#1
So I thought about music like this: Play a chord, play a scale with the same root and with notes that fit the chord. If the root of the chord is changed, try to change the root of the scale. Is this called tonicization?

Now I've seen and heard information about some other strategies in music where the idea is to use the same scale, but change the chords. And, that the notes in chord are all contained in the original scale used. Check out this picture too see what I mean:



This cannot be done with a pentatonic blues, subdominant and dominant major seventh chords? We actually have to temporarily change tonality right, else we cannot extract these chords? So in blues we use modulated chords or something?

In music where we don't change tonality, what would be the strategy? In a piano perspective, could it be "do other things with the left hand, but keep on doing basically the same with the right hand"?

Is "Moby Dick" by Led Zeppelin a typical example of tonicization?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9-42mu1D9Y
It feels like a riff that is just transposed, like if the tonality would change.

When and why do we use tonicization, and when don't we? What genres, with what goals in mind? I'm seriously confused. I know music is chaotic and can't be completely rationalized but I got to try here in order to not get all confused.

All information is welcome, especially articles and videos.
#2
You're overthinking this a little.

Don't think of your tonic moving unless the feeling of resolution changes. When someone like Page repeats a riff like that, and it feels like we're going somewhere, and we come back to the original riff and it feels like we've come back ... that's not changing the tonic.

With the blues, those non-diatonic notes can help create a feeling of movement, but the progressions still tend to feel resolved on the original I. That's still, and always, your tonic, unless you move it.

This is hard (particularly for the kind of people who frequent internet bulletin boards) but it's really important to NOT approach this academically. Music gets really confusing when you try to think about it logically and academically, because it's a language. Think of how hard it is to break English into a single set of rules that make sense - it's crazy difficult. But we all have internalized all sorts of stuff like "big red truck" sounds right and "red big truck" doesn't.

Instead, you have to start by understanding music aurally. You have to hear this stuff. You have to be able to say, "Oh, the sense of home moved, so we're in a new key," or "it didn't, so we're not." And it gets frustrating because I could show you two songs with the same chords where one transposes and another doesn't! Worse, not everyone hears everything the exact same way (cue discussion of "Sweet Home Alabama.")

That intuitive, aural understanding - which is the same way you might understand what I said to you even if you didn't know what a third of the words meant on their own - is the thing you need to do to understand all this. You have to be able to hear it. You can not logic your way through it - the logic comes second to the understanding.

Because when you can hear it, the difference between a chord change and a key change is obvious. On paper, it's often not so much.
#3
I think you could call the Moby Dick riff a tonicization. I mean, you kind of shift all the notes in the riff and play it in "another key" while the key doesn't actually change. Similar stuff happens in lots of Metallica songs (the basic Em-F#m thing, ie, they play the riff first in Em and then they shift all notes a whole step higher). It actually happens a lot in riff based music. For example Welcome to the Jungle by Guns N' Roses. They play the riff in A and then they play the same riff in E. But the key doesn't really change.

I think tonicization becomes more obvious in jazz where many songs are based on II-V-I in different keys (but the key doesn't really change). A good example is "The Shadow of Your Smile". It is full of II-V's in different keys.



If you listen to Def Leppard, you'll get familiar with modulations. They just have to modulate in every transition.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7oFYu3h1xHY

Aces High by Iron Maiden is another song that I have used as an example of modulations.

I copy-pasted my explanation from another thread:

...the intro is in F#m and it modulates to Am. And when the verse starts, there's a modulation to Em and then back to Am. Pre-chorus is again in Em, same with chorus. But there's a modulation to Gm in chorus. After the chorus it modulates to Am (guitar solo) and then to Bm (another guitar solo) and back to Am. Every key change is just a straight jump to the next key. But as you can hear, it still sounds pretty smooth. Though why it may sound so good here is because the chorus progression is Em-C-D and the D chord also functions as the dominant for Gm.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZO6giM9UAv0

But yeah, why do we modulate? Well, it gives a certain kind of sound. It can make the music sound more interesting (if done right). Modulation is used in all genres.

If you just change chords that are all diatonic to the key (ie, are all built with the notes of the key scale), you aren't using modulation or tonicization. Not all chords are new tonics. But it depends. If you stay on one chord for a long time, it may start feeling like the key center. Tonicization is a short key change where the feel of the key doesn't really change yet. Modulation is a longer key change where the tonic actually changes. It may sometimes be hard to draw a line between them.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
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Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
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Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Oct 15, 2014,
#4
My hippy thought: we modulate because the modulation itself is interesting. The key which we are left in is secondary

Also, there are some musical forms which are very strict about key changes
#5
Firstly, thank you guys for very detailed and ambitious answers!

