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The importance of fifth and repercussions

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  • The importance of fifth and repercussions

    Hey, I haven't been much around lately due to a lot of other stuff going on, but I've had time to ponder around theory.

    I've made use of this before in my compositions, but I'm having had figuring out what it is, so if anyone could shed light on it?

    Since fifths aren't that important part of the chord voicing to keep it recognisable, they can be dropped. However, 7th chord of the major scale is diminished, that is only differentiated by tritone instead of fifth.

    If I play "diminished" without the tritone, should'nt that just translate to minor, and works within the scale?
    "So understand/Don't waste your time always searching for those wasted years/Face up, make your stand/And realize you're living in the golden years"
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  • #2
    It will still function as the vii chord even if you dropped the dominant.
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    • #3
      Originally posted by Jacew View Post
      Hey, I haven't been much around lately due to a lot of other stuff going on, but I've had time to ponder around theory.

      I've made use of this before in my compositions, but I'm having had figuring out what it is, so if anyone could shed light on it?

      Since fifths aren't that important part of the chord voicing to keep it recognisable, they can be dropped. However, 7th chord of the major scale is diminished, that is only differentiated by tritone instead of fifth.

      If I play "diminished" without the tritone, should'nt that just translate to minor, and works within the scale?
      You can imply the fifth with most chords and get away with it fine. The b5 is the whole sound of a diminished chord though. Without explicitly playing it, yes, the chord you have will sound like a minor (again, because the natural 5th is usually implied when you hear the 1 and b3).
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      • #4
        Originally posted by GuitarStv View Post

        the natural 5th is usually implied when you hear the 1 and b3).
        Not only that, but the harmonic series of any note already contains the 5th as it is the third harmonic. That's why you don't miss much but not playing it, because it's sorta already there. I think the context makes the m7b5 chord retain it's function even without the b5 (I might be wrong though on the latter... ).

        Also, if I am not mistaken, the seventh chord on the seventh degree of the Major is scale is just half diminished!
        Last edited by nexion218; 02-15-2021, 09:14 AM.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by nexion218 View Post

          Also, if I am not mistaken, the seventh chord on the seventh degree of the Major is scale is just half diminished!
          Correct, a Minor 7 Flat 5 chord.

          Dave, Ambassador/Writer/Artist for Seymour Duncan

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          • #6
            Originally posted by nexion218 View Post

            Not only that, but the harmonic series of any note already contains the 5th as it is the third harmonic. That's why you don't miss much but not playing it, because it's sorta already there. I think the context makes the m7b5 chord retain it's function even without the b5 (I might be wrong though on the latter... ).

            Also, if I am not mistaken, the seventh chord on the seventh degree of the Major is scale is just half diminished!
            Thanks for replies. That's along the lines I was thinking

            Since the dropping of b5 reduces the dissonance significantly I find that preferable. However, would that, since there's now the implied fifth, affect the way it works in the sense of direction I have no idea. I'm generally not very good at hearing functional harmony...

            It also questions does it actually matter if you just play the fifth? Adding tritones in a major scale is pretty common in a lot of music anyway.
            "So understand/Don't waste your time always searching for those wasted years/Face up, make your stand/And realize you're living in the golden years"
            Iron Maiden - Wasted Years

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            • #7
              We're getting close to the limitations of my theory knowledge, but this is a fun conversation so I'll try my best to add something to it!

              Your second question seems easier to me: since a fifth very strongly imples the root, I'd say playing a fifth instead of root (note, not chord) is pretty much the same function. That however goes down the drain with the b5 and I don't have enough knowledge to explain it... Maybe with a guitar in hand it would be easier to decipher if it functions the same. I'd expect it to introduce a pretty strong tension which would nevertheless resololve nicely to the I.

              I was pondering about the first part for a few minutes... I came to the conclusion that even if you drop the b5, the root of the m7b5 chord is still a leading tone to the I chord being just a halfstep below the I's root, thus it still retains the dominant function, methinks.
              Last edited by nexion218; 02-17-2021, 02:16 AM.

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              • #8
                I really need to dive back in to theory. Learned a lot of it when I was younger and took a class in high school but have forgotten a lot of the advanced stuff and this relates to that. Most of my playing life has been the EVH method, "you have 12 notes to work with", and I'd go from there by ear as well as learning from others and playing with more experienced musicians.

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                • #9
                  If the bass or keys, or _______ is holding down the root, I would drop the root before dropping the 5th. In jazzier situations where you are using more extended chords, the root is generally the least significant note, followed by the 5th.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by devastone View Post
                    If the bass or keys, or _______ is holding down the root, I would drop the root before dropping the 5th. In jazzier situations where you are using more extended chords, the root is generally the least significant note, followed by the 5th.
                    The first part makes complete sense! But would you mind elaborating on why the root is less important than the 5th? Not *****ing or arguing, I'm sincerely curious and eager to learn.

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                    • #11
                      The root is usually played by another instrument. I'd argue that the 5th, if talking about a diminished chord, is absolutely important. If you are talking straight major or minor chords, it is the least interesting note to my ears.
                      Dave, Ambassador/Writer/Artist for Seymour Duncan

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Mincer View Post
                        If you are talking straight major or minor chords, it is the least interesting note to my ears.
                        That's what I thought too, that's why it surprised that devastone ranked it above the root. But your explanation about other instruments playing ithe root makes sense. I guess I'm to much of an inexperienced lone wolf to think about someone else playing too...

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                        • #13
                          Always nice to drop chord tones when you can. We have a tendency to over complicate chord voicings. Less notes, more clarity.
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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by nexion218 View Post

                            That's what I thought too, that's why it surprised that devastone ranked it above the root. But your explanation about other instruments playing ithe root makes sense. I guess I'm to much of an inexperienced lone wolf to think about someone else playing too...
                            I figured this out long before I started playing with others, as I started recording with a 4 track recorder 35 years ago. You get pretty good at arrangement then, and realize what works well and what isn't important. If you play alone, I recommend learning to write and record- even if it isn't whole songs...just riffs, even. Layering guitar parts is eye-opening as far as what works together and what doesn't.
                            Dave, Ambassador/Writer/Artist for Seymour Duncan

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                            • #15
                              It's similar to cooking.

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