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Magic Choral Trick #96 Balancing the Half Diminished Chord – the Controversy

High on the list of any musician’s priorities would have to be finding the correct resonant balance for the half diminished chord. Well – perhaps the choral director subset of musicians. And amongst those are the truly fanatical about such things – the Barbershop directors.

So here’s the scoop about the controversy.

I had originally heard that in a half diminished chord all parts should be balanced equally – and this does work well. Well, certainly better than just taking a stab at it and hoping for the best.

But I still felt that I wanted more from this type of chord, so I asked Ig Jakovac, a singing judge with the Barbershop Harmony Society – and here’s what he said:

“Half-diminished chords should be balanced with the perfect interval (fourth, fifth) predominant. Some find a more consonant sound is achieved when the lowest minor third, if it exists, is emphasized.”

A half diminished chord, if it’s sung in tune, with good quality is always going to sound exciting. But Wow! When that third, the second note from the bottom is emphasized a bit more, something in the feeling of depth in the chord gets much richer.

Thought you’d all like to know.

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