LINE DIRECTION

When a series of either whole- or half-steps moves in the same direction, the last pitch will be heard as the most consonant, no matter the direction of the intervals or the length of the series. Monk's "Blue Monk" is a masterful example of both ascending and descending half-steps used as a basic element in a composition. He additionally secures the importance of the last pitch of a chromatic line by making its duration longer or by inserting a much larger interval to break its flow (often in the oppostite direction) after the series' last pitch.

In a simpler illustration, Ex. C below, the ascending half-steps stop on the pitch, C. You hear C as the most relaxed-sounding pitch in the series. Yet, had the line stopped at A#, for example, listen to the most relaxed pitch as it also switches to A#. Similarly, you can hear the descending half steps end on the pitch, F, but could have stopped several half-steps sooner or later for the same consonant effect on the last pitch.

EXAMPLE

Ascending and descending whole steps function the same way. Listen to the ascending whole steps in Ex. C. They could have easily ended their series several whole steps later on an equally consonant pitch, the same is true for the descending whole steps. Continuous whole steps extending to the same keynote evolves into a whole tone scale. What scale results from continuous half-steps?

The same effect of consonance on the last pitch of a series of equal intervals also occurs with intervals larger than a whole- or half-step. Obviously, one is less likely to play a series of 6ths as part of an improvised line, but superimposed intervals as large as a 4th are not uncommon.