Talkin' Blues: Utilizing Unresolved Harmonic Tension to Create Dark, Eerie Music

Last month we looked at some examples of blues phrasing with chromatic passing tones leading to strong chord-tone resolutions, but such neat-and-tidy phrases are only one side of the chromatic picture. On the other side is unresolved tension, i.e. deliberately delaying or avoiding consonant resolutions to create dissonance that evokes feelings of darkness and danger. This sound entered the realm of American pop music in the Fifties through sexy, smoky epics like the Viscounts’ “Harlem Nocturne” and the themes for TV detective series like Peter Gunn and Perry Mason, which paralleled edgy, urban noir (“black”) trends in fiction and film.

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month**

Join now for unlimited access

US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year

UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year 

Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49