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Harmony in music adds support, depth and richness to a melody. It refers to the way chords are constructed and
how they follow each other. A chord is a combination of three or more tones sounded at once. A chord progression
is a series of chords. Chord progressions enrich a melody by adding emphasis, surprise, suspense, and/or finality.

Consonance and Dissonance

Some chords are considered stable and restful, while others are unstable and tense. A tone combination that is stable
and restful is called a consonance. Consonances are points of arrival, rest, and resolution. A tone combination that is
unstable and tense is called a dissonance. Its tension demands an onward motion to a stable chord. When a
dissonance moves to a consonance, it is called a resolution. Consonance and dissonance can exist in varying
degrees. Some consonant chords are more stable than others, and some dissonant chords are more tense than others.

The Triad
Some chords consist of three different tones; others have four, five, or even more. The simplest, most basic chord
used is western music is the triad, which consists of three tones. A triad built on the first, or tonic note of the scale,
is called the tonic chord. It is the main chord of a piece, the most stable and conclusive. The tonic chord would
usually begin a composition and almost always end it.
The triad built on the fifth note of the scale is next in importance to the tonic. It is called the dominant chord. The
dominant chord is strongly pulled toward the tonic chord. This attraction has great importance in music. A dominant
chord sets up tension that is resolved by the tonic chord. The progression from dominant to tonic gives a strong
sense of conclusion, and that's why it is used so often at the end of a phrase, a melody, or an entire piece. A
progression from dominant chord to tonic chord is called a cadence. The word cadence means both the resting point
at the end of a melody and a chord progression that gives a sense of conclusion.

Broken Chords (Arpeggios)

When the individual tones of a chord are sounded one after another, instead of simultaneously, it is called a broken
chord or arpeggio.

Key refers to a central tone, scale and chord. Key, then, refers to the presence of a central note, scale, and chord
within a piece, with all the other tones heard in relationship to them. Another term for key is tonality, with its same
sense of relatedness to a central tone.

The Major Scale

The major scale has two kinds of intervals in a specific pattern of half steps and whole steps. The half step is the
smallest interval traditionally used in western music. The whole step is twice as large as the half step. A major scale
can begin on any of the twelve tones in an octave, so there are twelve possible major scales.

The Minor Scale

Along with the major scale, the minor scale is also fundamental to western music. The minor scale (like the major)
consists of seven different tones and an eighth tone that duplicates the first an octave higher. It differs from the
major scale in its pattern of intervals, or whole and half steps. Like the major scale, it can begin on any of the twelve
tones in an octave, so there are twelve possible scales for each of the different types of basic minor scales (natural or
pure minor, harmonic minor, and melodic minor).

The Key Signature

When a piece of music is based on a major scale, we say it is in a major key; when it is based on a minor scale, it is
said to be in a minor key. To indicate the key of a piece of music, the composer uses a key signature, consisting of
sharp or flat signs immediately following the clef sign at the beginning of the staff of a musical composition.

The Chromatic Scale

The twelve tones of the octave (all the white and black keys in one octave on the piano) form the chromatic scale.
Unlike those of the major or minor scales, tones of the chromatic scale are all the same distance apart (one halfstep). The word chromatic comes from the Greek word chroma (color). The traditional function of the chromatic
scale is to color or embellish the tones of the major and minor scales. The chromatic scale does not define a key. Its
tones contribute a sense of motion and tension.

Modulation: Change of Key

Shifting from one key to another within the same composition is called modulation. A modulation is like a
temporary shift in the center of gravity. It brings a new central tone, chord, and scale. Though modulations are
sometimes subtle and difficult to spot, they produce subconscious effects that increase our enjoyment of the music.

Tonic Key
No matter how often a piece changes key, there is usually one main key, called the tonic key. The tonic key is the
central key around which the whole piece is organized. Traditionally, a piece would usually begin in the tonic key
and practically always end in it. The other keys are subordinate to the tonic.

Musical Texture
At a particular moment within a piece, we may hear one unaccompanied melody, several simultaneous melodies, or
a melody with supporting chords. To describe these various possibilities, we use the term musical texture. It refers
to how many different layers of sound are heard at the same time, what kind of layers of sound are heard (melody or
harmony), and how layers of sound are related to each other. We will now look at the three basic musical textures
monophonic, polyphonic, and homophonic.

Monophonic Texture
The texture of a single melodic line without accompaniment is monophonic, meaning literally having one sound. If
you sing alone, you are making monophonic music. Performance of a single melodic line at the same pitch by more
than one instrument or voice is playing or singing in unison. This results in a fuller, richer sounding monophonic

Polyphonic Texture
Simultaneous performance of two or more melodic lines of relatively equal interest produces the texture called
polyphonic, meaning having many sounds. In polyphony, several melodic lines compete for attention. The
technique of combining several melodic lines into a meaningful whole is called counterpoint. (The term
contrapuntal texture is sometimes used in place of polyphonic texture). Polyphonic music often contains
imitation, which occurs when a melodic idea is presented by one voice or instrument and is then restated
immediately by another voice or instrument.

Homophonic Texture
When we hear one main melody accompanied by chords, the texture is called homophonic. Attention is focused on
the melody, which is supported and colored by sounds of subordinate interest.

Musical Form
Form in music is the organization of musical ideas in time. In a musical composition, pitch, tone color, dynamics,
rhythm, melody, and texture interact to produce a sense of shape and structure. The form becomes clearer as we
develop awareness and recall these parts through repeated listening.

Techniques That Create Musical Form

Repetition creates a sense of unity; contrast provides variety; and variation, in keeping some elements of a musical
thought while changing others. It gives a work unity and variety at the same time.
Musical repetition appeals to the pleasure we get in recognizing and remembering something. In music, repetition of
melodies or extended sections is a technique that creates a sense of unity, helps engrave a melody in the memory and
provides a feeling of balance and symmetry while binding a composition together.
Forward motion, conflict, and change of mood all come from contrast. Opposition of loud and soft, strings and
woodwinds, fast and slow, major and minor propels and develops musical ideas.
In the variation of a musical idea, some of its features can be retained while others are changed. The melody could
be restated with a different accompaniment. Or the pitches of a melody might stay the same while its rhythmic
pattern is changed. A whole composition can be created from a series of variations on a single musical idea.

Types of Musical Form

Certain musical forms are used extensively in popular music. The 12-bar blues (with its three 4-bar phrases) and the
32-bar song form (AABA with the B section or bridge being comprised of new harmonic material) are examples
of the many musical forms used in the music found in this course.

Musical Style
In music, style refers to a characteristic way of using melody, rhythm, tone color, dynamics, harmony, texture, and
form. The particular way these elements are combined can result in a total sound that's distinctive or unique. Musical
styles change from one historical period to the next. These changes are continuous, so any boundary line between
one style and the next can be only an approximation. Describing accurately what is happening in the music at any
moment helps us enjoy music more deeply by understanding it more completely. The more one understands the
music and how it functions, the greater one's listening pleasure can be. In particular, great works of music require
repeated listening to be able to fully comprehend all that is there to discover and enjoy.