Stack Exchange Network

Stack Exchange network consists of 175 Q&A communities including Stack Overflow, the largest, most trusted online community for developers to learn, share their knowledge, and build their careers.

Visit Stack Exchange

Questions tagged [harmony]

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

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 ...
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, ...
31
votes
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 ...
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 ...
29
votes
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 ...
28
votes
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 ...
27
votes
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 ...
26
votes
9answers
4k views

How to modulate very smoothly and stealthily from major to minor?

I would like to modulate from G major to c minor in such a way that it would be almost unnoticeable to the listener. I'm composing a piece in a style that's very Arvo-Pärtesque minimalist-sounding, so ...
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 ...
21
votes
5answers
8k views

Prokofiev's style

I have a predilection for music from the first half of the 20th century. I can't pinpoint the exact reason why, I suspect it is from absorbing so much music from movies, tv series and computer games ...
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 ...
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 ...
20
votes
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?
20
votes
9answers
4k views

In blues, country blues, why don't songwriters get sued for aping the same progressions/tempos/scales as other established blues songs?

Thought: As a guitar player, you can play the blues in pretty much any scale, A for instance with stock rhythms and endings. Example: You write a song in that scale you may even use the same solo ...
20
votes
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?
20
votes
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?
20
votes
1answer
3k views

What is a multi-tonic system?

Coltrane changes, Slonimsky-Schillinger Symmetric System, three-tonic system, four-tonic system: what are they? How are they used in improvisation, composition, harmonization, and reharmonization? Are ...
19
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 ...
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?
18
votes
5answers
16k views

F# major vs Gb major?

I was looking at Dvorak's Humoresque (op 101 n 7) : it's mostly in G♭ major, in the middle it changes to F♯ minor. This would have looked more natural for me if F♯ major instead of G♭ major were used. ...
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 ...
17
votes
3answers
3k views

Why does the chord progression Dmaj -> Emaj -> Bmaj sound good?

I looked up the chord progressions for all major and minor scale keys, but this combination doesn't match any of them. Why does it work well?
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
6answers
703 views

My ear is not very well trained - what can I look for as easy hints when trying to identify a ii-V-I progression in blues music?

I'm looking to learn how to better analyze music I am listening to, and I'm having problems identifying ii-V-I progressions, especially when they're the basis for improvisation. What are some hints or ...
16
votes
1answer
2k views

Singing: How to pre-visualize harmonies

When singing, I have a good singing voice for harmony--once I've identified the note. However, finding the note is exactly my problem; I tend towards singing the note the lead singer is using if I'm ...
16
votes
3answers
1k views

Should the dominant-seventh chord in just intonation use 9:5 for its seventh, or rather 16:9?

It may be just out of habit, what with the 12-edo temperament all around us, but anyway: I find the dominant-seventh rendition 20:25:30:36 sounds extremely harsh. In particular, the tritone from the ...
15
votes
5answers
4k views

Do capable harmony singers sing in just intonation or tempered tuning?

I understand that the mathematical frequency ratios between certain intervals will correlate with the overtones that are present when a note sounds in a fundamental frequency. Certain predictable ...
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 (...
15
votes
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
7answers
2k views

How do you voice extended chords?

If I have a Cmaj13 chord, it uses 7 notes. Basically all the notes of the scale. In a previous question, I was told that you rarely play all 7 notes for a 13th chord. So how do you know which ones to ...
14
votes
9answers
2k views

How can I learn about reasons for choosing different ways to play a chord?

I was playing a song where E7 was written as 022130 as opposed to 020100 which I'm used to playing. It sounds "stronger" and "rounder" to me, similar to playing G as 320033 as opposed to 320003. I ...
14
votes
9answers
15k views

Is Emajor the dominant chord in the key of A minor?

I read somewhere that Emajor is the dominant (V) chord in A minor. Is this correct? If so, why is it not Eminor, since the A minor scale has no sharps or flats in it?
14
votes
3answers
6k views

What is tritone substitution?

What is tritone substitution? How can this device be applied to improvisation and composition?
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 ...
14
votes
3answers
1k views

Pentatonic scale with a sharpened 2nd note, any name?

I was messing with the A minor pentatonic scale and discovered that if I sharpen the 2nd note of the scale, it sounds very interesting to my ears, even more than the original scale. Does this already ...
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, ...
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 ...
13
votes
4answers
2k views

Why do we only build 7th chords on the supertonic and dominant of a major scale?

I am just cracking into a book on basic Harmony (Mark Sarnecki, 2nd edition), and the first section begins with a review of the triads built on each degree of a C major scale, as shown in this picture....
13
votes
5answers
3k views

C#m in Am chord progression

I was listening this song; Chord progression is something like this; Am, E, F, C, Dm .(BTW His guitar is tuned half step down) And almost all solos are in A minor/...
13
votes
5answers
1k views

Can any diminished chord be used as V anywhere?

I've been playing with diminished chords as 'V' in ii-V-I progressions. I often use one of the three diminished chords in a ii-V-I progression -- I sharpen the 5th note of the scale and hang a ...
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 ...
13
votes
3answers
997 views

How to make C lydian not sound like G ionian?

What are some concrete melodic and harmonic tools to establish the correct tonic center in a lydian melody? The reason for asking about lydian specifically is that there is no minor seventh for the ...
12
votes
3answers
2k views

Can I turn any synthesized instrument into a bass by lowering the frequency?

In terms of electronic music, when I'm picking a "bass" can I choose any instrument, including leads, and just set that instrument to be of lower frequency (lowering the octave) in order to create a ...
12
votes
3answers
3k views

How did Mozart know about voice leading rules like consecutive fifths?

What education did Mozart receive in order to know basic harmony rules, like consecutive fifths are bad? And how did he make sure his compositions do not have errors? Did he have to check every voices ...
12
votes
2answers
8k views

What's the difference between harmony and polyphony?

What's the difference between harmony and polyphony? Is it a matter of perspective or is there a qualitative difference?
12
votes
7answers
2k views

How much are composers aware of the harmony structure they are using? [closed]

I am mostly referring to composers writing complex music, for example, classic composers. In particular, I am referring to change of harmony, and change of key. Let's take for example a fugue for ...
12
votes
6answers
5k views

Understanding the elements of harmony in “honky-tonk” or ragtime style piano

I enjoy improvising piano in what I call (perhaps incorrectly) a "honky-tonk" or "ragtime" style, usually involving a steady stride or two-step in the left hand, and playing over that with lots of ...
12
votes
1answer
2k 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 ...
12
votes
3answers
1k views

Interval of a 4th above the bass

As I was studying music theory (harmonizing a melody in particular) I got confused with the statement: The interval of a 4th above the bass is considered dissonant and must resolve down by step. ...
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 ...