While melody may be the star of most musical compositions, harmony is what provides all the color! Harmony consists of the notes that support the melody, whether in the form of a vocal line or a chord progression. With a strong understanding of harmony, composers can create and enhance any mood they wish. In this article, we will explore the basics of the subject and how you can use it in your own writing!

Single-Line Harmony

This type of harmony is probably what most people think of when they hear the word! At its simplest, one singer or instrumentalist plays the melody, and a second plays along in the same rhythm but with different notes. The contrast created by the differing pitches create the beauty known as harmony!

Though there are technically no right or wrong notes to create a harmony with, 3rds and 6ths are the most common. Also, harmonies often stick to below or above the melody; they rarely cross. This is a great rule of thumb to follow, as it keeps the melody in focus!

Chord Progressions

When we talk about chords, we are talking about harmony. As a chord changes, the harmony beneath the melody changes. A melody can take on a totally different feeling and mood simply by placing different chords beneath it!

As a general rule, a chord will sound “right” under melody notes that are mostly included in that chord. However, there are exceptions.

A great exercise to try for yourself is taking a small 4-bar melody and creating 3 different chord progressions that work beneath it. Give it a shot!

Combined Methods

Often, fully realized pieces of music will contain elements of both of the above techniques. If you are writing for multiple instruments or voices, it is important to know who is playing what note. By arranging each pitch thoughtfully, you can achieve a smooth and pleasing sound!

Closing Notes

Harmony is one of the more advanced subjects in music. To work with one of Toronto’s best at gaining a fuller understanding of the area, contact us today! Also, be sure to check out the blog next week as we continue our composition series!

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