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In
music Music is the art of arranging sounds in time through the elements of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the universal cultural aspects of all human societies. General definitions of music include common elements such as pit ...

music
, harmony is the process by which the composition of individual sounds, or superpositions of sounds, is analysed by hearing. Usually, this means simultaneously occurring
frequencies Frequency is the number of occurrences of a repeating event per unit of time. It is also referred to as temporal frequency, which emphasizes the contrast to spatial frequency and angular frequency. Frequency is measured in Hertz (unit), hertz ( ...

frequencies
, pitches (
tones
tones
,
notes Note, notes, or NOTE may refer to: Music and entertainment * Musical note, a pitched sound (or a symbol for a sound) in music * Notes (album), ''Notes'' (album), a 1987 album by Paul Bley and Paul Motian * ''Notes'', a common (yet unofficial) shor ...
), or
chords Chord may refer to: * Chord (music) A chord, in music, is any harmonic set of pitches/frequencies consisting of multiple Musical note, notes (also called "pitches") that are heard as if sounding Simultaneity (music), simultaneously. For m ...
. Harmony is a perceptual property of
music Music is the art of arranging sounds in time through the elements of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the universal cultural aspects of all human societies. General definitions of music include common elements such as pit ...

music
, and, along with
melody A melody (from Greek language, Greek μελῳδία, ''melōidía'', "singing, chanting"), also tune, voice or line, is a Linearity#Music, linear succession of musical tones that the listener perceives as a single entity. In its most literal ...

melody
, one of the building blocks of
Western music
Western music
. Its perception is based on
consonance In music, consonance and dissonance are categorizations of simultaneous or successive sounds. Within the Western tradition, some listeners associate consonance with sweetness, pleasantness, and acceptability, and dissonance with harshness, unp ...
, a concept whose definition has changed various times throughout Western music. In a physiological approach, consonance is a continuous variable. Consonant pitch relationships are described as sounding more pleasant, euphonious, and beautiful than dissonant relationships which sound unpleasant, discordant, or rough. The study of harmony involves chords and their construction and
chord progression In a musical composition File:Chord chart.svg, 250px, Jazz and rock genre musicians may memorize the melodies for a new song, which means that they only need to provide a chord chart to guide improvising musicians. Musical composition, music ...

chord progression
s and the principles of connection that govern them. Harmony is often said to refer to the "vertical" aspect of music, as distinguished from
melodic line
melodic line
, or the "horizontal" aspect.Jamini, Deborah (2005). ''Harmony and Composition: Basics to Intermediate'', p. 147. .
Counterpoint In music, counterpoint is the relationship between two or more musical lines (or voices) which are harmonically interdependent yet independent in rhythm Rhythm (from Greek , ''rhythmos'', "any regular recurring motion, symmetry"—) ge ...

Counterpoint
, which refers to the relationship between melodic lines, and
polyphony Polyphony is a type of musical texture consisting of two or more simultaneous lines of independent melody, as opposed to a musical texture with just one voice, monophony " is monophonic as long as it is performed without chord (music), chordal a ...
, which refers to the simultaneous sounding of separate independent voices, are therefore sometimes distinguished from harmony. In
popular Popularity or social status is the quality of being well liked, admired or well known to a particular group. Popular may also refer to: In sociology * Mainstream, the quality of being common, well received, in demand, widely understood ** See ...
and
jazz harmony Jazz harmony is the theory A theory is a reason, rational type of abstraction, abstract thinking about a phenomenon, or the results of such thinking. The process of contemplative and rational thinking is often associated with such processes as ob ...
, chords are named by their
root In vascular plant Vascular plants (from Latin ''vasculum'': duct), also known as Tracheophyta (the tracheophytes , from Greek τραχεῖα ἀρτηρία ''trācheia artēria'' 'windpipe' + φυτά ''phutá'' 'plants'), form a large group ...
plus various terms and characters indicating their qualities. In many types of music, notably baroque, romantic, modern, and jazz, chords are often augmented with "tensions". A tension is an additional chord member that creates a relatively dissonant interval in relation to the bass. Typically, in the classical
common practice period In the history of European art music Art music (alternatively called classical music, cultivated music, serious music, and canonic music) is music considered to be of high culture, high aesthetic value. It typically implies advanced structural ...
a dissonant chord (chord with tension) "resolves" to a consonant chord.
Harmonization In music, harmonization is the chordal accompaniment to a line or melody A melody (from Greek language, Greek μελῳδία, ''melōidía'', "singing, chanting"), also tune, voice or line, is a Linearity#Music, linear succession of mus ...

