What Is Harmony In Music?

This guide will answer what is harmony in music. Learn the different types of harmonies, view harmony examples, and learn how to create them.

What is Harmony In Music
What is Harmony In Music

What is Harmony In Music?

Harmony is one of the most critical elements of music. When combined with other elements, it makes sure what the audience listens to is pleasing to the ear. Harmony in music is combined with other factors such as melody and expressed through different notes and chords. In simpler terms, harmony occurs when two or more notes are played simultaneously in any creative musical artifact.

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This video answers “What is a Harmony”

Harmony is that one element that usually confuses music enthusiasts and creators alike. In music, all elements are arranged systematically, which is vital to creating a sound piece that is complete in coordination with other elements.

We can plainly define harmony as an arrangement of pitches in a chord when it comes to harmony. Not only within an individual chord, but harmony also occurs throughout the chord progression in any piece of music. Therefore, when two or more notes are played simultaneously, it creates what we know as harmony.

Harmony is central to all musical compositions from R&B, hip hop, pop, folk, and so on. It is represented by Roman numerals that help in understanding the underlying structure of a musical piece better. Some also call it music’s vertical dimension as it is played in correspondence with melody and with the help of chords simultaneously.

We find out that harmony came into existence as a result of experimentation with melody. In melody, notes are played in a particular order, one after the other, whereas, in harmony, two or more notes are played simultaneously. That is how it enriches a piece of music in its entirety.

It may not be straightforward at first, but once you dig into the theory of music and start making music, it is easier to identify harmonic sounds from other elements and work out accordingly. Let us look at an example of harmony so that it is easier to grasp the concept.

How to Find Harmonies

Related: What is a Melody in Music


What is An Example of Harmony Music?

Just like melodies, harmonies are based on the arrangement of pitches. It comes into existence when individual notes are grouped together on instruments to create a harmonious sound effect. Many great songs have made their mark in the history of music just because their harmony was incredible. 

From vocals to instruments like a piano, some of the greatest harmonies that musicians and audience alike are fond of include The Beatles’ Don’t Let Me DownMumford and Sons’ I Will Wait, Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, the Beach Boys I Get Around. 

All these musical masterpieces flaunt their popularity because of the impeccable blend of vocals and instruments they created, rendering the music world in awe of their genius forever.

How to Sing In Harmony

What are the Different Types of Harmony?

While there are many types of harmony, the following are the most important and popular forms that are typically used:

1. Diatonic Harmony

Diatonic Harmony is one of the most ancient forms of harmony that dates back to the ancient Greek and Renaissance instrumentals. Diatonic harmony creates music in which one master scale is the turning point for all the notes and chords. Diatonic harmony is created through notes that are related to a specific key. 

2. Non-diatonic Harmony

Non-diatonic Harmony As for non-diatonic harmony, the notes in this type of harmony do not go back to the same master scale. Instead, they take chords and notes from different scales and are most commonly employed in jazz music since the pattern of harmony is different from other music genres. 

3. Atonal Harmony

Atonal Harmony Contrary to diatonic or non-diatonic harmony, atonal harmony refers to the form that does not consist of a tonal center. It comes without a minor or major scale or an identifiable root. As for its use in music, atonal harmony is widely used in classical music and Jazz.  


Why is Harmony Important in Music?

Harmony is integral to any piece of music, specifically in today’s musical paradigm. Not only does it sound good to listen to, but it also enriches the piece of music by creating an emotional response within the listeners.

Any good piece of music with well-structured harmony helps listeners connect with the entire song and instill emotions that the song aims to instill.

Vocal Harmony: Write Them With No Theory Knowledge

As much as other elements are integral to creating any masterpiece, without harmony, it can go wrong in so many ways. After all, hitting the right note at the right time is what makes a piece of music exemplary.


How Do You Create Harmony?

In order to create harmony, musicians, along with their instruments, create a triad of notes that are played together, creating a harmonious effect. For example, let’s say that a flutist, a violinist, and a trombonist wish to create harmony.

What they would do together is arrange a set of notes each from their respective instrument and play it together, creating a triad. This is known as playing a chord.


What is the Difference Between Harmony & Melody?

This is one of the most confusing aspects of elements that is crucial to music. We know that melody is created by combining pitch and rhythm, and it is a series of individual notes sung by the singer along the lines.

On the other hand, harmony is not played separately like melody, and it often accompanies melody and is played through a group of notes.

Melody vs. Harmony vs. Rhythm

A melody can be played on its own in the form of individual notes sung by the singer along with the notes.

Harmony occurs when two or more similar notes are incorporated with the melody, creating a more pleasant effect on the ears.

We may say that a harmony is an extended form of melody created by combining notes rather than individually.


What is Harmony Used For?

Harmony is used for creating depth and color to a melody by adding extra notes to the composition. Although melody can be and is used on its own in many musical pieces, harmony gives resonance to melody and makes a song richer in terms of depth and emotions.

Creating harmony is a systematic process, just like the melody. It would not be wrong to say that music is also a science with its do’s and don’ts.


Is a Chord a Harmony or Melody?

A melody is created by combining pitch and rhythm, made up of single notes that sync with the song’s lyrics. Every song has a melody formed by consecutive notes, and, in the theory of music, it is known as the horizontal element.

A melody serves to connect the lyrics and notes, making it easy for the listener to perceive the link between notes and lyrics.

Play the Piano

On the other hand, harmony is the vertical element in music that refers to more than two notes being played simultaneously. Melody and harmony are pretty similar yet have their distinctive features and functions within a song. As for chord, it is a subset of harmony as every chord consists of notes that are played simultaneously to bring harmony. Chords, when combined, make harmony deliberately organized throughout the song.

Each component of a song comprises of all these elements and have their own respective functions. Be it a chord turned into harmony or melody combined with harmony, they all play a vital role in composing and structuring a piece of music that sounds good to the ear, stays memorable, and proves to be a creation of creativity and genius.


How Do You Describe Harmony in Music?

The word harmony is derived from a Greek word meaning “a concord of sounds.” In music, this refers to the relationship between two or more notes, chords, or melodies that are pleasing to the ear.

Harmony is integral to music because it makes the sound more pleasant and adds depth. One way to describe it is that harmony offers a balance of sounds.

Though it can be hard to define what harmony actually is, most people would agree that it’s an arrangement of two or more sounds that complement each other.

Another way to describe this is “chords,” where notes are played together at the same time. The chords are usually provided by one instrument or voice, but they can also come from several different instruments played at once.

The option of chords provides harmonic variety, which in turn offers the listener more enjoyment because they can anticipate what will happen next in the progression of chords.


Summary of Harmony

Harmony refers to the relationship between musical instruments or voices playing in sync and tune together. When these elements work well with each other, they produce a pleasing result. If any element does not fit into place, then the whole becomes unbalanced and unpleasant sounding.

We hope we successfully answered what is harmony in music. If you have any tips or suggestions regarding harmonies, please share them in the comments.

Mark V. at Hip Hop Makers

Written By Mark V.

Hip Hop Makers is a music production website that launched in 2008 to teach music lovers how to make music, sell beats, and make money from music.

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