#1
Other than harmonic, that is.

The concept of harmonic tension/release is what I'm having trouble with at the moment, but I'll save those questions for another thread. Here I'm thinking about other forms of musical tension.

Stylistic tension

You're listening to a thrash metal band's new CD. One song starts with a high hat jazz beat, or an ambient wash, or whatever. This creates tension by confounding your expectations. While you're waiting for the metal to start you're under tension.


Rhythmic tension

What I've found is that a guitar riff is backed by a drum beat there will be tension until the drumbeat changes to 1 – kick, 2 - rest, 3 – snare, 4 - rest. Changing the beat to this simple form creates an effect I like.


Melodic tension

Although this springs to mind I think melody would not be capable of tension without consideration of harmony.


A listener may not have realised tension was there until it is resolved.

What other forms does the effect of tension/release take in music? Is this really what music is all about?
Last edited by Jehannum at May 5, 2011,
#4
Quote by Zen Skin
Well, there's music with no tension at all -- that's called "new age".

And there is music with no release at all -- that's avant-garde something or other -- depends on how many people are involved and where it is being played.



UM, what

Avant garde with tension and release. WHAT? Mr Bungle has great usage of tension/release same with Mr Zappa

you can't categorize music dynamics to a genre doesn't necessarily work like that
#5
Tool! (tension with release)
Quote by theogonia777
and then there's free jazz, which isn't even for musicians.

Quote by Born A Fool
As my old guitar teacher once said: Metal really comes from classical music. The only difference is pinch harmonics, double bass, and lyrics about killing goats.
Last edited by Dream Floyd at May 5, 2011,
#8
Quote by Zen Skin
I wasn't being ironic at all.


I can see your point about 'new age'. I recently wrote a piece of music that I called 'ambient' because there were no dramatic changes in volume and tempo (and there was a lot of reverb!). However, if I analysed the piece no doubt I'd find quite a lot of harmonic tension / release in it.
#9
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZZuTIYEe_p8

Dynamic Tension: Bringing the volume down dramatically before a release can make it sound much bigger. Take for example 1:07 in the video I posted.

Rhythmic Tension: In a piece of music with many independent parts, if the parts all come together and lock into the same rhythm, it signals that something big is approaching. In the video up there, this occurs from 2:20 - 2:55, just before the song's climax. This is obviously a different kind of rhythmic tension and release to the one mentioned in the OP.
#10
Quote by Declan87
Rhythmic Tension: In a piece of music with many independent parts, if the parts all come together and lock into the same rhythm, it signals that something big is approaching. In the video up there, this occurs from 2:20 - 2:55, just before the song's climax. This is obviously a different kind of rhythmic tension and release to the one mentioned in the OP.


Excellent! I know a good example of this in Jerry Goldsmith's score to The Swarm (Irwin Allen disaster movie). The cue is called 'Exact Instructions' on the Prometheus soundtrack CD (in the film a scientist is testing out an antivenom serum on himself). The orchestra plays two different lumbering rhythms which suddenly lock into one and the effect is amazing.
#11
Quote by Zen Skin
Well, there's music with no tension at all -- that's called "new age".

And there is music with no release at all -- that's avant-garde something or other -- depends on how many people are involved and where it is being played.



i'm very skeptical of music with no tension. the very concept of being on a chord other than the I (or i) creates tension. it would just have to be X minutes of a tonic chord. i mean, i could see how, with the right textures and the proper voicing/orchestration, it could be done, but still.

if you have any examples, i'd be interested to hear them.

on a side note, i feel like i'm losing touch with music. i can't remember the last time i listened to a piece just for pure enjoyment, rather than some sort of analysis.
Anfangen ist leicht, Beharren eine Kunst.
#12
Quote by AeolianWolf
i'm very skeptical of music with no tension. the very concept of being on a chord other than the I (or i) creates tension. it would just have to be X minutes of a tonic chord. i mean, i could see how, with the right textures and the proper voicing/orchestration, it could be done, but still.

if you have any examples, i'd be interested to hear them.

on a side note, i feel like i'm losing touch with music. i can't remember the last time i listened to a piece just for pure enjoyment, rather than some sort of analysis.


it gets better, that's what a composer who came in to us said anyway! there's a while where you literally can't listen to a piece without analysing it or at least judging it based on whatever criteria, but that passes and you can appreciate music again. that's what he said anyway, i hope he's right...
#13
There isn't really music without tension, because a lack of tension also means a lack of release, which in turn creates tension, so it's not really possible. Some minimalism has very little (noticeable) tension-resolution, but because it is so static it creates an extraordinary amount of tension.

