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Non-functional harmony - composers?

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Posted on July 31, 2020 at 02:13:18
andy evans
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I'm doing a bit of woodshedding on harmony theory and in particular non-functional harmony. This refers to chord progressions that kind of "float" and don't obviously resolve in conventional ways, which is what "functional" harmonies do (Mozart, Haydn etc etc). So think Wagner, Debussy, Ravel, some late Faure etc. I'm not interested in 12 tone music - I'm looking for some more good examples of tonal but non-functional harmony.

Suggestions?

I've attached Bernstein on L'Apres Midi which gives an insight into this

 

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Definitely look into Schreker. Try Overture to Gezeichneten or Nachtstuck from Ferne Klang nt, posted on July 31, 2020 at 06:46:02
jdaniel@jps.net
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.

 

RE: Definitely look into Schreker.... how about Claus Ogerman? , posted on July 31, 2020 at 08:47:38
andy evans
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This is more what I had in mind - Claus Ogerman. Schreker sounds like Sibelius on acid, though it is indeed non-functional harmony. Just not my kind of musical language.

I've been looking for inspiration for my songwriting - trying to get away from the usual functional harmony you hear almost exclusively in popular music. Trying to wrench myself away from it, which is quite an effort. Don't want to use jazz harmony either - been there for too long as a gigging jazz musician. Bluesy chords and tritones isn't my goal. Something more open and floaty.

 

You probably know the composers I'm about to list already, posted on July 31, 2020 at 10:31:07
Chris from Lafayette
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Early Schoenberg, 7 early songs by Berg, Im Sommerwind by Webern - also a couple of Czech composers: early Suk is pretty tonal, but something like "Ripening" or his piano suites, "About Mother" and "About Friendship" definitely "float", also some works of Novak, some by Foerster. Of course there's mid-to-late Scriabin, along with Stanchinsky - some of Prokofiev's early music is surprisingly floaty (e.g., some of the Visions fugitives). Some of Szymanowski's music could fulfill your requirements - especially some of his songs (Bunte Lieder, maybe?). Some floaty music I don't like would be works of Mompou, but his music also could be what you're looking for?

 

RE: You probably know the composers I'm about to list already, posted on July 31, 2020 at 12:39:40
andy evans
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Early Schoenberg - will look
7 early songs by Berg - yes, know and love those
Im Sommerwind by Webern - wow, that's lovely
Suk "Ripening" or his piano suites, "About Mother" and "About Friendship" definitely "float"...
- I'd never have thought of Suk, but you're right
Novak - sounds pretty tonal, will look further
Foerster - sounds pretty tonal again, bit like Novak
Mid-to-late Scriabin - yes, familiar with Scriabin
Stanchinsky.... piano works are very pianistic, hard to pull out chord progressions
Prokofiev's early music e.g., some of the Visions fugitives - yes, know those
Szymanowski especially some of his songs (Bunte Lieder, maybe?) - will look at him

Mompou - not my thing either

I'm looking for music I can draw on for songwriting - chord progressions. I already looked at Berg's 7 early songs and was tempted. Also looked at La Nativite Du Seigneur, especially Les Bergers
Some Faure is very tempting, like his Prelude #1 and #4 and bits of his Requiem. I should look at Copeland but it's become very cliche

Keep the suggestions coming!

 

RE: Non-functional harmony - composers?, posted on August 1, 2020 at 07:26:52
oldmkvi
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Dutilleux and Takemitsu.

 

"songwriting - chord progressions.", posted on August 1, 2020 at 07:31:20
oldmkvi
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Joni Mitchell first album.
Michael From Mountains.
Beautiful and unexpected progressions.
Herbie Hancock on Miles' My Funny Valentine.
Esp Stella, completely reworked.
He goes to Gb Maj for the Bridge!!!

 

RE: "songwriting - chord progressions.", posted on August 1, 2020 at 10:58:42
andy evans
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Thanks for the Joni Mitchell - didn't know it.

One of my favourite Herbie tracks EVER is Textures. That has some nice floaty chords. It's a gem.

 

Yes - Dutillieux! , posted on August 1, 2020 at 11:01:18
andy evans
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Dutillieux is new to me - I like what I'm hearing.

I know some Takemitsu. Particularly like Green, November Steps

 

RE: Definitely look into Schreker.... how about Claus Ogerman? , posted on August 3, 2020 at 08:52:23
George6
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Benjamin Britten wrote some quasi tonal things that are not always functional, in the sense you may be after -- using the vocabulary of tonal music without the structural system of key centers.

Also Alan Rawsthorne -- if you start at 7:00 in the piece linked here you may find some of that floating sound you are after.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uk_nX_A846g

You might also want to have a look at a book by Avenir H. de Monfred, "The NDM Principle of Relative Music" (Scribner's, 1970).
NDM = New Diatonic Modal.

 

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