Introduction to Harmony
Harmony is when you hear two or more different tones sounding at the same time.
Look at how these notes are stacked on top of each other. It almost looks like a snowman. This is what harmony looks like. You will hear clusters of sounds when chords like this are played. Chords and harmony move in a vertical line (up and down).
Harmony is added to melodies to make them more interesting. In order to understand harmony, you need to understand melody.
Melodies are groups of notes played one after the other. It's the tune. It's what we sing and whistle and hum. It's the first thing most of us think of when we think of music. It's the easiest part of music to remember. Can you recognize this melody?
If you remember that melodies move in a horizontal line (left to right) and harmonies move in a vertical line (up and down), you can understand anything in music.
Harmony helps the melody. Harmony also provides texture and mood. To learn more about texture, click here.
Let's hear how harmony can change the mood of a famous melody.
You all know Yankee Doodle, don't you. Let's listen to this famous melody all by itself, without any harmony.
Let's listen to Yankee Doodle again, this time changing the harmonies. The melody will stay the same but the harmony will change.
1. Yankee Doodle using harmony in the major key.
2. Yankee Doodle using harmony in the minor key.
3. Yankee Doodle using a jazzy harmony.
Did you hear how these three different harmonies can give Yankee Doodle a different mood?
Let's look at three fun and easy ways to make harmony.
The easiest way to make harmony is to add an ostinado to a song. An ostinado is a short musical phrase sung over and over. A Ram Sam Sam is a song with an ostinado.
A Ram Sam Sam + Ostinado = Harmony
The second way to make harmony is to sing a round. A round is when everyone sings the same tune, but at different times.
The third way to make harmony is to sing two different songs at the same time.
Let's say it another way:
Now you are an expert on harmony. Congratulations!