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Questions tagged [harmony]

For questions about the "vertical" aspects of music and how to build and study them.

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27
votes
8answers
14k views

Understanding minor key harmony

A comment discussion under this question from me, clued me in to the fact that I don't really understand how minor keys work very well. So here is what I think I know The natural minor comes from the ...
37
votes
12answers
16k views

Why do many songs in major keys use a bVII chord?

Based on my understanding of chord theory, the chords used in most modern popular songs are comprised of notes that occur in the scale of the tonic key for that song. So the I, ii, iii, IV, V, vi, ...
21
votes
4answers
61k views

What is a secondary dominant chord?

What is a secondary dominant chord? What's the theory behind them? How are they used in composition?
32
votes
11answers
37k views

How is counterpoint different from harmony?

Harmony is a kind of second sound you hear. Counterpoint is also the second sound you hear. Aside from technical differentiation, how can you by ear differentiate these two concepts. Is it possible ...
18
votes
2answers
2k views

What is a Neapolitan 6th?

In studying music theory I have heard the term Neapolitan 6th quite a few times, but I'm not quite sure what it is. What is a Neapolitan 6th and how is it used in a composition?
31
votes
6answers
3k views

Why is bass note so important in harmonic analysis of music?

In any type of harmonic analysis the bass plays a big part in determining the function of the harmony. There are even special ways to describe what note of the chord is in the bass (known as ...
9
votes
4answers
49k views

What is the correct process for deriving the 'mirror' or 'negative' harmony of a progression?

I recently stumbled upon the concept of negative harmony in these threads: https://www.talkbass.com/threads/negative-harmony.533862/#post7227335 http://www.jazzguitar.be/forum/theory/30394-negative-...
6
votes
7answers
8k views

Will a song written in a key only use chords in that key?

When you figure out a key that a song is written in. Will the entire song use the chords in that key? With maybe an accidental?? I've tried several different methods.
54
votes
4answers
33k views

What are some chord substitutions for a I-IV-V blues progression?

I was watching a video of SRV and one of the things that really stood out was the fact that he seemed to have a different iteration of the I-IV-V turnaround - and made it look/sound effortless. Any ...
17
votes
1answer
1k views

Locrian Harmony

I like utilizing modes in my the pieces I write, but there is one mode I've never been able to fully grasp and utilize and that is the Locrian mode. The chords that naturally occur in the Locrian ...
16
votes
3answers
7k views

What is tritone substitution?

What is tritone substitution? How can this device be applied to improvisation and composition?
20
votes
2answers
11k views

Is there any real difference between Counterpoint and Polyphony?

From what I understand, they both kind of refer to the same thing. Why the need for 2 terms?
4
votes
1answer
2k views

How are keys in the circle of fifths related?

I know this seems like a basic question, and in the traditional sense, I actually know how they are related. Though, while reading a book titled 'Harmony for Computer Musicians', I've come across a ...
13
votes
3answers
7k views

In Jazz, what is an avoid note?

Why are some scale degrees avoided? What is the reasoning behind the avoid notes? Are there avoid notes in all modes? If so, which are the avoid notes of the different modes? Is this pattern widely ...
13
votes
1answer
3k views

Why does the dominant lead to the tonic?

Going from a dominant to the chord to which it is a dominant always sounds good to the ear. It feels like the chord leads to the next one. And if the composition or movement is written in a specific ...
5
votes
2answers
607 views

What chords count as “diatonic” in minor?

Do triads from all forms of minor count as "diatonic triads"? Triads from A Aeolian / Nat Minor am b˚ C dm em F G Triads from A Harmonic Minor am b˚ C+ dm E F g#˚ Triads from A Melodic Minor am ...
5
votes
4answers
900 views

Why does the chord progression (i-)#IV-i sound acceptable?

