What's it called when the harmony moves in the exact same intervals as a melody, even if it is chromatic? Here's an example: Chromatic harmony with the melody in C major

My apologies, I would do actual notation but I am not currently able to. Is there a name for this movement of harmony with the same intervals as the melody? Here is the music:

  • I'd call it parallel harmony. Many special cases exist. Like parallel fifths, diatonic parallel thirds, chromatic parallel thirds, parallel sixth chords - a technique known as faux bourdon in certain styles, especially when diatonic.
    – sehe
    Mar 2 at 23:23

4 Answers 4


I'm adding an answer just to add the other basic motion types. You might as well learn those too.

The intervallic relationship of two voices in motion can be called relative motion. That is, rather than describing motion as ascending or descending, it is described in terms of one voice relative to the other.

The broad categories are: contrary, oblique, and similar. Contrary motion is voices both moving in opposite directions. Oblique motion is one voice not moving while the other moves. Similar motion is both voices moving in the same direction.

Similar motion also has a specific sub-category: parallel motion. Parallel motion is when the two voices move in the same direction but maintain exactly the same interval of distance between the voices.

Parallel motion also means that the melodic intervals of the two melodies are exactly the same. You can think of the two voices as merely an exact transposition of one for the other.

You may have heard, or will eventually come across, the idea that parallel motion is prohibited in music. In "classical" common practice era harmony, and in the old contrapuntal style of harmony, melodic variety was prized. The exact duplication of melodic material that comes from parallel motion is the reason those styles considered it a problem and tried to avoid it. The prohibition does not necessarily apply in other styles of music.


In addition to "parallelism", or "parallel motion", the term "doubling" is also used. "Doubling" often means the same note, possibly in a different octave, so to be specific one would say a part is doubled at a certain interval. The given example would be "doubled at the third". This could be further specified as "major third" above or below according to which line is considered the melody and which the harmony.


I would go with the word "parallelism." The term would definitely apply with identical chromatic intervals, and (non-authoritative) I think I would call it that with diatonic harmomies as well, e.g.,

C-E-G -> D-F-A

even though E to F is just a half step.


'Doubled a major 3rd above' (or below). To describe your example accurately we have to specify the exact interval, just 'a third above' could imply a diatonic 3rd.

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