Leading-tone

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   \new PianoStaff <<
      \new Staff <<
         \new Voice \relative c'' {
             \stemUp \clef treble \key c \major \time 4/4
             \override NoteHead.color = #red b1 c 
             }
         \new Voice \relative c'' {
             \stemDown
              g1 g
              }
            >>
     \new Staff <<
         \new Voice \relative c' {
             \stemUp \clef bass \key c \major \time 4/4
             d1 e
             }
         \new Voice \relative c' {
             \stemDown
             g1 c, \bar "||"
             }
         >>
    >>
In this example, the leading tone of C major (B) resolves to the tonic (C) in a perfect authentic cadence.

In music theory, a leading-tone (also subsemitone, and called the leading-note in the UK) is a note or pitch which resolves or "leads" to a note one semitone higher or lower, being a lower and upper leading-tone, respectively. Typically, the leading tone refers to the seventh scale degree of a major scale (scale degree 7), a major seventh above the tonic. In the movable do solfège system, the leading-tone is sung as ti.

A leading-tone triad is a triad built on the seventh scale degree in a major key (viio in Roman numeral analysis), while a leading-tone seventh chord is a seventh chord built on the seventh scale degree (viiø7). Walter Piston considers and notates viio as V0
7
, an incomplete dominant seventh chord.[1] (For the Roman numeral notation of these chords, see Roman numeral analysis.)

Note[edit]

Seventh scale degree (or lower leading tone)[edit]

Typically, when people speak of the leading tone, they mean the seventh scale degree (scale degree 7) of the major scale, which has a strong affinity for and leads melodically to the tonic.[2] It is sung as ti in movable-do solfège. For example, in the C major scale, the leading note is the note B.

  {
\override Score.TimeSignature #'stencil = ##f
\relative c' {
  \clef treble \key c \major \time 7/4 c4 d e f g a \once \override NoteHead.color = #red b c2
} }

As a diatonic function, the leading tone is the seventh scale degree of any diatonic scale when the distance between it and the tonic is a single semitone. In diatonic scales in which there is a whole tone between the seventh scale degree and the tonic, such as the Mixolydian mode, the seventh degree is called the subtonic. However, in modes without a leading tone, such as Dorian and Mixolydian, a raised seventh is often featured during cadences,[3] such as in the harmonic minor scale.

A leading tone outside of the current scale is called a secondary leading-tone, leading to a secondary tonic. It functions to briefly tonicize a scale tone (usually the 5th degree)[4] as part of a secondary dominant chord. In the second measure of Beethoven's Waldstein Sonata (shown below), the F's function as secondary leading-tones, which resolve to G in the next measure.[4]

 {
#(set-global-staff-size 18)
{ \new PianoStaff <<
  \new Staff <<
  \new Voice \relative c {
    \once\override DynamicLineSpanner.staff-padding = #4
    \clef bass \time 4/4
    \tempo "Allegro con brio" 4 = 176
    \override DynamicLineSpanner.staff-padding = #2.5
    r8\pp <c e> <c e> <c e> <c e> <c e> <c e> <c e>
    <c e> <c e> <c e> <c e> <c e> <c e> <d fis> <d fis>
    <d g>4.( b'16 a) g8 r r4
    \clef treble \grace { cis''8( } d4~)( d16 c b a g4-.) r4
  } 
  \new Voice \relative c {
      \override NoteHead.color = #red \hide Stem s1 s2 s4 fis8 fis g4.
  }
>>
  \new Staff { \relative c, {
   \clef bass

   c8 <c g'> <c g'> <c g'> <c g'> <c g'> <c g'> <c g'>
   <c g'> <c g'> <c g'> <c g'> <c g'> <c g'> <c a'> <c a'>
   <b g'> <b g'> <b g'> <b g'> <b g'> <b g'> <b g'> <b g'>
   <b g'> <b g'> <b g'> <b g'> <b g'>[ <b g'> <b g'> <b g'>]
  } }
>> } }

Descending, or upper, leading-tone[edit]