Harmonization
usually sounds pleasant to the ear when there is a balance between the consonant and dissonant sounds. In simple words, that occurs when there is a balance between "tense" and "relaxed" moments.


Etymology and definitions

The term ''harmony'' derives from the
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
''harmonia'', meaning "joint, agreement, concord", from the verb ''harmozō'', "(Ι) fit together, join". In the past, ''harmony'' often referred to the whole field of music, while ''music'' referred to the arts in general. In Ancient Greece, the term defined the combination of contrasted elements: a higher and lower note. Nevertheless, it is unclear whether the simultaneous sounding of notes was part of ancient Greek musical practice; ''harmonía'' may have merely provided a system of classification of the relationships between different pitches. In the Middle Ages the term was used to describe two pitches sounding in combination, and in the Renaissance the concept was expanded to denote three pitches sounding together.
Aristoxenus 200px, A modern imagining of the appearance of Aristoxenus. Aristoxenus of Tarentum ( el, Ἀριστόξενος ὁ Ταραντῖνος; born circa, c. 375, fl. 335 BC) was a Greek Peripatetic school, Peripatetic philosopher, and a pupil of Ar ...
wrote a work entitled '' Harmonika Stoicheia'', which is thought the first work in European history written on the subject of harmony. It was not until the publication of
Rameau Jean-Philippe Rameau (; – ) was one of the most important French composer A composer (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally sp ...
's ''Traité de l'harmonie'' (''Treatise on Harmony'') in 1722 that any text discussing musical practice made use of the term in the title, although that work is not the earliest record of theoretical discussion of the topic. The underlying principle behind these texts is that harmony sanctions harmoniousness (sounds that please) by conforming to certain pre-established compositional principles. Current dictionary definitions, while attempting to give concise descriptions, often highlight the ambiguity of the term in modern use. Ambiguities tend to arise from either aesthetic considerations (for example the view that only pleasing concords may be harmonious) or from the point of view of musical texture (distinguishing between harmonic (simultaneously sounding pitches) and "contrapuntal" (successively sounding tones). In the words of
Arnold Whittall Arnold Whittall (born 1935, Shrewsbury Shrewsbury ( , ) is a large market town and the county town of Shropshire, England England is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borde ...
: The view that modern
tonal Tonal may refer to: * Tonal (mythology), a concept in the belief systems and traditions of Mesoamerican cultures, involving a spiritual link between a person and an animal * Tonal language, a type of language in which pitch is used to make phonemic ...
harmony in Western music began in about 1600 is commonplace in music theory. This is usually accounted for by the replacement of horizontal (or
contrapuntal In music, counterpoint is the relationship between two or more Part (music), musical lines (or voices) which are harmonically interdependent yet independent in rhythm and Pitch contour, melodic contour. It has been most commonly identified in ...
) composition, common in the music of the
Renaissance The Renaissance ( , ) , from , with the same meanings. is a period Period may refer to: Common uses * Era, a length or span of time * Full stop (or period), a punctuation mark Arts, entertainment, and media * Period (music), a concept in m ...

Renaissance
, with a new emphasis on the vertical element of composed music. Modern theorists, however, tend to see this as an unsatisfactory generalisation. According to
Carl Dahlhaus Carl Dahlhaus (June 10, 1928 – March 13, 1989), a musicologist Musicology (from Greek 'μουσική' (mousikē) for 'music' and 'λογος' (logos) for 'domain of study') is the scholarly analysis and research-based study of music. Musicol ...

Carl Dahlhaus
: Descriptions and definitions of harmony and harmonic practice often show bias towards
Europe Europe is a continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven regions are commonly regarded as continents. Ordered from largest ...

