#1
Okay, this is one that has been in production for about a week now, and I've finally finished it tonight and decided to unveil it to the UG community. I'm partly posting this to get positive feedback, but I'm also a tad bit confused on the dominant seventh issue, so if someone could check that and see if it's right (which I highly doubt it completely is), that'd be great too.
But otherwise, I'm just looking for UG's approval before I garbage up the site with it!
[And yes, I know it looks choppy here, but transferring from notepad to UG can be a real hassle]

Meet My Friend, Mr. Tritone
Not sure how to use it? Find out here!

Tritone, augmented fourth, diminished fifth, half an octave... whatever you want to call it, it has no doubt been a vastly misunderstood concept throughout
most of music. It is most famous for being "diabolus in musica", or "The Devil in music" (loosely), because of its tense and occasionally "evil" feel. In
fact, some churches throughout the 16th and 17th centuries banned the interval from being used in hymns, due to its Devilish quality. Perhaps all this hubbub
was due to the fact that some people just don't know how to properly use the interval? Read on, kiddies, as I indulge you in an example-full explaination of
all the tritone's greatest advantages!
What is the Tritone?
Known as the augmented fourth and diminished fifth, one can determine that the tritone lies 6 semitones (frets) above the root note. Oddly enough, being
exactly half an octave, the tritone is also found 6 semitones below the root note. So, if you're playing an E (let's say 7th fret A string), both
tritones (A#/Bb) lie easily in access, either on the 8th fret of the D string or the 6th fret of the E string. There, that's easy, isn't it? Now that you
know what it is, let's get on to the good stuff!
Scales With the Tritone
Some scales, though they may not try to eccentricate solely on the tritone, at least contain it. Whether to serve a specific melodic purpose or, in some
cases, to just cause pure dissonance, there are a couple essential tritone scales every tritone guitarist should know:
Blues Scale
Almost--ALMOST!--the same as the pentatonic minor in every single way, only with the tritone added. Let's take a look at an example, in G:
|------------------------3-6-|
|--------------------3-6-----|
|--------------3-5-6---------|
|----------3-5---------------|
|----3-4-5-------------------|
|3-6-------------------------|

Notice how without the C#/Db on the A string (4th fret) and G string (6th fret), you would have your basic G pentatonic minor scale.
You see, whereas a lot of Europeans for centuries thought that the tritone sounded "evil", Americans adopted the interval to instead sound more "blue", hence
the name "blues".
Diminished Scale
Perhaps one of the best examples of a scale using tritones, the diminished scale is simply formulated but is still an amazing discovery! To play a diminished scale, starting from your root note, go up one whole step (2 frets), 1 half step (1 fret), whole, half, etc. One thing to note, however, is that a diminished scale has two distinct modes. The most common mode is to start the ascent one half step below your actual root note. If you play a C minor chord, you would then back it up with a B diminished scale, which would look like this:
|----------------------0-1-|
|------------------2-3-----|
|------------1-3-4---------|
|------2-3-5---------------|
|2-4-5---------------------|
|--------------------------|

A second but less-commonly-used mode is to start the ascent a full step below the root note. Sticking with the C minor chord again, you would back that up
instead with a Bb diminished scale, which would look like this:
|------------------------0-|
|------------------1-2-4---|
|------------0-2-3---------|
|------1-2-4---------------|
|1-3-4---------------------|
|--------------------------|

Okay, now that you know a couple crucial scales, you'll be well-equipped when it comes to soloing, now won't you? But for all you rhythm guitarists out here,
I'll slap some chord theory on you now.
The Dominant Seventh Chord
In chord progressions, the dominant seventh chord is one of the most important in resolving a progression back to its root chord. If you want something to
build tension before you hit the root chord again, a dominant seventh chord is probably the most effective way to do such. This is in no small part due to
the fact that a dominant seventh chord will always feature--yeah, you guessed it--the tritone. For a better visualization, here's an example:
You're in the key of C major. Now, let's say for one measure, you play a C chord. The second measure, an A minor. The third, a D minor. Okay, good, good.
Now, the D minor does build up some tension, but not really enough to make the resolution with C major satisfying. So, what do we throw in? A dominant
seventh chord! But wait... which dominant seventh chord do we use?
How to Find the Dominant Seventh Chord
Well, any time you hear the word dominant in music, it's referring to the 5th scale degree; you folks here would recognize this relationship as the trusty
power chord. All you have to do to find the root note of your dominant chord would be to look a fifth above your root note, and you've got it. Since we're
looking for the dominant of C, then we'd go a perfect fifth above C to a G. So now our progression goes |C|Am|Dm|G7|C|Am|Dm|G7|. See how that resolves
nicely? The dominant seventh builds up tension and resolves perfectly... and do you know why? Let's take a look at both the G7 and C chords:
 G7      C
|1-------0-------|
|0-------1-------|
|0-------0-------|
|0-------2-------|
|2-------3-------|
|3---------------|

