The Architecture of Music

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Analyzing Chords Using the Circle of Fifths (con't)

Though relative to the listener and impossible to define as fact, there are terms we use to describe what we hear as either good or bad. Consonance (or Repose) is used to describe notes that sound good together. Dissonance (or Resonance) is used to describe notes that do not sound good together or do not sound in harmony. Chords are the best way to explore dissonance and repose as it is easy to hear the different sounds of chords and associate them by name.

Their names (maj3, aug4, min2) help to mentally describe what a chord will sound like without actually playing them. However, since there are so many possible chords and scales, it is necessary to find a better way to describe the sounds of the intervals other than through interval diagrams and through the use of names. The circle of fifths thus becomes the best way to visually describe the sounds of chords and scales. Negative chords have been notated on the chart below by the arrows.

Analyzing Chords Using the Circle of Fifths