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- This article is about musical harmony and harmonies. 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.
Origin of term
The word harmony comes from the Greek ἁρμονία harmonía meaning "a fastening or join". The concept of harmony dates as far back as Pythagoras.
Historical rules of harmony
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. Other traditions, such as the ban on parallel fifths, were simply matters of taste.
Although most harmony comes about as a result of two or more notes being sounded simultaneously, it is possible to strongly imply harmony with only one melodic line. There are many pieces from the baroque period for solo string instruments, such as Bach's Sonatas and partitas for solo violin, in which chords are very rare, but which nonetheless convey a full sense of harmony.
For much of the common practice period of European classical music, there was a general trend for harmony to become more dissonant; chords considered daring in one generation became commonplace in the next.
Types of harmony
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 Varèse's Density 21.5.
- Barbershop music
- Consonance and dissonance
- Chord (music)
- Chord sequence
- Chromatic chord
- Harmonic series
- Mathematics of musical scales
- Musica universalis
- Physics of music
- Show choir
- Unified field
- Voice leading
- Twentieth Century Harmony: Creative Aspects and Practice by Vincent Persichetti, ISBN 0-393-09539-8.
- 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 0-393-95480-3.
- 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.
- Fink, Bob (2004). On the Origin of Music. Greenwich, Canada. ISBN 0-912424-14-1. (ISBN Links to list of libraries where book is listed)
- Dahlhaus, Carl. Gjerdingen, Robert O. trans. (1990). Studies in the Origin of Harmonic Tonality, p.141. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-09135-8.
- van der Merwe, Peter (1989). Origins of the Popular Style: The Antecedents of Twentieth-Century Popular Music. Oxford: Clarendon Press. ISBN 0-19-316121-4.
- Harmonic Progressions with demos and how to harmonise a melody
- General Principles of Harmony by Alan Belkin
- Tonalsoft Encyclopaedia of Tuning
- On-line essay: Evidence of Harmony in Ancient Music, -- publ by Archaeo. Musicalis 1988). Study of oldest known song
- Role of the drone in the evolution of counterpoint & harmony
- Morphogenesis of chords and scales Chords and scales classification