Europe
an (or
Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town in the US *Western Creek, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western Junction, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western world, countries that ide ...
) musical traditions, although many cultures practice vertical harmony. In addition, South Asian art music (
Hindustani Hindustani may refer to: * something of, from, or related to Hindustan (another name of India) * Hindustani language, an Indo-Aryan language, whose two official norms are Hindi and Urdu * Fiji Hindi, a variety of Eastern Hindi spoken in Fiji, and i ...
and
Carnatic music Carnatic music, known as or in the South Indian languages, is a system of music commonly associated with South India South India is a region located in the southern part of India India (Hindi: ), officially the Republic of In ...
) is frequently cited as placing little emphasis on what is perceived in western practice as conventional harmony; the underlying harmonic foundation for most South Asian music is the drone, a held open fifth interval (or fourth interval) that does not alter in pitch throughout the course of a composition. Pitch simultaneity in particular is rarely a major consideration. Nevertheless, many other considerations of pitch are relevant to the music, its theory and its structure, such as the complex system of
Rāga A ''raga'' or ''raag'' (IAST The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST) is a transliteration scheme that allows the lossless romanisation of Brahmic family, Indic scripts as employed by Sanskrit and related Indic langua ...
s, which combines both melodic and modal considerations and codifications within it. So, intricate pitch combinations that sound simultaneously do occur in
Indian classical music Indian classical music is the classical music Classical music generally refers to the formal musical tradition of the Western world The Western world, also known as the West, refers to various regions, nations and state (polity), ...
—but they are rarely studied as
teleological Teleology (from and )Partridge, Eric. 1977''Origins: A Short Etymological Dictionary of Modern English'' London: Routledge, p. 4187. or finalityDubray, Charles. 2020 912Teleology" In ''The Catholic Encyclopedia'' 14. New York: Robert Appleton C ...
harmonic or
contrapuntal In music, counterpoint is the relationship between two or more Part (music), musical lines (or voices) which are harmonically interdependent yet independent in rhythm and Pitch contour, melodic contour. It has been most commonly identified in ...
progressions—as with notated Western music. This contrasting emphasis (with regard to Indian music in particular) manifests itself in the different methods of performance adopted: in Indian Music improvisation takes a major role in the structural framework of a piece, whereas in Western Music improvisation has been uncommon since the end of the 19th century. Where it does occur in Western music (or has in the past), the improvisation either embellishes pre-notated music or draws from musical models previously established in notated compositions, and therefore uses familiar harmonic schemes. Emphasis on the precomposed in European art music and the written theory surrounding it shows considerable cultural bias. The ''Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians'' (
Oxford University Press Oxford University Press (OUP) is the university press 200px, The Pitt Building in Cambridge, which used to be the headquarters of Cambridge University Press, and now serves as a conference centre for the Press. A university press is an academic ...

Oxford University Press
) identifies this clearly: Yet the evolution of harmonic practice and language itself, in Western art music, is and was facilitated by this process of prior composition, which permitted the study and analysis by theorists and composers of individual pre-constructed works in which pitches (and to some extent rhythms) remained unchanged regardless of the nature of the performance.


Historical rules

Early Western religious music often features parallel perfect intervals; these intervals would preserve the clarity of the original
plainsong Plainsong ( calque from the French « plain-chant »; hence also ''plainchant''; la, cantus planus) is a body of chants used in the liturgies Liturgy is the customary public worship performed by a religious group. As a religious phenomenon, li ...
. These works were created and performed in cathedrals, and made use of the resonant modes of their respective cathedrals to create harmonies. As polyphony developed, however, the use of parallel intervals was slowly replaced by the English style of consonance that used thirds and sixths. The English style was considered to have a sweeter sound, and was better suited to polyphony in that it offered greater linear flexibility in part-writing.


Types

Carl Dahlhaus Carl Dahlhaus (June 10, 1928 – March 13, 1989), a musicologist Musicology (from Greek 'μουσική' (mousikē) for 'music' and 'λογος' (logos) for 'domain of study') is the scholarly analysis and research-based study of music. Musicol ...

Carl Dahlhaus
(1990) distinguishes between ''coordinate'' and ''subordinate harmony''. ''Subordinate harmony'' is the
hierarchical A hierarchy (from the Greek: , from , 'president of sacred rites') is an arrangement of items (objects, names, values, categories, etc.) in which the items are represented as being "above", "below", or "at the same level as" one another. Hierarch ...

