The dissonant filter automatically labels the function of non-harmonic notes in contrapuntal textures. All harmonic seconds and sevenths are considered dissonant as well as fourths above the lowest sounding voice.
**kern spine is
expected to be monophonic and have no subspine branching. If there
are chords in the music, only the first note of the chord is used, and
secondary subspines will be ignored.
Below is an example of the dissonant filter in action using an
excerpt from Josquin’s chanson Ce povre mendiant/Pauper sum ego. To
apply the filter to a file, include the line
anywhere in the file. The dissonant function labels for each voice
will be inserted in spines immediately to the right of each
spine. In the following display the labels are shown above the
notes to which they apply.
P means a rising passing tone and
means a lower passing tone. See the complete list of label
abbreviations further below.
Try editing the above Humdrum score to generate various types of
dissonances. Removing the first line (
!!!filter: dissonant) will
turn of the dissonance analysis, and adding
!!!filter: dissonant -u will merge subcategories into a single
main category for the dissonant types.
Another interesting variation is to use the following filter:
!!!filter: dissonant --colorize | extract -i kern
--colorize option will color dissonances based on metric
position: red for semibreve and higher levels, green for the minim level,
and blue for the semi-minim level. The following extract tool removes the
Dissonant function labels
Dissonant notes are marked with single-letter label abbreviations in the notation as well as in the Humdrum score. The first table below gives the detailed default label categories used in the dissonance analysis, while the second table gives more generalized categories that do not distinguish melodic directions.
|P||rising passing tone||p||downward passing tone|
|N||upper neighbor||n||lower neighbor|
|D||double neighbor upper then lower||d||double neighbor lower then upper|
|E||upper échappée||e||lower échappée|
|C||ascending short nota cambiata||c||descending short nota cambiata|
|K||ascending long nota cambiata||k||descending long nota cambiata|
|A||rising anticipation||a||descending anticipation|
|I||reverse ascending nota cambiata||i||reverse descending nota cambiata|
|J||reverse upper échappée||j||reverse lower échappée|
|S||ternary suspension||s||binary suspension|
|G||ternary suspension agent||g||binary suspension agent|
|F||fake susp. approached by step up||f||fake susp. approached by step down|
|x||resolution against suspension dissonance||r||suspension repeated note|
|M||suspension missing agent approached by step up||m||suspension missing agent approached by step down|
|o||purely ornamental suspension||h||chanson idiom|
|Q||dissonant 3rd quarter rising passing tone||q||dissonant 3rd quarter falling passing tone|
|B||dissonant 3rd quarter upper neighbor||b||dissonant 3rd quarter lower neighbor|
|T||appoggiatura approached from below||t||appoggiatura approached from above|
|V||ascending accented passing tone||v||descending accented passing tone|
|W||accented upper neighbor||w||accented lower neighbor|
|Y||only dissonant against known dissonance asc.||y||only dissonant against known dissonance desc.|
|Z||unclassified dissonance, 2nd or 7th interval||z||unclassified dissonance, 4th interval|
-u option (meaning undifferentiated) collapses up/down
subcategorizations into a single label designated by an uppercase
|P||passing tone||F||fake suspension|
|N||neighbor tone||D||double neighbor|
|E||échappée||R||suspension repeated note|
|C||short nota cambiata||M||supension missing agent|
|K||long nota cambiata||Q||dissonant third quarter passing tone|
|A||anticipation||B||dissonant 3rd quarter neighbor|
|T||appoggiatura||V||accented passing tone|
|I||incomplete anterior neighbor||W||accented neighbor tone|
|J||incomplete posterior neighbor||H||chanson idiom|
|S||binary or ternary suspension||X||resolution against suspension dissonance|
|G||binary or ternary suspension agent||Y||only dissonant against known dissonance|
|O||purely ornamental suspension||Z||unclassified dissonance|
Examples of each dissonant type are given below. Note that the musical examples are generated dynamically using verovio within the page, and the dissonant tool labels notes as the webpage is loaded.
Passing notes (P, p)
A passing tone is approached by step and left by step in the
same direction. The preceding note must be metrically stronger than
the dissonant note, and the note the passing tone is dissonant
against must begin before the passing tone and must sustain at least
through the end of the passing tone. These are labeled with uppercase
P and lowercase
p for ascending and descending passing tones
Neighbor notes (N, n)
Neighbor tones have similar requirements as passing tones, except
instead of being approached and left by step in the same direction,
neighbor tones are approached and left by step in opposite directions.
n are used to label upper and lower neighbors respectively.
