Think of your favorite song and I promise you it has some dissonance. Dissonance is a somewhat “off-putting” feeling or sound that you experience in a song. The only way dissonance works is that it resolves to something non-dissonant. Music is just like life, it just simply can’t be all smooth and perfect.
There is nothing better than tension in a song. Properly paired with words, a dissonant tension can really grab you and make you feel connected with the song.
Here are some examples of dissonance in a few songs.
- Neil Youngs “Old Man”. The tune starts off this the dissonance before resolving to the D (I chord).
- The Doors “Not to Touch the Earth”. Each verse is dissonant. Listen to the first 45 seconds of the song before the dissonance resolves into the refrain
- Soul Pigeons “From the Mountain”. The main riff of our song has a flat 7th note as it descends and resolves back to the riff
CLICK HERE to hear a playlist of these songs
The most common places to use dissonances is in a bridge or musical transition into a lead. For example, a V7 chord is a chord that naturally wants to resolve to the I chord. By substituting a diminished chord for the V7 you instantly create a very displeasing tension that begs resolution.
I would wager that every one of your favorite songs are using V7 chords that resolve to the 1 chord!