The (i-)#IV-i chord progression is somewhat common in heavy metal from my experience--listen to 0:19-0:25 of this, 1:09-1:12 of this, 0:08-0:13 of this, and 0:16-0:24 of this for heavy metal examples ...
4
votes
3answers
2k views

What are the different ways of adding non-diatonic chords? [closed]

I'm trying to add more detail to what I'm playing by using non-diatonic chords. So far the main ways I have found are: Borrowing chords from parallel key (mode mixture) Chromatic Mediants (playing ...
6
votes
2answers
291 views

How do I go about naming/understanding the second chord in corcovado

I'm in the habit of writing lead sheets down for songs I learn, and the second chord of this stumped me. The notes are, starting at the bottom, G#, F, B E. The context is | Am6 | % | ...
3
votes
1answer
242 views

Sources of harmonic ambiguity in tonal music [closed]

What are sources of harmonic ambiguity in tonal music? Some that I know of include diminished seventh chords, passing tones which could be interpreted as chord tones, and open fifth chords. EDIT: I ...
3
votes
4answers
200 views

Do “augmented-six” chords always have to be bVI?

Suppose we are in the key of C: Ab7 would be the "augmented-six" chord. But doesn't any 7th chord have the same intervals as the bVI7? Why does bVI7 only have the particular name of "augmented six"?...
20
votes
6answers
29k views

Do all chords in a progression usually fit within a scale

I am wondering if when writing a chord progression, all the notes fit within a single scale. If not, what is the logic behind chord progressions?
20
votes
5answers
4k views

Guide-lines for creating a simple chord-progression?

I am working on a computer program that generates a simple melody, based on a simple chord progression of four chords taken from the 7 triads of the C Major scale. The program is also supposed to ...
28
votes
9answers
22k views

How to dramatically change the feeling of a song while keeping the melody largely the same?

How to dramatically change the feeling of a song while keeping the melody largely the same? Let's say we have a happy, upbeat pop song and we want to turn it into a sad song (or vice versa). Is it ...
17
votes
6answers
1k views

avoiding thirds at lower frequencies

From Plomp & Levelt 1965, Tonal Consonance and Critical Bandwidth: "The critical frequency is lower for more consonant intervals. This behavior reflects the musical practice to avoid thirds at low ...
18
votes
6answers
3k views

Harmony in Phrygian : What chords are tonic, subdominant, and dominant?

Phrygian is a very distinct sounding mode. I've been trying to better understand the harmony of the mode so I can use it more. Obviously the i chord is a tonic chord and iv is a subdominant chord, but ...
24
votes
8answers
16k views

Is F Lydian mode in the “key” of C Major?

In most cases (if not all), a piece of music without sharps or flats in the key signature, would be considered in the key of C major or A minor. This question assumes the context of Western Music ...
16
votes
1answer
5k views

What is harmonic mixing / mix in key?

I'm currently learning how to become a DJ. One of the concepts that caught my attention was "harmonic mixing". I know some very basic music theory, and I'm having some trouble understanding it. What ...
16
votes
4answers
28k views

What is the best way to learn to sing harmony?

I am quite capable of singing the lead vocal but have a difficult time finding the 3rd or 5th harmony in order to harmonize with someone else. Is there a method of learning to hear or find the ...
14
votes
8answers
5k views

Is the IV chord a perfect fifth in disguise?

They say the root of the IV chord is a perfect fourth away from the key's tonic. But isn't it a perfect fifth from the tonic (if we go the other way)? let's for the sake of coolness, call it a perfect ...
13
votes
8answers
15k views

Theory behind the change from a major chord to the same in minor

In many songs I hear the change from a major chord to the same, but minor. For example F A Bb Bbm. It sounds really nice to me and I'm wondering if there is a theory behind it. Is there a genre ...
9
votes
2answers
702 views

Why is the third triad dominant?

I'm working through "Guide to the Practical Study of Harmony" by Tchaikovsky and I had a question about this section on triads (he's working with a C Major scale): The whole mass of major and minor ...
14
votes
1answer
3k views

What are the Coltrane Changes?

