1. Didja accidentally blow through the whole, "We're using our real names" thing on registration? No problem, just send me (Mike) a Conversation message and I'll get you sorted, by which I mean hammered-into-obedient-line because I'm SO about having a lot of individuality-destroying, oppressive shit all over my forum.
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Chord Voicing Masterclass question

Discussion in 'Classes & Discussion' started by Sylvain Provenzano, Jul 20, 2019.

  1. Hello @Mike Verta,

    Thank you so much for this class that opens my chakras.

    There's something I'm not sure about how doubling the bass note affects the voicing.

    Are these all closed positions ?

    And if the answer is 'yes', is it an open to close voicing ?

    Thank you.
  2. As far as I understood Mike's definition--and please correct me if I'm wrong--, as long as there is a possible chord tone between the bass note and the rest of the notes, it is considered "open". So in your first example: closed, open, open. Second example: open, open.
    And the octave doubling of the bass note makes no difference whatsoever.
  3. That's where it's ambiguous for me. If doubling the bass note makes no difference, why would my first example be closed, open, open?
  4. #4 Jeff Laity, Jul 21, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2019
    Those are all still closed voicing. Open voicing would be like C, [skip E], G, [skip C], E.

    The location of the bass note doesn't matter. It could be one octave down or three. It's the chord tones that matter.
    George Streicher likes this.
  5. Well, since this is about Mike's class - he has kinda his private definition of "open voicing", which is: as long as the bass is set apart, with a possible chord tone in between, it is considered "open", even if the upper voices are "closed" in a traditional sense.

    In the first chord of your example, I had interpreted the C as the "bass tone", which is of course debatable with regard of the middle C. The others are open according to the definition given above..
  6. I haven't seen that class so I'm not sure about Mike's private definition. But if you asked an orchestrator or pianist for an open voicing, they should do more than drop the bass an octave.

    It's a completely different sound. Tight harmony bunches all of the harmonics together where open leaves holes and has a more airy sound. You hear a lot of closed voicings in Hybrid scores (e.g. Pirates) because they're playing the strings and horns like a synth patch. To me that sounds like a piano voicing for orchestra. Also an ostinato in open voicing sounds different than closed voicing (just an arpeggio.) Just try it.
  7. Mike's definition is different than yours and it's what Sebastian said : "as long as there is a possible chord tone between the bass note and the rest of the notes, it is considered "open". And I would add (according to Mike's definition) : whatever how close are the other notes.

    Nonetheless, Mike also says than doubling the bass doesn't affect the voicing wich could mean that the first definition applies only if the bass note is different than the next note.

    But there's a moment in the class where he plays the third position of my first example (but in F) and he says that it is open.
  8. Mike is WRONG.


    Seriously it’s a completely different sound. Try it.
  9. I'm with Jeff on this. I too have not seen the class, so........o_O

    Wow.....sounds fancy :D

    I am very cautious of commenting on something out of context. As I mentioned I have not seen the class.
    We all know Mike is rock solid with his craft, so I think Sensei will be the only one to clear up the definition.

    That said by the traditional definition all three examples are in closed position.

    The position of a chord is only determined by the top three voices (in chorale music). Ignore the bass voice. If you are able to fit a chord tone between those three voices, it is open position; if not then it is closed.

    I'll leave it here as mixing up things (more than I already have) can create confusion. Believe me..... I have had that many times myself.

    Perhaps it will a Mac/PC thing. Once you are set thinking one way.........

    I simply cannot think of any meaningful way these examples would be "open". Possibly an exception for using exact timbre's......and even then ....... it's distinction without a difference.

    I don't know..... perhaps the lesson is not to be such a cheap fuck and watch the class.

    Really, I just think there is a simple misunderstanding.

    This would completely destroy all meaning to the terms. This can't be correct. No.......

    If the distance between Tenor and Soprano is less than 1octave it is called closed position.
    If the distance between Tenor and Soprano is 1 octave or more than it is called open position.

    If only a three note sonority the octave rule is the measurement.

    We are getting close to me betting my left testicle on this. (Notice I said close )


    Attached Files:

    Mattia Chiappa and Aaron Venture like this.
  10. Mike's exact sentence is : "Anytime there's a chord tone between two notes, that's considered open voice or should be, in my opinion".

