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James B. McDaniel

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From the Top Down
by James B. McDaniel  Claudia Jean McDaniel-Chalk 

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Publisher:  MC Publishing ISBN-10:  fromthetopdown Type: 


Copyright:  Oct 5, 2010

Amazon Publishing

From The Top Down is a new paradigm of melodic harmonization.

From The Top Down introduces a new paradigm called Transtonality which can be used to assist a composer in harmonizing music.  The basis of this theory consists of creating harmony which begins at the melody line rather than following pre-concieved chord progressions.  The discussions developed whithin the text and music examples follow the use of what are called trilogues which are derived from tonal chords.  The results of these viewpoints provide a flexible harmonic circuitry between each of the twelve possible tones. 

Transtonality is not an attempt to continue or depend on the use of serial or combinatorial techniques which have been formulated in the past to avoid the use of triads and scales.  Rather, the goal is to expand the creative possibilities of tonal writing without adding a new set of restrictive rules.  To show the practicality of writing from the top down the text and music of the book provide an example of a composition written in six phases.  This work is then followed by the inclusion of twenty six short piano pieces analyzed and written along transtonal pathways.  Also included at the inside back cover of the book is a compact disc which provides performances of the creative phases and the twenty six compositions. 

Recommended for professional musicians, players of all levels, anyone interested in the subject From The Top Down retails for $37.50+shipping  TX7369769

The last quotation concerning the conclusions of there being only one key comes from Paul Hindemith written in 1937 as taken from the Barnes and Noble Outline Series On Musical Theory. "Hindemith believed that any theory of tonal music should start with the twelve possible pitches of the tempered scale, rather than with seven or some smaller number. These twelve pitches, freely written in harmonic notation are then organized around one tonal Center. The tonal center is emphasized by several factors: duration, accent, the first and last notes, the tone most often returned to, and so on-but principally by the relative strength of the root movement surrounding it."
In the spirit of the above assertions concerning a single tonality, the purpose of this book is to present a type of logic which is similar in intent to the views expressed in the quotations provided above but opens the "tonal playing field" in an entirely new way.
In the past, an important feature of tonality has been to emphasize harmonic constructions which are formed upward from a fundamental bass tone. In other words, the chord root has been the principal reference point from which to establish individual chords, scales, and the resulting possible melodic activity.
In contrast, according to transtonal theory, harmonic origination begins at the top of a chord, commences downward to the bottom note, and is completed by the addition of appropriate inner chord tones.

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