Electronic Musician

EASY GUIDE Tonal & modal harmony

hen discussing traditional Western music theory, we use the term ‘harmony’ to describe how a melody works with the chords that accompany it. For the most part in this Easy Guide series up to this point, we’ve been exploring what’s known as ‘tonal’ harmony – the kind of thing relied on heavily by composers from 1700-1900 or thereabouts, and from which the vast majority of modern pop music is derived. We’ve been talking about chord progressions that move in a particular direction, are based mainly on three-note chords or triads, and have a general tendency to gravitate towards the tonal center or ‘tonic’ chord. There’s

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