I'm a guitarist duo-ing with a 'harp' player whose strings all are notes in the key of C.

In other words, the harp player has the notes C D E F G A B available, and no others.

The minor triads available are thus Am Dm Em

We would like to play in (faux) Dm.

That is to say, we want to start and end on Dm, and have Dm feel like home-base.

Since C# is not an available note, he cannot construct an A7 chord to "tonicize" the Dm in the classical way.

So, with Dm the designated home-base, within the limitations noted, what chords and extensions can be used with good aural results to "go away" from and "come back" to Dm so as to produce a satisfying (though admittedly non-standard) feeling of cadence and resolution?

  • A comment, not an answer. All the harp players I play with - probably a good half a dozen or more - come prepared with a battery of at least half a dozen harps in different keys. Their C harp will play in C (obviously!), and as cross harp in G. And - the really good ones will have a chromatic at hand in order to play any darned note you want them to. And those in between!! – Tim Jan 25 '18 at 14:50
  • 1
    OP talks about harp with strings. Is it an actual harp (like the Guinness logo) or harmonica/mouth organ (which is called a harp colloquially)? – Brian THOMAS Jan 26 '18 at 13:30
  • It's a custom string instrument. – sj1 Jan 29 '18 at 22:12

You're in 'D Dorian' then. As is plenty of folk music. Centre the melody on D, begin and end on D minor. Like this:

enter image description here

You might find the bVII (C major) takes on something of a dominant function.

Don't forget you both have the option of playing contrapuntal (or, indeed, unison) melodies, runs in 3rds (or other intervals) etc. etc. There's more to music than 'melody and triads'

  • Nice to see a question bemoaning the lack of a leading note, rather than one trying to understand how a C# can be allowed in their nice, pure D Dorian scale :-) – Laurence Payne Jan 25 '18 at 15:13
  • 'You're in D Dorian (or D natural minor)'. Are you thinking they're the same?! – Tim Jan 25 '18 at 16:15
  • Whoops! Corrected. – Laurence Payne Jan 25 '18 at 16:16
  • 1
    Im always surprised when people find a question to be worthy of an answer but not an up vote. – Todd Wilcox Jan 26 '18 at 6:16
  • 1
    @ToddWilcox - I am, too, sometimes. The criteria for upvoting aren't necessarily the same for providing an answer, though. – Tim Jan 26 '18 at 8:08

He's going to use notes not exactly from D minor, but D Dorian, a minor mode using the diatonic notes from key C. As you say, the leading note, C#, is unavailable, although there's a possibility he could flatten the D in blues fashion.

Even when playing in D minor, there's not always a C# present. Using the natural minor from its relative major of F, there's your C, but that will include Bb rather than Bnat.

As far as chords are concerned - since you'll be in a mode of C major, all the chords diatonic to that are useable: C Dm Em F G Am Bo, and their extensions (7ths etc.).

You can actually get away with him using Cnat against your A/A7/A9 chords,. Think about what happens in blues music - the 3rd is flattened often - so C against C# in an A chord will just sound bluesy.

  • Go on, embrace Dorian, rather than finding ways to make its 'wrong' notes fit the D minor you know and love! – Laurence Payne Jan 25 '18 at 16:14
  • @LaurencePayne - I'm happy with it, although it would seem so many more are happy with Dm. My proof of that would be comparison of the number of tunes written (or popular if you like!) in Dorian and minor (probably just natural?) – Tim Jan 25 '18 at 16:32
  • IN folk music, I wouldn't be surprised if Dorian won the contest! In 'art' music from the Common Practice period, D minor (not so much the natural scale - CP really liked its dominant-tonic cadences with nice bright leading-notes) is king of course. – Laurence Payne Jan 25 '18 at 17:30

The melodic minor would be D,E,F,G,A,B natural, C# and D(Ascending) and D, C,B bémol, A,G,F,E,D (Descending).

Since the 7th note (C) is not augmented, then you have Phrygian mode, by the end of which you have to declare your tonality. That means you have to play C# during the cadence.

Alternatively you can avoid Perfect Authentic Cadence and use Half Cadence in IV instead (I-IV) which not contains the 7th note

  • 2
    No. That's D Melodic minor scale. – Laurence Payne Jan 25 '18 at 16:10
  • The melodic minor in classic harmony could be found with the definition "dorian". It is used to avoid the Triton in the Bass – Vassilis De Jan 25 '18 at 16:20
  • 1
    That does not seem to be a common usage for dorian, but common usage would call that a melodic minor scale. – David Bowling Jan 25 '18 at 16:34
  • 1
    Indeed, as Laurence says, you've annotated the classical melodic minor. The Dorian mode on a common major scale/key will not have anything like that. In fact there is no Dorian that contains your quoted notes. D Dorian is DEFGADC. And whilst D melodic minor is DEFGABC# ascending, and DCBbAGFE descending (classical) that doesn't make it Dorian. Anything but ! And Phrygian doesn't come near! – Tim Jan 25 '18 at 16:42
  • When the 7th note of a minor scale is not augmented, we use Phrygian chord connections. – Vassilis De Jan 25 '18 at 18:17

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.