The tritone forms between the 3rd and the flatted 7th of the G in the G7 chord (the 3rd of a G is a B, the b7th is an F, and the distance between those two notes forms a tritone).
Okay, for the sake of making the resolution easier to hear, just play the top 2 notes of those two chords. What do we hear happening there? Well, the F on
the e string wants to go down to an e, while the open B wants to go up to the 1st fret C. Can you hear it? Isn't it excellent voice leading to make a chord
resolve in that manner? And I'll show you how you can do it yourself:
Building Your Own Dominant Seventh Chord
In order to form a dominant chord, you must use the interval formula for a dominant chord, which is 1 3 5 b7. What does that mean? It means to take the 1, 3, 5, and b7 notes in relation to the root note's major scale.
So let's say you're forming a G7 chord. We start out with the G major scale.
G A B C D E F# G
1 2 3 4 5 6 7  1

Now, we take the 1, 3, 5, and b7 tones of the scale. This turns out to be G (1), B (3), D (5), and F natural (b7).
We now know the notes of the G7 chord, and it is simply a matter of arranging those tones on the guitar to form the chord. One common way is to arrange them as such:
e|-----
B|-----
G|--10-   F (b7)
D|--9--   B (3)
A|--10-   G (1)
E|--10-   D (5)

Of course, there are plenty of other voicings (arrangements) you could potentially use.
Okay, moving on!
Last edited by SethMegadefan at Jul 20, 2006,
#2
Dissonance
Dissonance is defined as anything that is unharmonized and unstable. The tritone is traditionally considered dissonance, though it is not as dissonant as the
second or seventh. So what's basically meant by dissonance is simply this: noisy. Though it can be used in other ways to serve more melodic purposes and
avoid being rendered completely "noisy", in certain situations it's used simply because it's noisy.
Take the metal genre, for example. Metal has for a long time been one of the most heavily tritone-laden--and just generally dissonance-laden--genres around.
Though a lot of metal is just an adaptation of the blues scale, there's no doubt that some bands are trying to sound more dissonant than they are bluesy. I
can think of, offhand, WAY too many examples! Let's take the most basic and one of the most famous examples: the opening riff to Black Sabbath's heavy metal
masterpiece, "Black Sabbath":
|--------------------------------|
|--------------------------------|
|--------------------------------|
|--------5------------trill------|
|----------------4h5p4h5p4h5p4h5-|
|3-------------------------------|

So simple, yet so effective! The C#/Db (4th fret A string) produces one of the most evil effects ever, and is no doubt only heightened by the two G notes
right before it.
Now, that's basic tritone metal. That alone is evil-sounding enough, but that's even in its simplest form! Some bands have gone further into the tritone
territory (some bands even make the use of the tritone part of their signature sound, a la Slayer or even Metallica), and it can really make for a cool
effect. Though not exactly harmonically relevant, it can create an atmosphere of incredible tension that would otherwise be unattainable.
And I think the best example of extreme tritone dissonance would be the blistering chorus riff of Judas Priest's "The Ripper":
[Caution: Dissonance may melt face off]
|------------------------------------------------|
|---------------------------8--7-----------------|
|------------------7--9-----------7--10-9-----8--|
|7--9--10-9-----10-------------------------10----|
|------------------------------------------------|
|------------------------------------------------|

[Side note: Whenever you get the chance, be sure to pick up a copy of Judas Priest's "Sad Wings of Destiny" album. I guarantee you won't be disappointed]
Okay, now that you've got all that down, you should have all the knowledge you'll need to start tritoning with style! I hope this article made you understand
the concept better, and maybe now you'll even have a greater appreciation towards the little misunderstood interval. If used properly, the tritone can become
your best friend.
Until next time, keep on rockin'!

