Parallel second


Audio: parallel second (0:08)

Parallel second
Figure: parallel second

parallel second plays parallel seconds on pizzicato strings in the key of A harmonic minor. The parallel second figure shows the score:

  • The original melody is the lower part, the parallel harmony is the upper part.
  • Bar 1: the melody is a descending scale. The harmony is a parallel second above.
  • Bar 2: the harmony is in parallel sevenths above the melody.
  • Bar 3: the harmony is in parallel ninths above the melody.

A parallel second is a part which is a second above or below another part.

Parallel seconds sound dissonant compared with their melodic equivalent, stepwise motion.

The inverse of a second is a seventh. Parallel sevenths sound smoother than parallel seconds.

A ninth is an interval of an octave plus a second. The ninth is a compound interval, meaning it spans more than one octave. In contrast, a simple interval is any interval that spans less than an octave. Compound intervals sound quite different to simple intervals and a parallel ninth is a good alternative to a parallel second.

Pizzicato is a technique used with stringed instruments. It involves plucking a string and, at the same time, damping it so that it does not vibrate. The result is a short duration percussive sound. Pizzicato and damping can produce a variety of interesting sounds, such as parallel second, which is reminiscent of the soundtrack to a 1950s cartoon featuring a cat chasing a mouse.