For example in the E minor scale

Can I stack all these harmonies? Or will it sound "out of tune".

• 3rd
• 4th
• 5th
• Minor triad
• octave

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    Hi James, welcome to Music.SE! Can you clarify your question a bit? It's unclear to me what 3rd, 4th, and 5th harmonies are. – Richard Jan 3 at 11:07

The first paragraph in Chapter 1 of Persichetti's '20th Century Harmony' speaks to this:

Any tone can succeed any other tone, any tone can sound simultaneously with any other tone or tones, and any group of tones can be followed by any other group of tones, just as any degree of tension or nuance can occur in any medium under any kind of stress or duration.

An interval has a kind of "character" that it contributes to a chord and sometimes that character can only be identified by how that chord is used. For example, not all but some chords may or may not sound 'restless', depending on what other things are around them (i.e. depending on context).

So, whether you "can or can not" is replaced with "should or should not", and the latter depends on you and/or what you're trying to do.


There are no real rules governing this. It's down to the composer and the listener.

Strangely, a combination of notes may sound good in one situation, but bad in another. It will also depend how that combination is played, and where in the bar.

So, even if one person says it's good, and another disagrees, does that make it good or not? And its context is all important. You may well want something to sound dissonant, knowing the very next harmony suddenly makes the sun shine again. Or not. Don't be governed by the rules. They're often inappropriate, depending of course on circumstances. More importantly, trust your (and others) ears.

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