hierarchical
tonality Tonality is the arrangement of pitches and/or chords of a musical work in a hierarchy of perceived relations, stabilities, attractions and directionality. In this hierarchy, the single pitch or triadic chord with the greatest stability is call ...
or tonal harmony well known today. ''Coordinate harmony'' is the older
Medieval In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the beginning of w ...
and
Renaissance The Renaissance ( , ) , from , with the same meanings. is a period Period may refer to: Common uses * Era, a length or span of time * Full stop (or period), a punctuation mark Arts, entertainment, and media * Period (music), a concept in m ...
''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 former chord progression is independent of the later one and vice versa." Coordinate harmony follows direct (adjacent) relationships rather than indirect as in subordinate.
Interval cycleIn music Music is the art of arranging sounds in time to produce a composition through the elements of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the universal cultural Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social ...
s create symmetrical harmonies, which have been extensively used by the composers
Alban Berg Alban Maria Johannes Berg ( , ; 9 February 1885 – 24 December 1935) was an Austrian composer A composer (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin ...
,
George Perle George Perle (May 6, 1915 – January 23, 2009) was a composer A composer (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area ...
,
Arnold Schoenberg Arnold Schoenberg or Schönberg (, ; ; 13 September 187413 July 1951) was an Austrian-born composer, music theorist, teacher, writer, and painter. He is widely considered one of the most influential composers of the 20th century. He was associat ...
,
Béla Bartók Béla Viktor János Bartók (; hu, Bartók Béla, ; 25 March 1881 – 26 September 1945) was a Hungarian composer, pianist, and ethnomusicologist. He is considered one of the most important composers of the 20th century; he and Franz Liszt a ...
, and
Edgard Varèse Edgard Victor Achille Charles Varèse (; also spelled Edgar Varèse; December 22, 1883 – November 6, 1965) was a French-born composer who spent the greater part of his career in the United States. Varèse's music emphasizes timbre In music ...
's ''
Density 21.5 ''Density 21.5'' is a piece of music for solo flute The flute is a family of musical instruments in the woodwind group. Unlike woodwind instruments with Reed (instrument), reeds, a flute is an aerophone or reedless wind instrument that produces ...
''. Close harmony and open harmony use close position and open position chords, respectively. See:
Voicing (music) In music theory Music theory is the study of the practices and possibilities of music Music is the art of arranging sounds in time through the elements of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the universal cultural aspect ...
and
Close and open harmony A chord is in close harmony (also called close position or close structure) if its notes are arranged within a narrow range Range may refer to: Geography * Range (geographic), a chain of hills or mountains; a somewhat linear, complex mountain ...
. Other types of harmony are based upon the intervals of the chords used in that harmony. Most chords in western music are based on "tertian" harmony, or chords built with the interval of thirds. In the chord C Major7, C–E is a major third; E–G is a minor third; and G to B is a major third. Other types of harmony consist of
quartal and quintal harmony In music Music is the art of arranging sounds in time to produce a composition through the elements of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the universal cultural Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the soci ...
. A
unison Unison, stylised as UNISON, is the second largest trade union A trade union (or a labor union in American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of v ...
is considered a harmonic interval, just like a fifth or a third, but is unique in that it is two identical notes produced together. The unison, as a component of harmony, is important, especially in orchestration. In pop music, unison singing is usually called ''doubling'', a technique
The Beatles The Beatles were an English Rock music, rock band formed in Liverpool in 1960, whose best-known line-up comprised John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. They are regarded as the Cultural impact of the Beatles, most infl ...

The Beatles
used in many of their earlier recordings. As a type of harmony, singing in unison or playing the same notes, often using different musical instruments, at the same time is commonly called
monophonic Monaural or monophonic sound reproduction (often shortened to mono) is sound intended to be heard as if it were emanating from one position. This contrasts with stereophonic sound Stereophonic sound or, more commonly, stereo, is a method of ...
harmonization In music, harmonization is the chordal accompaniment to a line or melody A melody (from Greek language, Greek μελῳδία, ''melōidía'', "singing, chanting"), also tune, voice or line, is a Linearity#Music, linear succession of mus ...

harmonization
.


Intervals

An is the relationship between two separate musical pitches. For example, in the melody "
Twinkle Twinkle Little Star "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" is a popular English lullaby. The lyrics are from an early-19th-century English poem by Jane Taylor, "The Star". The poem, which is in couplet A couplet is a pair of successive lines of metre The metre (B ...

