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By Mark Ellis

for hundreds of years, the augmented 6th sonority has interested composers and intrigued tune analysts. the following, Dr Mark Ellis provides a chain of musical examples illustrating the 'evolution' of the augmented 6th and the altering contexts within which it may be chanced on. strangely, the sonority emerged from one of many final remnants of modal counterpoint to outlive into the tonal period: the Phrygian Cadence. within the Baroque interval, the 'terrible dissonance' was once almost always linked to damaging textual imagery. Charpentier defined the augmented 6th as 'poignantly expressive'. J. S. Bach thought of an incidence of the chord in a single of his forebear's motets 'remarkably bold'. in the course of Bach's composing lifetime, the augmented 6th developed from a comparatively infrequent chromaticism to a nearly usual point in the tonal spectrum; the chord displays specific chronological and stylistic strata in his tune. Theorists started carefully to just accept the chord, yet its inversional percentages proved really contentious, as commentaries via writers as various as Muffat, Marpurg and Rousseau show. in the course of the eighteenth century, the augmented 6th turned more and more major in instrumental repertoires - it was once maybe Vivaldi who first liberated the chord from its damaging textual institutions. through the later eighteenth century, the chord started to functionality nearly as a 'signpost' to point very important structural obstacles inside sonata shape. The chord didn't, notwithstanding, fullyyt lose its darker undertone: it indicates, for instance, the subject matter of revenge in Mozart's Don Giovanni. Romantic composers exposed far-reaching tonal ambiguities inherent within the augmented 6th. Chopin's Nocturnes frequently look beguilingly uncomplicated, however the floor tranquillity mask the composer's strikingly unique harmonic experiments. Wagner's much-analyzed 'Tristan Chord' resolves (according to a couple theorists) on an augmented 6th. In Tristan und Isolde, the chord's mercurial

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A Chord in Time: The Evolution of the Augmented Sixth from Monteverdi to Mahler by Mark Ellis


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