I know of chord progressions, they are the series of chords played throughout a piece. But I also heard of harmonies and I just associated harmonies with chord progressions, was I wrong to do that? In a song are there harmonies and chord progressions, or are they one and the same?

5 Answers 5


A chord progression is one way to represent the harmony of a piece, but it is not the sole definition of harmony. Harmony itself describes the simultaneous pitches or the "vertical" aspect of music. Chords represent harmonic structures and chord progressions themselves can tell you the overall harmonic ideas of the piece in certain contexts.

If you are looking at a lead sheet the chord progression is typically all the harmony you need to know. If we were to look at a different setting such as one of Bach's fugues or a polyphonic atonal piece there would still be harmony, but most people would not look at them as chord progressions. In the fugue functional harmony is still play, but the polyphony of different voices will create many other harmonies as the level of consonance and dissonance changes with every note and looking at each even as a chord and the whole piece as a chord progression would tiresome and not useful. In an atonal piece even if something remotely looks like a chord progression it's not accurately reflecting what is going on as chord symbols are tonal and the overall harmony is atonal.


Harmony is the chordal basis on which music is built. A chord progression is the specific way in which chords move from one to another. To introduce a certain amount of movement in music we want not stay on the same chord forever.

There exist different approaches in regards to the amount of movement that we introduce to our chord choices. For instance you had someone Franz Shubert, who like to do chord changes often and sometimes to the extreme. Sometimes having more than one chords in a bar for several bars in a row.

I'm personally of the opinion that a conservative approach to chord progression shows a certain amount of maturity in composition.

On the other hand you sometimes get baroque pieces that start on the tonic chord, go to the dominant for the rest of the phrase and then just end with a perfect cadence or interrupted cadence.

Harmony is the specific on how several voices interact with each other. The concepts of voice leading. You do need to have a good understanding of chord progressions to do harmony exercises well, choosing chords is but one of the steps.

This includes things like voice leading, the quality of the form, counter movements, the manner in which the harmony modulates and also the chord progressions.


Harmony is the combination of simultaneous notes, which produces a chord. A series of chords produces a chord progression.


Chord progressions are simply chords arranged in a certain order. There is no right or wrong order it all just depends on what sound you're looking for and what sounds good or bad to you. Chords and chord progression make up harmony. Harmony is a concep and it deals with the vertical part of music. It's certain rules and regulations pertaining to harmony the act as parameters and give you different options for your chords and chord progressions. Again though, you don't have to follow these rules it all depends on the sound. Let your ear be the judge!


Tonic - Sub Dominant - Dominant - Tonic

The above would be the chord progression that would create harmonic interest

in any song, Some chords have more than one category of harmonic function

One of the best books I have read on this important art in song writing

Home Travel Destination Return Home explains the basics of Chord

Function in any musical Piece from Opera - Pop Songs - To Classical

Without that basic Harmonic movement in the underlying CHORDS your

music will never amount to something the average ear wants to hear

That Book I mentioned above Written by Jack Perricone Published by Berklee Press

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