notes would be the same on a graph, but at that higher pitch we don't hear them as well. Also, depending if you invert the chord, you could make it less dissonant due to the newfound interacting interval structures in the inversions.

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by BigDaddyLoveHandles View Post
    Are you sure? I play these 7b9 grips all the time:

    C7b9: x3232x
    G7b9: xx5464
    I was referring to playing just just two notes a minor 9 apart to cover, say, a m7 chord.

    For example, I sometimes play xxx74x for Cm7. D and Eb.

    But, I have never thought to play, say, x5xx4x. (Or similar up an octave).

    And, for that matter, it never occurred to me to suggest C7b9 by playing x3xx2x. But, in that case, it doesn't occur to me to play two notes a half step apart anyway. It doesn't seem like playing a C and a Db (only) a half step apart really gets to the quality of the chord.

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vladan View Post
    min 9 more dissonant than min 2?
    Says who?
    I interpreted the OP as relating to intervals, and I agree with Vladan and others who suggest that context has everything to do with it. For example, in a close-voiced Cma7 chord the m2 interval between the ma7 and root of the chord doesn't sound particularly dissonant to me. Example: play (stacked from bottom up) G B C E on piano. It's pretty, not grating.

    Again, it's context and its all subjective... if you just take that same m2 of B and C a half-step apart and play it without the surrounding notes, it may indeed sound more dissonant... or not, perhaps depending on how you play it.

    Similarly, I find the m9 in a dom7b9 chord to be interesting not unpleasant . Pretty much any of the conventional jazz guitar voicings for dom7b9 chords demonstrate this (to my ear, at least).

    Without the surrounding notes, I will grant you that the m9 interval does sound less dissonant to me than the bare m2... and I'll leave the reasons why to the acousticians, physicists and mathematicians on this thread. As the joke goes, I can only count to four (five or 7 in a pinch!)

    SJ

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar View Post
    I was referring to playing just just two notes a minor 9 apart to cover, say, a m7 chord.

    For example, I sometimes play xxx74x for Cm7. D and Eb.

    But, I have never thought to play, say, x5xx4x. (Or similar up an octave).

    And, for that matter, it never occurred to me to suggest C7b9 by playing x3xx2x. But, in that case, it doesn't occur to me to play two notes a half step apart anyway. It doesn't seem like playing a C and a Db (only) a half step apart really gets to the quality of the chord.
    I remember looking at a ballad by Attila Zoller. He delighted in having m9 jumps in the melody.
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  19. #18
    Think of this also: generally minor 9th intervals are avoided in chord voicings except for 7b9's. For example, the aforementioned CMaj7 chord voiced (from the bottom) G B C E would not normally be voiced B/E/G/C due to the minor 9th. In contrast, minor 2nd's are used much more liberally, as in the first voicing.
    This says to me that the m9 is heard as more dissonant in practice, even if we can't acoustically determine a reason.

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar View Post
    Sometimes, for a Cm7, I play xx574x. Just xxx74x would work. m2 interval. Dissonant, sure, but musical in that situation.

    But, I don't think that x5xx4x sounds as good against Cm7.

    minor intervals occur in b9 chords of course. I've never thought to just play the two notes a m9 apart.

    I think this is because of what I mentioned in post #4... your close notes are be being heard in context as upper octave extensions?
    "Bent my ear to hear the tune and closed my eyes to see."

  21. #20

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    An example of this:

    Cmaj7 played as xx9988. Easy to play. Has the root on top. But, doesn't sound very good unless you can find a very congenial application.

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar View Post
    An example of this:

    Cmaj7 played as xx9988. Easy to play. Has the root on top. But, doesn't sound very good unless you can find a very congenial application.
    I doesn't sound good in isolation because it simultaneously suggests the harmonies of the V-I cadence G->C...

    B E G C

    B G is "first inversionish" of G
    E C is "first inversionish" of C

    Both source and destination of the cadence sound together and irritate the mind's ear.

    That voicing functioning as maj7 has a similar roughness heard in loose quartal chords (that roughness is often dissipated by the quartal chords subbing for maj7, rooted a major third above, smoothing out nicely when played in various contexts)... Ebmaj7 replaced by G7#9sus4 kind of sound.

    The quirky V->I combo-cadence feel mentioned above can be broken directly by chromatic movement. For example, in the beginning of Green Dolphin Street, the chromatic maj7 moves are often "unsweetened" by replacing them with quartal chords as above, which is a clue as to how to use this difficult but similarly sounding 7351 voicing... used as a little bit different kind of edge that can sound quite right for a chromatic vamp in with the melody line is just the chords' roots (melodic tonic harmonic chromatic parallelism - OMG what could be more boring?) but for an unusual voicing with an edge (like this one that tops the root).
    "Bent my ear to hear the tune and closed my eyes to see."

  23. #22
    One notable exception to the root-on-top Maj7 voicing as above, is when it's the 7th in the bass moving down from the root, like in a kind of "march" ostinato (bass: root, 7, 6, 5) over major chord. That doesn't sound as dissonant, possibly because of the wider separation between the body of the chord and the bass way below.

