That's an argument that classical music uses more augmented sixths chords, which are not especially uncommon

"Uncommon" doesn't mean anything without reference to a time period; the point is that they are more uncommon in the Baroque period than in the Classical. The Classical period uses a richer "vocabulary of chords" than the Baroque, if one insists on thinking in such terms (as a Westergaardian, I don't think in terms of a "vocabulary of chords", of course).

Contrast that with something like the chord held at the start of Bach's Fugue in D minor -- it's got a C#, a D, and an E it in; what the hell is it?

First of all "Bach's Fugue in D minor" is highly ambiguous; Wikipedia lists 10 such works by J.S. Bach alone (BWV 538, 539, 554, 565, 851, 875, 899, 903, 905, and 948).

But you can find a chord containing those same three pitch-classes (along with G# and B) in the first movement of Mozart's Symphony No. 29 (p.4, second system, 4th measure, 1st and 3rd quarter).

Classical music moves from one resolved chord to another thru a series of pivot chords.

"Pivot chord" is a technical term in harmonic theory (which, again, I don't subscribe to) meaning a chord shared by two different keys which is used in modulating between them. You don't appear to be using this term correctly here (we're not talking about key changes), and I'm not sure exactly what you do mean. "Resolved chord" is not a standard term at all, but maybe you mean "consonant chord". (?) However, both Baroque and Classical music "move from one [consonant] chord to another" (well, except when moving to dissonant chords, which also occurs in both periods...) So this sentence reads like confused gobbledygook to me. A musical example of the phenomenon which you think occurs in Baroque music but not Classical would help (but we know it isn't "a chord with C#, D, and E", as the Mozart example I gave shows).

Now, if when we say Baroque you're thinking Vivaldi and I'm thinking Bach's organ music, that could account for the difference of opinion

You just have to compare apples to apples. If the most complex works of J.S. Bach are what you mean by "Baroque", then the most complex works of Haydn, Mozart, and (at least early) Beethoven have to be what you mean by "Classical".

I think what actually accounts for the "difference of opinion" is that you underestimate the complexity of Classical works.

Baroque music sometimes... pass[es] through intermediate states that aren't any kind of recognized chord

Indeed! Thus harmonic theory is inadequate even to the description (mere description, mind you) of Baroque music, let alone Classical or Romantic.

Bad Concepts Repository

by moridinamael 1 min read27th Jun 2013204 comments


We recently established a successful Useful Concepts Repository.  It got me thinking about all the useless or actively harmful concepts I had carried around for in some cases most of my life before seeing them for what they were.  Then it occurred to me that I probably still have some poisonous concepts lurking in my mind, and I thought creating this thread might be one way to discover what they are.

I'll start us off with one simple example:  The Bohr model of the atom as it is taught in school is a dangerous thing to keep in your head for too long.  I graduated from high school believing that it was basically a correct physical representation of atoms.  (And I went to a *good* high school.)  Some may say that the Bohr model serves a useful role as a lie-to-children to bridge understanding to the true physics, but if so, why do so many adults still think atoms look like concentric circular orbits of electrons around a nucleus?  

There's one hallmark of truly bad concepts: they actively work against correct induction.  Thinking in terms of the Bohr model actively prevents you from understanding molecular bonding and, really, everything about how an atom can serve as a functional piece of a real thing like a protein or a diamond.

Bad concepts don't have to be scientific.  Religion is held to be a pretty harmful concept around here.  There are certain political theories which might qualify, except I expect that one man's harmful political concept is another man's core value system, so as usual we should probably stay away from politics.  But I welcome input as fuzzy as common folk advice you receive that turned out to be really costly.