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19th March 2013
Old 19th March 2013
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Drop 2 chords

I must admit I never really understood this concept. I understand how to make them but when do you find them the most useful, and is there a reason that specific voice is dropped down an octave? Did someone just decide this made the most balanced chord?
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19th March 2013
Old 19th March 2013
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It all depends on the context. The motivation is usually to spread out the voices rather than playing in close harmony. On the piano it gives the left hand something obvious to do rather than banging out root notes. On the guitar it gives a whole new set of voicings that are helpful for voice leading and so on. If you are writing vocal harmonies it can stop you sounding like the Andrews Sisters. Just another tool in the kit: you don't have to use 'em.

(Also, they can be more useful than a drop-3 in an ensemble context where the root note is already held by the bass player, since they're not doubling it)
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#3
19th March 2013
Old 19th March 2013
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PHB -- how do I start sounding like the Andrews Sisters?


Seriously, though, I'm gonna have to look like a dummy here for a sec... this is all new to me (newer than it is to the OP). But from googling, I see that it's not something y'all are just making up.

Most of the examples I see are applied to 7th chords... but it could be applied to triads, too, yeah?
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#4
19th March 2013
Old 19th March 2013
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Originally Posted by theblue1 View Post
Most of the examples I see are applied to 7th chords... but it could be applied to triads, too, yeah?
I don't know. Those would just be the standard inversions, wouldn't they?
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19th March 2013
Old 19th March 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DanKanUS View Post
I don't know. Those would just be the standard inversions, wouldn't they?
If we use "inversions" as described by wikipedia:
1,3,5: root position
3,5,1: 1st inversion
5,1,3: 2nd inversion

3,1,5: "drop 2" transformation applied to a triad in root position
5,3,1: "drop 2" transformation applied to a triad in 1st inversion
1,5,3: "drop 2" transformation applied to a triad in 2nd inversion

The "drop 2" are different chord voicings from inversions. (Personally, I've never seen "drop 2" applied to triads like this. The "drop 2" usually is in context of 4-notes or more type of chord voicings.)
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19th March 2013
Old 19th March 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason West View Post

The "drop 2" are different chord voicings from inversions. (Personally, I've never seen "drop 2" applied to triads like this. The "drop 2" usually is in context of 4-notes or more type of chord voicings.)
Thanks. I've never really thought about it. I wasn't sure if you would use an "implied" 7th (or whatever interval) as the 4th note.

I've been playing around with "On Green Dolphin Street" this week to learn recording and mixing as well as a means to brush up on my arranging and jazz theory. Now I'm thinking of using drop 2's, or some variation, on that EbMaj7 pedal part in the A section. So, thanks OP and everyone. Glad I checked out this thread.
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19th March 2013
Old 19th March 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason West View Post
If we use "inversions" as described by wikipedia:
1,3,5: root position
3,5,1: 1st inversion
5,1,3: 2nd inversion

3,1,5: "drop 2" transformation applied to a triad in root position
5,3,1: "drop 2" transformation applied to a triad in 1st inversion
1,5,3: "drop 2" transformation applied to a triad in 2nd inversion

The "drop 2" are different chord voicings from inversions. (Personally, I've never seen "drop 2" applied to triads like this. The "drop 2" usually is in context of 4-notes or more type of chord voicings.)
Got it. Good answer for me, as your application of the technique to the triads reinforces the concept and the latter confirms what I suspected.


Thanks for your patience with someone who probably should have picked all that up a long, long time ago.
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21st March 2013
Old 21st March 2013
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Drop 2 voicings are used because the layout of the guitar strings necessitates some compromises.

Also, if you're, say, scoring a section of 5 saxes (A, A, T, T, B), then there may be a case where the bari is going up too high for his own good. In this case, you can take that 2nd alto voice, and give it to the bari (all the other voices will move down a slot). That way the baritone is in a reasonable range.

Of course, given that music in 2013 is made by teens on software, none of this is of any relevance.
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#9
21st March 2013
Old 21st March 2013
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Originally Posted by jdsowa View Post

Of course, given that music in 2013 is made by teens on software, none of this is of any relevance.
Thanks for the info.

I'll get off your lawn now.
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21st March 2013
Old 21st March 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DanKanUS View Post
Thanks for the info.

I'll get off your lawn now.


Absolutely, guys, thanks! I'm no teenager, but I'm pretty much a rube beyond the harmony basics.

Thanks.

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#11
21st March 2013
Old 21st March 2013
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Drop 2 is traditionally used on a scalar line over relatively straightforward harmony, so you're thinking basically in terms of harmonising the home scale (whatever it may be at the time). Try experimenting with things like Frere Jacques or There Will Never Be Another You. Anything where the melody moves for a while in clear scale steps.

Point is, it helps to think of Drop 2 as a lateral process, rather than a vertical event. While any isolated chord can be "in" Drop 2, it's more useful to think in terms of "harmonising a line in" Drop 2.

While you can use the concept for any four-note chord voicing anywhere, the core principle is that you can harmonise every tone of the scale with inversions of either a tonic 6th chord (CEGA) or a dominant 7b9 chord (G B D F Ab).