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star
", between the first two notes (the first "twinkle") and the second two notes (the second "twinkle") is the interval of a fifth. What this means is that if the first two notes were the pitch C, the second two notes would be the pitch "G"—four scale notes, or seven chromatic notes (a perfect fifth), above it. The following are common intervals: Therefore, the combination of notes with their specific intervals—a chord—creates harmony. For example, in a C chord, there are three notes: C, E, and G. The note C is the root. The notes E and G provide harmony, and in a G7 (G dominant 7th) chord, the root G with each subsequent note (in this case B, D and F) provide the harmony. In the musical scale, there are twelve pitches. Each pitch is referred to as a "degree" of the scale. The names A, B, C, D, E, F, and G are insignificant. The intervals, however, are not. Here is an example: As can be seen, no note will always be the same scale degree. The ''tonic'', or first-degree note, can be any of the 12 notes (pitch classes) of the chromatic scale. All the other notes fall into place. For example, when C is the tonic, the fourth degree or subdominant is F. When D is the tonic, the fourth degree is G. While the note names remain constant, they may refer to different scale degrees, implying different intervals with respect to the tonic. The great power of this fact is that any musical work can be played or sung in any key. It is the same piece of music, as long as the intervals are the same—thus transposing the melody into the corresponding key. When the intervals surpass the perfect Octave (12 semitones), these intervals are called ''compound intervals'', which include particularly the 9th, 11th, and 13th Intervals—widely used in
jazz Jazz is a music genre that originated in the African-American communities of New Orleans, Louisiana, United States, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, with its roots in blues and ragtime. Since the 1920s Jazz Age, it has been recognize ...
and
blues Blues is a music genre and musical form which was originated in the Deep South of the United States around the 1860s by African-Americans from roots in Plantation-era songs, African-American work songs, and Spiritual (music), spirituals. Blues ...

blues
Music. Compound Intervals are formed and named as follows: *2nd + Octave = 9th *3rd + Octave = 10th *4th + Octave = 11th *5th + Octave = 12th *6th + Octave = 13th *7th + Octave = 14th The reason the two numbers don't "add" correctly is that one note is counted twice. Apart from this categorization, intervals can also be divided into consonant and dissonant. As explained in the following paragraphs, consonant intervals produce a sensation of relaxation and dissonant intervals a sensation of tension. In tonal music, the term consonant also means "brings resolution" (to some degree at least, whereas dissonance "requires resolution"). The consonant intervals are considered the perfect
unison Unison, stylised as UNISON, is the second largest trade union A trade union (or a labor union in American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of v ...
,
octave In music, an octave ( la, octavus: eighth) or perfect octave (sometimes called the Pythagorean interval, diapason) is the interval (music), interval between one musical Pitch (music), pitch and another with double its frequency. The octave relat ...

octave
,
fifth Fifth is the Ordinal number (linguistics), ordinal form of the number 5, five. Fifth or The Fifth may refer to: * Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, as in the expression "pleading the Fifth" * Fifth column, a political term * Fifth ...
, and major and minor third and sixth, and their compound forms. An interval is referred to as "perfect" when the harmonic relationship is found in the natural overtone series (namely, the unison 1:1, octave 2:1, fifth 3:2, and fourth 4:3). The other basic intervals (second, third, sixth, and seventh) are called "imperfect" because the harmonic relationships are not found mathematically exact in the overtone series. In classical music the perfect fourth above the bass may be considered dissonant when its function is
contrapuntal In music, counterpoint is the relationship between two or more Part (music), musical lines (or voices) which are harmonically interdependent yet independent in rhythm and Pitch contour, melodic contour. It has been most commonly identified in ...
. Other intervals, the second and the seventh (and their compound forms) are considered Dissonant and require resolution (of the produced tension) and usually preparation (depending on the music style). Note that the effect of dissonance is perceived relatively within musical context: for example, a major seventh interval alone (i.e., C up to B) may be perceived as dissonant, but the same interval as part of a major seventh chord may sound relatively consonant. A tritone (the interval of the fourth step to the seventh step of the major scale, i.e., F to B) sounds very dissonant alone, but less so within the context of a dominant seventh chord (G7 or D7 in that example).


