What Is Harmony in Music?

What is Harmony in music?   In music harmony is defined as the combined use of notes or chords. In order to fully understand harmony one must understand chords.



Specific notes make up chords and chord progressions.  Harmony  is two or more notes being played together to create a beautiful sound.

 On the other hand the notes which comprise the melody are a singular line of horizontal notes.  These notes are sung or played by a musical instrument.

Harmony in music

Harmony in music is found in all musical styles.   A more advanced concept of harmony in music is termed counterpoint. This refers to the interaction between 2 or more melodic lines. Also, this is common such in 18th century Baroque music.

Here is another example of thinking about music harmony.  If one person sings a vocal solo, that would be a melody. If two people sing a duet, the second person singing would be creating harmony with the melody of the first vocalist.

So it is the same principle  in any other musical ensemble. The melody is the part of the music that we can sing along with while the harmony is everything else but the melody.

Chords as Harmony

One of the most basic forms of harmony in piano music is the use of chords as harmony. A piano chord consists of two or more notes played together in either hand. This creates harmony when played along with any given melody.

Either the left hand or the right hand can play the harmony, just as either hand can play the melody.  An example of a right hand melody accompanied by a left hand harmony made up of chords is below.

 C Major Chord Progression

A chord progression is a series of chords or chord changes.  This chord progression has the goal of establishing a certain key.  So you can view an example is the C Major chord progression as seen below.

This chord progression begins with the root or tonic chord of C Major (labeled here as the “I” chord, or Roman Numeral One Chord).   This chord progression then moves or progresses through several other chords before returning to the C Major chord again.   Therefore, this establishes the Key of C Major.

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C Major Chord Progression

G Major Chord Progression

The G Major chord progression below is the same series of chords as seen above in the C major chord progression. All of the notes are now transposed or moved up to the G position.

Again the G major chord is indicated as the “I chord” which begins and ends this progression.  The additional 3rd line of notes on the bottom bass clef are simply the same notes from the middle bass clef moved down one octave.

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Music Links

Mixed Up Intervals in the C Position on Piano

I Know, Let’s Play Two Notes Together

Learn About Music Note Values

 

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