You start with these chords voiced as close as possible. So, eg in C (melody on top):

C D E F G Ab A B
A B C D E F G Ab
G Ab A B C D E F
E F G Ab A B C D

(this is known as "4-way close" - four voices as close as possible)

Note 1: No root in the dominant chords, I hear you cry? Doesn't matter, the bass has got that. Much more important that the b9 is adding a diminished flavour to proceedings.
Note 2: There's your Andrews Sisters formula, btw - well, okay there were only three of em, but it's the gist.

Harmonically, you're hearing C6 G7b9 alternating with each other - oh and there's a half-step added between 5th and 6th to keep the tidy alternating pattern. This also leads you to the concept of the jazz major bebop scale - C D E F G G# A B. Although jazz didn't invent it.
(If you want to do the same in C minor, just alter the base tonic 6th chord from CEGA to CEbGA.)

So far, so ho-hum. But by spreading the voicing (literally dropping the 2nd voice down an octave) you get a richer interaction between tones - a much less obvious, traditional, organ-like "girl tied to railway tracks" sound.

Of course, once you've got the hang of the basic structure you can spend hours altering and messing with internal voice movements.

Other options (more commonly applied to band arranging than chording instruments) are "drop 3" and "drop 2 and 4".

Full big-band arrangements (standard being 5 saxes AATTB, 4 trumpets and 4 bones - one maybe a bass) routinely contain "drop" voicings in combination, both within and across instrumental sections. These ideas all ultimately derive from classical woodwind and brass orchestration, which likewise ultimately derives from the idea of interlocking choirs of SATB.

It's a wonderful subject this - explore and enjoy! You'll find so much detail and beauty in it. And as someone upthread mentioned, you'll never hear a bedroom merchant's hamfisted use of an "awesome 10,000 miffed orcs at midnight" orchestral sample quite the same way again!

Last edited by Impromptu; 22nd March 2013 at 07:00 PM.. Reason: Forgot to mention
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21st March 2013
Old 21st March 2013
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Impromptu View Post
Drop 2 is traditionally used on a scalar line over relatively straightforward harmony, so you're thinking basically in terms of harmonising the home scale (whatever it may be at the time). Try experimenting with things like Frere Jacques or There Will Never Be Another You. Anything where the melody moves for a while in clear scale steps.

Point is, it helps to think of Drop 2 as a lateral process, rather than a vertical event. While any isolated chord can be "in" Drop 2, it's more useful to think in terms of "harmonising a line in" Drop 2.

While you can use the concept for any four-note chord voicing anywhere, the core principle is that you can harmonise every tone of the scale with inversions of either a tonic 6th chord (CEGA) or a dominant 7b9 chord (G B D F Ab).

You start with these chords voiced as close as possible. So, eg in C (melody on top):

C D E F G Ab A B
A B C D E F G Ab
G Ab A B C D E F
E F G Ab A B C D

Note 1: No root in the dominant chords, I hear you cry? Doesn't matter, the bass has got that. Much more important that the b9 is adding a diminished flavour to proceedings.
Note 2: There's your Andrews Sisters formula, btw - well, okay there were only three of em, but it's the gist.

Harmonically, you're hearing C6 G7b9 alternating with each other - oh and there's a half-step added between 5th and 6th to keep the tidy alternating pattern. This also leads you to the concept of the jazz major bebop scale - C D E F G G# A B. Although jazz didn't invent it.
(If you want to do the same in C minor, just alter the base tonic 6th chord from CEGA to CEbGA.)

So far, so ho-hum. But by spreading the voicing (literally dropping the 2nd voice down an octave) you get a richer interaction between tones - a much less obvious, traditional, organ-like "girl tied to railway tracks" sound.

Of course, once you've got the hang of the basic structure you can spend hours altering and messing with internal voice movements.

Other options (more commonly applied to band arranging than chording instruments) are "drop 3" and "drop 2 and 4".

Full big-band arrangements (standard being 5 saxes AATTB, 4 trumpets and 4 bones - one maybe a bass) routinely contain "drop" voicings in combination, both within and across instrumental sections. These ideas all ultimately derive from classical woodwind and brass orchestration, which likewise ultimately derives from the idea of interlocking choirs of SATB.

It's a wonderful subject this - explore and enjoy! You'll find so much detail and beauty in it. And as someone upthread mentioned, you'll never hear a bedroom merchant's hamfisted use of an "awesome 10,000 miffed orcs at midnight" orchestral sample quite the same way again!
Great to have so much info in one relatively compact place. I just saved this thread into a PDF for future reference!

Of course, I've often played many different inversions on both guitar and keys, but I've barely ever thought about what went into them at the time, you know, although I sometimes have gone back and analyzed particularly tasty bits to figure how they got that way. And while there was likely some intuitive grasp of the movement and relationships, I can't say that I ever consciously put much effort into figuring it all out. (That said, in the last few years, I've been using the DADGAD tuning on guitar a lot, and it seems to readily lend itself to enhanced knowledge/understanding of the harmonic relationships one is playing -- particularly since the tuning tends to push one to use a limited number of keys, particularly but not limited to D/Bm and F/Dm, and that can help if you're trying to keep track of the harmonic value of individual notes you're playing. [The latter being a discipline I avoided for decades. ] )
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