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Negative Harmony

Discussion in 'Music Education - Share your knowledge here!' started by Bassist4Eris, May 24, 2019.

  1. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris

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    This was all the rage on YouTube awhile ago, and I frankly thought it was nonsense... until I ran across this video last night, which not only better explains how to do it, but why it works. And I think it might have some merit for spicing up some boring chord progressions. The tradeoff here is this guy's explanation only applies to the key of C. More on that in a minute.

     
  2. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris

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    So, I thought it would be useful to work out a Roman numeral chart for converting chords to their negative harmony counterpart in any key.

    Let's start with the basic diatonic three-note chords. I'm going to use capital letters for all Roman numerals, whether major or minor, because it just looks cleaner on screen with all the other letter abbreviations we use in music. Speaking of which, I'll specify majors with the suffix "maj" and minors with "m".

    Imaj = Im
    IIm = bVIImaj
    IIIm = bVImaj
    IVmaj = Vm
    Vmaj = IVm
    VIm = bIIImaj
    VIIdim = IIdim

    There's almost a pattern here. Lots of these substitutions add up to nine. For instance, if you substitute IIm with bVIImaj, that's 2+7. Things get a little weirder with four-note chords.
     
  3. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris

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    Here are the four-note substitutions:

    Imaj7 = bVImaj7
    IIm7 = Vm7
    IIIm7 = IVm7
    IVmaj7 = bIIImaj7
    V7 = IVm6 (this one I found almost shocking; I even triple-checked myself for errors)
    VIm7 = Im7
    VIIm7b5 = bVII7 (is this the real reason a backdoor resolution works?)

    We should look at our two main types of parallel chords too: the diminished seventh, and the augmented. As you may know, any note in a parallel chord can be considered the root. I've used the Roman numeral analysis according to the most common uses for these chords, with the diminished as a VII and the augmented as a V:

    VIIdim7 becomes (drum roll please)………… itself! That's right, it becomes another VIIdim7 (which is also a IIdim7, IVdim7, or bVIdim7, if you like).

    V aug becomes bVI aug. Remember, any of the notes in these chords could be considered the root, so the thing to remember is your "negative harmony" augmented chord is simply a half-step above your regular one. Whether this works in real life or not, I have to doubt, but there's the math for you anyway.

    I'm sure some of these substitutions work better than others, but it never hurts to experiment with something, IMHO.
     
  4. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris

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    At some point I better check these again, LOL.
     
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  5. Foal30

    Foal30 Supporting Member

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    I remain ambivalent

    In 10 years time I'll probably say why didn't I pay attention
     
  6. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris

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    What finally convinced me, or at least opened my mind a crack, was the way he demonstrated how the stable notes remain stable, and the active notes remain active.
     
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