The mountain itself hasn’t changed, but the image projected is completely different. Likewise with the musical harmony, the melody has not changed, but the harmony can change what the melody ‘looks like’. Harmony music theory can help in understand this change.
Creating Tension Using Musical Harmony
The purpose of the musical harmony is to create tension, so that there can be relaxation. As with rhythm and tones, there are some harmonic chords that are more expected than others. The expected chords are relaxing, and the unexpected chords are surprising and create tension. Your songs will need a combination of both. When the song is rising towards a climax, generally, unexpected chords are used.
And when the song is releasing the built up tension, then expected chords are used. Typically the tension is built up towards the end of a phrase, and then released. For additional ways, other than harmony, of creating tension visit How to Add Tension to Your Melody.
Every tone has a variety of chords that can harmonize with it. For example, if you played a C in the melody, then you could accompany it with a C major chord, an A minor chord, a F major chord, an F sharp diminish chord, an augmented chord, a 7th chord, a sus4 chord, etc.
With so many options, how do you decide which chord to harmonize the C? Generally, when beginning a song you will begin with one of the first three chords, either major or minor. As you begin climbing towards the climax, then you begin to use more unexpected chords, like the 7th and the sus4 chord. When you start releasing the built up tension, you should begin using the more expected major and minor chords.
Note: The suspended 4th chord (the forth replaces the third so instead of C E G, you would play C F G) is a great way to climax.
The climax can be resolved easily by playing a regular C chord. An example is shown below. Also, any of the above chords can be played as arpeggios to create a flowing phrase.
|Building and Resolving Tension|
When deciding which chords to harmonize the melody with, keep in mind what your melody is doing at that moment. Is it building tension? Or is it relaxing the audience? The accompanying musical harmony depends upon the purpose of your melody and can be used to enhance that purpose. Harmony music theory deals with the relaxation and tension process in order to decide which chord types should be used to accompany the musical melody.