Chords and tension

In the Western tradition, in music after the seventeenth century, harmony is manipulated using
chord Chord may refer to: * Chord (music), an aggregate of musical pitches sounded simultaneously ** Guitar chord a chord played on a guitar, which has a particular tuning * Chord (geometry), a line segment joining two points on a curve * Chord (ast ...
s, which are combinations of
pitch class In music Music is the art of arranging sounds in time through the elements of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the universal cultural aspects of all human societies. General definitions of music include common elements ...
es. In
tertian In music theory, ''tertian'' ( la, tertianus, "of or concerning thirds") describes any piece (music), piece, chord (music), chord, counterpoint etc. constructed from the Interval (music), intervals of (major third, major and minor third, minor) t ...
harmony, so named after the interval of a third, the members of chords are found and named by stacking intervals of the third, starting with the "root", then the "third" above the root, and the "fifth" above the root (which is a third above the third), etc. (Note that chord members are named after their interval above the root.)
Dyad Dyad or dyade may refer to: * Dyad (biology), a pair of sister chromatids * Dyad (music), a set of two notes or pitches * Dyad (Greek philosophy), Greek philosophers' principle of "twoness" or "otherness" * Dyad (sociology), a group of two people ...
s, the simplest chords, contain only two members (see
power chord A power chord (also fifth chord) is a colloquial name for a chord in guitar music, especially electric guitar An electric guitar is a guitar The guitar is a fretted musical instrument that typically has six string instrument, stri ...
s). A chord with three members is called a
triad A triad, meaning a "group of 3, three". Triad or triade may refer to: Associations * Triad (organized crime), Chinese organized-crime societies * Lexington Triad, a group of three fraternities founded at colleges in Lexington, Virginia * Miam ...
because it has three members, not because it is necessarily built in thirds (see
Quartal and quintal harmony In music Music is the art of arranging sounds in time to produce a composition through the elements of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the universal cultural Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the soci ...
for chords built with other intervals). Depending on the size of the intervals being stacked, different qualities of chords are formed. In popular and jazz harmony, chords are named by their root plus various terms and characters indicating their qualities. To keep the nomenclature as simple as possible, some defaults are accepted (not tabulated here). For example, the chord members C, E, and G, form a C Major triad, called by default simply a C chord. In an A chord (pronounced A-flat), the members are A, C, and E. In many types of music, notably baroque, romantic, modern and jazz, chords are often augmented with "tensions". A tension is an additional chord member that creates a relatively dissonant interval in relation to the bass. Following the tertian practice of building chords by stacking thirds, the simplest first tension is added to a triad by stacking, on top of the existing root, third, and fifth, another third above the fifth, adding a new, potentially dissonant member a seventh away from the root (called the "seventh" of the chord) producing a four-note chord called a "
seventh chord Seventh is the ordinal form of the number seven. Seventh may refer to: * Seventh Amendment to the United States Constitution The Seventh Amendment (Amendment VII) to the United States Constitution is part of the United States Bill of Rights, ...
". Depending on the widths of the individual thirds stacked to build the chord, the interval between the root and the seventh of the chord may be major, minor, or diminished. (The interval of an augmented seventh reproduces the root, and is therefore left out of the chordal nomenclature.) The nomenclature allows that, by default, "C7" indicates a chord with a root, third, fifth, and seventh spelled C, E, G, and B. Other types of seventh chords must be named more explicitly, such as "C Major 7" (spelled C, E, G, B), "C augmented 7" (here the word augmented applies to the fifth, not the seventh, spelled C, E, G, B), etc. (For a more complete exposition of nomenclature see
Chord (music) A chord, in music, is any harmonic set of pitches/frequencies consisting of multiple Musical note, notes (also called "pitches") that are heard as if sounding Simultaneity (music), simultaneously. For many practical and theoretical purposes, a ...
.) Continuing to stack thirds on top of a seventh chord produces extensions, and brings in the "extended tensions" or "upper tensions" (those more than an octave above the root when stacked in thirds), the ninths, elevenths, and thirteenths. This creates the chords named after them. (Note that except for dyads and triads, tertian chord types are named for the interval of the largest size and magnitude in use in the stack, not for the number of chord members : thus a ninth chord has five members '' onic, 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th', not nine.) Extensions beyond the thirteenth reproduce existing chord members and are (usually) left out of the nomenclature. Complex harmonies based on
extended chord extended chord: C–E–G–B–D–F–A . The upper structureIn jazz, the term upper structure or "upper structure triad" refers to a voicing (music), voicing approach developed by jazz pianists and arrangement, arrangers defined by the sounding ...
s are found in abundance in jazz, late-romantic music, modern orchestral works, film music, etc. Typically, in the classical
Common practice period In the history of European art music Art music (alternatively called classical music, cultivated music, serious music, and canonic music) is music considered to be of high culture, high aesthetic value. It typically implies advanced structural ...
a dissonant chord (chord with tension) ''resolves'' to a consonant chord.
Harmonization In music, harmonization is the chordal accompaniment to a line or melody A melody (from Greek language, Greek μελῳδία, ''melōidía'', "singing, chanting"), also tune, voice or line, is a Linearity#Music, linear succession of mus ...

