Law of Resolving Tendencies

Discussions on the theoretical basis of the LCC

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Law of Resolving Tendencies

Postby NateComp » Wed Sep 27, 2017 3:25 pm

Poking around on the web, I came across this article from guitarist Eric VanDuyne, who studied LCC with Ben Schwendener at the New England Conservatory.

Eric wrote:


An application of the Law of Resolving Tendencies can be used to achieve pan tonic effects in a static, modal environment.

This environment most likely to occurs in the context of a rhythm section of a group outlines primarily one Lydian tonic, while an individual improvises.

The improviser in this setting can use the Law of Resolving Tendencies to shift between pro tonic and pan tonic tonalities in relation to the underlying Lydian tonic sounded by the rhythm section. The shifting can be accomplished by superimposing Lydian tonics that are either flat lying or sharp lying from the key of the music, depending on the desired effect.

The Law of Resolving Tendencies states that moving in a sharp direction from a Lydian tonic sounds more final than moving in the flat direction. Because of this phenomenon, the pan tonic qualities of the flat lying keys and the sharp lying keys to a harmonically static environment are quite different. In general, the sharp lying tonic in a pan tonic situation will try to dominate over the flat lying tonic.

Superimposing a flat lying key over a sharp lying chord creates a goal-oriented type of pan tonic tonal effect. Modulating a melody in the flat direction contains the quality of the strongest horizontal interval of the fourth, creating an instability toward the sharp lying chord, and in essence, creating the desire to resolve to it. Because of the fourth interval, the flat lying keys will have a mode that begins on the Lydian tonic of the chord; these modes however are unstable with respect to the sharp lying chord below. The improviser desiring to create a pan tonic sound by using flat lying keys will be forced to allude to the sharp lying Lydian tonic frequently to avoid sounding too outgoing. The resolution from the flat lying to sharp lying results in a horizontal type of effect. The horizontal effect observed reverses the factor "A" and factor "B" associated with horizontal tonal gravity in the respect that now the melody is goal oriented (factor B for chords), while the chord sounds a tonic station (factor A for melody).

Creating a pan tonic, supra-vertical environment by superimposing sharp related keys above a flat lying rhythm section or chord results in a more stable environment for the melody. This returns the factor "A" to the melody; the underlying chords tend to want to resolve to the sharp lying tonic station sounded by the soloist. Modulating in a sharp direction sounds more final and naturally extended from the Lydian tonic of the chords; the improviser no longer has to resolve to the flat lying Lydian tonic. In general, flat lying keys support sharp lying keys when they are below in respective register, while sharp supports flat when it lies in the upper respective register.
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Re: Law of Resolving Tendencies

Postby chespernevins » Wed Oct 11, 2017 12:01 pm

Hey Nate,

I like this. This is something that I think I hear in Paul Bley's "All the Things You Are" solo on the Sonny Meets Hawk record. Given an A section of the tune, Bley at one point starts with a flat lying LT and modulates his melody to a sharp-lying LT. It gives the melody a very particular sound that I really like.
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