PDF Harmony And Composition: Basics to Intermediate

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Example of implied harmonies in info. Close harmony and open harmony use close position and open position chords, respectively.

Music Theory

See: close and open harmony. Other types of harmony are based upon the intervals used in constructing the chords used in that harmony. Other types of harmony consist of quintal harmony. Therefore, the combination of notes with their specific intervals —a chord— creates harmony.

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For example, in a C chord, there are three notes: C, E, and G. In the musical scale, there are twelve pitches. The intervals, however, are not. Here is an example:. As can be seen, no note always corresponds to a certain degree of the scale. All the other notes fall into place.

So, when C is the tonic, the fourth degree, subdominant, is F. But when D is the tonic, the fourth degree is G. So while the note names are intransigent, the intervals are not. The great power of this fact is that any musical work can be played or sung in any key—it will be the same piece of music, as long as the intervals are kept the same, thus transposing the melody into the corresponding key.

Apart from this categorization, intervals can also be divided into consonant and dissonant. As explained in the following paragraphs, consonant intervals produce a sensation of relaxation and dissonant]] intervals a sensation of tension. The consonant intervals are considered to be the perfect contrapuntal.

Other intervals, the second and the seventh and their compound forms are considered Dissonant and require resolution of the produced tension and usually preparation depending on the music style used. It should be noted that the effect of dissonance is perceived relatively within musical context: for example, a major seventh interval alone i. C up to B may be perceived as dissonant, but the same interval as part of a major seventh chord may sound relatively consonant. A tritone the interval of the fourth step to the seventh step of the major scale, i.

In the Western tradition, in music after the seventeenth century, harmony is manipulated using power chords.

The Staff, Clefs, and Ledger Lines

A chord with three members is called a Quartal and quintal harmony for chords built with other intervals. Depending on the size of the intervals being stacked, different qualities of chords are formed. To keep the nomenclature as simple as possible, some defaults are accepted not tabulated here. A tension is an additional chord member that creates a relatively dissonant interval in relation to the bass.

Depending on the widths of the individual thirds stacked to build the chord, the interval between the root and the seventh of the chord may be major, minor, or diminished. The interval of an augmented seventh reproduces the root, and is therefore left out of the chordal nomenclature. For a more complete exposition of nomenclature see Chord music. This creates the chords named after them. Extensions beyond the thirteenth reproduce existing chord members and are usually left out of the nomenclature. Complex harmonies based on extended chords are found in abundance in jazz, late-romantic music, modern orchestral works, film music, etc.

Harmonization usually sounds pleasant to the ear when there is a balance between the consonant and dissonant sounds. Preparing tension means to place a series of consonant chords that lead smoothly to the dissonant chord. In this way the composer ensures introducing tension smoothly, without disturbing the listener. Once the piece reaches its sub-climax, the listener needs a moment of relaxation to clear up the tension, which is obtained by playing a consonant chord that resolves the tension of the previous chords.

The clearing of this tension usually sounds pleasant to the listener, although this is not always the case in late-nineteenth century music, such as Tristan und Isolde by Richard Wagner. Harmony is based on consonance, a concept whose definition has changed various times during the history of Western music.

In a psychological approach, consonance is a continuous variable. Consonance can vary across a wide range. A chord may sound consonant for various reasons. One is lack of perceptual roughness. Critical bandwidth lies between 2 and 3 semitones at high frequencies and becomes larger at lower frequencies. The roughness of two simultaneous harmonic complex tones depends on the amplitudes of the harmonics and the interval between the tones. The roughest interval in the chromatic scale is the minor second and its inversion the major seventh.

For typical spectral envelopes in the central range, the second roughest interval is the major second and minor seventh, followed by the tritone, the minor third minor sixth and the perfect fourth fifth. The second reason is perceptual fusion. A chord fuses in perception if its overall spectrum is similar to a harmonic series. According to this definition a major triad fuses better than a minor triad and a major-minor seventh chord fuses better than a major-major seventh or minor-minor seventh.

These differences may not be readily apparent in tempered contexts but can explain why major triads are generally more prevalent than minor triads and major-minor sevenths generally more prevalent than other sevenths in spite of the dissonance of the tritone interval in mainstream tonal music. Of course these comparisons depend on style. The third reason is familiarity.

Chords that have often been heard in musical contexts tend to sound more consonant. This principle explains the gradual historical increase in harmonic complexity of Western music.


Establish a toolkit of musical expertise that will prepare you for any musical endeavor or opportunity. This advanced music theory course provides you with a professional command of the mechanics of contemporary music. You'll learn to write effective jazz, pop, and rock-influenced pentatonic and modal melodies as well as master anticipations and articulations that will give your music the necessary sound and "character" to fit these styles.

You'll also master triplets, swing eighths, and sixteenth notes in double time feel, as well as topics related to improvisation and melody including chord scales, avoid notes, approach notes, and modal and pentatonic scales. With this level of music theory, there will be practically no barriers between you and the music you want to create. By the end of this course, you will be able to Read and write rhythms that include triplets and swing eighth notes Write and analyze diatonic chord progressions in minor Read and write rhythms that include sixteenth notes in a double time feel Construct modal scales and identify by sound Construct pentatonic scales and identify by sound Write a pentatonic melody over a basic blues progression Understand and use slash chords and bass pedal points Read Less Overview Syllabus Requirements Instructors Enroll Now No application required Request Info Need guidance?

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Please make sure to also check the Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements section above, and ensure your computer meets or exceeds the minimum system requirements for all software needed for your course. Paul Schmeling is a master pianist, interpreter, improviser and arranger who has inspired countless students since he began teaching at Berklee in In the s, the Paul Schmeling Trio released two inventive and critically acclaimed albums, interpreting the music of Hoagy Carmichael and songs associated with Frank Sinatra.

Recently retired as chair of the piano department, he is co-author of the Berklee Practice Method: Keyboard and Instant Keyboard and the author of Berklee Music Theory: Book 1.

Music theory

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Advanced Music Theory - Harmony

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