*Special thanks to SilentDeftone for the "Building Your Own Dominant Seventh Chord" section, who wrote it himself due to my lack of ability to explain it clearly enough; much better than how I could've written it!
Last edited by SethMegadefan at Jul 20, 2006,
#3
VERY good. I like it. Very informative.

I have just increased myt tri-tone knowledge vastly.

You could also be a smartass and mention in the intro it about how the Simpsons theme songs is like the most famous tri-tone ever lol.
#4
Quote by sonixon
You could also be a smartass and mention in the intro it about how the Simpsons theme songs is like the most famous tri-tone ever lol.

I was sifting through some Wikipedia stuff on the tritone, and the Simpsons theme was mentioned. So was Dilbert's (though I don't think I remember how that one goes).
Thanks, though! I figured I was on thin ice with the dominant seventh stuff, but hopefully it's solid enough to work. I appreciate the feedback!
#5
Hey man good work.

If I may make a suggestion, study a little more on dissonance and if you are going to discuss the history of the tritone, do a little reading there too. Don't get me wrong, this is not a flame or anything, good work....

About dissonance, instability is a quality of dissonance, but it is purely relative. There is however, nothing "unharmonic" about it. In fact dissonance is THE driving force of the harmonic system that has dominated all of western music for the last 400 years.

Dissonance is simply the relative number of "noncoincidental" vabrations vibrations between two tones. Pure consonance is the unison and octave. working away from there we have the perfect 5th, the perfect 4th, the minor 6, the major 3, the major 6, the minor 3, the tritone, the major 2nd and the minor 2nd. Moving along that scale, each of those intervals is more dissonant than the last.

Dissonance is the means by which harmony is abe to exert it's affect on us. Like I said, other than the octave, all interval are dissonant to some degree, and any dissonance may be resolved by moving to a less dissonant harmony. One way in which the masters were able to really make use of harmonic tension in large scale works was to keep this ebb and flow of less, more, less , more, etc......

The tritone was not the only "forbidden" interval, there was a time when even 3rds and 6ths were forbidden (for about 1100 years ending just before Bach's era). In modal music, harmony as we know it had not yet been concieved, so ANY percieved dissonance was forbidden. When the harmony that we know today was in it's infancy, the rules were somewhat relaxed.

For the record, the tritone was used exensively in music (including hymns) from the 17th century onward. However, it usually was not used melodically, but rather harminically. Bach, a church composer himself, made great use of the interval in cadences and such.

I would take from your examples that you are a "metal guy". This would explain some of the misinformation in the post. Don't get me wrong, I played metal for many years and made a decent living doing so for a while, but most metal or rock guitarists simply lack any real theoretical background. This is not the fault of the guitarist, such knowledge is next to useless in the genre.

You worte a good post here. I am always happy to see other guitarists put this much thought into what we do.Especially for a rock or metal guy, I would say you put more thought inot this than most guitarists I meet in these forums.

I do whole heartedly apologize if sharing these insights has somehow offended. it is not my intention todo so, just sharing the wealth...... If I have in fact stepped on your toes in any way, my apologies, perhaps it would have been better if I had PM'd this to you. A lot of people get angry when I comment on their posts, even when I am trying to be nice about it!!! Just say the word and I will keep further insights to myself.
#6
Wow, thanks for the load of advice! Really, man, I appreciate it! But let me just analyze what you said here:
Quote by spaivxx
About dissonance, instability is a quality of dissonance, but it is purely relative. There is however, nothing "unharmonic" about it. In fact dissonance is THE driving force of the harmonic system that has dominated all of western music for the last 400 years.

Taken straight from wikipeida, man: dissonance, which is considered unstable and unharmonized. I suppose I could chance unharmonic to unharmonized, but aren't they the same thing?
The tritone was not the only "forbidden" interval, there was a time when even 3rds and 6ths were forbidden (for about 1100 years ending just before Bach's era). In modal music, harmony as we know it had not yet been concieved, so ANY percieved dissonance was forbidden.

I know, but purely for the purposes of this article, I only felt the need to mention the tritone being forbidden.
For the record, the tritone was used exensively in music (including hymns) from the 17th century onward. However, it usually was not used melodically, but rather harminically. Bach, a church composer himself, made great use of the interval in cadences and such.

