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Old 10-30-2009, 12:51 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Dissonance Vs. Consonance

In lieu of the continual bitching that there's no decent music threads anymore I purpose to you a friendly debate on dissonant music vs. consonant music.

Here's just a little background info in case you're unaware of what the terms mean.

Dissonance is essentially intervals that create a sensation of tension and instability. Basically it's tones that don't sound right, your ears are expecting something else, but instead are given this slightly off note or chord. The avant-garde genre is pretty much the best example of this sensation, but it reaches far beyond that. Here's an example of a dissonant sounding song:



Consonance on the other hand is best described as intervals in a harmonious relationship that creates a sensation of pleasant repose. In layman's terms, notes and chords that sound good together.



Personally I prefer dissonance for two reasons; for one it's very unpredictable and for two it's harder to create. Anybody can learn the theory and learn what notes and chords sound good together, but it takes a special mind to figure out how to bombard notes and chords into each other, yet still make it audibly pleasing. Now my last reason is purely based on opinion as it does not speak for everyone, I know plenty of people who immensely dislike dissonant songs. I do have an appreciation and respect for people who choose consonance as well; however, as I stated earlier it really does take some skill in finding things that don't fit well together, yet still making them sound beautiful.

So now I pose the question to you, which do you prefer? Why? and please post songs that explain your reasoning.
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Old 10-30-2009, 01:02 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Dissonance by far man. For all of the reasons you stated and but I also must add, I'm a HUGE avant-garde jazz fan and anyone who knows anything about that style of music knows dissonance is a major... nearly exclusive element.

I also enjoy, as you said consonance...

But what I find most appealing is a careful mixture of the two. Dissonance as the preface to consonance always makes the music that much more beautiful. A lot of "noise" genres seem to take this approach, and I've always admired the guitar dissonance in the work of groups like Nirvana, the Pixies, Rapeman, etc.

Here are some videos of dissonant music I enjoy:




Last edited by someonecompletelyrandom; 10-30-2009 at 01:09 PM.
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Old 10-30-2009, 02:04 PM   #3 (permalink)
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i think dissonance and consonance are social constructs, hence preferring one over the other is mostly a reflection of one's social ideology. as such i enjoy songs that seem consonant, but are very dissonant under the surface. that's the most subversive, as far as i can see.
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Old 10-30-2009, 02:05 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Consonance, i've made a few dissonant songs and i don't even like them... and i love myself, so i'm sure as **** not gonna like anyone elses

it just doesn't sound good to me, no matter how artfully created
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Old 10-31-2009, 12:12 PM   #5 (permalink)
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what carblord said.
i generally fall somewhere in between, leaning towards the unique and unanticipated. it depends on mood, although i'd have to admit out-and-out dissonance has not been on my playlist for quite a while. I couldn't take most Sun Ra right now for example... Yoko Ono and Stravinsky yes, but not the parping and farting of a big band improvising in their sleep

there are levels of dissonance, the guitarist at the top of this page is nice dissonance to my ears, it was calculated and not going out of it's way to be confrontational... which one desires sometimes, either to prove you are open minded or to confound the moronic drivel you put up with 24/7 in the everyday world.

But there is plenty of room for innovation within 'consonance' and melody as many a great songwriter has proved, so that just pop me back on the fence with this question really.

another Dissonant - Frank Zappa is one of the most admiredead musicians on this forum and i can't think of a single tune of his that doesn't clash with expectations (except the doo-wop album)...
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Old 10-31-2009, 01:23 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Well, I can listen to both in extreme concentrations, but I mostly fall towards music with underlying dissonance that requires a good ear to actually notice.

Here's a good example of pure dissonance.
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Old 10-31-2009, 01:54 PM   #7 (permalink)
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surely a chord or bunch of notes is either dissonance or it isn't? At what point do two notes become dissonant with eachother? Or does it differ from person to person?
that Derek Bailey guy, he looked as if he had planned out this de-tuned opus for the first few minutes... but if you couldn't see him playing you'd just assume it was a novice messing around blissfully unaware of how awful he sounded... and i'm sure he's making a big point about what we consider music and how great dissonance is, but that just doesn't appeal to me, it's all been done to death and i couldn't sit there with a straight face.
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Old 10-31-2009, 02:01 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Molecules View Post
surely a chord or bunch of notes is either dissonance or it isn't? At what point do two notes become dissonant with eachother? Or does it differ from person to person?
that Derek Bailey guy, he looked as if he had planned out this de-tuned opus for the first few minutes... but if you couldn't see him playing you'd just assume it was a novice messing around blissfully unaware of how awful he sounded... and i'm sure he's making a big point about what we consider music and how great dissonance is, but that just doesn't appeal to me, it's all been done to death and i couldn't sit there with a straight face.
There's really no way to truly tell, to some people what might seem dissonant can seem quite lovely to another person. The definitions I posted just came out of my Music Appreciation book along with the two examples I posted. Generally though if the tones create a feeling of unease and tension it's safe to call them dissonant.
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Old 10-31-2009, 02:06 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Molecules View Post
surely a chord or bunch of notes is either dissonance or it isn't? At what point do two notes become dissonant with eachother? Or does it differ from person to person?
Look up tones and semi-tones, and that should pretty much explain everything.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Molecules View Post
that Derek Bailey guy, he looked as if he had planned out this de-tuned opus for the first few minutes...
Planned? No, that's all improvised.
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Old 10-31-2009, 02:12 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LoathsomePete View Post
There's really no way to truly tell, to some people what might seem dissonant can seem quite lovely to another person. The definitions I posted just came out of my Music Appreciation book along with the two examples I posted. Generally though if the tones create a feeling of unease and tension it's safe to call them dissonant.
From what I know, and which is known by many others, that there are scales. When following a scale of consonant notes and than we hear a note from out of the scale, our ear feels a sort of discomfort. Even in classical music there was "forbidden notes" that even if made on purpose will be considered as false notes. (Always the Avant-guards disobeyed these whole rules, until some felt acceptable)

Now after listening to many dissonant albums, I don't notice the dissonance anymore. I remember feeling some parts in songs as "wrong" but now I forgot what parts I am talking about. But when hearing consonant album I can always predict how the song goes. Sometimes I don't get bothered by it, the melody would be great (that's enough for me) , but in other times it just gets ridiculous.

Sorry couldn't think of any examples... maybe later.
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