Table of Contents
Part II: Hearing Harmony
18.1 Hearing Harmony: What is Harmony?
18.2 Harmony in Western Music
18.3 Expressing Harmony
18.4 Listening Gallery: Expressing Harmony
18.5 Harmonic Rhythm
18.6 Listening Gallery: Harmonic Rhythm
18.8 Listening Gallery: Cadences
18.9 The Tonic
18.10 Circular and Linear Progressions
18.11 Listening Gallery: Circular and Linear Progressions
18.12 The Major-minor Contrast
18.13 Modes and Scales
18.14 Hearing the Mode
18.15 Listening Gallery: Hearing the Mode
18.16 Tonic, Mode and Key
18.17 Listening Gallery: Tonic, Mode and Key
18.18 Music Within a Key
18.19 Listening Gallery: Music Within a Key
18.20 Postponed Closure
18.21 Listening Gallery: Postponing Closure
18.23 Listening Gallery: Chromaticism
18.25 Leaving the Key
18.26 Harmonic Distance
18.28 Harmonic Goals
18.29 The Return to the Tonic
18.30 Final Closure
18.31 Listening Gallery: Final Closure
18.32 Reharmonizing a Melody
18.33 Listening Gallery: Reharmonizing a Melody
18.1 What is Harmony?
In monophonic music, only one note is played at a time. Much indigenous music consists of solo or group voices or one-note-at-time instruments, such as the flute, often accompanied by drums or a drone.
The earliest notated Western music–from the Middle Ages–consists of unaccompanied singing, called chant.
In harmonic music, more than one note is played at a time.
In the last movement of his Symphonie Fantastique, Hector Berlioz adds harmony to the “Dies Irae” melody.
The melody of the “Ode to Joy” from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 is introduced by the cellos alone.
Eventually, the full orchestra joins in triumphantly in harmony.
The opening theme of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 24 is presented first alone by the strings, then in full harmony by the orchestra.
Harmony can shade a melody and recast it with a new affect; it can anchor the music or propel it forward; it can create a sense of intimate scale or grand architecture; it can make music seem to shine or darken, charm, soothe or startle. The goal of Hearing Harmony is to enable you to have a greater understanding of harmony by ear.
Most often, harmonic ear training involves learning to recognize the individual chords of Western tonal music. There are several limitations to this approach: First, even for musicians, it takes a lot of exposure and practice to aurally follow harmonic progressions. Second, ear training exercises are usually short and are typically repeated several times. Keeping up with the harmony in an actual performance is much more challenging. Third, while details matter, the chord-based approach often neglects to train students to hear the larger structure of a classical piece. Finally, conventional ear training leaves listeners poorly prepared for the harmonic avant-garde of music since 1900.
Hearing Harmony takes an innovative top down approach: Its goal is not to recognize individual chords but to develop an understanding of harmonic structure. Hearing Harmony is compatible with standard courses in harmony and ear training: Very little of the material introduced here is idiosyncratic; it is how it is organized and presented that is new. After completing these modules, you will be well equipped for conventional training, either in school or from the many fine resources on the web. Hearing Harmony can also be used to build on prior training.
Ear training classes are typically taught from the keyboard. In Hearing Harmony, you will be listening to actual music, faciliating the transition from classroom to concert hall.
We speak of colors and flavors being in harmony or clashing, but our ears are particularly discriminating: Music gains a great deal of variety and vibrancy from the nuances of harmony. Working through the modules of Hearing Harmony will enable you to follow harmonic structure more confidently and make your experience of music richer, more alert, sensitive and complete.