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Consonance and Dissonance because the active tones are those that form dissonances with one or more tones of the tonic chord, whereas 1, 3, and 5 (the tonic chord) are all consonant with each other. The simplest and most basic use of consonance and dissonance, therefore, would be 1, 3, and 5 as consonances and the other scale degrees as dissonances against the other part or parts (Example 2-9) 2-9: 4, 3, and 3 form dissonances For composers to restrict themselves to the simplest possibilities, however, would be far too limiting, A most important compositional resource, therefore, is sta- bilizing the normally active tones by giving them the support of consonant intervals; at the same time, normally stable tones may become unstable by appearing as disso- nnances (Example 2-10). Note that 4, 3, and 7, the active tones stabilized by conso- nant support, do not altogether lose their active character, as we can ascertain by playing the example and stopping on one of those tones. The music does not sound at rest until it arrives atthe final 1 2-10 4, 3, and 7 given consonant support 2 The perfect 4th. In the early stages of medieval polyphony. the perfect consonances. formed the basis for music composition, Not only unisons, octaves, and Sths, but perfect 4ths as well, functioned as stable intervals Over the course of several centuries, composers experimented with the possibil- ities made available through the use of 3rds and éths; the most important of these possibilities were the complete triads, major and minor, that became the basis for later music. Using complete triads effected a fundamental change in musical struc ture; one consequence of this change threatened the consonant status of the 4th ‘Once the 3rd became a pervasive element in musical texture, many situations arose in which the 4th sounded less like an inversion of the 5th—and thus a more or less stable interval—than like an active interval gravitating to the 3rd. In such situations, the 4th takes on the character of @ dissonance (Example 2-11) 29