i've been writing this piece and there is this section that sounds very nice to me but it goes against most of what I've been taught. here is the passage: passage

(sorry for the poor notation- I was in a rush and not sure whether I should've changed the key signature every measure as they didn't feel totally at rest)

this part of the piece feels really smooth to me and i was wondering if anyone knew why it feels so fluid? i know that every chord is the bVII of the previous chord, giving it each next measure a minor feel (because bVII is borrowed from the parallel minor), but it confuses me as the chords go down the whole tone scale, which is usually very alien feeling (at least to me).

1 Answer 1


It’s a sequence descending by whole step, so it’s easy for the ear to follow. There is a consistent repeating pattern in both melody and harmony — that’s why sequences are effective in general — with the chords being major triads and the melody being the corresponding descending major scale, both very familiar to the ear.

More specifically, this is a technique called planing, often associated with Debussy, in which voices all move in parallel, without strict adherence to traditional voice-leading conventions. More about the technique can be found in Wikipedia's entry for Parallel harmony, which includes several examples.

Here is the passage notated more conventionally, which makes the pattern easier to see.

Renotated sequence

As an aside, the final two chords, DM -> AbM/C, follow the same pattern as the opening chords of Dvořák's New World symphony's second movement, EM -> BbM/D.

Dvořák Symphony No. 9, Op. 95, Mvmt. 2, m. 1

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