    { 
#(set-global-staff-size 18)
<< \new StaffGroup <<
        \new Staff <<
            \clef treble \time 2/2
            \relative c' {
                \clef treble \time 2/2
                e2 f2~ f4 e d2~ d4 \once \set suggestAccidentals = ##t cis8 b \once \set suggestAccidentals = ##t cis!2 d1\fermata
                }
            >>
        \new Staff <<
            \clef treble \time 2/2
            \new Voice \relative c' {
                r2 a f g a1 a1\fermata
                }
            >>
        \new Staff <<
            \clef bass \time 2/2
            \new Voice \relative c' {
                a1 d, e d\fermata
                }
            >>
        \new Staff <<
            \clef bass \time 2/2
            \new Voice \relative c {
                a1 bes a d\fermata \bar "|."
                }
            >>
    >>
>> }
Cadence featuring a descending leading tone (B flat – A in the bass voice) from a well-known 16th-century lamentation, the debate over which was documented in Rome c.1540.[5]
Upper-leading tone trill
Diatonic trill

By contrast, a descending, or upper, leading-tone[5][6] is a leading tone that resolves down, as opposed to the seventh scale degree (a lower leading-tone) which resolves up. The descending, or upper, leading-tone usually is a lowered second degree (scale degree 2) resolving to the tonic, but the expression may at times refer to a scale degree 6 resolving to the dominant.[citation needed] In German, the term Gegenleitton ("counter leading tone") is used by Hugo Riemann to denote the descending or upper leading-tone (scale degree 2),[7] but Heinrich Schenker uses abwärtssteigenden Leitton ("descending leading tone") to mean the descending diatonic supertonic (scale degree 2).[8][9])

The tritone substitution, chord progression ii-subV-I on C (Dm-Db7-C), results in an upper leading-note.

 { 
\new Staff <<
\new Voice \relative c' {
  \clef treble \key c \major \time 4/4 
  \override NoteHead.color = #red s2 des c1
} 
\new Voice \relative c' {
  \clef treble \key c \major \time 4/4 
  <d f a c>2 <f aes ces> <e g c>1 \bar "||"
}
>> }

Analysis[edit]

According to Ernst Kurth,[10] the major and minor thirds contain "latent" tendencies towards the perfect fourth and whole tone, respectively, and thus establish tonality. However, Carl[11] contests Kurth's position, holding that this drive is in fact created through or with harmonic function, a root progression in another voice by a whole-tone or fifth, or melodically (monophonically) by the context of the scale. For example, the leading tone of alternating C chord and F minor chords is either the note E leading to F (if F is tonic), or A leading to G (if C is tonic).

In works from the 14th- and 15th-century Western tradition, the leading tone is created by the progression from imperfect to perfect consonances, such as a major third to a perfect fifth or minor third to a unison.[citation needed] The same pitch outside of the imperfect consonance is not a leading tone.

Forte claims that the leading tone is only one example of a more general tendency: the strongest progressions, melodic and harmonic, are by half step.[12] He suggests that one play a G major scale and stop on the seventh note (F) to personally experience the feeling of lack caused by the "particularly strong attraction" of the seventh note to the eighth (F→G'), thus its name.

Leading-tone triad[edit]

A leading-tone chord is a triad built on the seventh scale degree in major and the raised seventh-scale-degree in minor. The quality of the leading-tone triad is diminished in both major and minor keys.[13] For example, in both C major and C minor, it is a B diminished triad (though it is usually written in first inversion, as described below).

According to John Bunyan Herbert, (who uses the term "subtonic", which later came to usually refer to a seventh scale degree pitched a whole tone below the tonic note),

The subtonic [leading-tone] chord is founded upon seven (the leading tone) of the major key, and is a diminished chord... The subtonic chord is very much neglected by many composers, and possibly a little overworked by others. Its occasional use gives character and dignity to a composition. On the whole, the chord has a poor reputation. Its history, in brief, seems to be: Much abused and little used.[14]

Function[edit]

The leading-tone triad is used in several functions. It is commonly used as a passing chord between a root position tonic triad and a first inversion tonic triad:[15] that is, "In addition to its basic function of passing between I and I6, VII6 has another important function: it can form a neighboring chord to I or I6."[16] In that instance, the leading-tone triad prolongs tonic through neighbor and passing motion. The example below shows two measures from the fourth movement of Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 3 in C major, Op. 2[17] in which a leading-tone triad functions as a passing chord between I and I6.


