Harmony Project

Summary –

In this project, we researched harmony and from that we were able to analyze one of our favorite melodies to see why exactly we might like them. In addition, this allowed us to create our own harmony.

One of my Favorite Harmonies –

Notation for “Don’t Stop Me Now” by Queen. Notation by hooktheory.com.

One of my favorite harmonies is in a song by Queen titled, “Don’t Stop Me Now.” It’s in the key of F major throughout the entire song but I’ll just be looking at the verse. It begins with an F chord which is the tonic in this key. It starts somewhere where it can build off of for the high energy of this song. After the first bit (at “sky”) there’s an A minor chord which is building tension. After that it leads into a minor fourth (D minor) which carries the tension into the minor second (G minor) as it ascends into a major fifth (C). This makes it feel very high in tension while also sounding good (as reflected by the lyrics). After that it repeats and puts back down the tension by going into the tonic again, which it started with. I like this harmony because the vocal and other instruments match well together. The vocals make it seem as if you were flying while the other instruments keep it moving.

My Harmony –


My harmony is pictured here. Made in onlinesequencer.net.

If in C major:

ii (D) ->  I (C) -> iii(E) ->  I(C) ->  iii(E) -> V(G) -> IV(F)


I’m not too confident that this is the progression because I didn’t use triads and I wasn’t basing it off the C major scale. However, if I am correct what I’ve done is start with tension and then release with a tonic. After that I build tension again but differently only to release it the same way. After that, the same tension is played in a different way (since I’m not using triads) to build into the dominant and then sound complete with the subdominant, I assume (again not sure about the end part because I made a note sharp).

Harmony Composition Terms –

-Harmony was created and was not always present from the start of music as was rhythm and harmony

-Harmony is two notes coming together and sounding nice

-All cultures have harmony in their music

-A drone is a note that draws on and on (constant throughout the entire song)

-Harmony went from drones to moving drones (parallel) to chords

-A chord progression is harmony that doesn’t stay static

-Three note chords are the foundation of modern music

-Harmonics create hierarchies in chords. Each note is actually made up of other notes and those determine what make the chord

-A triad (chord) is made up of three notes. There are 12 major triad chords.

-There are also 12 minor triad chords. The middle note is the only thing that is changed.

-An easy way to use chords is to just have an instruments play chords under a melody

-Another way to use chords is to have many things playing to coincide to make a chord (polyphony)

-Each note in the melody has 6 chords it could use

-The tonic and dominant chords have a special relationship

-The dominant is dependent on the tonic. The dominant wants to go back to the tonic

-Passemizzo Antico is a specific tonic and dominant relationship

-Passimizzo Moderno is a major chord progression also relying on the dominant and tonic relationship

-The subdominant is important in that it balances the tonic and dominant

-Discord is where there is a dissonance in chords on purpose

-We’re becoming more and more used to some dissonance in our music but not to all dissonance

-Dissonance was banned in music during strict rule of churches

-Passing notes are dissonant notes that move to a notes that sounds less dissonant

-Suspended notes are notes that bleed over into chords where they aren’t supposed to be

-Adding the 7th note to chords make it sound like it needs to move to another chord to be resolved

-Rock and roll uses 7th chords liberally. Jazz also uses 7th chords liberally.

-7th chords make things more ambiguous in direction

-Augmentation and dim change the structure of chords (it changes the size of the chord in that the range of pitch is changed)

-Western harmonies are being adopted all over the world



What I Learned –

I learned during this project that a lot of songs actually have pretty similar chord progressions, even ones that sound complex might have a simple and widely used chord structure with little modification. Also, I learned a lot about chords including, what they are in a standard sense, how they came about, and how they all feel. During this project, I had trouble coming up with my own harmony but I just kept modifying until it sounded right and now I have something that doesn’t sound too terribly disgusting, to my ear at least.

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