    Followed by this example :

    Of course, it's Mike's definition that matter for my question because it's about the masterclass.
  11. You're over thinking it.

    Mike's definition isnt the actual definition, but rather how the chords SOUND to him. It's a much more pragmatic approach to the term. Rather than text book, which makes sense because people hear the music, they don't look at it on paper.

    So dont look at the octave bass on paper and use your ears.

    Octaves(especially in the same family) sound like an effect or thickening of a note. So treat it as if its just one note.

    I would imagine if you used a harsher texture in the lower of the two notes in a different family it would sound open.

    i.e. if you had the chord voiced between 2 oboe, a clarinet, and a bass clarinet - with contrabass doubling the bass clarinet 8vb, it would feel like chord is closed. If you had v1 v1 vla on the triad, celli on the bass note and then a contrabass clarinet an octave below, it would probably sound more open.

    maybe it wouldnt. and that's the point- use your ears not your eyes.
  12. #12 Doug Gibson, Jul 23, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2019
    Please let me apologize if this comes off as really snarky. I should have the discipline to let Mike answer all questions about his class, and

    is totally true. Of course...... I do not. I am a cynical asshole as correctly noted in another thread. I feel a rant, and I can't help it.

    (KYLE: I hope the comments come across as a dialogue, and not meant towards you personally. Just dissecting the idea. And by all means counter)

    I can totally dig that, and I am all for everyone having personal ideas on how it sounds to them.
    It's music.... it's personal...it's an art, and also ..... in music theory the further along you go, the less absolutes there are.
    It' only the undergrads who suffer and have trama.


    Not sure ... I follow. If it's the old "Academic" trope..... I can dig it. Having spent a little over 10 years both as student and faculty at music universities, I take no offense. Usually I think to myself "It's worse than you know !" Also, the least admirable aspect of music theory - having taught 101 counterpoint- is making people feel bad for how they hear. That's a really tough part of the job. Someone might want to pursue a dream singing Mozart, and while another is into modernist avant grade. The need to standardize learning is indeed a more lamentable aspect, but has pro's and cons. It's a big topic.

    That is pretty much the academic definition. I wrote it above.


    Wait....... you just went the opposite way. 8vb - from what they are describing

    would have to be open, not closed.


    What ? Totally lost me here.

    There has to be more context to this. Otherwise pretty much everything is simply open. The term looses any kind of definition.
    Additionally, almost all "Horizontal" considerations get left behind.

    So let me ask: Look at the following. Let's say I hear this as c maj7- to c6.


    You are saying both examples are open ? I left out the G. in ex 1


    Now this the G included. So you would now call this closed ?

    The thing is..... the distance between the two outer parts have not changed.

    Are sus chords then considered open ? If the measurement is a chord tone between two tones...

    Look at this next example: A series of minor chords in 1st inversion. It's very clear that is what they are. All would be "closed".


    So if I put a F as a bass pedal you are suggesting these are now all Open-Voiced ?


    That is not how I hear music at all. I hear them as two seperate ideas being presented simultaneously


    I am sure there must be more context to this idea.

    Attached Files:

    Jeff Laity and Kyle Judkins like this.
  13. According to what is said in the masterclass, in your example the bass is too far from the high part that sounds 'isolated' and you lose the open-voice quality.
  14. well not just that, the pedal would end up being textural in nature anyways. After a few chord changes the pedal becomes an effect - rather than an essential part of the harmonic message.

    And I simply responded that the original posters question about the octave in the bass having 2 missing chord tones if it would be considered open per mike's definition, not the space between the bass note and the upper voices. And Mike's not really anti-academic or anything, he just loosens terms up to fill the function more than the technical definition. His viewpoint on open voicing vs definition isn't bad at all - because it achieves a similar effect anyways, at which point the advice to use your ears was directed at the original poster. Sometimes looking at paper isn't bad or anything... Sometimes I voice something and it sounds stupid for some reason and I take a step back and realize I accidently had the bass follow the soprano voice/ect for 2 notes. All that's good though because the reason I watch mike's classes is because he helps me be less textbook.

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