In 1722, Jean-Philippe Rameau defined harmony as “…the gathering together of several sounds which are agreeable to the ear.” This traditional definition of harmony is still true today – but needs a little modern updating.
When harmony of three or more different letters and tone numbers are played melodically, one at a time, it is called an arpeggio. And when harmony of three or more different letters and tone numbers are played harmonically, at the same time, it a known as a chord. Intervals of two sounds may be played both melodically and harmonically, but, are not considered or called arpeggios or chords.A traditional harmony symbol, such as Cm (C minor) is almost always referred to as a chord symbol. However, this would not be true if the Cm harmony was played as an arpeggio. In that case, the Cm harmony symbol would have to be called an arpeggio symbol, and that sounds weird.
So, to avoid naming harmony by the way it is played, simply use the term harmony symbol. That way, you are free to play the harmony however you wish, either as an arpeggio or as a chord.Harmony is grouped into types based upon the 3rd and 5th intervals. The 3rds intervals are: natural three major (3), flat three minor (b3), and sharp three suspended (#3). In traditional harmony, #3 is called 4 but as we will see in later lessons, this creates a lot of unnecessary confusion: think dominant 11.
A harmony progression is when an arpeggio or chord harmony moves forward to another harmony of any type. The definition of progress is to move forward. Therefore, by combining these virtually infinite number of harmonies with an equally virtually infinite number of harmony orders, the result is more harmony progressions than anyone on Earth has time to play!
’til next time, have some Zero Inversion harmony fun and don’t forget to progress!
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