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prior research: I was given this link by my guitar teacher. When I first raised the issue that this sounded funny I was told it was fine, and "there's no 'wrong' in music." But this still bothers me so I think (now thought) that there must be some musical reason why.


Listening to Study #1 William Leavitt - Melodic Rhythms For Guitar (Berklee 1969) there is something going on in the chord choices in measures 18 through 20 that... bothers me. I can't put my finger on it; it feels like the melody and accompaniment were recorded at different times with different ideas where to go.

(measure 17 starts at about 00:36)

To me it doesn't sound dissonant for dissonance's sake, or interesting, or 'hey, look what they did there'. It sounds like there's a "mistake" in there, i.e. something unintentional that Leavitt might change if given a chance.

I understand this is might be a difficult question to answer, but it is possible that those more familiar with Leavitt's style and/or jazz/theory may be able to pinpoint it, so I thought I would at least try to ask here.

Question: Why do some of the chord choices in measures 18 through 20 of "Study #1 William Leavitt - Melodic Rhythms For Guitar" sound... "wrong"?

Of course music can't be wrong (unless there's a mistake in performance that the performer would have preferred not to make) but in these three measures the melody and harmony seem to have left each other and gone their separate ways.

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  • help with tagging appreciated
    – uhoh
    Jul 4, 2023 at 5:02
  • 1
    I didn’t downvote but maybe it’s related to not researching very much to find a better performance of the piece. Jul 4, 2023 at 6:54
  • @ToddWilcox ya I was given this link by my teacher and raised the issue first with them I'll update the question to reflect that information.
    – uhoh
    Jul 4, 2023 at 7:02
  • Maybe your teacher can't hear the difference between a major and a minor chord… Jul 5, 2023 at 17:34
  • @BrianTHOMAS Here's the situation currently; when I wrote this question I thought this was a recording of William Leavitt themselves, perhaps some educational recorded material that were put on to YouTube by someone else to share with students. I didn't know it was someone else playing, thus never doubted that the music was performed faithfully. At first I thought "there's no wrong music" meant that I shouldn't doubt Leavitt's chord choices, now I understand the teacher was trying to challenge that a chord choice can't be "wrong" (my background is in science and math)...
    – uhoh
    Jul 5, 2023 at 22:02

2 Answers 2

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It's wrong. This is a practice recording someone left on YouTube to get comments, so should not be taken as an examplar of how the piece should sound.

The primary mistake is that in measure 19, the performer plays A7 instead of Am7, so the C natural in the melody clashes badly with the C# in the chord.

Here's another student recording that gets the chords right.

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  • Ah, sounds much better; thank you for sorting this out for me! The link was given to me by my guitar teacher who, after I brought this up, told me "there's no 'wrong' in music". I've just started lessons and haven't touched an instrument in almost 40 years.
    – uhoh
    Jul 4, 2023 at 6:11
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    @uhoh - hope you show this to teacher, to re-establish that while there may be nothing 'wrong' in music, there can be poor and better!
    – Tim
    Jul 4, 2023 at 7:18
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Yes, there's a spot there where the chord doesn't 'fit' the melody in the same way as the chords fit in the rest of the piece. (Is the player actually hitting the named chord? I see Am7, I hear A7.)

OK, that's clearly performer error. A mistake. He got it wrong. And it wasn't the sort of 'wrong' that creates a happy accident. Just a clunker.

"There's no 'wrong' in music" can be a liberating mantra. But we shouldn't push it too far.

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