Search this website:

This web page location:

home page  >   Music and Dance  >   Harmony (music)

Music and Dance

Harmony (music)

Scottish bagpipe music, classical Indian music, descant, musical structure, Western music

Deeper web pages:

>  Concepts of Western Harmony

>  History

>  Categories and Names of Tonal Chords

Harmony (music), the combination of notes (or pitches) that sound simultaneously. The term harmony is used both in the general sense of a succession of simultaneously sounded pitches and for a single instance of pitches sounding together. In this second meaning, the term harmony is synonymous with chord. Harmony stands in contrast to melody (pitches sounding one after another); with melody and rhythm (the stresses and durations of sound), it is one of the three primary elements of music.

Harmony of some sort occurs whenever two or more notes sound at one time in any music: in the interaction of simultaneous melodies in a fugue or in a melody with a descant; in a guitarist's chords accompanying a sung tune; in the blocks of shimmering mouth-organ chords played above the melody in Japanese court music; and in the sustained or insistently repeated pitches (called drones) that provide a background in genres as diverse as Scottish bagpipe music and classical Indian music. In Western music, however, especially after the Renaissance, harmony assumed a central role in musical structure and expression.


Lester, Joel, Ph.D.

Professor and Director, DMA Program, City College of the City University of New York. Violinist, Da Capo Chamber Players. Author of "Harmony in Tonal Music", "Overlapping Models and Keys", and "Approaches to Twentieth-Century Music".

Article key phrases:

Scottish bagpipe music, classical Indian music, descant, musical structure, Western music, fugue, succession, stresses, chord, guitarist, Renaissance, Harmony, background, melody, time, rhythm, contrast, meaning, expression, genres, sort

Search this website: