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harmonizations part II


Just as the ‘Harmonizations’ section focuses on harmonic tonality, the focus in this section is on melodic tonality and combinations of the two. This brings us into the soundworld of composers such as Debussy, Stravinsky, Bartók and Messiaen, as well as modal uses in tradtional music from regions in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

Musicologist Rudolph Reti (1885-1957) defines melodic tonality as a tonal concept that can be traced far back in history. It's the kind of tonality where melodic principles are the most defining factors.


Thus we realize that there are at least two types of tonality (tonicality) in music. One is based on the harmonic and rhythmical structure (...) We called this tonality harmonic tonality. It is the familiar tonality of classical music. 

But there is also the other type just described, that is manifested through melody only. We shall henceforth refer to this type as melodic tonality. (Reti, Rudolph. Tonality in Modern Music. New York, Collier Books, 1956 pp. 33-34)


Combinations of harmonic and melodic tonality give the possibility of unlimited chord alterations and the creation of tonal fields like modes, etc.


As an example, Debussy's prelude Danseuses des Delphes (1909) starts with a classical tonic chord, but because of the melodic countervoices, the subsequent subdominant and dominant chords are altered in such a way that the whole tone scale comes to life:

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