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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: tonic vs root


Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link: http://www.fiddlehangout.com/archive/49420

fiddle cat - Posted - 06/04/2018:  20:20:24


Someone explaining double stops to me spoke of playing the root and the tonic. I understand what the root is of a chord, but when I googled "tonic", the term seems to apply to a key, not a chord. So is "tonic" commonly used in place of "third" or "fifth" in referring to chords, or did I just misunderstand something?

RinconMtnErnie - Posted - 06/04/2018:  21:14:39


To me the tonic is the root of a modal scale. So A Major, A Mixolydian, A Dorian, etc, all have the same tonic, which is A. For all tunes based on those modal scales, you expect lots-o-A's. And you expects lots of A's to show up in double stops, perhaps as drones.

amwildman - Posted - 06/04/2018:  21:37:53


The tonic of the scale and the root note of the current chord, perhaps?



As I understand tonic as a term it means the root note of the scale. The root note of the scale will (almost?) always sound good when paired with the root note of the current chord, whatever that happens to be.


Edited by - amwildman on 06/04/2018 21:38:25

Johnny Rosin - Posted - 06/04/2018:  22:07:18


I would probably just forget about the word tonic and focus on double stops being nothing more than two notes of a chord. So let’s say we’re talking about a plain old G chord. The root, or 1, is obviously going to be G. Then you the 3 and the 5, so B and D. You can play any combination of those 3 notes in forming your double stop for a G chord. And all the major chords work the exact same way. Once you start adding onto the chord with 7ths, 9ths, etc. then you get some other note choices when forming your double stops. But for now, if it were me, I would disregard the word tonic when thinking of double stops.

haggis - Posted - 06/05/2018:  01:49:23


If you mean playing root and tonic as a double stop then this means, e.g. in key C major your double stop would consist of C (tonic) plus the root of the underlying chord e.g. C plus A ( a minor chord underlying ) or C plus E ( e minor chord underlying ) etc. How pleasing this is to the ear?

illinoisfiddler - Posted - 06/05/2018:  02:30:27


Tonic is not always the same as root. The root of a C chord is C, and generally, the tonic is C as well. However, chord changes can "tonicize" different keys within or without C major. This means that the tonic changes, say to A minor, but the root can be either the A minor or C, depending on the focus of the composition. Think of root as referring to the base note of a chord, and tonic as referring to "home base" in a particular key signature. They are not exactly the same.

DougD - Posted - 06/05/2018:  03:05:06


Here's an article that explains the difference: en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tonic_(music) Skip the chord symbols at the beginning and jump right to the text.
The tonic is the first note of the scale of the key, and the triad chord based on that note. Its the name of the key.
The root is the note of the scale on which a chord is based. For the tonic chord they are the same, so in C, the root of the C chord is also the tonic (C). For the IV chord the root is F, but the tonic also appears as the fifth of the triad. For the V chord, G, the root is G and the tonic doesn't appear in the triad.
So the person "explaining" this was either using the terms incorrectly, or you misunderstood him. As the Wikipedia article says, the terms are often confused.

PS - the forum software apparently won't accept parentheses as part of a link, so you'll have to select (music) from the "tonic" page.


Edited by - DougD on 06/05/2018 03:09:07

UsuallyPickin - Posted - 06/05/2018:  07:46:32


Yup …. Wikipedia has several good theory articles, many helped me out…. I will add when you go into extended chords / doublestops the third becomes an important identifier as it sets major or minor so a third and a flat seventh accurately intonates a dominant seventh where a tonic / root tone with a flat seventh works but it may not be what you want tonally. R/

DougD - Posted - 06/05/2018:  08:36:30


Richard - When I was in high school I was learning to make vocal arrangements for our folk singing trio (some of which are on my homepage here). I had the same idea that the third and flat seventh would suggest the dominant seventh chord, but unfortunately that interval is a diminishrf fifth - the dreaded tritone, the most feared interval in Western music. It might work for you, but I just played a couple on a keyboard (B-F and E-Bb) and they still sound jarring to my ears, as it has to many others over the years.

fujers - Posted - 06/05/2018:  09:35:02


Hope this helps. The tonic is the first note of a scale, the root is the first note of a chord

Brian Wood - Posted - 06/05/2018:  09:59:04


Not to confuse things further, but since it's been established that the tonic is the first note of the scale, in mixolyldian tunes the whole step below the tonic can be referred to as the sub-tonic. Like when you're playing with someone who doesn't know the changes it's easier to holler out "sub-tonic" than flat-seven. Sub-tonic to G is F. Besides which, I mentally visualize that chord as below the tonic, not above. (Same with the relative minor which I think of it as a third below the tonic rather than a sixth above. I will holler out "relative minor" rather than "six").

I might start a band called the Sub-Tonics.

fiddle cat - Posted - 06/05/2018:  10:10:55


Well now I'm really confused!! I think I'll just chalk my original post up to having misunderstood something that was said. But after all these helpful efforts to enlighten me, I think I need a large Gin and Tonic!

fujers - Posted - 06/05/2018:  10:42:37


Either way you look it at the same goes for any chord or tonic note you may have. The simple way to look at is. Take the chord change GCD..the root is G and the same goes for CFG the root is C. You can have chord changes that don't start on the root but by the time you finish the tune it always domes back to the root of G but you can hear where it's going. The tonal I don't even worry about unless you play a lot of scales and scales is where you get your major double stops from 1and 4 or 5 and 7 and so on. So if I were use these scales I would need to know what interval I'm looking for..but sometimes I don't. But all in all..me I just mainly need to know my root positions I don't worry about tonal unless there are double or triple stops involved

FiddleBas - Posted - 06/05/2018:  12:07:36


quote:

Originally posted by fujers

Hope this helps. The tonic is the first note of a scale, the root is the first note of a chord






This is simply put how I thought it worked

FiddleBas - Posted - 06/05/2018:  12:16:11


quote:

Originally posted by DougD

Richard - When I was in high school I was learning to make vocal arrangements for our folk singing trio (some of which are on my homepage here). I had the same idea that the third and flat seventh would suggest the dominant seventh chord, but unfortunately that interval is a diminishrf fifth - the dreaded tritone, the most feared interval in Western music. It might work for you, but I just played a couple on a keyboard (B-F and E-Bb) and they still sound jarring to my ears, as it has to many others over the years.






I was just spending some time on 7th chords, and I really love the sound of these tritones (though not trivial to get in tune). Particularly if you go from regular V chord, to V7 chord and then resolve to the I chord. E.g. on bottom two strings: G chord (B-G) to G7 chord (B-F, note you use your first finger for the F) to C chord (C-E).

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