Yes, only proving my point of dominant sevenths and such. Perhaps I should just end the banning period at "Early 17th century"?
I would take from your examples that you are a "metal guy". This would explain some of the misinformation in the post. Don't get me wrong, I played metal for many years and made a decent living doing so for a while, but most metal or rock guitarists simply lack any real theoretical background. This is not the fault of the guitarist, such knowledge is next to useless in the genre.

My guitar teacher is a big classical music geek. As am I. I'm obviously somewhat of a "metal" guy, but I wouldn't really list it as my main genre that I play. I feel that I have a pretty strong knowledge of the building blocks of a lot of Baroque and Classical stuff... but yes, I do like to play metal.
And as far as lacking theoretical background, I had a lot of help from looking up this stuff on theory sites, wikipedia, etc.
And I could disagree about your point that "such knowledge is next to useless in the genre", but I don't feel like arguing.
I do whole heartedly apologize if sharing these insights has somehow offended. it is not my intention todo so, just sharing the wealth...... If I have in fact stepped on your toes in any way, my apologies, perhaps it would have been better if I had PM'd this to you. A lot of people get angry when I comment on their posts, even when I am trying to be nice about it!!! Just say the word and I will keep further insights to myself.

No, no! This is exactly what I wanted! I knew right from that start that it wasn't 100% right, and I posted it here mainly so I could get insight from people like you. Thanks wholeheartedly, because you're the kind of critic I can respect!
#7
Wikipedia, theory sites, that explains a lot. I would not useWikipedia as a source for any academic work. All I can say is, concerning that particular passage of your post, and Wikipedia being a source, they are just plain wrong.

Perhaps you do not lack a strong theory background, it just seemed that you were in unfamiliar waters when I was reading the article. My mistake. I was a composition major in college and i tend to be sometiimes over zealous about the particulars of theory and music history. One of my pet peeves is the sheer volume of misinformation on the subject found on guitar forums and other net sources. I guess i could spend all day evey day rying to help fix the issue, but it would be a futile attempt.

I was not intending to be condescending when I stated that theory is useless in the rock/metel genre. It is not, but even the most musically sophisticated metal I have heard tends to be pretty basic harmonicly. I mean bands like Dream Theater and Oppeth do rise above the rest im this area, but even their music is pretty simple when compared to a string quartet of Beethoven or a Chick Corea tune. Dont get me wrong, i have 2 DT and an Opeth CD in my CD changer right now, but still, at least harmonicly speaking, quite simple stuff. Structurally I gotta give them kudos for actually composing music rather than pouring a few riffs into tired old formulae and calling them songs. DT and Opeth both actually do some prettty nice work. I am sure there are others, but for every "musically sophisticated" metal band we can anme, we can also name 50 that are just tired old cliched simpletions.

As I said, takne in that light, any real understanding of the building blocks of music seems absent from MOST metal. Same with "rock". I mean you got Rush and Yes, two rock bans that I love, and they did some pretty cool things, still nothing extremely evolved, butor the genre they may as well be called geniuses. There are others, but once again, these are the excepion, not the rule.

Anyhow man keep it up... I feel I have already taken up too much space in your thread, apologies again.....
#8
Quote by spaivxx
Wikipedia, theory sites, that explains a lot. I would not useWikipedia as a source for any academic work. All I can say is, concerning that particular passage of your post, and Wikipedia being a source, they are just plain wrong.

Why? Wikipedia has professionals that write and submit articles... I'm pretty sure someone with a rather strong theoretical background submitted the stuff I was reading. Though I do realize that other methods of reference would've been more reliable.
Perhaps you do not lack a strong theory background, it just seemed that you were in unfamiliar waters when I was reading the article. My mistake. I was a composition major in college and i tend to be sometiimes over zealous about the particulars of theory and music history. One of my pet peeves is the sheer volume of misinformation on the subject found on guitar forums and other net sources. I guess i could spend all day evey day rying to help fix the issue, but it would be a futile attempt.

