Harmony is the musical environment (or lack of it) in which a melody exists. For the pianist, harmony means two things:
1. Notes in the right hand under the melody (used to support the melody.)
2. Notes or chords in the left hand.
If a pianist plays any two notes, he has created an interval. If the notes are sounded together, it is called an harmonic interval:
If the notes are sounded individually, it is termed a melodic interval:
It is obvious, then, that every melody contains an implied harmony, because a melody is a string of melodic intervals.
Here are the basic intervals of use to a pianist:
The most useful intervals are 3rds, 5ths, 7ths, octaves (8ths), and 10ths, and as we proceed through the various styles covered in this book, you will understand why.
Intervals may be altered through the use of sharps and flats, so we can have a 7th or a flat 7th, a 5th or a sharp 5th, and so on.
If a pianist plays three or more notes together, he has created a chord. Three note chords are called triads; four notes or more are termed extended chords (because the intervals of the chord are extended past the triad.)
There are six basic chord types:
1. Major. Composed of a root, 3rd, and 5th.
2. Minor. Composed of a root, flat 3rd, and 5th.
3. Augmented. Composed of a root, 3rd, and sharp 5th.
4. Diminished. Composed of a root, flat 3rd, flat 5th, and double-flat 7th. (Double-flat 7th is formal music language for the 6th.)
5. Half-Diminished. Composed of a root, flat 3rd, flat 5th, and flat 7th.
6. Dominant Seventh. Composed of a root, 3rd, 5th, and a flat 7th.
Here is how these six chord types look on the keyboard, all built on C:
Other notes can be added to these basic triads, creating an extension, or extended chord.
The six basic extensions are:
1. 6th. The 6th scale note.
2. 7th. The 7th scale note flatted.
3. Major 7th. The 7th scale note.
4. 9th. One octave higher than the 2nd scale note.
5. 11th. One octave higher than the 4th scale note.
6. 13th. One octave higher than the 6th scale note.
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