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What are the harmonic characteristics of Electronica?


InfoSal

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The dictionary describes elctronica as "dance music featuring extensive use of synthesizers, electronic percussion, and samples of recorded music or sound."

 

Putting the synths and rhythm aside, I would like to ask what you think what are are the typical harmonic characteristics of Electronica?

Below are some questions that come to my mind.

 

What sort of chord progressions or changes are common?

Is it harmonicly minimal (very few or slight chord changes)?

Does electronica more often use major scale harmony or minor scale harmony?

 

Then which minor scale is most often used?

Natural minor D E F G A Bb C

Harmonic Minor D E F G A Bb C#

Dorian Minor D E F G A B C

Melodic Minor D E F G A B C#

Pentatonic Minor D F G A C

Blues Scale D F G G# A C

 

What sort of harmonizing of notes or chord colors are popular?

3rds

4ths

5ths

6ths

7ths

9ths (b9 or #9)

11ths (#11)

13ths (b13)

 

Triads (3 note chords built from 3rds)

7th chords

4th Chords

 

How much counterpoint is used in Electronica?

More parallel motion or contrary motion?

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The answer to that question would be "which subgenre?"

 

Something like trance is far different than drum & bass, ambient is nothing like hardcore. There's no real way to generalize electronica as one type of music. It's like saying all piano music is blues.

 

The best thing to do would be to go to Ishkur\'s Guide to Electronic Music , skip the tutorial, and dive right in.

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I had forgotten about that link. Thanks! Not bad for your first post saturn!

 

Now, regarding the original post ... just play what feels right !!!

 

:D:wave:

 

Like they say at the Outback ... No Rules, Just Right!

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I thought I liked electronica. Now I know I like Electronica>Trance>Anthem. Man, talk about breaking down the genre into it's basic parts. That is one great site. Thanks saturniidae_moth!! :thu:

Don

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I think it is wide open. Too much electronica is stuck on simple two chord progressions. Some of the best is done by people that have a good ear for harmony and melody, along with imagination. The musical talents are spread much like pop and rock. A lot of BTO with occasional gems like Steely Dan.

 

Robert

This post edited for speling.

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Originally posted by Rabid:

I think it is wide open. Too much electronica is stuck on simple two chord progressions. Some of the best is done by people that have a good ear for harmony and melody, along with imagination. The musical talents are spread much like pop and rock. A lot of BTO with occasional gems like Steely Dan.

 

Robert

I agree to some extent. However, it's important to note that electronic dance music never started out as being made by people with traditional backgrounds in instrumentation and music theory. Make of that what you will, but I have an observation to consider. Electronic dance music isn't really based around chord or mode progression, but rather around timbral progression; the change in sound acting as the framework for song structure. Instead of a long chord progression, you get filter sweeps and all sorts of effects as transitions. When you really think about it, it's amazing that entire 9 minute long songs have been made with nothing but a 303 pattern and 909 drums, but still manage to be enthralling and entertaining. It's a different kind of musicianship, and one that's just as valid as any kind of classical music theory.

 

On the other hand, when you combine the two... Well, you get some pretty amazing stuff. Check out Shpongle, BT or Amon Tobin to see what I mean.

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I have a problem with certain kinds of electronica too. Being an older guy raised in the seventies, I'm used to music that changes a lot. Even by *those* standards, people tells me that I like *too much* change in music.

So, I can only bear the same looped rhythm or the same two-chord harmonic progression for so long. I often appreciate the sound design, the overall energy, and the feel - but the sheer repetition of too many elements grows old very fast to my ears. I guess it's partly a generational thing. :)

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True, electronic music is generally governed by sonic structures rather than chord progressions. However, artists like Squarepusher, the previously mentioned Amon Tobin, or Robert Miles generate some incredibly complex music. Even in cases where, technically, the harmony stays mostly static, the sonic elements always evolve in an interesting way.

 

And there's also guys like the New Deal who use very simple or static harmonies, but often shift gears within songs to keep things interesting. A New Deal song, for example, usually contains a number of different sections.

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Originally posted by InfoSal:

The dictionary describes elctronica as "dance music featuring extensive use of synthesizers, electronic percussion, and samples of recorded music or sound."

 

Putting the synths and rhythm aside, I would like to ask what you think what are are the typical harmonic characteristics of Electronica?

Below are some questions that come to my mind.

 

What sort of chord progressions or changes are common?

Is it harmonicly minimal (very few or slight chord changes)?

Does electronica more often use major scale harmony or minor scale harmony?

 

Then which minor scale is most often used?

Natural minor D E F G A Bb C

Harmonic Minor D E F G A Bb C#

Dorian Minor D E F G A B C

Melodic Minor D E F G A B C#

Pentatonic Minor D F G A C

Blues Scale D F G G# A C

 

What sort of harmonizing of notes or chord colors are popular?

3rds

4ths

5ths

6ths

7ths

9ths (b9 or #9)

11ths (#11)

13ths (b13)

 

Triads (3 note chords built from 3rds)

7th chords

4th Chords

 

How much counterpoint is used in Electronica?

More parallel motion or contrary motion?

Aren't you a dyed-in-the-wool jazzer? What brings forth the sudden interest in other genres+?

 

Regards,

Eric

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