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harmonizations II: common tone practice

​'Common tone practice' allows a pianist to change harmonies while maintaining a common note each time. In this way, chord progressions can be formed in which a particular note keeps recurring. This technique can be used to arrive at new chord constructions, as well as to modulate to a different key.

In April 1923, The Etude Music Magazine published an interview titled New Lights on the Art of the Piano with pianist-composer Sergei Rachmaninov (1873-1943), discussing among other things exercises for pianists. This exercise written down according to the instructions Rachmaninov gave in this interview, has the full range of all chords to be practiced.


Book Nr. 10 of Franz Liszt's Technische Studien (1868-73) shows an example including three chords as a way of going around the circle of fifths:


In New Formula (for the Piano Teacher and Piano Student) (1913) Vasily Safonov (1852-1918) shows an example with a long series of chords:

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Olivier Messiaen's (1908-1992) Technique de mon language musical (1944) shows some examples of common tone practice with a 'resonance chord':

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