ISSN:2147-7841 English

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The Function of Pedal Tone in Tonal Music and its Applications in Harmony Courses
From a historical point of view, the pedal tone was frequently referred to be a “sustained bass note” which correlated mostly with the organ music repertoire. As the variety of tuning systems and tonal music widespread, the pedal tone gained other independent meanings within the tonal harmony. Thus, the pedal tone played an important role not merely as a sustained tone or a non-chord tone (NCT), but also as a functional harmonic content, which may also propagate some cadential progressions within the tonality. In tonal harmony, the pedal tone (also called ‘organ point’) has basically three main harmonic functions as tonic (T), dominant (D) and more rarely, as subdominant (S) including at least one suspended tone. A pedal point has potential to have an area of its own with “a strong harmonic pull” which may include another harmonic progression other than its own function. With the use of a pedal tone, any harmonic progression, regardless how further it pushes the limits of tonality (and even when it comes to a point of emancipation from it) may still have potential to be attracted back, towards the tonality. In respect of this phenomenon, the pedal tones are quite frequently used by the (late) Romantic era composers. In this article, this aforementioned functional harmonic content of the pedal tone, its historical context and its applications in harmony courses as a potential pedagogical tool is investigated.

Pedal tone, harmony classes, tonal harmony, harmonic function

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