Definition: chord (kord)~noun: a group of (typically three or more) notes sounded together, as a basis of harmony.
"Beethoven's Pastoral is no musical cul-de-sac. It's a radical work, and in it's final movement is music more purely spine-tingling and life-enhancingly joyful than almost anywhere else in his output." - Tom Service.
"But however the case may be, the glory of unchaining the devil in music belongs to Montreverde. That was the beginning of modern music. Later, a new third was superimposed and they dared the chord sol-si-re-fa-la. The inventor is unknown, but Beethoven seems to have been the first to make any considerable use of it. He used the chord is such a way that, in spite of it's current use today, in his works it appears like something new and strange." Camille Saint-Saens.
When I started playing the violin back in 1973, the program I was in also included classes in music theory and music literature. I began to learn the language of music, and its history. Seeing notes on a page is, for me, an almost magical thing. These lines and dots are the code for beautiful sounds. Music theory was not easy, and I found it did not get any easier as I continued to study it in college. But I learned enough to be able to dissect some of the wonderful moments that I came upon while listening to and playing music.
The grouping of notes into a chord has unique power. One chord can establish, change, define or destroy the mood and feel of a song, sonata or symphony. And there are those special chords that stand out in some works that grab you and send chills down your spine. For example, the open chord of the Beatles song "Hard Day's Night" is very unique. At the time it was released in 1964, nothing in rock music sounded anything like it. Its a great song, but it's this one chord, Fadd9, that became famous. Here is a great analysis of that chord and how it was voiced and recorded:
Saint-Saens noted further, "In the Sixteenth Century, it was not regarded as admissible at all, for one hears the two notes si and fa simultaneously and this seems intolerable to the ear." (fa refers to the fourth note up from do, and si in French is the ti we know and love, and is the 7th note up from do.) Played together, the si and the do clash dramatically. The tension of dissonance creates drama, tension and heightened expectations. The resolution of the dissonance brings peace and relief....at least that's the idea.
Here is a great version of the final movement of Beethoven's Symphony no. 6. The big moment I've just described happens exactly at the 8:00 minute mark. (the climactic phrase starts at 7:44). This is the Chicago Symphony conducted by Sir George Solti. (Sorry about the advertisement before it starts).