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Cluster Chords

 
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Skon



Joined: 01 Apr 2005
Posts: 51

PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2005 5:18 am    Post subject: Cluster Chords Reply with quote

I've only seen brief mentions of them in a few places..

What are they and how are they applied?
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Guest






PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2005 5:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cluster chords as I understand them are stacks of notes in seconds.

For, example, a cluster could be all the notes of c major played together, or all the notes of the chromatic scale, or any section of these.

They began to be used in th twesntieth century by composers like Henry Cowel, and Penderecki and Gyorgy Ligeti.

In jazz, Cecil Taylor did a lot to popularise them.

Clusters are hard to play on the guitar (at least in standard tuning). However, John Scofield and Bill Frissell use them. Using open strings makes it easier.
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Skon



Joined: 01 Apr 2005
Posts: 51

PostPosted: Sat May 14, 2005 12:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've read that allan holdsworth uses them too, but I haven't been able to identify any really since I dont really know how they work...

I've got quite a bit of left hand flexibility and have tried doing similar things, but I'm not sure which notes to use.

Can you give me some examples of 4 note cluster chords that might have a scofield/holdsworth type sound?
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Christian
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PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2005 12:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not particualrly interested in imitating the sound of other guitarists, so I never really sat down and worked it out. However, the logic of Allan's harmony may be of interest.

I think Allan Holdsworth harmonies are largely based around the use of sets of intervals which are then transposed diatonically through one type of mode or another.

For example, you could decide to use a stack of a second, third, second. That would give you in C lydian, these seven four-tone harmonies:

C D F# G
D E G A
E F# A B
....
B C E F#

(I may have made mistakes here)

You would then use these to create chord progressions. You will find them rather stretchy.

Personally, I find the constant modal paralelism of Allan's harmony rather lacking in direction.

If you really want to learn something about cluster harmonies, I suggest listening to some contemporary composers and jazz pianists, and working out your own harmonies. Have a listen to Gyorgy Ligeti's back catalogue. His early works use lots of cluster harmonies - Atmospheres, Volumina, Reqieum and Ramifications are all good examples of his early 'style.'
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Bjorn



Joined: 04 Jan 2005
Posts: 1037
Location: Denmark

PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2005 1:35 pm    Post subject: Bill Evans... Reply with quote

This guy had a very good grab on Clusters...
There are two guitarists which each has made a book exploring the style of Bill.
One is Sid Jacobs, and I dont remember the other one.
But the books are interresting...
Bjorn...
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gabor
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PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2005 3:24 pm    Post subject: clusters Reply with quote

See Mr Goodchord's Almanac of Guitar Voice-Leading for the year 2001 and Beyond, Volume I and II by Mick Goodrick. Volume II "Do Not Name That Chord is exhaustive in it's examination of clusters for the guitar.
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Guest






PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2005 4:15 pm    Post subject: Re: clusters Reply with quote

gabor wrote:
See Mr Goodchord's Almanac of Guitar Voice-Leading for the year 2001 and Beyond, Volume I and II by Mick Goodrick. Volume II "Do Not Name That Chord" is exhaustive in it's examination of clusters for the guitar.
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PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2005 4:16 pm    Post subject: Re: clusters Reply with quote

gabor wrote:
See Mr Goodchord's Almanac of Guitar Voice-Leading for the year 2001 and Beyond, Volume I and II by Mick Goodrick. Volume II "Do Not Name That Chord" is exhaustive in it's examination of clusters for the guitar.
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alex
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PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2005 8:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks we needed that quoted!
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Steven D'Antonio
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PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2005 1:31 pm    Post subject: clusters Reply with quote

C D F# G
D E G A
E F# A B

Aren't these just variations on the ninth cord?

C D F# G 9aug4
D E G A 9sus4
E F# A B and yet again 9sus4

Basically, instead of stacking up thirds you are just picking another stacking scheme. It looks like it may be interesting for a song or two, but I wouldn't try to build a career using that sound. I remind you that Harry Partch and microtonalism died out just as fast as it hit the scene because people didn't know what to make of the sound.

Some musical experiments work others don't. The first time that the 6/4 (CFA giving an inverted F major cord) inversion was used as a centerpiece in a work was Beethovens Eroica symphony (generally considered to be the beginning of the romantic era). It worked, but still wasn't universally eccepted for several years. So if you want to rely on something like this exclusively you may have a hard time building a fan base. The same reason I don't rely on some wierd looking gizmo when I build guiars. I just rely on a good solid traditional sound (and occasionally make one with a wierd twist for variety).

Steven D'Antonio
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Christian
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PostPosted: Thu May 19, 2005 5:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks v. much for the interesting point about the 6 4 chord in the Eroica. I didn't know that. I did know that Beethoven regarded the fourth as a consonance at a time where practicaly all theorists termed a dissoannt interval. He really was ahead of the time. I think the Eroica still sounds boldly modern in parts - those powerful tutti chords sound like Stravinsky to me. That's even without talking about his late music. And then there's Mozart's dissonance quartet.

As far as the example harmonies go, you can call the chords whatever you like: but yearit's the stacking system though a mode which is the point. You could use any set of diatonic intervals, and any mode. I think the system on it's own is a bit limited - it tells you nothing about the dynamic qualities of these harmonies. For example, a dominant 7th has a totally different structural role to a major 7th or minor seventh. There must be equivelant dfferences in any other stacking scheme.

Actually the Harry Partch ensemble is still going! Worth seeing them for their bonkers instruments. To be pedantic Partch's instruments and music is technically not microtonal, but just-intonated.

Here it is not really relevant to talk about the linguistics and cultural aspects of music, but most discoveries on twentieth century music have,in fact, found their way into the popular domain, usually through film scores. Go and listen to a science fiction, thriller or horror movie sound track if you think I'm off my rocker. Chromatic clusters are extremely atmospheric. Also Radiohead use cluster harmonies including eight tone harmonies and they shift a few units. And yet the conventional wisdom in classical music is that 20th century music is inaccesible. More accurately, it is inaccesible to people who listen to pop music, or 18th and 19th century music lots.

Actually, I'm in agreement re: harmonic language I see nothing wrong with sing the standard 7th and 9th chord grips guitarists have used for decades. Originality is not about using new harmonies, any more than an original writer uses new words (the best often use the simplest words in striking new ways.) Stravinsky could write a major triad as if a major triad had never been written before. The open E major on In a Silent Way is as original as any exotic harmony.
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