Harmonization
usually sounds pleasant to the ear when there is a balance between the consonant and dissonant sounds. In simple words, that occurs when there is a balance between "tense" and "relaxed" moments. For this reason, usually tension is 'prepared' and then 'resolved',Schejtman, Rod (2008). ''The Piano Encyclopedia's "Music Fundamentals eBook"'', pp. 20–43 (accessed 10 March 2009
PianoEncyclopedia.com
/ref> where preparing tension means to place a series of consonant chords that lead smoothly to the dissonant chord. In this way the composer ensures introducing tension smoothly, without disturbing the listener. Once the piece reaches its sub-climax, the listener needs a moment of relaxation to clear up the tension, which is obtained by playing a consonant chord that resolves the tension of the previous chords. The clearing of this tension usually sounds pleasant to the listener, though this is not always the case in late-nineteenth century music, such as Tristan und Isolde by Richard Wagner.


Perception

250px, The harmonious Major chord, major triad is composed of three tones. Their frequency ratio corresponds approximately 6:5:4. In real performances, however, the third is often larger than 5:4. The ratio 5:4 corresponds to an interval of 386 Cent (music), cents, but an equally tempered major third is 400 cents and a Pythagorean third with a ratio of 81:64 is 408 cents. Measurements of frequencies in good performances confirm that the size of the major third varies across this range and can even lie outside it without sounding out of tune. Thus, there is no simple connection between frequency ratios and harmonic function. A number of features contribute to the perception of a chord's harmony.


Tonal fusion

Tonal fusion contributes to the perceived consonance of a chord, describing the degree to which multiple pitches are heard as a single, unitary tone. Chords which have more coinciding partials (frequency components) are perceived as more consonant, such as the
octave In music, an octave ( la, octavus: eighth) or perfect octave (sometimes called the Pythagorean interval, diapason) is the interval (music), interval between one musical Pitch (music), pitch and another with double its frequency. The octave relat ...

octave
and
perfect fifth In music theory, a perfect fifth is the Interval (music), musical interval corresponding to a pair of pitch (music), pitches with a frequency ratio of 3:2, or very nearly so. In classical music from Western culture, a fifth is the interval from ...
. The spectra of these intervals resemble that of a uniform tone. According to this definition, a
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major triad
fuses better than a
minor triad__NOTOC__ In music theory Music theory is the study of the practices and possibilities of music. ''The Oxford Companion to Music'' describes three interrelated uses of the term "music theory". The first is the "Elements of music, rudiments", tha ...
and a major-minor seventh chord fuses better than a major-major seventh or minor-minor seventh. These differences may not be readily apparent in tempered contexts but can explain why major triads are generally more prevalent than minor triads and major-minor sevenths are generally more prevalent than other sevenths (in spite of the dissonance of the tritone interval) in mainstream tonal music. In organ registers, certain harmonic interval combinations and chords are activated by a single key. The sounds produced fuse into one tone with a new timbre. This tonal fusion effect is also used in synthesizers and orchestral arrangements; for instance, in
Ravel Joseph Maurice Ravel (7 March 1875 – 28 December 1937) was a French composer, pianist and conductor. He is often associated with Impressionism Impressionism is a 19th-century art movement characterized by relatively small, thin, yet visi ...

Ravel
’s Bolero #5 the parallel parts of flutes, horn and celesta resemble the sound of an electric organ.


Roughness

When adjacent harmonics in complex tones interfere with one another, they create the perception of what is known as "beating" or "roughness". These precepts are closely related to the perceived dissonance of chords. To interfere, partials must lie within a critical bandwidth, which is a measure of the ear's ability to separate different frequencies. Critical bandwidth lies between 2 and 3 semitones at high frequencies and becomes larger at lower frequencies. The roughest interval in the
chromatic scale The chromatic scale is a set of twelve pitches (more completely, pitch class In music Music is the art of arranging sounds in time through the elements of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the universal cultural aspec ...

chromatic scale
is the
minor second A semitone, also called a half step or a half tone, is the smallest musical interval In music theory Music theory is the study of the practices and possibilities of music. ''The Oxford Companion to Music'' describes three interrelated use ...
and its
inversion Inversion or inversions may refer to: Arts * , a French gay magazine (1924/1925) * Inversion (artwork), ''Inversion'' (artwork), a 2005 temporary sculpture in Houston, Texas * Inversion (music), a term with various meanings in music theory and mus ...
, the major seventh. For typical
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s in the central range, the second roughest interval is the major second and minor seventh, followed by the tritone, the minor third (
major sixth Pythagorean major sixth , 3 Pythagorean perfect fifths on C. In music from Western culture Western culture, sometimes equated with Western civilization, Occidental culture, the Western world, Western society, and European civilization, is ...
), the major third (
minor sixth Pythagorean minor sixth on C , four Pythagorean perfect fifths. In Western classical music Classical music is art music produced or rooted in the traditions of Western culture, including both Religious music, liturgical (Religion, religious) a ...
) and the perfect fourth (fifth).


