Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
- This article is about musical harmony. For other uses of the term, see Harmony (disambiguation).
Harmony is the use and study of pitch simultaneity and chords, actual or implied, in music. It is sometimes referred to as the "vertical" aspect of music, with melody being the "horizontal" aspect. Very often, harmony is a result of counterpoint or polyphony, several melodic lines or motifs being played at once, though harmony may control the counterpoint.
Some traditions of music performance, composition, and theory have specific rules of harmony. These rules are often held to be based on a natural properties such as Pythagorean tuning's low whole number ratios ("harmoniousness" being inherent in the ratios either perceptually or in themselves) or harmonics and resonances ("harmoniousness" being inherent in the quality of sound), with the allowable pitches and harmonies gaining their beauty or simplicity from their closeness to those properties.
Although most harmony comes about as a result of two or more notes being sounded simultaneously, it is possible to create harmony with only one melodic line. There are many pieces from the baroque period for solo string instruments for example, in which chords are very rare, but which nonetheless convey a full sense of harmony.
For much of the history of western classical music, including the common practice period, the conventions and rules of harmony were strictly enforced, often by the controlling influence of the Roman Catholic Church, while folk music and non-Western music also developed often widely different notions of harmony. Church music was controlled by the churches in the Baroque and Classical periods, and music which had harmonies considered too dissonant were frowned upon. However, there was a general trend from the classical period to the 20th century in western classical music for harmony to become more advanced, with composers breaking many of the conventions which were once considered "rules".
Carl Dahlhaus (1990) distinguishes between coordinate and subordinate harmony. Subordinate harmony is the hierarchical tonality or tonal harmony well known today, while coordinate harmony is the older Medieval and Renaissance tonalité ancienne, "the term is meant to signify that sonorities are linked one after the other without giving rise to the impression of a goal-directed development. A first chord forms a "progression" with a second chord, and a second with a third. But the earlier chord progression is independent of the later one and vice versa." Coordinate harmony follows direct (adjacent) relationships rather than indirect as in subordinate. Interval cycles create symmetrical harmonies, such as frequently in the music of Alban Berg, George Perle, Arnold Schoenberg, Béla Bartók, and Edgard Varčse's Density 21.5.
Harmony may also be distinguished as centrifugal or centripetal harmony, harmony which leads away from or to the tonic, respectively. For example, music of the classical era is most often centrifugal, while the ragtime progression is centripetal. (van der Merwe 1989)
- Harmonic series
- Chord sequence
- Physics of music
- Mathematics of musical scales
- unified field
- Twentieth Century Harmony: Creative Aspects and Practice by Vincent Persichetti, ISBN 0393095398.
- Arnold Schoenberg -- Harmonielehre. Universal Edition, 1911. Trans. by Roy Carter as Theory of Harmony. University of California Press, 1978
- Arnold Schoenberg -- Structural Functions of Harmony. Ernest Benn Limited, second (revised) edition, 1969. Ed. Leonard Stein.
- Walter Piston -- Harmony, 1969. ISBN 0393954803.
- Copley, R. Evan (1991). Harmony, Baroque to Contemporary, Part One (2nd ed.). Champaign: Stipes Publishing. ISBN 0-87563-373-0.
- Copley, R. Evan (1991). Harmony, Baroque to Contemporary, Part Two (2nd ed.). Champaign: Stipes Publishing. ISBN 0-87563-377-3.
- Dahlhaus, Carl. Gjerdingen, Robert O. trans. (1990). Studies in the Origin of Harmonic Tonality, p.141. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0691091358.
- van der Merwe, Peter (1989). Origins of the Popular Style: The Antecedents of Twentieth-Century Popular Music. Oxford: Clarendon Press. ISBN 0193161214.
- Tonal Harmony Reference Materials for the Undergraduate Theory Student
- Harmonic Progressions with demos and how to harmonise a melody
- General Principles of Harmony by Alan Belkin
- Tonalsoft Encyclopaedia of Tuning
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