  24. #23

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    IMO, the reason that voicing sound dissonant to some people is in equal temperament. Adjust one, or two of those notes for couple of cents and voila, as sweet as it can be.

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  25. #24
    How would you adjust it exactly?

  26. #25

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    I would not, but if I would, I would bend strings, untill it sounded good.

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  27. #26

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    Two of the notes in the chord are the first and fifth, which would not be the ones subject to temperament error. The other two are the major third and major seventh. In equal temperament both of these are slightly sharp, so bending is the wrong direction.

    A few minutes adjusting the tuners to determine if this chord can be made to sound "sweet" convinces me that this is not a temperament problem.

    I think my "combo-cadence" idea from post #21 is more on the right track. The only way I have found to make it sound nice is to play it as an arpeggio with the two middle notes reversed so as to separate the two harmonies of the combo cadence to be heard as a proper cadence.
    Last edited by pauln; 12-03-2018 at 03:14 AM.
    "Bent my ear to hear the tune and closed my eyes to see."

  28. #27

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    Even with C-B-A-G bass line against C major.. the B is dissonant just not that strong.
    The whole line brings us into teh functional context of the C major key...
    B -E- G - C sounds like V6 (first inversion of G) with suspended 4th and 6th
    or another way of hearing it in context is B just a passing not to A and the chords are C major to A min7

    The simplest way though - and quite common in classical musica and theory in that case - is just to look at it as one chord and diatonic descenfdant bass line.. that is too look at it separely.
    In basso continuo they would use in that case a signature of a triad over the 1st bass note and then just dashes over the others - meaning repeat the same chord...

    It is impoertant because in that case they did not think of B - C as of an interval of b9.. it would be way overcomplicated and make no sense.
    it was just a bass line... functionally nothing changes.



    As per temperament - I partly agree with Vladan... but in context of funcitonal tonality it would not take away a dissonance though it can make a movement smoother.
    Again temperament depends much on the musical language... above I described a few possible way of hearing it withing fucntional context and each of this way would require a little different temperament of B.

  29. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by pauln View Post
    Two of the notes in the chord are the first and fifth, which would not be the ones subject to temperament error. The other two are the major third and major seventh. In equal temperament both of these are slightly sharp, so bending is the wrong direction.

    A few minutes adjusting the tuners to determine if this chord can be made to sound "sweet" convinces me that this is not a temperament problem.
    Since this is about intervals and particular voicing (certain strings pressed against certain frets) on guitar, the key is irrelevant. Why not make intervals work relative to the note that need smallest amount of adjusting?
    There are other possibilities. For example, In a sense, C on top is not the root, but is 14th. Going by simple ratios it would not be a perfect octave ...

    It is quite possible that it is not temperament problem. Nevertheless, slightly bending note B on 4th string already made quite an impact. Messing with other strings and combinations, produced some good results, too.

    >EDIT: Also, there are no 5ths in that voicing. It is made of two 4ths, that are flat 6/ aug 5th apart, or two aug 5ths/ flat 6ths, fourth apart.
    Last edited by Vladan; 12-03-2018 at 05:40 AM.
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  30. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vladan View Post
    Since this is about intervals and particular voicing (certain strings pressed against certain frets) on guitar, the key is irrelevant. Why not make intervals work relative to the note that need smallest amount of adjusting?
    There are other possibilities. For example, In a sense, C on top is not the root, but is 14th. Going by simple ratios it would not be a perfect octave ...

    It is quite possible that it is not temperament problem. Nevertheless, slightly bending note B on 4th string already made quite an impact. Messing with other strings and combinations, produced some good results, too.

    >EDIT: Also, there are no 5ths in that voicing. It is made of two 4ths, that are flat 6/ aug 5th apart.
    The chord was introduced as the root being C... where G would be the fifth, but if the root is changed, well yes...

    Cmaj7 /B
    Db m7 #11 add 7
    D6 sus4 add 9 add #13
    Eb aug add b9 add 13
    E5 add #9 add b13
    F maj7 #11 sus2
    Gb 7 #11 b9 sus4
    G sus4 add b11 add 13
    Ab maj7 b13 #9
    Am 9
    Bb sus2 add b9 add #11 add 13
    B sus4 add b13 add b9

    ... but in fact I agree and like thinking of it as a pair of fourths!
    "Bent my ear to hear the tune and closed my eyes to see."

  31. #30

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    ll00l0l -

    I don't really know 'why' although I'm sure there are very good scientific explanations as to why some intervals are less pleasing to our ears than others.

    The same could be said of colours, tastes, smells, and so on.

    I'm sure that notes close together sort of meld into one sound whereas those an octave or more apart don't so well.

    C/C# sounds interesting together but not when the C# is 13 half-steps away. Mind you, C on the 5th string and C# on the 3rd sounds better than the same interval played an octave higher. Lower notes aren't so grating.

    The other thing is context, as has been pointed out. A CM7 played xxxx9988 sounds more or less reasonable. And slash chords like B/C are used a great deal.

    I suppose it depends what sort of answer you're looking for - scientific, philosophical (in terms of qualia), or otherwise.