Also known as Coltrane Matrix, Coltrane Cycle, chromatic third relations, and multi-tonic changes. What are the Coltrane Changes? What's the theory behind them? How are they used in improvisation, ...
12
votes
2answers
1k views

Correct terminology for chord inversions

I am confused with what I've read in various sources concerning chord notations. Is there a standard notation for chord inversions? As far as I understand, a chord inversion is determined from the ...
11
votes
3answers
2k views

Why is bII 7(b5) considered a dominant?

I am using Ear Master for ear training and at the Chord Progression exercises, there is an exercise called "Various dominant-tonic combinations". These are the chord progressions that are being ...
9
votes
3answers
656 views

Harmonic implications of an instrument's timbre

Is there a study of harmonic implications of an instrument's timbre in western music theory? For example: If i use an instrument with a "rich" timbre, with lots of overtones, then isn't the sound ...
9
votes
4answers
1k views

Proper understanding of dissonance

I have recently had a big eye opener with one of my guitar pieces in how it uses dissonance in a musical way to make interesting music. I have always thought that for music to be dissonant is for it ...
7
votes
5answers
1k views

How does modal jazz use chord progressions?

I read that jazz uses the chord progression "ii V I" alot. But another thing I heard is that modal jazz doesn't think in chord functions instead it uses modes. Which made me confused. Does that mean ...
5
votes
2answers
627 views

Modal Cadence Options

I understand that when playing in a mode, the cadences are quite different from tonal cadences. For example, in the Phrygian mode a cadence would be IV - iii (or II - i if we're renumbering the chords)...
3
votes
1answer
5k views

Old Books with chord progression charts or matrices?

I've heard that there are old books with chord progression charts that tell you which chords are likely/plausible to come after a given chord. A music teacher said there are charts that can get quite ...
12
votes
7answers
3k views

“The intervals considered dissonant have changed since the 'Middle Ages'”; How so?

In reading my new book 'Complete Classical Music Guide', I understand the following: If two notes are separated by a consonant the sound is pleasing to the ears. If they are of a dissonant ...
11
votes
3answers
8k views

What is a parallel mode?

What is a parallel mode? How are the parallel modes used in composition and/or improvisation?
7
votes
2answers
911 views

Accidentals in First Species Counterpoint

On page 39 of Alfred Mann's The Study of Counterpoint there is a passage concerning justification of using accidentals in first species counterpoint. Here is the passage: Aloys: [...]but why did ...
6
votes
4answers
304 views

Do 4-part harmony rules also apply to piano arrangements?

Does rules in 4-part harmony also apply to piano arrangements ? Like for example no doubling the 3rd note of the chord, or moving in parallel 5, etc.
5
votes
2answers
136 views

Using standard Roman numeral analysis how should 7th and 9th qualities be determined?

Example: C: V7 or inversions like C: V6/5 are understood to be dominant-seventh chords and C: V9 a dominant ninth chord with a diatonic, major ninth. I think the basic idea is all the Arabic ...
4
votes
2answers
274 views

Perfect 4th is dissonant?

Why is the perfect fourth dissonant in some cases when it does not sound dissonant? When I play it in closed position, it does not sound dissonant at all. When I play it as a compound interval, I ...
4
votes
6answers
627 views

Why does VII have dominant function in natural minor

I have noticed with my own compositions that I can take something like B♭ major and use it to prepare for a C minor entrance, even if C minor is in fact the tonic. Also I have noticed that I can use G ...
4
votes
2answers
363 views

What causes consonance in music?

I am trying to understand why certain pitches or notes sound pleasant together and others doesn't. So far my understanding is that simpler ratios between the frequencies of the notes means they are ...
3
votes
2answers
420 views

What is dominant embellishment? [duplicate]

What I have been told is V6(over)4 to 5(over)3 means it's really I 6(over)4 to a root position dominant if I wasn't mistaken when taking notes? What is this, what does the 5(over)3 mean, why is this ...
-2
votes
2answers
254 views

♭II6-I Cadence: Plagal or Authentic?

Chopin's Etude No. 16 in A minor, Op. 25 No. 4, ends with a cadence like this: B♭/D - A In Roman numerals, we write as: ♭II6 - I Is this cadence viewed as Plagal (N6 - I), or Authentic (tt - ...