consonance and dissonance

consonance and dissonance

Perceived qualities of musical chords and intervals. Consonance is often described as relative “stability,” and dissonance as “instability.” In musical contexts, certain intervals seem to call for motion by one of the tones to “resolve” perceived dissonance. The most consonant intervals are generally recognized as the unison and octave, and the next most consonant interval as the perfect fifth. Consonance tends to reflect the early intervals of the overtone series (which include, in addition to the octave and perfect fifth, the major and minor thirds and the perfect fourth), but many musical factors can affect the perception of consonance and dissonance.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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