Do riffs/phrases always have to return to the root?

Discussion in 'Music Theory, Lessons & Techniques' started by MatthewLeisher, Jun 16, 2012.

  1. MatthewLeisher

    MatthewLeisher Ghostmaker

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    Topic title says it all, really.
     
  2. steve1

    steve1 SS.org Regular

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    Nothing ever has to do anything :shrug:
     
  3. ncfiala

    ncfiala Silence you bastard

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    No. Returning to the root seems to create this feeling of resolution to my ears, so it seems like by not returning to the root one could create an unresolved sound to build tension in a song. I listen to a lot of atonal music (like Ron Jarzombek) where there really is no root and there seems to be constant tension as your ears wait for things to resolve (and they often don't), which I like.
     
  4. Fantomas

    Fantomas blah

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    They don't have to within a phrase.

    But it's nice if you eventually resolve (don't know if that is the correct terminology as I've had music theory in another language than English) the note within a reasonable amount of time to connect sections to each other.

    Do what you like, if it sounds good to you , it is good.
     
  5. Hollowway

    Hollowway Extended Ranger

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    Riffs don't have to return to the root anymore than coloring should stay within the lines. Returning to the root is like Rembrandt, not returning is like Picasso (or Miro, etc). I say learn what it does, and how it works, and then use it or abuse it depending on the emotion/feeling you're going for.
     
  6. wrongnote85

    wrongnote85 SS.org Regular

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  7. MatthewLeisher

    MatthewLeisher Ghostmaker

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    Hey, thanks for the quick an informative answers guys. I appreciate it.
     
  8. Thep

    Thep Blast & Sweep

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    You'd think somebody who at least knew what a root note means would know the answer to this...
     
  9. Dayn

    Dayn silly person

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    Nope. I like deceptive cadences. There's absolutely nothing like leaving on the major seventh/viio chord in a phrase. It's sooo satisfying to keep that tension.
     
  10. Mr. Big Noodles

    Mr. Big Noodles Theory God

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    Yeah, it's too bad that he doesn't know. There's a common mistake of terminology going on here: MatthewLeisher means to ask whether a phrase always needs to end on the tonic. The tonic is the highest ranking pitch in a key. The tonic is how you name scales and keys (i.e. E is the tonic of the key of E major, B is the tonic of B dorian, Db is the tonic of the key of Db). A root is how we name a chord (i.e. D is the root of Dm, G is the root of G7/F, A# is the root of A#°/E). Key (tonality - from which the word 'tonic' is derived) is established through harmonic context, which involves chord progressions (root movements). A new root does not mean a new tonic, because multiple chords (which contain roots) are used to enforce a single tonic.

    Now, to give you the short answer: no, a phrase does not need to end on a root note, and no, nor does it need to end on the tonic.

    I will now give you the long answer through the process of elaboration. Phrases frequently end on the tonic because the termination of a phrase (and therefore the phrase in its entirety) is determined by cadence. A cadence is a pattern or symbol that gives a phrase closure. The most common type of cadence involves ending on the tonic chord, and the most conclusive note is the root of the tonic chord, which is the tonic itself. Many melodies will end on another member of the tonic chord, most frequently the third, sometimes the fifth, very rarely the seventh, and still more rarely, extensions. In a contrapuntal texture, you'll typically have two or more melodies that end up on different members of the tonic chord. However, the tonic still has authority in those cases.

    Cadences that end on the tonic chord are called conclusive cadences. By virtue of nomenclature, this must mean that there are inconclusive cadences. Inconclusive cadences are, you guessed it, cadences that do not end on the tonic chord. The most definitive of these is the half cadence, a cadence onto the dominant chord, which creates in the listener a desire for the tonic. The other one is the deceptive cadence, which gives the listener the expectation of the tonic chord but instead progresses to something other than the tonic, most frequently the submediant chord.

    A word on inconclusive cadences: phrases that do not end on a tonic chord are often followed by a conclusive phrase. This is because, as with many formal elements of music, an inconclusive phrase incurs a debt to the listener. Our ear feels that it is only right that the music repay us for that tonic that it didn't give to us. However, this is the twenty-first century, and much of the world is accustomed to getting robbed in some fashion or another, so we give tonality some leeway. As such, it is certainly possible to hear pieces that end inconclusively on whatever damn chord the composer wishes. Alas, that is not the model. Learn the conclusive/inconclusive cadences, and learn that an inconclusive phrase must be answered by a conclusive phrase. This will get you pussy. Then, you can dick around with the unanswered inconclusive cadences if you want to be forever surrounded by sweaty men.

    Of course, we're only speaking of tonal music here.
     
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  11. MatthewLeisher

    MatthewLeisher Ghostmaker

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    Ah, this clears a lot up. Thanks for writing that all out.
     
  12. Hollowway

    Hollowway Extended Ranger

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    Ceran said, "Genius is the ability to reduce the complicated to the simple."

    This is why you're a genius.
     
  13. Mr. Big Noodles

    Mr. Big Noodles Theory God

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  14. 77smk77

    77smk77 New Member

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    Try playing these chords in this sequence.

    G# minor, A Major, C#minor and B Major.

    In the key of E Major, that is a iii, IV, vi, V cord progression. If you play the E major cord after the B major you will hear perfect cadence (V to I) but you dont have to ever play the E Major. You could go to the ii (F#minor) after the B Major and play any of the before mentioned cords after it.

    Although these chords might all sound OK together. I think writing a whole song like this would sound a bit funny, I think its nice to hit home. For example. After you play the first cord progression i mentioned you could play this:

    F#minor, C#minor A Major and E Major. (ii. vi, IV, I)

    That progression will sound really catchy if you play it in half time...

    Anyway. I am sure there are alot of great songs out there that never go to the 1. A lot of dance music avoids the 1 which is why I think dance songs end with fade outs.They cant find a way to resolve the song.

    As far as riffs go. I guess the same theory applies. You could experiment with scales/modes by playing the notes except the tonic.

    I hope this makes sense.

    I also hope I havnt made any mistakes. Id hate to be giving false information
     
  15. ncfiala

    ncfiala Silence you bastard

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    Of course SW is right here (as usual). Root and tonic are not the same thing and my post was really about tonic. Sorry for using the terminology wrong. I hate when people do that and I hate it even more when I do it. I've only been playing for several months and my theory is extremely weak to say the least.

    Personally, I think there is way too much emphasis on key and tonality in music theory. Everything seems to be geared towards making music that is "pleasant" to the ears in a very traditional sense. I don't necessarily want to hear "pleasant". I want to be surprised and maybe even disturbed. That can be pleasant too.
     
  16. Mr. Big Noodles

    Mr. Big Noodles Theory God

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    Happiness and pleasantry, cadence and resolution do not make. Don't think of it like that - it's more like punctuation in a sentence, and I'd rather have people be articulate than rambling on about nothing.
     
  17. bob123

    bob123 Banned

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    Circle of fifths. Not rocket science people :p
     
  18. TankJon666

    TankJon666 SS.org Regular

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    No they don't always but passages that resolve on the root note are more "pleasing" to the listener.

    But its not something you have to stick to. You can end the riff on the relative minor or major and have it still sound "good" or you could end on whatever the hell note you fancy. If it sounds good to you then someone else will most likely listen to it and think the same ..others won't. Thats music :D
     
  19. piggins411

    piggins411 SS.org Regular

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    SS.org version: Wait for SW to weigh in on the matter
     

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