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harmonic anticipation and suspension

Harmonic Anticipation and Suspension

     This device can be used as means of creating, releasing and/or prolonging tension while the underlying harmony changes until it resolves to a new chord or harmonic context. It is used as an effect to increase the interest and depth in a… Read More »Harmonic Anticipation and Suspension

chord connection and voice-leading

Chord Connection and Voice-Leading

     In a chord progression, the involved chord tones move according to certain melodic tendencies. When one writes harmonic progressions or successions, special attention should be paid to the outer voices of chords and their implicit melody since the outer voices… Read More »Chord Connection and Voice-Leading

harmonic movement and chord progression

Harmonic Movement and Chord Progressions

     It is the interplay between chords that creates a sense of movement that can be more or less dynamic and/or static. Probably, the most obvious way to achieve harmonic movement is through harmonic rhythm, that is, how fast you change… Read More »Harmonic Movement and Chord Progressions

cadences and negative harmony

Cadences and Negative Harmony

     This is a technique that makes use of existing material, be it from chords or melodies. As you will see, it is not a simple inversion or mirroring technique because the harmonic functionality in the chord progression will be… Read More »Cadences and Negative Harmony

augmented sixth chords

Augmented Sixth Chords

     These chords either lead to or act like secondary dominant chords that, in effect, resolve to the dominant chord before the tonicized chord (*see note). For that reason, they are also referred to as pre-dominant chords.      If we consider the… Read More »Augmented Sixth Chords

spice up your chord progressions with secondary dominants

Secondary Dominants

     Harmonic cadences are used to prepare and reinforce the tonic but other diatonic chords can also be reinforced. The dominant chord that exists in the tonality we are using is called a primary dominant.      But if you wish to emphasize… Read More »Secondary Dominants

the sub-7 dominant substitute

The Sub-7 Dominant Chord Substitute

     Considering the C major scale, its natural dominant chord is the G7 and we have been extrapolating chords that can be used to replace its function.      Commonly you will find references to a substitute of the V7 chord, abbreviated to… Read More »The Sub-7 Dominant Chord Substitute

dominant chord substitution

Dominant Chord Substitutions

     The importance of the tritone to functional harmony was already discussed and considering that chords can be replaced in their function, as long as they share common tones, it is not hard to imagine that the dominant chord (V7) and… Read More »Dominant Chord Substitutions

chord substitution

A Simple Guide for Chord Substitutions

     As the name implies, a chord substitution involves using a chord in place of another. However, it is not just any chord as usually the substitute chord replaces the original one in respect to its function in a given harmonic… Read More »A Simple Guide for Chord Substitutions

the importance of the tritone

The Importance of the Tritone in Harmony

     These next concepts will crucial to understand not only tonal harmony but also to understand how we can use this knowledge to escape the tonal pull exerted by certain chord types and instead work in an atonal or modal context.… Read More »The Importance of the Tritone in Harmony

the close relationship between tonic and fifth

The Close Relationship Between Tonic and Fifth

     We perceive sound as a whole but even if the fundamentals of that sound are not present (1st and 2nd overtones, etc.); our brain can still reconstruct the fundamental tone.      However, if we continue to remove the following overtones, gradually… Read More »The Close Relationship Between Tonic and Fifth

rhythm and music expression

Rhythm and Music Expression

     There is much more to say about rhythm than what I will be exposing in this post. However, I am assuming that you already know enough about rhythm figures, meter and pulse, to follow along.      Depending on certain music genres,… Read More »Rhythm and Music Expression



     The chromaticism of the nineteenth century diluted the tonal system in such a way that it was only natural that the system would eventually be abandoned altogether. This new music without a tonal center, that was weakened or lost, eventually… Read More »Atonality

polychords and the harmonic series

Polychords and the Harmonic Series

     Polychords may be built with materials from different tonalities, modes, synthetic scales, etc; and then such materials are explored according to musical context and intentions of the composer. But the provenance of materials for polychordal and polyharmonic technique is not… Read More »Polychords and the Harmonic Series

how to build polychords


     A polychord consists of two or more chords played together and such chords may be originated from the same or different tonalities – usually the latter is applied. Generally, the used chord in the polychord structures must be perceived independently,… Read More »Polychords