In the last lesson, we were learning more about harmonic fields for major scales. It’s important that you have some understanding about what we’ve been learning so far, so that you can take the best from future lessons. I recommend you to review the previous lessons, and if you have any questions, just leave us a comment.
In Creating Tracks website you can find several articles about music theory, that ranges from music notes, music symbols, chords, clefs, time signature, major scales, minor scales, and much more. It’s worth to take a look.
So, before approaching the next subject, let’s check out the homework: to build D Major and Bb Major harmonic fields. Here they are:
Now, it’s time to learn about Functional Harmony.
The name might be a little frightening, but don’t worry – it’s actually a simple concept.
Let’s start by understanding what Harmony is. Basically, the study of Harmony involves chord construction, chord progression and how one chord will ‘connect’ to the other. A chord progression is a sequence of chords in a given piece of music.
Functional Harmony works with the idea that each chord has a specific meaning, or function, in a chord progression.
Learning these concepts will help you to give your productions a sense of purpose. This is important, because a significant number of popular music composers usually creates songs by ear. With that, I mean create songs without knowing why it sounds good or bad. This is not ‘wrong’ actually, but the creation process will be a lot more interesting if you compose with a sense of direction.
To do that, we must know that every chord has a function in a progression. The whole idea is to start the sequence with a given chord, and then we create movement and tension between the chord notes, to finally resolve the progression in a chord that gives the idea of rest.
There are three basic harmonic functions:
Tonic: Is the home key, usually where the music starts and ends. The idea is chords of rest and resolution.
Sub-dominant: those are chords of movement. They will precede dominant chords.
Dominant: Chords of tension, which will usually resolve to the tonic.
Let’s check C Major harmonic field again:
– The chord from degree I will always have a Tonic function.
– The chord from degree IV will always have a Sub-dominant function.
– The chord from degree V will always have a Dominant function.
Let’s use these chords to create a progression:
Check how it sounds like:
Notice how It seems ‘logical’ and has a natural resolution.
Now hear the same progression, without playing the last chord (that is, we play just the first three chords):
It seems that the song is not over, right? We keep expecting a resolution. It happened because we created a tension between the chord notes that must be resolved, usually in the Tonic.
In the next lesson, we will continue to learn about functional harmony.