Over the last forty years, I’ve taken a lot of different approaches to harmonic structure in my music.  Each one has its benefits and drawbacks.

Tertian harmony has one amazing benefit that I don’t hear commented upon very often.  More than any other method of building vertical sonorities, triads allow for an astonishing variety of embellishment.

Appoggiaturi, acciaccaturi, anticipazione — and that’s just the A-list.  You can drizzle them all over a set of triads, with endless variation.  But try using them with harmonies of other design, and you run out of options pretty quickly.  A suspension on a quartal chord?  Sorry, not going to happen.  Neighbor tones around a cluster?  Well, sure, but it’s not really the same thing.

So I enjoy using all kinds of vertical vocabularies, and, as I say, each has its benefits.

Pile up the thirds, though, and you can bet I’ll be going to town with those auxiliary dissonances.

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