HARMONY A Simple Explanation
HARMONY Basics • The simple definition of Harmonyis 3 or more notes played simultaneously. These are called chords and their root note names them, with added information indicating their qualities. • We will be studying Harmony based in the Western European tradition, as Asian, Indian and various other traditions are different. • Our basic chord construction is called a Triad and is made of 3 notes (The 1-3-5 of a scale.) • The Quality of the chord is determined by between these notes. Triad quality may be Major, Minor, Augmented or Diminished. • Additional notes, called Extensions, add color and interest to these fundamental chords
Scale Degrees • We will use Roman Numerals ( Scale Degrees) to identify the notes of the scale, as the notes can change, but the intervals between them remain the same: I ii iii IV V vi viio VIII 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 • The upper case denotes Major, the lower case is Minor, as the quality of the chord generally built upon that scale degree. The 7th degree is Diminished, designated by the lower case with a small circle.
Chord Colors By using Consonance and Dissonance, Harmony supports the emotional Point Of View of the lyrics and melody. • Major: Happy, Stable • Minor: Dark, Introspective • Diminished and Augmented: Unsettled, Motion needing resolution. • 7th Chord: Bluesy, Funky • Power Chords: Assertive, Aggressive ( triad is made up of Root and Doubled Fifth) • Other Extensions & Inversions: Various Possibilities.
Harmonic Rhythm: • Harmonic Rhythm refers to the number of chords played per measure as well as which beats the chord changes fall on. For example, you could have the chord change on the first beat of every measure, or on any other beat, including subdivisions and it will radically change the feel of a song, even if you are using the same chords. • The chord changes will generally relate to the melody, but you can occasionally use the rhythmic placement of the chords to surprise or shift the focus of the listener. • Sometimes the harmonic rhythm itself can become an integral and identifiable part of a song. Withholding a chord or anticipating a chord placement can create tension. Displacing chords or not going where the chords seem to be leading can also create surprise and interest. For example, displacing the I or the V, or not resolving to them at the beginning or end of every section creates tension. • Varying the rate, number or placement of chord changes creates interest. So does moving from major to relative minor in same bar. • How does the harmonic movement affect the feeling of the song? • How does it move to create tension and resolution?
CHORD PROGRESSIONS • This is the order in which the chords are played. Certain chord progressions, or Changes, are very common and familiar to our ears. • The chord progression for I Got Rhythm ( I vi ii V) was so common it has been labeled “Rhythm Changes”. • In the 50’s & 60’s they were called Ice Cream Changes or Sears and Roebuck Changes and were very popular for Doo-Wop songs. • The Tonic, or I of a scale is Home, other chords are Away from home. Chords can cycle over and overt, or travel away until they finally resolve somehow. • Resolution is usually achieved by returning home, but not always.
Cadences/Turnarounds • Cadences and Turnarounds end or connect sections. Sections are generally multiples of 4: 4,8,12, 16 bar sections • There is a very strong sense of resolution is created by moving from the V chord to the I chord in major keys. It is called a Full Cadence, while Half Cadences build tension and usually end on the V chord. • Plagal Cadence is IV – I • Deceptive Cadences sound resolved but not to the tonic, like the V – vi …These are often used for the transition from verse to chorus.