Minor second dissonances

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Minor second dissonances

Post by Mr Showbiz »

Why do some minor second intervals sound more dissonant than others to me?

Also why does this dissonance seem to be affected by the register played; worse in the middle registers? (This would appear to counter the overtone series.)

Is it my imagination?
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Re: Minor second dissonances

Post by sonics »

What's the instrument under discussion? If we take a perfectly intonated instrument tuned in equal temperament, all the intervals should sound the same. Other instruments may be very different indeed. Also, beat frequencies occurring with change depending on the pitches played.

Perhaps tell us more about where you are noticing this effect?
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Re: Minor second dissonances

Post by Martin Walker »

I suspect it all depends on how long this interval is held, and if it then resolves to a more 'natural' sounding cadence.
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Re: Minor second dissonances

Post by adamburgess »

Do you mean only minor 2nds on their own? Like E+F sounds 'different' to A+Bb?
Probably won't be too dissimilar in themselves, but all about context. What's before and after etc…

Paired with another note(s), there's lots of interesting chords to be had.
They can end up as suspensions, or be 'softened', or made more 'dissonant'…
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Re: Minor second dissonances

Post by merlyn »

Dissonance and beat frequencies are pretty much the same thing. Consonant intervals don't beat as much as dissonant intervals. There is beating between the fundamentals, and also between the harmonics. Take the most consonant interval : the octave.

Code: Select all

A3 : 0220 0440 0660 0880 1760 ...
A4 :      0440 0880 1320 1760 ...
There's nothing to beat there. If the two notes were out of tune we would hear beats. The second harmonic of A3 is exactly the same frequency as the fundamental of A4.

Now take a semitone (rounding to the nearest Hz):

Code: Select all

A4 : 0440 0880 1320 1760 2200 ...
Bb4: 0460 0920 1380 1840 2300 ...
There are beat frequencies of 20Hz, 40Hz, 60Hz, 80Hz, 100Hz ... which is what we hear as dissonance.

Semitones do sound different depending on what pitch they are at. All intervals sound different depending on what pitch they are at because pitch is logarithmic and beats are a simple arithmetic difference in frequency.
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Re: Minor second dissonances

Post by Arpangel »

B Minor is the worst, or the best, depending on how you look at it.
I composed a piece in B Minor, and it always sounds a bit weird compared to other keys, and, it has a series of left hand chords in it that comprise mainly seconds, or ninths, which sound very odd. The seconds, or ninths, definitely sound slightly dissonant compared with other keys.
Yes, some keys are different in this respect, maybe this is a side effect of equal temperament, compared with other methods of tuning.
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Re: Minor second dissonances

Post by sonics »

Arpangel wrote: Sun Dec 04, 2022 11:09 am Yes, some keys are different in this respect, maybe this is a side effect of equal temperament, compared with other methods of tuning.

Surely that "side effect" would be all keys sounding the same?!
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Re: Minor second dissonances

Post by shufflebeat »

adamburgess wrote: Sat Dec 03, 2022 9:29 am ...all about context. What's before and after etc…

Also what's around it - it's a thin line between a minor 2nd and a major 7th.
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Re: Minor second dissonances

Post by shufflebeat »

sonics wrote: Sun Dec 04, 2022 6:58 pm
Arpangel wrote: Sun Dec 04, 2022 11:09 am Yes, some keys are different in this respect, maybe this is a side effect of equal temperament, compared with other methods of tuning.

Surely that "side effect" would be all keys sounding the same?!

BBC "Key Matters":

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00tw55v

Conclusion (if memory serves) - probably all the same unless you've been conditioned into a particular way of thinking.
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Re: Minor second dissonances

Post by Martin Walker »

shufflebeat wrote: Sun Dec 04, 2022 9:46 pm BBC "Key Matters":

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00tw55v

Conclusion (if memory serves) - probably all the same unless you've been conditioned into a particular way of thinking.

Ooh, great link - thanks shufflebeat! :thumbup:
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Re: Minor second dissonances

Post by shufflebeat »

I can't remember if I caught every episode but I will try to check it out again.
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Re: Minor second dissonances

Post by merlyn »

Arpangel wrote: Sun Dec 04, 2022 11:09 am B Minor is the worst, or the best, depending on how you look at it.

Depends who you ask. According to Spinal Tap, D minor is the "saddest of all keys".
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Re: Minor second dissonances

Post by Arpangel »

merlyn wrote: Mon Dec 05, 2022 3:05 pm
Arpangel wrote: Sun Dec 04, 2022 11:09 am B Minor is the worst, or the best, depending on how you look at it.

Depends who you ask. According to Spinal Tap, D minor is the "saddest of all keys".

It is, it is.

:frown:
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Re: Minor second dissonances

Post by adamburgess »

Just finished playing for a night of Les Miserables… The Gb major bit on harp was quite sad. The minor stuff is much more 'bitey' than sad in this show.

All about context (and timbre, and arrangement, and… and… and…)
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Re: Minor second dissonances

Post by merlyn »

Arpangel wrote: Mon Dec 05, 2022 6:03 pm
merlyn wrote: Mon Dec 05, 2022 3:05 pm
Arpangel wrote: Sun Dec 04, 2022 11:09 am B Minor is the worst, or the best, depending on how you look at it.

Depends who you ask. According to Spinal Tap, D minor is the "saddest of all keys".

It is, it is.

:frown:

Perhaps worth noting that Spinal Tap are not the most reliable source of information for matters relating to music.
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Re: Minor second dissonances

Post by shufflebeat »

merlyn wrote: Mon Dec 05, 2022 8:25 pm
Arpangel wrote: Mon Dec 05, 2022 6:03 pm
merlyn wrote: Mon Dec 05, 2022 3:05 pm
Arpangel wrote: Sun Dec 04, 2022 11:09 am B Minor is the worst, or the best, depending on how you look at it.

Depends who you ask. According to Spinal Tap, D minor is the "saddest of all keys".

It is, it is.

:frown:

Perhaps worth noting that Spinal Tap are not the most reliable source of information for matters relating to music.

Or maybe electronics.
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Re: Minor second dissonances

Post by Sam Spoons »

But they do go up to 11 :D
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Re: Minor second dissonances

Post by Arpangel »

merlyn wrote: Mon Dec 05, 2022 8:25 pm Perhaps worth noting that Spinal Tap are not the most reliable source of information for matters relating to music.

Are they musicians?
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Re: Minor second dissonances

Post by merlyn »

Arpangel wrote: Tue Dec 06, 2022 9:20 pm Are they musicians?

Spinal Tap think they are musicians. I'll let you decide for yourself. Here is Nigel Tufnel of Spinal Tap with his tastefully titled D minor ditty in the style of Mach. (A cross between Mozart and Bach).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NgViOqGJEvM
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Re: Minor second dissonances

Post by Arpangel »

They are 'entertainers' very good ones, isn't that what we all are, as musicians, ultimately?
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