Concept

Quartal and quintal harmony

Résumé
In music, quartal harmony is the building of harmonic structures built from the intervals of the perfect fourth, the augmented fourth and the diminished fourth. For instance, a three-note quartal chord on C can be built by stacking perfect fourths, C–F–B. { \override Score.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f \relative c' { \clef treble \time 4/4 1 } } Quintal harmony is harmonic structure preferring the perfect fifth, the augmented fifth and the diminished fifth. For instance, a three-note quintal chord on C can be built by stacking perfect fifths, C–G–D. { \override Score.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f \relative c' { \clef treble \time 4/4 1 } } Use of the terms quartal and quintal arises from a contrast, compositional or perceptual, with traditional tertian harmonic constructions. Listeners familiar with music of the European common practice period perceive tonal music as that which uses major and minor chords and scales, wherein both the major third and minor third constitute the basic structural elements of the harmony. Regarding chords built from perfect fourths alone, composer Vincent Persichetti writes that: Chords by perfect fourth are ambiguous in that, like all chords built by equidistant intervals (diminished seventh chords or augmented triads), any member can function as the root. The indifference of this rootless harmony to tonality places the burden of key verification upon the voice with the most active melodic line. Quintal harmony (the harmonic layering of fifths specifically) is a lesser-used term, and since the fifth is the inversion or complement of the fourth, it is usually considered indistinct from quartal harmony. Because of this relationship, any quartal chord can be rewritten as a quintal chord by changing the order of its pitches. Like tertian chords, a given quartal or quintal chord can be written with different voicings, some of which obscure its quartal structure. For instance, the quartal chord, C–F–B, can be written as { \override Score.
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