What is the theory behind this?

rockdoctor42

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I'm writing a shred piece with a very Jason Becker flavor to it. It's in B minor (well, it starts there anyway) and on one of the lines, I resolve to the B by playing D, D#, B. It sounds like a very strong resolution to be but I'm curious as to what a theorist would say about it since it has both the minor and major third in it.
 

celticelk

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I'm writing a shred piece with a very Jason Becker flavor to it. It's in B minor (well, it starts there anyway) and on one of the lines, I resolve to the B by playing D, D#, B. It sounds like a very strong resolution to be but I'm curious as to what a theorist would say about it since it has both the minor and major third in it.
Blues and jazz do that quite often, actually.
 

stevel

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As a classically trained theorist, here's what I would say:

The D# is treated like an Escape Tone, but in a completely non-traditional manner.

Steve
 

JonR

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Yeah but it sounds all bluesy when they do it and this sounds fairly classical to my ear.
The only reason it doesn't sound bluesy (IMO) is that the rest of the piece is not particularly bluesy in nature. (Mind you, it's not particularly classical either ;).)

You're not exactly in B minor, but using a mixture of modal material around a B keynote. As well as D and D#, there's A#s in there, there's Gs too. And a resolution to C at one point?
So the D and D# suggest a (very familiar) bluesy mix of minor and major - especially the D-D#-B phrase - while the A# invokes major (or harmonic minor with the G); while the C is (arguably) phrygian! (Although it could also be harmonised with an F#7b5, or C7...)

While you say you're using largely B minor phrasing, that use of D# suggests to me the key is actually B major, just with the usual B minor riffing used over it. (Although as I say you've gone a little beyond that.)
IOW, using a D natural in key of B major is absolutely normal - we hear it all the time in rock, blues and jazz. But using D# in B minor would be extremely unusual - unless it was resolving to E (eg in an Em chord).

So my ears - at least - make the assumption (on hearing the D-D#-B) that this is a fairly normal blues-rock-metal scenario "in B" (not exclusively "major", but basically so), just with some interesting additional chromaticism.

It would sound bluesier if you were bending that D up to D#. The blue 3rd is really a note somewhere in between the minor and major 3rd, but it's normal on instruments which can't bend notes (eg piano) to play the m3 followed by the M3. So using the two separate notes takes it away from classic blues to some extent.
Alternatively you can regard the D as a "chromatic approach note" (assuming the chord is major by implication) - that can happen before any chord tone (like you use the A# with the B): that's a jazzy effect, which acknowledges blues practice, but is also not unknown (in some form) in classical, as steve points out.
In classical usage, such a move would be harmonised in specific ways (eg dsimon665's examples). In blues (and even in jazz) no harmonic accompaniment to the notes is required - other than the root chord (B major - by implication - in this case).
 

Roccorobb

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I had to listen twice because the context made me think I was hearing C#-D instead of D-D#

As it is, it isn't a very strong resolution (play the riff slowly on a piano and I bet you'll hear it as a weaker resolution), but to the extent that the context tricks the ear into hearing C#-D it would be called an appoggiatura.
 

stevel

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15,085
Clarification on this last point:

An Appoggiatura is when the non-chord tone happens on the strong part of the beat, and resolves (typically by step) into the chord tone. If the chord is Bm, and C# is on the beat (or strong part of the beat) it is an Appoggiatura.

If the non-chord tone is on the afterbeat, but leaps away (as in D-D#-B) then it's an Escape Tone.

Best,
Steve
 






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