The Meaning of Harmony in Music

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Harmony is produced when two complementary notes sound at the same time. Harmony is found in chords or can be played along with a main melody.

Since it is achieved when notes are played at the same time, harmony is described as being "vertical." Melody is "horizontal," because its notes are played in succession and read, for the most part, horizontally from left-to-right.

The complexity of a song, in terms of its harmony, is explained through texture. Texture can be simple or elaborate, and is described using the following terms:

  • Monophonic:  A single line of melody with no harmony.
  • Biphonic:  Two different, simultaneous melodies. Some overlap of notes may create harmony.
  • Heterophonic:  A slightly elaborated melody with one or two voices and some intervals. Harmony is sprinkled throughout.
  • Homophonic:  A single line of melody with harmony in the form of chords.
  • Polyphonic:  A composition with many voices and harmonies.

More Italian Music Commands:

▪  : "from nothing"; to gradually bring notes out of complete silence, or a crescendo that rises slowly from nowhere.

▪  decrescendo: to gradually decrease the volume of the music. A decrescendo is seen in sheet music as a narrowing angle, and is often marked decresc.

▪  delicato: “delicately”; to play with a light touch and an airy feel.

▪  : very sweetly; to play in a particularly delicate manner. Dolcissimo is a superlative of "dolce."

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