Hey, I don't claim to be an expert on anything. I can completely understand why someone with a composition major would sort of frown upon an article such as this. I guess it's good to know you don't view me as your stereotypical ignorant forum-dweller, but again, I'm not claiming to know all about theory, so it's good you thought this article was as informative as it was.
And as far as rock/metal goes, music theory and composition isn't what a lot of bands of the genre have in mind. I suppose you could almost deem it "party" music, or at least something that's supposed to reflect more technical abilities, not necessarily theoretical.
Nonetheless, I'll still always love rock (and I agree, Rush and YES are brilliant; Rush being one of my all-time favorite groups), and I completely understand your opinions on the matter.
Anyway, with that said, do you think the article's good enough to submit? Have I worked out all the kinks?
#9
Okay, I submitted this, and it got denied. It has to be approved first in here, I guess.
I hate to sound like I'm in a hurry, but I'd really like to know if this is ready to go on or not, so if a mod or someone would like to approve it...? Please?
#10
Sorry to keep bumping this like I am, but could I get an approval or diapproval here? I'd really like to know if this is ready to go or not... I don't mean to sound impatient, it's just that... I'd like to know, you know? I can't submit it unless it gets approved, so...

Sorry if I'm becoming annoying.
#13
^Alright, thanks. I'll quick edit those two things you pointed out... hold on...

EDIT: Okay, how's that? Think it's ready to go?
Last edited by SethMegadefan at Jul 14, 2006,
#14
Again, anybody?
[see my last post right before sonixon's]
I really really hate to keep bumping this.
#18
[Exhales deeply]
Phew! I think (THINK!) I've got it down now. Those scales now both look and sound about right.
Think it's good now, SD, or do you have more bad news for me?
#19
Your Forming a dom7 chord section is kind of confusing, and you still don't point out the relationship between the 3rd and 7th is the tritone in the dom7 chord.

But your scales are right now

-SD
#20
Damn!
Okay, so what specifically do you think I should change? Like, I see how you mean I'm too vague, but do you have any exact suggestions as to what I should write instead? I guess the dominant 7 thing was a bit too out-of-reach for me to tackle, but it's essential to the rest of the article. I hate to put work on you, but do you have any direct input on what word for word I should say instead? I'd be more than happy to give you credit for helping me with the article... I just want to get it up sometime, you know?
A thousand thanks for cooperating with me for as long as you have been, by the way.
#21
Eh... bump?
I guess, SD, I don't quite see what you're talking about. Do you have any solid input on what I should change it to, or what? I'd like to get this article as accurate as possible, but I'd also like to get it up sometime, to please, any help would be greatly appreciated.
#22
Okay, I missed that you actually DID point out where the tritone is.

However, I'd change this:
Building Your Own Dominant Seventh Chord
It may seem difficult at first, but once you know the basic theory behind the dominant seventh chord, building your own off of a specific major key will
eventually be a cinch for you. Looking at the C-G7 relationship as an example, what can we see happening? Well, the most important thing is that the root
note of the seventh is built off of a G, which is dominant (a perfect fifth) over C. Also, the 3rd of the C chord (which is an E; 2nd fret on the D string)
is raised one semitone (to F) for the G7 chord (this is known as "suspending" the chord; often it will be seen as sus4, or just sus). And, as the 3rd gets
suspended, the root note must become diminished to create the tritone. This means that the C (3rd fret A string) must go down to a B (2nd fret A string). We
must finally add the fifth of our new dominant seventh root note. The fifth of a G is a D, so D completes our chord. So our dominant seventh chord consists
of the notes G, B, D and F. These can be translated into many, many variations; the one I posted above is just one of numerous possibilities.

To something like this:

In order to form a dominant chord, you must use the interval formula for a dominant chord, which is 1 3 5 b7. What does that mean? It means to take the 1, 3, 5, and b7 notes in relation to the root note's major scale.

So let's say you're forming a G7 chord. We start out with the G major scale.
G A B C D E F# G
1 2 3 4 5 6 7  1

Now, we take the 1, 3, 5, and b7 tones of the scale. This turns out to be G (1), B (3), D (5), and F natural (b7).
We now know the notes of the G7 chord, and it is simply a matter of arranging those tones on the guitar to form the chord. One common way is to arrange them as such:

e|-----
B|-----
G|--10-   F (b7)
D|--9--   B (3)
A|--10-   G (1)
E|--10-   D (5)

Of course, there are plenty of other voicings (arrangements) you could potentially use.


Something like that.

-SD
#23

Thank you so much, man. I'll use that. And give you full credit in the article for it. Let me just quick change it here...

EDIT: Okay, I'm asking this for what is hopefully the last time: is it ready to go on now?
Last edited by SethMegadefan at Jul 20, 2006,
#24
my head hurts...but good article. Learned a few good things about that augmented fourth note.
#26
Thanks so much for sticking with this and helping me out, man. You've made a good column excellent.