Quote by HotspurJr
You're overthinking this a little.
Instead, you have to start by understanding music aurally. You have to hear this stuff. You have to be able to say, "Oh, the sense of home moved, so we're in a new key," or "it didn't, so we're not."


I do a lot of aural practice. The thing is that I'm learning, and there is a jungle out there of different ways about to do things. I know, by experience if anything, that I need some sort of orientation in this jungle, some sort of basic map and perhaps a few signs. If I just stumble around in the wild I'll get lost and not learn effectively.

Rules are providing this to me. For instance, I know that there are zillions of scales but for what I play only need the pentatonic. But in the pentatonic there are 5 different positions. But, I know that one position maybe enough for a lot of playing. These very simple rationalisations save me a lifetime of improductive practice for what I want to learn. And now I'm looking for similar of rationalisations in order to understand and learn playing over different harmonics.


Quote by MaggaraMarine
If you just change chords that are all diatonic to the key (ie, are all built with the notes of the key scale), you aren't using modulation or tonicization.
So as we cannot build our seventh chord diatonically based on one pentatonic scale when playing a regular 12 bar, what are we doing in a 12 bar blues and what is it called?

Also, I began practising according to this philosophy:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=itLSHk5jnTI

That is more or less tonicization right?
#6
Music theory gives a bunch of observations on the most commonly, widely accepted ways of writing music; how chords were derived from scales; how melody is commonly accompanied by certai chords. This is the "correct", or better still, the "normal" way of writing something. Unfortunately, this is steeped in common practise stemming from centuries ago, where certain chord types were in-vogue, others frowned on, and so on, and hence represents the styles used by the famous classical composers.

But of course, there's other cultures,and other folk who couldn't have / didn't want access to classical music, and they came up with their own common practices, including the blues.

So, we get a culture clash, and if you like,. a theory "clash". One culture says "play this". The other says "you shouldn't play that".

What this means is that, if we use Western music theory as the yardstick, then music can be placed anywhere from "correct" to "totally wrong". But the critical point is that "totally wrong" is only is the context of one culture's viewpoint and ways of writing. Blues falls somewhere off from "correct", but nowhere near "totally wrong".

Of course, one reason for veering off the "true" course is just because we want to experiment, sound different etc.

The hugely important point is this: because something doesn't conform to a certain theory, this absolutely does not mean it should not be played. Often times, either you haven't learned enough about how chords and melody work together (e.g. you're playing the blues, and now you've come across Hungarian gypsy music, so this is foreign), or someone is literally playing tricks (e.g. deliberately playing in the wrong key for effect, and then coming back to the more appropriate (whatever that means) key).

Coming back to the blues ...

Actually, one more side-step. Here is something that holds true sonically. If you play a chord, say E maj triad or an E7, then if you emphasise a pitch that is a semitone above any of the chord pitches, you get a clash (of different stengths), so then the ear wants to hear that clash removed (by then playing the nearest chord pitch). But, if you emphasise a pitch a semitone below any of the chord pitches, this does not seem to create a violent clash, and instead is a pleasing sound. Again, it could be followed by that nearest chord pitch, but doesn't need to be anywhere as strongly. This is something to do with the brain's cognitive perception.

With this in mind, back to the blues :-)

Pragmatically, you can work with it in a couple of ways.

If the blues is "in" E, then the song structure is all set up so that when it starts, and when it ends, if uses the pitch E. The simple chord progression always ends up giving the ear the impression the tune is wandering away from and back to E.

Soloing over this can all be done using E minor pentatonic. If you think of E7, you then get two "clashes" ... a slight one from the pentatonic's b3 (G) vs the E7's 3rd (G#) (hence below the chord pitch), and a stronger one from the pentatonic's 4 (A) versus this same 3rd (hence above the chord pitch). The former creates that "blues effect". If you use the minor blues scale (add a b5 (Bb) to the pentatonic), then this gives another slight clash (against the chord's 5th (B)).

Against the A7, the E min pentatonic aligns like this:

A: 4 of pent.
C#: b7 (D) of pent is a semitone above. clash. Don't over-emphasise.
E: 1 of pent.
G: b3 of pent.

Against B7
B: 5 of pent
D#: clashes against b7 (D) of pentatonic, less so against 1 (E) of pentatonic. Problem.
F#: clashes againt b3 (G).
A: 4 of pent.

Good exercise to just use the E pent, and avoid any clashes a semitone above whatever chord. Artificial, but brings the point home.

2/ Next stage is try minor pentatonic per chord. E pent, A pent, B pent. This causes problems with the A7, mostly due to the memory of the E7 still hanging on.

