Elements of Music
Pitch – Harmony
• Harmony is a way to describe accompanying
instruments who are playing actual notes or
pitches different than the main melody.
• This is not rhythmic accompaniment so
instruments like drum set or most percussion are
not being described here.
• As you know, melodies in the songs we listen to are not
• There will often be 'lead' instruments which play the
main melodies (such as a voice) and other instruments
that accompany them doing something else.
• This relationship between different notes played at the
same time is what we call harmony.
Who plays harmony?
• Sometimes this can be done by one instrument such as
guitar or piano, but other times by several instruments.
• Harmony refers to the proper progression of chords –
groups of notes usually used as accompaniment to a
• As listeners we have an intuitive sense of harmonic rules,
if someone hits the wrong chord or note and it doesn’t
fit, we know.
• There are many types of relations between two or more
notes played at the same time, but they can be classified
into two main divisions: consonance and dissonance.
Consonance - Dissonance
• Technical Terms:
▫ Consonance – the quality of chords that makes them sound
restful or free of tension.
▫ Dissonance – the non-restful quality of some chords that
• Consonance refers to a sense of stability and 'relaxation'
experienced when listening to some notes together – or
• Opposite to this, dissonance refers to the sensation of 'tension'
or the feeling that something is 'unstable'.
• Depending on the 'distance' between one note and another,
we can classify their relations into consonant and dissonant.
Consonance and Dissonance…
Consonant Things Sound:
– Include perfect or major
– Happy, relaxing,
– Relieve tension
Dissonant Things Sound:
Include minor intervals
Might sound ‘out of tune’
Tense, gloomy, sad
• Chopin – Harmony
• “When I Go” by Slow Club
To describe harmony you can:
• List the instruments that the group/artist is
using to create harmony.
• Figure out where there is more than one singer.
• Is the song mostly consonant or dissonant?