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Questions tagged [harmony]

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

27
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8answers
12k 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 ...
35
votes
12answers
13k 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, ...
20
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4answers
55k 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?
31
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11answers
34k 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
1k 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?
6
votes
7answers
7k 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
31k 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 ...
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 ...
20
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2answers
10k 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?
15
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1answer
920 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 ...
14
votes
3answers
6k views

What is tritone substitution?

What is tritone substitution? How can this device be applied to improvisation and composition?
3
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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 ...
5
votes
4answers
695 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 ...
5
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3answers
548 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
187 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 ...
20
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6answers
26k 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?
28
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9answers
20k 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 ...
19
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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 ...
17
votes
6answers
920 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 ...
6
votes
4answers
34k 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-...
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 ...
14
votes
4answers
25k 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 ...
13
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 ...
20
votes
8answers
13k 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 ...
13
votes
3answers
6k 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 ...
11
votes
8answers
13k 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 ...
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 ...
14
votes
1answer
2k 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
960 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 ...
10
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
2answers
386 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 ...
9
votes
4answers
974 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
4k 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 ...
11
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3answers
7k views

What is a parallel mode?

What is a parallel mode? How are the parallel modes used in composition and/or improvisation?
7
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2answers
842 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 ...
5
votes
3answers
1k views

Why isn't there a closely related key to C minor that has D as tonic?

For minor keys, there are no closely related keys built on the second scale degree. Why? Is it because the chord built from the second scale degree is diminished?
4
votes
2answers
263 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 ...
7
votes
1answer
883 views

What is the name of the (I think) Renaissance harmonic device used in choral music that sounds slightly odd today?

I remember in college hearing about people playing minor 'pranks' using this device, however I've forgotten the name and I can't remember the exact details. It has to do with notes (possibly sevenths?...
6
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4answers
4k views

Modal chord progressions for Rock music

I need some solid understanding on modal chord progressions. I would be glad if you can explain and give examples this especially from a rock or blues music perspective
4
votes
2answers
620 views

What's significant about diatonic scales? Are there equivalents to the diatonic scales in smaller divisions of the octave (e.g. 19-EDO, 31-EDO, etc.)?

Wikipedia defines a diatonic scale like so: In music theory, a diatonic scale is a heptatonic scale that includes five whole steps and two half steps in each octave, in which the two half steps ...
4
votes
4answers
427 views

Locrian mode and power chords

I'm studying in an online game music course, and I'm experimenting Modes to add unusual sound to the music. I'm a complete newbie in music. So let's have the Locrian mode, the root chord is a dimished ...
3
votes
3answers
154 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.
2
votes
2answers
1k views

In a song, what helps people distinguish between the main melody and the harmony?

It seems like people, regardless of their knowledge or "sense" of harmony, can naturally tell which one is the main melody and which is the harmony in a song--even if the melody is never played alone (...
0
votes
3answers
209 views

Why are in music theory perfect fifth parallels forbidden?

Why are parallel fifths forbidden? Why should the only known (for hundreds of years!) polyphonie suddenly be not ok?
29
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6answers
4k views

How to create Chord progressions that make sense

I've been reading over Walter Piston's Harmony book, and it has been an eye-opener to say the least. I understand concepts like tension and release, voice leading and so forth, but I still don't ...
21
votes
4answers
1k views

Why do melodies have harmonies?

It seems to me that every melody can be assigned chords. Although different people may assign different chords, in many cases, only certain chords (a small subset of all possible chord choices) seem ...
10
votes
3answers
635 views

Why does Fux use F# in his counterpoint to a firmus written in G mixolydian

In the given image below, Fux writes a counterpoint to a cantus firmus given to him as part of his studies by his fictitious teacher Aloysious. A rule that is often emphasised is that one should ...
15
votes
4answers
60k views

How do I practice harmonizing in singing?

I'm not good at singing harmonies. In my mind to harmonize, you can just sing an alternate melody and that usually sounds good with the main melody. I don't think to myself that I have to sing a 5th (...
9
votes
3answers
5k views

When to use inversions in harmonizing a bass line

What exactly is the procedure for harmonizing a bass line? In my class, the teacher introduced inversions of chords, which are not hard to understand per se, but I can't wrap my head around how can I ...
21
votes
3answers
3k views

Beatles - Because: Chord progression

I am currently looking at this tune but I'm a bit confused by a part of the progression. It seems to be using chords built mostly from the C# harmonic minor scale. So, my current understanding ...