3/ Next stage is to play E,A and B Mixolydian ... you're now starting to spell out the changes, and recognising that each chord is creating is own key, briefly.

There are further stages, but we're now off into Jazz.

Best bet ... don't over-theorise, but do be aware of that semitone below/above effect against chord tones.

cheers, Jerry
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Oct 16, 2014,
#7
Quote by SirSixString

I do a lot of aural practice. The thing is that I'm learning, and there is a jungle out there of different ways about to do things. I know, by experience if anything, that I need some sort of orientation in this jungle, some sort of basic map and perhaps a few signs. If I just stumble around in the wild I'll get lost and not learn effectively.


Sure. My point is that right now, you may need to learn less.

It sounds to me like you are like an student in an Algebra 101 class who is rushing off to learn calculus in their spare time out of fear of getting lost. But you're not ready for the concepts your studying. I think they're likely to muddy the waters more than clarify them.

Rules are providing this to me. For instance, I know that there are zillions of scales but for what I play only need the pentatonic. But in the pentatonic there are 5 different positions. But, I know that one position maybe enough for a lot of playing. These very simple rationalisations save me a lifetime of improductive practice for what I want to learn. And now I'm looking for similar of rationalisations in order to understand and learn playing over different harmonics.


The two things you're calling "rules" above are not only not even close to rules, or even guidelines, but they're also categorically different from the sort of stuff we're discussing in this thread. We might call them practical shortcuts (whether they're wise and really helping you, on the other hand, is another question).

But there are no simple practical shortcuts like that for modulation. Anything that simple I could give you would be wrong a large chunk of the time.



So as we cannot build our seventh chord diatonically based on one pentatonic scale when playing a regular 12 bar, what are we doing in a 12 bar blues and what is it called?


Diatonic means seven notes. Pentatonic means five notes. "build our seventh chord diatonically based on one pentatonic scale ..." doesn't make sense.

If you want to work on playing chord tones, the first thing you're going to have to do is get away from pentatonics. Start with the major scale and fully diatonic progressions, and stay there until you're really comfortable with them.
#8
Quote by SirSixString


Rules are providing this to me. For instance, I know that there are zillions of scales but for what I play only need the pentatonic. But in the pentatonic there are 5 different positions. But, I know that one position maybe enough for a lot of playing. These very simple rationalisations save me a lifetime of improductive practice for what I want to learn. And now I'm looking for similar of rationalisations in order to understand and learn playing over different harmonics.

I can guarantee that pentatonic is not the only scale that you'll ever need/want to use. It just doesn't work over everything.


So as we cannot build our seventh chord diatonically based on one pentatonic scale when playing a regular 12 bar, what are we doing in a 12 bar blues and what is it called?

That's called using accidentals (ie, "out of key" notes).

Using accidentals is really common. In a major key the most usual non-diatonic chords are bIII, bVII, bVI, iv and v. And also secondary dominants V/IV, V/V and V/vi. They all use notes outside of the key scale (accidentals). But using these chords doesn't mean you are using a tonicization.


Also, I began practising according to this philosophy:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=itLSHk5jnTI

That is more or less tonicization right?

No. This is following the changes and playing chord tones. Tonicization is a short key change. If there are only chords diatonic to one scale, you are most not likely using tonicization or modulation. Tonicization and modulation are basically the same thing - both have to do with key changes. Modulation means an actual key change, tonicization is just "visiting" another key. In other words, modulation lasts longer, tonicization is always temporary.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
#9
jerrykramskov, MaggaraMarine, HotspurJr: Thank you for extremely interesting answers! I'm soaking in a lot, and feeling that I learn a lot.

The other days I joined, or more watched a jazz session. And combined with what you said I came up with a few thoughts, lets se what you think about it:

Rules about music arent strict rules, but more guidelines, ideas or if you will recipes for making music sound in a particular way. There are some universal guidelines, that even can be shown mathematically, that for instance a fifth should harmonize quiet well in most situations. Just like a general guideline in cooking could be that raw egg is nothing you would eat, and it would sure hold valid in many contexts. But then there is this french guy who thinks it's just perfect. And in jazz it's kind of cool to harmonize with a diminshed fifth sometimes as well, but one wouldn't do that in a happy dance ballad most likely.

So I guess my confusion arose from that I was following one sort of recipe and held it for true, and then got lost when I met other people that did totally different things with the ingredients. But they didn't have a true recipe, just another recipe.

As for cooking, perhaps music can only be generalised within certain contexts and traditions, and even then only to a lesser extent.

What about that?
#10
Modes.
Quote by AlanHB
It's the same as all other harmony. Surround yourself with skulls and candles if it helps.