As for the thread, a lot of "non-harmonic" tension falls under the heading of dynamic tension in some way, or the texture of a piece (density, style, interaction of voices etc.). It's very aesthetic, and I don't know if you can really make a useful list as most of it is fairly intuitive (when you discount harmonic tension, that is). Basically the idea in all tension is the idea of dissonance, which just means that you're doing something that wants to go somewhere, like very quiet, which naturally wants to swell or die.
#14
Lyrical. Someone like Bowie creates tension by putting unexpected lyrical turns. It's usually not resolved in these instances.
#15
Quote by Jehannum
I can see your point about 'new age'. I recently wrote a piece of music that I called 'ambient' because there were no dramatic changes in volume and tempo (and there was a lot of reverb!). However, if I analysed the piece no doubt I'd find quite a lot of harmonic tension / release in it.



I'm a fan of ambient. I was deep into Eno's stuff before he produced the seminal Talking Heads album "Remain in Light" -- and I love his approach to producing as well. Also cats like Klaus Schulze, Tangerine Dream, Terry Riley, etc.

I was making a joke ... but there is an underlying truth to the arc of harmonic and rhythmic dissonance in music across history and people's attitudes about just how much tension they care to hear before they get turned off. Albert Ayler and Pharaoh Sanders are not what I expect to hear over the PA at an old age home -- ok, maybe a REALLY HIP old age home.

On the other hand I find the predictability of most pop music and real drivel like Perry Cuomo or Lawrence Welk and some "new age" music (Vangelis, Enya, Yanni, Andreas Vollenweider, Mannheim Steamroller) to be more painful than nails on a chalkboard -- yes, I would rather listen to Yoko Ono's folk songs than Enya!

But there are people who are going to buy Yanni CD's because "it's soooo relaxing" and, if they are honest, his hair never really moves and they are in awe.

Now -- paint me a music snob .. but why would I like Tangerine Dream and loathe Yanni? I have no idea.

My point is that some people do not want to hear anything approaching the kind of tension that Krzysztof Penderecki has with his morning breakfast. Other folks love that kind of aural challenge -- more altered dominant chords moving over a baritone sax playing over a whole tone scale with the reed overblown -- YUM!

And, FWIW 98% of popular metal is about as interesting to me as Yanni. Ooooh -- another shred solo -- how INNOVATIVE! Are those double kick blasts? Never heard that before!!! An odd time signature -- oooooh .. how utterly original!

But some musicians get very restless with the forms that are out there and tried and true -- which is a type of cognitive dissonance, I suppose.
#17
Popular music, even metal, falls in to the same musical pitfalls. There are bands out there that can make that shred solo, double kick blast or odd time signature sound innovative, but fat chance you'll find them to be considered 'popular'.
#18
how about repition? as in, repeating something for a long time--until the audience gets so infuriated they want to hear something else (see minimalist music, pat martino).
and im also not sure i buy the idea of 'stylistic tension'. maybe sometimes, but generally my reaction would be less "damn, when are they gonna get to the thrash" and more "oh cool, way to break up the monotany".
all the best.
(insert self-aggrandizing quote here)
Last edited by tehREALcaptain at May 5, 2011,
#20
Quote by Jehannum
Other than harmonic, that is.

The concept of harmonic tension/release is what I'm having trouble with at the moment, but I'll save those questions for another thread. Here I'm thinking about other forms of musical tension.

Stylistic tension

You're listening to a thrash metal band's new CD. One song starts with a high hat jazz beat, or an ambient wash, or whatever. This creates tension by confounding your expectations. While you're waiting for the metal to start you're under tension.


Rhythmic tension

What I've found is that a guitar riff is backed by a drum beat there will be tension until the drumbeat changes to 1 – kick, 2 - rest, 3 – snare, 4 - rest. Changing the beat to this simple form creates an effect I like.


Melodic tension

Although this springs to mind I think melody would not be capable of tension without consideration of harmony.


A listener may not have realised tension was there until it is resolved.

What other forms does the effect of tension/release take in music? Is this really what music is all about?


If you let your expression drive the music, and you listen, tension & release will be there naturally.
shred is gaudy music
Last edited by GuitarMunky at May 5, 2011,