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Music Theory for Computer Musicians by Michael Hewitt

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Pentatonic Harmony

The pentatonic scale only contains two complete triads—C major and A minor—so the possibilities for pure pentatonic harmony are quite limited. To make up for this, you can harmonize pentatonic tunes using chords from the seven-note diatonic scale. This can be extremely effective, with the other two notes—F and B—being used as harmony notes to complete chords II (Dm), IV (F—the subdominant), III (Em), and V (G—dominant). See Figure 16.8.

Figure 16.8. Pentatonic harmonies.

The traditional song “Amazing Grace” is a fine example of this type of treatment. Another is the stately horn theme of the slow movement of Dvorak’s New ...

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