Quarter-Tone Dissertation

Example 4.1

a) A-chord; b) A-chord respelled; c) and d) rejected candidates for primary sonorities

Example 4.1a below is a literal transcription of Ives's primary sonority; Ives notated the upper notes with sharps, which then become three-quarter-sharps when raised. I prefer the spelling in 4.1b, because I hear this chord as an altered C–E–G–B seventh chord. This chord is symmetrical and sounds stable, and as such, makes a good chord to land on at a cadence. The pairs of perfect fifths give this chord resonance.

Example 4.1c is one of Ives's rejected candidates for the primary sonority; it features resonant perfect fifths but exhibits more tension than Example 4.1a. Example 4.1d is another rejected candidate; this chord is much more dissonant than the previous two.

Throughout the chapter, I refer to this primary sonority as an "A-chord".

The pitches C-natural, G-natural, D-three-quarters sharp, and A-three-quarters sharp. The latter two pitches are shown to be enharmonically equivalent to E-quarter-flat and B-quarter-flat.
The pitches C-natural, G-natural, E-quarter-sharp, and B-quarter-sharp.
The pitches C-natural, E-natural, G-quarter-sharp, and B-quarter-flat.

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