Sketch made while wandering about in Partch’s Incipent Tonality Diamond

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This is a work in progress…

There was an article back on 12/31/08 in the Boston Globe called “Striking a chord“, in which author Marc Hirsh cataloged all the pop songs over the past few years based on what he dubbed the “Sensitive Female Chord Progression”, which he described thusly:

So what is the Sensitive Female Chord Progression, exactly? It’s simple enough for the music theory-inclined: vi-IV-I-V. No good? Well, for a song in the key of A minor, it would be Am-F-C-G. Still confused? Here’s an easy way to see if a song uses the chord progression: Just sing Osborne’s lyrics, “What if God was one of us? Just a slob like one of us?” over the suspect four chords. If it fits, you’ve just spotted one in the wild. Once you’re attuned to it, you’ll hear it everywhere.

And the Sensitive Female Chord Progression was indeed everywhere in 2008, which started off with OneRepublic’s “Apologize” enjoying its chart afterglow. Since then, it’s popped up in songs by Aimee Mann (“Borrowing Time”), Secondhand Serenade (“Fall for You”), Katy Perry (“Fingerprints”), Moby (“Every Day It’s 1989”), Sugarland (“Take Me As I Am”), Carolina Liar (“I’m Not Over”), T.I. (“Whatever You Like”), Natasha Bedingfield (“Angel”), and, in a last-minute shocker, Guns N’ Roses (the chorus of “Shackler’s Revenge”).

Well this chord progression can be found, sort of, in what Partch called his “Incipient Tonality Diamond”, as long as you replace G major with Ab major, which changes the character drastically, but that’s o.k. by me.

I was noodling around the notes in the diamond and came up with today’s sketch. Partch described the Incipient Tonality Diamond in Genesis of a Music. Here’s a picture. It’s basically the 4:5:6 of the overtone and undertone series.

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Prent Rodgers

Musician seduced into capitalism.