Double neighbors (D, d)
In a double neighbor figure, a primary note is ornamented by both an upper and lower neighbor before returning to the primary note. Both dissonant notes are given the same label based on which type of dissonant neighbor comes first,
D if the figure begins with an upper neighbor, and
d if it begins with a lower neighbor. While the first dissonance must be relatively weak metrically compared to the primary note, the second of the two double neighbors can be accented, such as in this excerpt from the chanson attributed to Josquin Mala se nea.
Échappée notes (E, e)
An échappée (also called an escape tone) is approached by step and left by leap in the opposite direction. The dissonant note must be metrically weaker than the note that precedes it and a note in another voice must start before the Échappée and sustain at least until the end of the Échappée.
Cambiatas notes (C, c, K, k)
A nota cambiata is approaced by step and left by a leap of a third
in the same direction. It must be metrically weaker than the note
that preceded it. If after leaping a third, the melody moves a step
in the opposite direction (thus filling in the note that was skipped
over) the dissonance gets a
k label for the long-form
cambiata. If this change of direction does not occur then a
c label is used.
As with most other dissonance labels (with the exception of suspension and agent labels), a lowercase letter means it was approached by step down, as in the example above, and an uppercase letter means the dissonance was approached by step up, as in the example below.
Anticipations (A, a)
As demonstrated in the example below, anticipations that are
approached by a step up are labeled with
A; otherwise, they are
a when approached by a step down, and then repeated
in place. An anticipation is metrically weaker than the notes before
and after it.
Reverse nota cambiatas (I, i)
A “reverse” nota cambiata is a weak dissonance approached by leap and resolved down by step in the same direction. It is labeled with an
I or an
i for its ascending and descending versions respectively. These are relatively rare in the Renaissance. This example from the Gloria Ockeghem’s Missa Fors seulement includes an incomplete anterior lower neighbor, labeled with an
Reverse échappées (J, j)
The “reverse” échappée is a weak dissonance that is approached by leap and then resolved by step in the opposite direction. It is labeled
J when that initial leap is up, and
j when it is down, similar to neighbor tones. This often occurs as an ornament of a suspension. While only dissonant suspensions are labeled, consonant suspensions also receive this same type of ornamentation. The example below taken from the Sanctus of the Missa Sub tuum presidium contains two parallel reverse échappées, one decorating a consonant suspension in the Altus, and the other ornamenting a consonant suspension (unlabeled) in the Superius.
Suspensions (S, s, G, g)
A suspension consists of a voice that becomes dissonant either by
sustaining or restriking a note before resolving the dissonance
down by step. This sustained voice was referred to as the patient
by Artusi, and it gets an
s label at the moment of the
dissonance. Another voice strikes a note that is dissonant against
the suspended note, and this voice gets a
g label for
agent. It is common to have more than one agent per suspension
such as in m. 37 in the example below.
This example, taken from Obrecht’s motet Mille
both a binary and a ternary suspension. The first suspension
(in m. 34) is binary, because the dissonance phase of the suspension
lasts a unit of time (in this case a minim, or half note) that groups in twos in
the given mensuration. The second suspension above (in m. 37), its
dissonant phase lasts a semibreve, or whole note, (when ornamentation is disregarded)
so this suspension is ternary and receives uppercase
labels. If you prefer not to distinguish between binary and ternary
suspensions, use the
-u option and all
suspensions and agents will be labeled with uppercase letters.
Consonant suspensions are ignored by the dissonant tool.
Rearticulated suspension (r)
The most common type of suspension ornamentation in the Renaissance is to leap down a third from the suspened dissonance before resolving both dissonances with a step up. This type of ornament falls under the larger category of reverse échappées (see above). Another type of ornamentation consists of a simple rearticulation
of the suspended note before it resolves down by step. The reartuclated
note is generally a semi-minim (quarter note) and is labeled in the
analyses with an
r. While this figuration (shown below) does occur
in tonal music, there are almost no occurrences of this in the
entire JRP database of scores. This
demonstrates how dissonance analysis can be used to inform the study
of style change over time.
