What Is Harmony?

At the root of all these vast and differing ways to make music are the same basic ideas: melody, rhythm, and harmony. Melody is when notes follow each other to make up a tune, and rhythm is basically about how long the notes should be played and how often (see Chapter 6, in particular FIGURE 6-23). Now, you'll explore the third element, harmony, which is what happens when you play two or more notes together at the same time.

Most people expect music to sound a certain way, and as a result there are rules about how, when, and why certain notes should go together. Even if you're a rockin' headbanger or into some other form of experimental music, to really stretch the envelope it's best that you have some understanding of the rules you're about to break.

Everything that is covered in this chapter applies equally to all the keys — to any key, in fact. But to make it easier to understand, the discussion will focus on the key of C. As you learned in Chapter 5, the key of C does not naturally have any sharps or flats (accidentals), so the variations and so forth can be more easily seen.

FIGURE 7-1shows the scale of C major. Notice that the notes fall alternately on lines and spaces. For example, C is on a ledger line, D is on a space, E is on a line, F is on a space, and so on.

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