Familiarity

Familiarity also contributes to the perceived harmony of an interval. Chords that have often been heard in musical contexts tend to sound more consonant. This principle explains the gradual historical increase in harmonic complexity of Western music. For example, around 1600 unprepared seventh chords gradually became familiar and were therefore gradually perceived as more consonant. Individual characteristics such as age and musical experience also have an effect on harmony perception.


Neural correlates of harmony

The
inferior colliculus The inferior colliculus (IC) (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power ...

inferior colliculus
is a mid-brain structure which is the first site of binaural auditory integration, processing auditory information from the left and right ears. Frequency following responses (FFRs) recorded from the
mid-brain The midbrain or mesencephalon is the forward-most portion of the brainstem The brainstem (or brain stem) is the posterior stalk-like part of the brain that connects the cerebrum with the spinal cord The spinal cord is a long, thin, tubula ...

mid-brain
exhibit peaks in activity which correspond to the frequency components of a tonal stimulus. The extent to which FFRs accurately represent the harmonic information of a chord is called neural salience, and this value is correlated with behavioral ratings of the perceived pleasantness of chords. In response to harmonic intervals, cortical activity also distinguishes chords by their consonance, responding more robustly to chords with greater consonance.


Consonance and dissonance in balance


See also

* Chromatic chord *
Chromatic mediant In music Music is the art of arranging sounds in time to produce a composition through the elements of melody, harmony, rhythm, and timbre. It is one of the universal cultural Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the so ...
*
Harmonie is a German word that, in the context of the history of music, designates an ensemble of wind instruments (usually about five to eight players) employed by an aristocratic patron, particularly during the Classical era of the 18th century. The Harmo ...

Harmonie
* Homophony (music) *
List of musical terminology This is a list of musical terms that are likely to be encountered in printed scores, music reviews, and program notes. Most of the terms are Italian (see also Italian musical terms used in English Many musical terms are in Italian, because the ...
* Mathematics of musical scales * ''
Musica universalis The ''musica universalis'' (literally universal music), also called music of the spheres or harmony of the spheres, is an ancient philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about ...
'' *
Organum ''Organum'' () is, in general, a plainchant Plainsong (calque In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and mo ...

Organum
(polyphonic chant) * Peter Westergaard's tonal theory * Physics of music *
ProlongationIn music theory Music theory is the study of the practices and possibilities of music. ''The Oxford Companion to Music'' describes three interrelated uses of the term "music theory". The first is the "Elements of music, rudiments", that are needed ...
*
Tonality Tonality is the arrangement of pitches and/or chords of a musical work in a hierarchy of perceived relations, stabilities, attractions and directionality. In this hierarchy, the single pitch or triadic chord with the greatest stability is call ...
*
Unified field In music, unified field is the 'unity of musical space' created by the free use of melodic A melody (from Greek μελῳδία, ''melōidía'', "singing, chanting"), also tune, voice or line, is a linear Linearity is the property of a ma ...
*
Voice leadingVoice leading (or part writing) is the linear progression of individual melodic lines ( voices or parts) and their interaction with one another to create harmonies, typically in accordance with the principles of common-practice harmony and counter ...


References


Footnotes


Citations

*Dahlhaus, Carl. Gjerdingen, Robert O. trans. (1990). ''Studies in the Origin of Harmonic Tonality'', p. 141. Princeton University Press. . * van der Merwe, Peter (1989). ''Origins of the Popular Style: The Antecedents of Twentieth-Century Popular Music''. Oxford: Clarendon Press. . *Nettles, Barrie & Graf, Richard (1997). ''The Chord Scale Theory and Jazz Harmony''. Advance Music,


Further reading

* Prout, Ebenezer,
Harmony, its Theory and Practice
' (1889, revised 1903)


External links



{{Authority control Concepts in aesthetics Auditory perception Sound Acoustics Consonance and dissonance