When composers choose the notes or chords that accompany a melody this is called the harmony. Sometimes all the notes of a chord are played together; in other places they might be played one note at a time, as in arpeggios. Some harmony chords sound very nice, sweet and peaceful. Others can sound a bit ugly and quite tense.

The stormy-sounding chords are called dissonant chords; they feel tense. They are important in music because they make you want to hear them change to a nice-sounding chord. They lead the music to somewhere else. You do not want to stay with a tense sound for long because it begs the listening ear to be resolved.

The nice-sounding chords are called consonant. You usually want to have both in music to make it more interesting. Harmony provides the emotions in music. It can make the music sound happy, sad, calm, angry, and any other emotion you can think of. When you look at your piano music, see if you can name an emotion for each piece. Is it happy, sad or anxious?

You can make a chord from every note in a scale by adding thirds to it. To name these chords, musicians use Roman numerals, such as I ii iii IV V. When the chord is major, the Roman numerals are capital letters, and when the chord is minor, the numerals are small letters. The chords also have English names like tonic, dominant and mediant.

Composers often use specific combinations of these chords in the harmony for their music. When they use the chords in one of these patterns, we call it a chord progression. Probably the most famous chord progression is the Amen that concludes a hymn. It uses the chord from the 4th note in the scale and the first chord (or tonic).

Another important chord progression that is heard in almost all rock and roll music is I, IV, V, I. Hundreds of songs use only these three chords.

So, when you harmonize a major scale you have now created diatonic harmony. You are using any note in the Major scale and using notes only within the scale to create Diatonic Harmony. Listen for it because it’s not only in Classical music but Pop music as well.

When talking about a diatonic third, let’s begin with the Key of C and moving up from C to E we have a major third. When we play the notes D to F, we have a minor third. Many songs are made with diatonic sixths in the melody. This is where C moves up to A, D to B, E to C, F to D and so on. These diatonic sixths are both major and minor.

As long as you use no other notes added from outside the key, by adding or subtracting flats or sharps, the harmony is still diatonic. Rock music is made of fourths and fifth intervals. Choosing to harmonize with second and seventh intervals results in a dissonant sound. The favorite harmony of many is harmonizing the major scale in diatonic thirds or sixths. Have fun creating and listening to the many varied interval sounds of harmony.

Source by Diana Rogers