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 superimposition of chords, or they can be blended into a complex unit.
That said, below are some of the ways in which a series of polychords can be organized:
- Working with the harmonic pull that each polychord has to the next, usually following a melodic guideline that helps to connect the harmonic flow:
- The outer voices of the chords may flow as a two-part counterpoint:
- Using any of the voices of the chords as reference for a two-part counterpoint
- Using one distinguishable chord to suggest a stronger reference to one of the used tonalities and thus, better defining the harmonic flow due to tonal implications:
Just as polytonality, and polyharmony, that refer to the use of more than one key center or polychords from different tonalities, polyvalence refers to the use of more than one harmonic function at the same time, but from the same tonality – i.e. exploring the contrast between the harmonic functions of the tonic and the dominant, used simultaneously:
In this sense, you can think of polychords that belong to the same tonality, although you should be aware that the goal is to provide contrast between harmonic functions and thus work with the respective modal centers.
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