I've been reading of consonant and dissonant intervals within a scale and was wondering if this is a rule that is generally applied in current music? Can this rule help make a melody for example if I was in C natural minor:

C - Eb - F - Bb - C -- the melody would unresolved if it was: C - Eb - F - Bb right? so that Bb HAS to be resolved?

I've got the information that 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th notes are consonants and 2nd and 7th notes are generally dissonant.

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    Yes, it's still relative today though alot of innovations have come about. You're better off concentrating on the consonance/dissonance between melody notes and a chord than on the consonance/dissonance in some sort of scale. – Grey Aug 15 '14 at 16:37
  • It totally depends on the musical style, in fact some music rejects the consonance/dissonance distinction entirely, or at least ignores any rules about it. That being said, in traditional musical styles the 6th and (especially) the 4th are generally dissonant as well. Most important of all is @Grey 's comment that the prevailing harmony of any given moment will generally override any scalar "rules" entirely. For example, if there's a V chord (G), the 7th scale degree will sound consonant. Of course, that's part of why V chords tend to go to I, but that's a different question. – Pat Muchmore Aug 15 '14 at 17:05
  • It's mainly my melodies that don't sound great or I can't really come up with anything 'interesting' I had an idea of practising to build tension and release to create my melodies but I don't know which notes create tension and which notes create resolution? – MJohnson52 Aug 16 '14 at 7:57

Typically when we talk about a note or scale degree being consonant or dissonant we are usually relying on harmonic or intervalic context. The terms “consonant” and “dissonant” usually deal with the relationship of two or more notes, (see wikipedia for consonance and dissonance, which says as of today "In music, a consonance [...] is a harmony, chord, or interval considered stable”.)

Thus, I find your statement

I've got the information that 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th notes are consonants and 2nd and 7th notes are generally dissonant.

to be somewhat misguided. A note can only be dissonant based upon context. For example, in C natural minor, the leap from D -> Ab is a tritone, which is a dissonant interval. In order for a scale degree to be considered dissonant or consonant would require that it be compared to the preceding or subsequent melodic note, or to the underlying harmony.

As far as whether this is still relevant in modern music, it depends on genre. But in most genres the concept of intervalic consonance/dissonance is still very relevant.

Edit: I tried to soften the absolutism of my answer a bit in response to Pat's valid comment that "there are higher-level dissonances such as relation to the overarching key". This is definitely true but I think context is still paramount. For example in a completely silent room if I think inside my mind "I'm going to play a note from the key of C major", then walk up to the piano and play a B, that note is not intrinsically dissonant. Only if I first establish the tonal center can it be heard as a leading tone. I think it is appropriate to steer the OP in the direction of harmonic and melodic context and away from the idea that scale degrees are inherently consonant or dissonant.

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    No, there are higher-level dissonances such as relation to the overarching key. In common-practice music the seventh scale degree (and to a lesser extent, the second, fourth and sixth) is inherently dissonant in this long-term sense, even though it may be rendered temporarily consonant in a short-term sense by accompanying it with a V chord. Indeed, the standard progressive behavior of most harmonies in common-practice music is really just a concatenation of the large-scale dissonances of its constituent pitches, regardless of the consonance of the current harmony or interval. – Pat Muchmore Aug 16 '14 at 17:21
  • Well, yes, "only intervals" can be dissonant, but intervals can be used horizontally in constructing melodies, and thus melodies can be dissonant, too. – Grey Aug 16 '14 at 17:39
  • @pat-that's a pretty academic stance, which lead to a lot of confusion. It would be helpful if we came up with a different set of terms for dissonance in this context. For example if I have a excerpt that is a c natural suspended over a g-major chord, you and I both know the c is dissonant; everyone's ears know it's dissonant. We all want it to resolve down. Right? Does any of this change if the key of the piece is C-major? Is the C natural suddenly consonant? If the piece is in G major does the situation really reverse itself? – user13034 Aug 16 '14 at 17:42
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    Far from being purely academic, I think this exploitation of multiple, sometimes contradictory, levels of consonance and dissonance is one of the greatest beauties of common-practice tonal music. At any rate, I'm only saying that this answer is incorrect to the extent that it denies the consonance and dissonance at the scalar/key level, not for saying that intervallic and local dissonance exists. – Pat Muchmore Aug 16 '14 at 18:45
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    @PatMuchmore I agree that the leading tone could be considered intrinsically dissonant but I would have a hard time applying intrinsic levels of dissonance to other scale degrees. in any event, I still think it is misguided to say 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6 are "consonant" in the absence of harmonic or melodic context (especially in a natural minor key where the 6 often feels like it wants to resolve down a half step to the 5!) I do think context is more important for the OP than intrinsic consonance/dissonance of scale degrees. – Matthew James Briggs Aug 16 '14 at 19:31

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