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polyrhythms

Polyrhythms

     Polyrhythms are a way of introducing some freshness and novelty in the way you combine different rhythms played by different or a single instrument. Also referred to as cross-rhythm, a polyrhythm is essentially a combination of two or more different… Read More »Polyrhythms

polytonality and polymodality

Polytonality and Polymodality

     It is the use of two or more distinguishable key centers, simultaneously. However, the term bitonal can be used instead of polytonality, referring to the use of two key centers in the musical composition.      One of the most important aspects… Read More »Polytonality and Polymodality

polyharmony

Polyharmony

     Polyharmony refers to a musical passage in which polychords are used in a chord succession or create a harmonic flow. As mentioned, when introducing the way polychord structures are built, the component triads can either be kept distinct through simple… Read More »Polyharmony

harmonic ambiguity

Harmonic Ambiguity

     A chord is ambiguous when it can be associated or implies more than one tonality or mode. As an example, every major or minor triad can be associated to two or more tonalities. For instance, the C major chord exists… Read More »Harmonic Ambiguity

polymodal chromaticism

How to Use Polymodal Chromaticism

     The term polymodal refers to the use of more than one mode at a time. Usually the layered modes share the same tonic, like C Dorian and C Lydian. Polymodal chromaticism is related to the fact that it is possible… Read More »How to Use Polymodal Chromaticism

pandiatonic harmony

Pandiatonic Harmony

     This is a musical technique that consists of using diatonic material to dissolve the sense of functional harmony in a tonality, as opposed to using chromaticism for that effect. It is the practice of allowing chords to be formed from… Read More »Pandiatonic Harmony

post-tonal harmony

Post-Tonal Harmony

     In the beginning of the twentieth century, the tonal system was already falling apart due to the extreme use of chromaticism and post-tonal is a term that is used for music that doesn’t follow the traditional conventions of tonal harmony.… Read More »Post-Tonal Harmony

modal mixture

How to Use Modal Mixture

      This technique is used to explore contrasts between different modes that share the same tonic root of a given chord. It can be used more freely if the used chord is ambiguous enough to allow the implication of several… Read More »How to Use Modal Mixture

modal modulation

How to Use Modal Modulation

     Using this technique implies that you already know how each mode sounds and how to make chords that sound like the mode. If that isn’t the case, take a look at this post of how you can make “modal… Read More »How to Use Modal Modulation

non-functional harmony

Non-Functional Harmony

     Any system that doesn’t fit the tension and release cycle that is pervasive in functional harmony cadences is called non-functional harmony and it occurs when no chord “wants” to specially resolve to the next one.      In fact, such chords are… Read More »Non-Functional Harmony

modal interchange

Modal Interchange

     In this post, I will be showing you how you can effectively use modal interchange and add variety to your chord progressions and (re)harmonizations. This is a technique that consists in temporarily borrowing chords from a parallel tonality or… Read More »Modal Interchange

chromatic harmony

Chromatic Harmony

     In this post we will be looking at a technique to use chords from different keys as a way of introducing some novelty or surprise in your chord progression and without having to necessarily make a permanent modulation. We… Read More »Chromatic Harmony

multi-tonic systems - coltrane changes

Multi-Tonic Systems

     This system consists in symmetrically dividing the octave in three or four parts. If we consider C to be used as octave, then we will get the pitches C, E and G# or Ab. When using these three pitches harmonically,… Read More »Multi-Tonic Systems

types of modulation

The Types of Modulation

     Using modulations in music, temporary or definite, lends a sense of sophistication and brings freshness to your music. That said, this technique is something you should develop; the ability to modulate to any key; being able to come and… Read More »The Types of Modulation

modulation and contrasts

Modulation and Contrasts

     A modulation is the shift from one tonal or modal center to another. Its most striking effect is the melodic and harmonic contrast or tension that is created when the shift occurs.      This device may be used for a variety… Read More »Modulation and Contrasts

chromatic mediants

Chromatic Mediants

     A mediant or submediant relationship refers to the relative distance of a third interval, ascending or descending, to a reference pitch or tonic. In the case of a C major scale, with C being used as reference pitch, its diatonic… Read More »Chromatic Mediants

chord transformations

Chord Transformations

     Chord transformations occur when a chord voicing is altered and transforms that chord into a different one. For example, if you have a C major chord and the move the tonic half-step down, you will get the inverted Em chord… Read More »Chord Transformations

block chords motion

How to Use Block Chords in Your Music

     Another good way of thickening the melodic line, or to create a harmonic melody, is to use block chords. These are usually played in rhythmic unison with the melody, or very close to it. The name of this harmonic device… Read More »How to Use Block Chords in Your Music

parallel harmonic movement or harmonic planning

Parallel Harmonic Movement

     This harmonic device consists in moving a chord or a harmonic interval and maintain the relative distance between pitches, or put another way, it’s when all the voices of a chord move in the same direction. It can be used… Read More »Parallel Harmonic Movement