   \new PianoStaff <<
      \new Staff <<
         \new Voice \relative c'' {
             \stemUp \clef treble \key f \major \time 6/8
             a4. g f
             }
         \new Voice \relative c' {
             \stemDown
              <c f>4. <bes e> <a c>
              }
            >>
     \new Staff <<
         \new Voice \relative c,, {
             \clef "bass_8" \key f \major \time 6/8
             <f f'>4. <g g'> <a a'>
             }
         >>
    >>

The leading-tone triad may also be regarded as an incomplete dominant seventh chord: "A chord is called 'Incomplete' when its root is omitted. This omission occurs, occasionally, in the chord of the dom.-seventh, and the result is a triad upon the leading-tone."[18]


{
\override Score.TimeSignature
#'stencil = ##f
\override Score.SpacingSpanner.strict-note-spacing = ##t
\set Score.proportionalNotationDuration = #(ly:make-moment 1/4)
\time 4/4 
\relative c'' { 
      <b d f>1^\markup { \column { "Leading-" "tone triad" } }
   <g b d f>^\markup { \column { "Dominant" "seventh chord" } }
   }
}


   \new PianoStaff <<
      \new Staff <<
         \new Voice \relative c'' {
             \stemUp \clef treble \key d \major \time 4/4
             a4 a b cis d d cis\fermata
             }
         \new Voice \relative c' {
             \stemDown
              <d fis>4 <d fis> <d g> <e g> <fis a> <d gis> <e a>
              }
            >>
     \new Staff <<
         \relative c {
             \clef bass \key d \major \time 4/4
             d4 d g e d b a
             }
         >>
    >>
A leading-tone triad (beat 4) and secondary leading-tone triad (beat 6) in the first phrase of the Bach chorale "Gott der Vater, wohn' uns bei" (slightly simplified)[15]

Some sources say the chord is not a chord; some argue it is an incomplete dominant seventh chord, especially when the diminished triad is written in its first inversion (resembling a second inversion dominant seventh without a root):[14]

The subtonic [i.e. leading-tone] chord is a very common chord and a useful one. The triad differs in formation from the preceding six [major and minor diatonic] triads. It is dissonant and active... a diminished triad. The subtonic chord belongs to the dominant family. The factors of the triad are the same tones as the three upper factors of the dominant seventh chord and progress in the same manner. These facts have led many theorists to call this triad a 'dominant seventh chord without root.'... The subtonic chord in both modes has suffered much criticism from theorists although it has been and is being used by masters. It is criticized as being 'overworked', and that much can be accomplished with it with a minimum of technique.[19]

For example, viio6 often substitutes for V4
3
, which it closely resembles, and its use may be required in situations by voice leading: "In a strict four-voice texture, if the bass is doubled by the soprano, the VII6 [viio6] is required as a substitute for the V4
3
".[20]

Voice-leading[edit]

Since the leading-tone triad is a diminished triad, it is usually found in its first inversion:[21][22] According to Carl Edward Gardner, "The first inversion of the triad is considered, by many, preferable to root position. The second inversion of the triad is unusual. Some theorists forbid its use."[23]

In a four-part chorale texture, the third of the leading-tone triad is doubled in order to avoid adding emphasis on the tritone created by the root and the fifth. Unlike a dominant chord where the leading-tone can be frustrated and not resolve to the tonic if it is in an inner voice, the leading-tone in a leading-tone triad must resolve to the tonic. Commonly, the fifth of the triad resolves down since it is phenomenologically similar to the seventh in a dominant seventh chord. All in all, the tritone resolves inward if it is written as a diminished fifth (m. 1 below) and outward if it is written as an augmented fourth (m. 2).

 \new Voice \relative c' {
  \clef treble \key c \major \time 4/4 
  <b f'>2 <c e> \bar "||"
  <f b>2 <e c'> \bar "||"
}

Leading-tone seventh chord[edit]


   \new PianoStaff <<
      \new Staff <<
         \relative c'' {
             \set Score.currentBarNumber = #13
             \bar ""
             \clef treble \key c \minor \time 3/4
             \grace { g16_\markup { \italic "rinf." } c es } <g, g'>4.( <f f'>8) <es~ es'~>4(
             <es es'> <d d'>-.) <c~ c'~>->(
             <c c'> <b b'>-.) <aes~ aes'~>->(
             <aes aes'> <g g'>-.) r
             }
            >>
     \new Staff <<
         \relative c {
             \clef bass \key c \minor 
             \grace { s16 s s } r4 r <es g c>(
             <f aes b>2-> <es g>4 
             <d f>2 <c es>4 
             <b d>) r r
             }
         >>
    >>
Leading-tone seventh chords (with suspensions) functioning as dominant chords in Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 5, mvmt. I.[24]

