In this post about harmony I’ll be exploring Gil’s use of triads with an “added note”. We tend to hear a triad as a complete harmonic “unit”, so when another note is added that isn’t typical it has a compelling sound or dissonance.
Las Vegas Tango – Introduction
The most obvious use of this technique is in Gil’s original Las Vegas Tango. The introduction features triads in the right hand with an “added note” in the left.
Interestingly, the left hand part maintains a spicy dissonance as it is placed a ninth below the middle note of each chord (almost all of which are minor 9ths).
Later in the piece, the added note and the triads are in the same octave.
Lester Leaps In – A section
This arrangement featuring Cannonball Adderley from the album New Bottle Old Wine incorporates some of the same techniques. The effect is a little harder to pick up as the added note line parts from the triads rhythmically. Gil also highlights the line by giving it a different timbre. In this case it is a muted trumpet and guitar.
Gil increases the interest of this phrase by adding a descending bass line (great use of counterpoint). The rhythm and timbre are sufficiently different so that it doesn’t sound as if it’s an added note. The contrary motion here is very dramatic and melodically strong.
Bess, You Is My Woman Now – bar 56
This example from Bess is more complex. Gil could have harmonized this passage in many ways as he does throughout the arrangement, but the use of triads add a brilliance that marks this climax in a special way.
The triads are present in the trumpets and trombones, and for maximum brilliance there are a few octave doublings. The flutes hold an F# major triad over the whole phrase, and it is all placed over a C# (V) pedal point. The added note line is played this time by horns and alto sax. Its another great example of inner counterpoint.