What is harmony in music?
When it comes to music, it is not necessary to know everything about it to be creative. But there are a few basic elements that are important and required for improvising your songwriting talent. And to achieve that harmony is one of those important elements.
It is one of the most important elements of any song and is equally hard to get it right.
Whether you are a well-established music writer or just a beginner, it is important to understand the basic creative fundamentals of music. So today, we will help you explain what “harmony” really is in a piece of music.
What is harmony in music?
Music contains 3 main elements- rhythm, melody, and harmony. The first two elements rhythm, melody are responsible for making any song memorable. Harmony occurs when two or more differently pitched notes are brought or played together at the same time.
In simple words, you can refer to it as an arrangement of different individual pitches in a chord. In general theory, it means and refers to the building of chords, chord progressions, and chord qualities.
Harmony in music is applicable to occur only to the pitched instruments and you can also associate it to vocals when they are produced on multi pitched instruments like guitar and piano.
Why is harmony important in music?
It is the central element of music and creating a song through engaging harmonies is an important skill.
How does Harmony work?
Understanding Harmony requires deep theoretical know-how but you can get familiar if you start learning a little bit of music theory.
In music, it is represented by roman numerals. All you need to begin with is just replace the chords name with a roman numeral that refers to its scale degree of its root. Roman numerals refer to what category a specific chord belongs to and chord categories tell you the function of the chord in music.
Tonal music comprises 3 categories-Tonic, dominant, predominant
Tonic chords are referred to as the resting places where harmonic actions seem to be stable.
They are the opposite of tonic chords and come from the triad which gets built on the 5th degree of the scale. The pleasing tension built between tonic and dominant forms the basis for harmonic progression in music.
They are the chords that are used to bridge the gap between I and V.
How Harmonic Analysis is done?
To understand this, it is important to see the relationships in action. This is done by writing the roman numerals underneath the chords of the songs.
When we write roman numerals instead of the chord names, it is then called harmonic analysis. It helps you understand the structure of a song so you can understand how it works.
Pick up any song, and start with the harmonic analysis, this way you can easily see and understand the smooth progression from tonic to predominant to dominant and back again.
This flow is the actual functional harmony!
Once you understand the harmonic outline of the song as an example, you will find out how to use it in your own version.
How can you Harmonize a melody?
When you are writing a song, you can begin with chords and roman numerals. If you are composing on a chordal instrument then it becomes quick.
When you are adding a harmony note just above or below your main melody. It simply needs to “agree” with the chord underneath it. In simple terms, it means that cannot be a dissonant tone far outside the scale.
All you need to do is identify the chord’s role with roman numeral and then see which notes you can make use of to harmonize with your melody.
As you are in the process of developing harmony, you will begin creating another melody line on top of the original track. This discipline is called counterpoint. Most of the pop songs don’t contain sophisticated counterpoint.
There are 4 different kinds of motions in a harmonized melody in which a line can flow-
● Parallel motion- means when two voices move while they keep the same intervals.
● Similar motion – means when two voices move according to the same melodic contour.
● Oblique motion- Here one voice moves while the other stays in place
● Contrary motion- As the name implies, it is when two voices move in the opposite direction.
One of the more simple ways to understand harmony is that it deals with the ‘vertical’ aspects of music and if you notice rhythm and melody deal with horizontal aspects
These are some of the basic elements of harmony which would be helpful for you to understand how it works and to be honest it is a very deep subject.
Harmony- forms the basis of music theory for analyzing every type of music from classical to pop! Once you are able to understand it, you will be in a position to do better in depth analysis of the songs.