The leading-tone seventh chords are viiø7 and viio7,[25] the half-diminished and diminished seventh chords on the seventh scale degree (scale degree 7) of the major and harmonic minor. For example, in C major and C minor, the leading-tone seventh chords are B half-diminished (BDFA) and B diminished (B()DFA), respectively.

Leading-tone seventh chords were not characteristic of Renaissance music but are typical of the Baroque and Classical period. They are used more freely in Romantic music but began to be used less in classical music as conventions of tonality broke down. They are integral to ragtime and contemporary popular and jazz music genres.[26]

Composers throughout the common practice period often employed modal mixture when using the leading-tone seventh chord in a major key, allowing for the substitution of the half-diminished seventh chord with the fully diminished seventh chord (by lowering its seventh). This mixture is commonly used when the leading-tone seventh chord is functioning as a secondary leading-tone chord.

The example below shows fully diminished seventh chords in the right hand in the third movement of Mozart's Piano Sonata No. 5 in the key of D major.[27]


   \new PianoStaff <<
      \new Staff <<
         \relative c' {
             \clef treble \key g \major \time 3/8
             \set Score.currentBarNumber = #64
             \bar ""
             <e e'>8 e'16[ dis fis e]
             \once \override DynamicLineSpanner.staff-padding = #3.5 g16([\p e cis bes)] \once \override DynamicLineSpanner.staff-padding = #3.5  a8\f
             g'16([ e cis bes)] \once \override DynamicLineSpanner.staff-padding = #3.5  a8\f
             g'16([ e cis bes)] \once \override DynamicLineSpanner.staff-padding = #3.5  a8\f
             g'16([ e cis bes)] \once \override DynamicLineSpanner.staff-padding = #3.5 a8\f
             r r <d fis a>\f
             }
            >>
     \new Staff <<
         \new Voice \relative c' {
             \clef bass \key g \major \time 3/8
             R4. 
             r8 r \clef treble <cis e g>
             r8 r <cis e g>
             r8 r <cis e g>
             r8 r <cis e g>
             \clef bass \once \override DynamicLineSpanner.staff-padding = #3.5 d,16([^\p fis a d)] fis8
             }
         >>
    >>

Function[edit]

The leading-tone seventh chord has a dominant function and may be used in place of V or V 7.[28] Just as viio is sometimes considered an incomplete dominant seventh chord, a leading-tone seventh chord is often considered a "dominant ninth chord without root".[29][21])


{
\override Score.TimeSignature
#'stencil = ##f
\override Score.SpacingSpanner.strict-note-spacing = ##t
\set Score.proportionalNotationDuration = #(ly:make-moment 1/7)
\time 4/4 
\relative c'' { 
      <b d f aes>1^\markup { \column { "Leading-tone" "seventh chord" } }
   <g b d f aes>^\markup { \column { "Dominant minor" "ninth chord" } }
   }
}

For variety, leading-tone seventh chords are frequently substituted for dominant chords, with which they have three common tones:[24] "The seventh chord founded upon the subtonic [in major]... is occasionally used. It resolves directly to the tonic... This chord may be employed without preparation."[30]

Voice-leading[edit]

In contrast to leading-tone triads, leading-tone seventh chords appear in root position. The example below shows leading-tone seventh chords (in root position) functioning as dominants in a reduction of Mozart's Don Giovanni, K. 527, act 1, scene 13.[31]


