Elements of Music Report – Harmony

In the process of analyzing music, a variety of parts, features, characteristics, and elements come into consideration. The elements of music, in particular, happen to be similar in comparison to the elements of design or art. Out of all the commonly used elements of music, namely pitch, texture, form, volume, timbre, duration, and harmony, the latter harmony plays an integral role in music. I am of the opinion that out of all the other elements, harmony is the most important one. The purpose of this report is to explain why I settled on harmony as my element of choice, an evaluation on whether music would exist without it and a music piece that highlights its use.

Harmony is often described as the simple act of a musician playing two or more different notes simultaneously or in counterpoint. I settled on this element because harmony is essentially the building block of all types of music and it is inevitable. Harmony is built on a relationship between the various tones that exist in a piece. The enculturation of music listeners to harmony creates a situation where a certain expectation prevails in regard to this relationship. Listeners expect that some specific chords always ultimately lead to others. If this expectation occurs as per the listener’s prediction, they satisfaction is felt from the fluctuation between release (resolution) and tension (dissonance).

Although it is possible for music to exist without harmony, the result would be a composition with a monophonic texture devoid of the musical taste that most listeners desire. In essence, harmony establishes the mood and context of a piece avoiding a situation where the composition sounds flat.   A pioneer in terms of the inclusion of harmony in compositions was Richard Wagner( 1813-1883). As a Romantic composer, his works are littered with traces of the use of this element that led to music experts even creating a niche for him and coining the term “Wagnerian harmony.”  Most notable is in Die Walkure, a composition that uses his Tristan chord extensively to create harmonic progressions all through the piece. It is also important to note that the use of harmony in the compositions vital in creating the intended mood among the listeners.

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