In music, what does the term “resolution” mean?

In music, the term “resolution” has several meanings depending on the context in which it is used. Here are some common uses of the term in music:

  1. Harmonic resolution: This refers to the movement of a musical chord from a state of tension or instability to a state of stability or rest. It usually involves the resolution of dissonant chords to consonant chords, creating a sense of musical closure or resolution. For example, in a typical major key, a dominant chord (such as V or V7) often resolves to the tonic chord (such as I), creating a sense of resolution and completion.
  2. Melodic resolution: This refers to the movement of a melodic line from a dissonant or unstable note to a consonant or stable note. Melodic resolution can create a sense of musical direction and resolution, leading the listener to a point of rest or resolution in the melody.
  3. Formal resolution: This refers to the structural or formal resolution of a musical piece. It typically involves the conclusion or ending of a musical section or piece in a way that provides a sense of finality or resolution to the musical ideas presented. Formal resolution can be achieved through various musical techniques, such as cadences, harmonic progressions, and melodic gestures.
  4. Timbral resolution: This refers to the clarity or definition of individual sounds or timbres within a musical piece. It can involve the separation or distinction of different instruments or voices, the resolution of dissonant or noisy sounds into harmonically pleasing sounds, or the blending of different timbres into a cohesive musical texture.

Overall, “resolution” in music often involves the idea of moving from a state of tension or instability to a state of stability or rest, creating a sense of closure or completion in the musical context. It is an important concept that contributes to the emotional and aesthetic impact of music.

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