{
      <<
        \new Staff <<
            \relative c' {
                \set Score.tempoHideNote = ##t \tempo 4 = 86
                \set Staff.midiInstrument = #"voice oohs"
                \clef treble \key b \minor \time 4/4
                \set Score.currentBarNumber = #116
                \bar ""
                   fis4 r r r8 g' fis b, r g' fis b, r f'
                }
                \addlyrics { troth! Re – mem – ber, when wound – ed, his }
            >>
      \new PianoStaff <<
        \new Staff <<
           \set Staff.midiInstrument = #"piano"
           \clef treble \key b \minor \time 4/4
           \relative c' {
                r16 <d fis> <d fis> <d fis> r <e g> <e g> <e g>
                r <d fis> <d fis> <d fis> r <e g> <e g> <e g>
                r <d fis> <d fis> <d fis> r <e g> <e g> <e g>
                r <d fis> <d fis> <d fis> r <d f> <d f> <d f>
                }
            >>
        \new Staff <<
           \clef bass \key b \minor \time 4/4
           \relative c' {
                b8 r <ais cis> r b r <ais cis> r
                b r <ais cis> r b r <gis b> r
                }
            >>
    >>  >> }

François-Joseph Fétis tunes the leading-tone seventh in major 5:6:7:9.[32]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Sources

  • Aldwell, Edward, Carl Schachter, and Allen Cadwallader (2010). Harmony and Voice-Leading, fourth edition. New York: Schirmer/Cengage Learning. ISBN 978-0-495-18975-6
  • Benjamin, Thomas; Horvit, Michael; and Nelson, Robert (2008). Techniques and Materials of Music. 7th edition. Thomson Schirmer. ISBN 978-0-495-18977-0.
  • Benward, Bruce, and Marilyn Nadine Saker (2003). Music: In Theory and Practice, Vol. I, seventh edition. Boston: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 978-0-07-294262-0.
  • Benward, Bruce, and Marilyn Nadine Saker (2009). Music: In Theory and Practice, Vol. II, Eighth edition. Boston: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 978-0-07-310188-0.
  • Berger, Karol (1987). Musica Ficta: Theories of Accidental Inflections in Vocal Polyphony from Marchetto da Padova to Gioseffo Zarlino. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-32871-3 (cloth); ISBN 0-521-54338-X (pbk).
  • Berry, Wallace (1976/1987). Structural Functions in Music. Dover. ISBN 0-486-25384-8.
  • Coker, Jerry (1991). Elements of the Jazz Language for the Developing Improvisor. Miami, Florida: CCP/Belwin. ISBN 1-57623-875-X.
  • Dahlhaus, Carl (1990). Studies on the Origin of Harmonic Tonality, trans. Robert O. Gjerdingen. Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-09135-8.
  • Fétis, François-Joseph and Arlin, Mary I. (1994). Esquisse de l'histoire de l'harmonie. ISBN 978-0-945193-51-7.
  • Forte, Allen (1979). Tonal Harmony. Third edition. Holt, Rinhart, and Winston. ISBN 0-03-020756-8.
  • Gardner, Carl Edward (1918). Music Composition: A New Method of Harmony. Carl Fischer. [ISBN unspecified].
  • Goetschius, Percy (1917). The Theory and Practice of Tone-Relations: An Elementary Course of Harmony, 21st edition. New York: G. Schirmer.
  • Goldman, Richard Franko (1965). Harmony in Western Music. Barrie & Jenkins/W. W. Norton. ISBN 0-214-66680-8.
  • Herbert, John Bunyan (1897). Herbert's Harmony and Composition. Fillmore Music.
  • Kurth, Ernst (1913). Die Voraussetzungen der theoretischen Harmonik und der tonalen Darstellungssysteme. Bern: Akademische Buchhandlung M. Drechsel. Unaltered reprint edition, with an afterword by Carl DahlhausMunich: E. Katzbichler, 1973. ISBN 3-87397-014-7.
  • Riemann, Hugo. Handbuch der Harmonie und Modulationslehre, Berlin, Max Hesses, 6th edition, 1918
  • Root, George Frederick (1872). The Normal Musical Hand-book. J. Church. [ISBN unspecified].
  • Schenker, Heinrich. Counterpoint I. J. Rothgeb and J. Thym, translators, New York, Schirmer
  • Schenker, Heinrich. Free Composition, Ernst Oster transl., New York, Longman, 1979

Further reading[edit]

  • Kostka, Stefan; Payne, Dorothy (2004). Tonal Harmony (5th ed.). Boston: McGraw-Hill. ISBN 0-07-285260-7. OCLC 51613969.
  • Stainer, John, and William Alexander Barrett (eds.) (1876). A Dictionary of Musical Terms. London: Novello, Ewer and Co. New and revised edition, London: Novello & Co, 1898.