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O sing to the Lord a new song! Sing to the Lord all the earth. Sing to the Lord, bless His Name; proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day.
Psalm 96, 1-2

The tones of air, I know not how they flow; where'er they move, all things melodious grow.
Faust PT II, Goethe

Recent
Recordings

Lost World Tango

Two Lonely People

Galaxy

Elysium

Blues for Zarathustra

Wings of the Morning

Cycles

Doloroso

17 Solo Piano Improvisations

Music in Three Parts

House of Counted Days

Voyage to Arcturus

Ron Thomas performances, recordings, teaching, composition and essays.

Tonal Harmonic Principles
through Four Part Harmony

. . . The aim of my own studies as a young musician was to aquire skills to practice the art of making and inventing music. Later, as I gained experience as a teacher, I began to find that my method, which is closer to an apprenticeship than a pedagogy, solidly appropriated this emphasis. My lessons are derived from musical practices in order to establish procedures that enable students to experience for themselves, the flow of musical processes. It is a practitioner’s approach to music theory.

. . . This text deals with tonality, and specifically with the practice of tonal voice-leading as both a linear (melodic) and a vertical (harmonic) process, that is, with the commonly accepted nature of musical processes of western-classical-music as described in Rameau’s Treatise on Harmony.

. . . The text identifies and imparts the nature of music’s behavior through the setting forth of principles, procedures, and practices of four-part tonal-harmonic voice leading. it is not an exhaustive topical study of tonal harmony.

. . . It owes its existence in this form primarily to the many jazz keyboard students who began showing up in my studio disillusioned by their contact with jazz theory. The relationship of the harmonic nature of jazz to classical musical principles is severely misunderstood by the jazz-theorists. For the most part they merely catalog and enumerate vocabulary items such as scales and chord voicings without any reference to what Professor Leonard Meyers calls the “laws of good continuity.” These Jazz students (at best) know what to play but not when or why .
>. . . An example; the performances of Herbie Hancock during 1964 through, say, 1966 in Miles Davis’ Quintet, are with general agreement recognized as a high point of expression and imagination in the context of the role of the pianist in a rhythm section ensemble of this nature. Can this music be analyzed, described, or understood by the methods of the jazz pedagogists? Jazz and Classical music are not identical, but harmonic procedures in a jazz context are not unrelated to harmonic procedures in non-jazz settings. Jazz pianists find through this study that keyboard extemporizations are best understood as expansions upon these principles.

. . . Rhythms and meters are provided for all of the voice leading exercises. This rightly connects the harmonic-melodic process to the passing of real musical time. Therefore, from the beginning, melody and harmony are related as they should be with musical time.

. . . The limitations and restrictions of this study could best be regarded as ‘directions for a laboratory experiment’ whose purpose is to demonstrate how one achieves continuity and relationship in music. The rules when respected and carefully followed will result in musical examples that clearly reveal the principles upon which effective and expressive melodic and harmonic practices are based. That is the purpose of the study.

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