Fake Suspensions (F, f)
Sometimes the preparation of a suspension is itself dissonant like
in the example below from the Kyrie in Mouton’s
Missa Da pacem.
This is often referred to as a fake suspension though would
more accurately be called a fake preparation to an otherwise normal suspension. It is usually approached by
step up or down and remains in place or is restruck to become the
dissonant portion of a suspension. Since we know the suspension
will resolve down by step, we use an uppercase
f to convey whether the dissonance was approached by
leap or by step respectfully. Because this happens over a pedal,
and an agent is also needed for the suspension, this is generally
only found in three or more voices, though could happen in two voices
if the pedal tone were rearticulated at the moment it serves as the
agent of the suspension.
Occasionally a fake suspension is preceded by an anticipation and these are detected as well, such as in the example below taken from the same Mouton Kyrie.
Occasionally a fake suspension is preceded by an anticipation as in the example above taken from the same Mouton Kyrie. In this case the fake suspension label takes the same case as that of the anticipation.
Suspensions with missing agents (M, m)
In some cases a suspension seems to be missing an attacked agent.
This figure consists of a voice moving up or down by step, then
sustaining over the following beat, and then resolving down by step
all over a pedal tone. This dissonance is labeled
on whether the dissonant note is approached by leap or by step
respectively. The example below is taken from Obrecht’s motet Factor
Chanson idiom (h)
A chanson idiom functions as an ornamented anticipation to the agent
of a suspension and is labeled with an
h. It usually occurs in
the placement of a weak minim, (half-note) and consists of a quarter
note that is dissonant against the preparation to the suspension
and is approached by step down. This dissonance is also left by
step down to another quarter note that is then followed by the agent
of the suspension a step up (on the same pitch as the chanson idiom).
The example below is taken from the contra and tenor parts of the
chanson Cela sans plus
attributed to Josquin des Prez:
Dissonant 3rd quarter passing tone (Q, q)
A dissonant third quarter passing tone, a regular passing tone. It
corresponds to a dissonance in the metric position of a weak minim
that lasts only a quarter note. It is approached and left by step
in the same direction and must be preceded by a note with a duration
of at least a minim (half-note). If it descends, it gets the
label as in the following example.
A dissonant third quarter passing tone, labeled
q in the example
below, is similar to a descending passing tone. It corresponds to
a dissonance in the metric position of a weak minim that lasts only
a quarter note. It is approached and left by a step down and must
be preceded by a note with a duration of at least a minim (half
note). There is no ascending form for this dissonance type.
Though it is less common, when the same figure happens in its
ascending form, it gets labeled with a
Q as in the following
example taken from the Superius and the Altus of the Credo in
Josquin’s Missa De beata
Dissonant third quarter neighbor (B, b)
This dissonance is the neighbor-tone version of the dissonant third quarter passing tone. The example below is taken from the altus and bassus parts from the Credo of Josquin’s Missa La belle se siet (NJE 13.3).
The dissonance type consists of a neighbor tone in the metric
position of a weak minim (half-note) that lasts only a quarter note
in duration. Although we detect both upper- and lower-neighbor
varieties of this dissonance type, like regular neighbor tones, the
dissonant third quarter lower neighbor is by far more common than
the upper-neighbor version. The upper- and lower-neighbor versions
of this dissonance type are labeled with a
B and a
Appoggiaturas (T, t)
An appoggiatura is a dissonance that is relatively accented with respect to the notes before and after it. It is approached by leap and resolved down by step. It is labeled with a
T when the leap is up and
t when the leap is down. This label is only assigned if the requirements are met and the note would otherwise be unexplainable. This excerpt from the Sanctus of Josquin’s Missa Hercules dux Ferrarie features an appoggiatura approached from below.
Accented passing tones (V, v)
Accented passing tones are metrically strong with respect to the notes before and after them, and last no longer than the following note. They are approached and left by step in the same direction and labeled
V when those steps are up, and
v when those steps are down. They will get detected even if they are decorated with an anticipation immediately before. This dissonance definition could correspond to dissonant third quarter passing tones, and also the chanson idiom dissonance type. An accented passing tone will only get labeled as such if it does not meet the stricter requirements for any other dissonance type. In the Sanctus of Missa Cum iocunditate attributed to Josquin, accented passing tones are found in certain contrapuntal dispositions where a primary motive is set against itself in multiple voices, such as in the excerpt below.
