Dyads – the power of two notes

Dyads are often neglected in the vast majority of today’s music. The oh-so-human mentality of more is better reared its ugly head. Again. The way music education usually handles things in our world doesn’t help it either. Of course it wasn’t always the case. There were times in the history of music, when dyads were kings. But what’s so special about playing those double stops on a fiddle? Those power chords on a guitar? Or hitting just two notes together on a piano? If you have ever heard dyads, you know that they can be very captivating, indeed.

Dyads – the power of two

So what’s so special about dyads? Let’s see. Putting chords, full chords one after the other tend to sound kind of blocky. The thicker the chords are, with more voices, the blockier they are. It’s not a problem if that’s exactly what you want. But what if you want it to sound more fluid? In that case, banging out chords after chords is not the best way to go. Not when you can disguise your harmony as two melody lines. Ones that are moving simultaneously, forming dyads.

Dyads – the power of two

dyadsOf course you could do that voice leading stuff with more than just two lines as well. But dyads will leave more space in your music. And not every space needs to be filled. It’s all about taste. And magic. Why? Because we have only two voices to imply some kind of tonality. And it works! But it works in a peculiar, ambiguous way. A plain power chord (root and fifth) will sound like a major chord. Or a minor one. It all depends on the musical context. But if you play a root and a fourth, it can sound either like a sus4 kind of thing, or an inverted fifth. In that case, the 2nd, higher note will take the role of the root. But with that root, you can also play a 6th, major 7th or a major 2nd (9th). These will bring out a major sound. Play a minor 7th to get the dominant feel.

Dyads – the power of two

There are other interesting effects of dyads. With having less voices, the brain can follow the music with a stronger focus. All that without losing definition of tonality. Also sense of harmonic movement. Dyads give you all kinds of moods that denser chords could do. Only with more flexibility. And less clutter.

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