Forte Numbers: A Very Short Primer

In my own practice I've been making less use of scale and arpeggio language lately and looking at more neutral, atonal terminology instead. There's a good chance this will show up in some upcoming posts so here's a primer.

Common Triads and Forte 3-3

Continuing my look at 3- and 4-note sets that aren't common in diatonic music, we arrive at 1-b2-3, the "Phyrgian major" or "Harmonic minor" triad. first here's the usual full-fingerboard diagrams: chords are formed by playing one note of each colour and dark blue is the root. The top one is 1-b2-3 and the bottom is 1-#5-7, its inversion; these are Forte number 3-3:

Forte 3-10

The Whole Tone Scale, 1 2 3 #4 #5 b7, has quite a few interesting subsets, including the well-known augmented triad and the dominant chords 7b5 and 7#5. Today we'll look at the "triad" 1-3-#4 and its inversion, 1-3-b7. These are known by the Forte number 3-10.

Heptatonics Containing Forte 4-9

This is a follow-on from this post, when we discovered Forte 4-9 as the coscale of the octatonic you get from combining Vishwambari with Hatakambari (help with Forte numbers). Which makes it sound much more abstruse than it was in context (I think). But let's look at it as its own thing.

Scales Covered by Sus #4 or Sus b2

I've been exploring the Sus b2 and Sus #4 arpeggios a bit lately. They're inversions of each other and are an important sound in early 20th century classical music. Here are all the heptatonic scales I know of (there might be more) that can be completely covered by copies of one of these two structures.

Chords from Harmonic Major

Harmonic Major is sometimes said to be the "missing" member of the group of common heptatonic scales, the others being Major, Melodic Minor and Harmonic Minor. Whatever the value of this claim, it has some interesting chords in it.

Double Hexachords

More loose, geometric, pattern-based, theory-light 12-tone material. This time we have several ways to break up the total chromatic into two equal-sized parts.

12-Tone Closed Grips

Here's a practical idea I've been experimenting with lately for chromatic improvisation. The idea is to dispense with theory and let visual patterns lead instead.

The 3-3 Trichords

I've been getting some good results lately from adopting a looser approach to atonal material, working with ideas that cover the 12 notes relatively quickly and don't suggest a tonal centre without too much rigor. Examples of this approach can be found here, hereand here; this is another one.

Chords from Superaugmented

The scale I call Superaugmented is a major scale with every note sharpened that can be sharpened. It's like a major scale shifted up a semitone and then slightly adjusted. It seems to come up a lot on this blog whenever I do some of those "all the possible ways to do X with Y" posts so I though it might be worth pulling some chords out of it.