Accented neighbor tones (W, w)
Accented neighbor tones are metrically strong with respect to the notes before and after them, and last no longer than the following note. They are approached and left by step in opposite directions and labeled
W when approached by step up, and
w when approached by step down. They will get detected even if they are decorated with an anticipation immediately before. This dissonance definition also matches that of dissonant third quarter neighbor tones, and potentially the
Y types. An accented neighbor tone will only get labeled as such if it does not meet the stricter requirements for any other dissonance type. The excerpt below taken from the motet Benedicite, omnia opera attributed to Josquin contains an accented upper neighbor in the Altus.
Resolution against suspension dissonance (X, x)
When a voice sounds the note of resolution of a suspension in a descending line against the dissonant portion of the suspension in another voice, it is labeled with an
x. There is no ascending form of this dissonance so an uppercase
X is only used if the -u setting is invoked. This dissonance necessarily only occurs when three or more voices are present, because in addition to the dissonance itself, two other voices must form a suspension. It often occurs in even thicker textures though, such the excerpt below taken from the motet Victime paschali laudes by Brunet.
Parallel accompaniment (L, l)
If a dissonance does not correspond to any identifiable categories
(and would normally receive a
Z label), and moves in parallel
motion by another voice that is an idenfiable dissonance, this
parallel accompaniment is given an
L if it is approached by step
up, or an
l if it is approached by step down. This type of
dissonance often occurs in tandem with a chanson idiom such as in
the example below taken from Lannoy’s Cela sans
While the voices are still analyzed in a pairwise fashion, since
this dissonance type requires a second voice to be in an identifiable
dissonance condition with a third voice, this type is only identified
in pieces with three or more voices.
Only against known dissonance (Y, y)
When a note is only dissonant against known dissonance types, it
y label depending on whether it was approached
from below or from above respectively. This sort of scenario often
occurs in thicker textures, such as in the example below with both
Y and a
y taken from the Sanctus of the Missa Pro
Unknown dissonances (Z, z)
Dissonances not assignable to one of the above categories are given
Z label to indicate their function is unknown. A capital
means that the interval of the dissonance is a 2nd or 7th. A
z means that the dissonance is a 4th against the lowest
sounding note in the sonority. In the example below taken from the Sanctus of Josquin’s Missa Hercules dux Ferrarie what appears at first to be a suspension in the Altus is not resolved properly, resulting in the Bassus and Superius voices receiving
z labels respectively.
URL filtering of repertories
The dissonant tool can be used with available VHV repertories by adding the filter to the URL for the works, such as with the Tasso in Music Project:
To remove lyric text from analysis results, use the filter:
extract -i kern | dissonant:
extract -i kern extracts only
**kern spines and filters out non-kern spines.
JRP dissonant tool
Work pages on the Josquin Research Project website have links for the given work to view the dissonant labeling analysis in VHV. For example the page:
contains a button labeledon the bottom left side of the page. Clicking on that button will load the score for the current page into VHV and do an online analysis of the dissonant labels:
These are more useful for the command-line version of the tool, but can be viewed in VHV by typing command-c when the option is used.
-c option displays a count of the different types of dissonances and total dissonances
within a work:
humcat jrp://Jos2721 | dissonant -c
**dis **sum **v1 **v2 **v3 P 31 17 6 8 p 13 9 1 3 N 2 0 0 2 n 21 5 3 13 E 1 0 0 1 e 1 0 1 0 Q 1 0 1 0 s 6 1 2 3 G 11 5 4 2 h 1 0 0 1 Z2 1 1 0 0 Z7 1 0 0 1 *- *- *- *- *- !!total_dissonances: 90
-u option can also be used with the
-c option to count dissonances without
subgrouping them by direction:
humcat jrp://Jos2721 | dissonant -cu
**disu **sum **v1 **v2 **v3 P 44 26 7 11 N 23 5 3 15 E 2 0 1 1 Q 1 0 1 0 S 6 1 2 3 G 11 5 4 2 H 1 0 0 1 Z 2 1 0 1 *- *- *- *- *- !!total_dissonances: 90
In this case the first spine data type is labeled as
**disu to indicate the
undifferentiated directions for each category.
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