Lesson 8: Harmony

In this course, you will learn the basics of harmonies and chords that can augment and accentuate your melodies. Harmony is an engaging and important aspect of music. It consists of multiple pitches that are played simultaneously. This may include chord progressions, which are sets of chords that go one after the other in a certain order to create building tension. Or, as a counterpoint, melody lines fit together as interlocking parts contributing to the whole sound. Harmonies can be beautiful and calming or they can be dissonant and tension-filled.

To properly understand harmony, it’s important to know the concepts of consonance and dissonance. Consonance usually refers to chords that people find pleasing, while dissonance occurs when harmonies clash or sound rough. Dissonance creates a desire for resolution, which is the movement toward consonance.

Music production requires an understanding of the basic intervals between notes. A half step, or a semitone, is the smallest interval and means that two adjacent pitches are one note apart. When there is an interval of a whole step, it is described as a whole tone and this indicates that there is one pitch between the two notes being discussed.

Once these fundamentals of music creation are understood, more complex intervals with different ratios can be created. In Ableton Live, all instruments, both MIDI and Audio have effects based on semitones so it is important to understand this musical building block in order to make the most of live production elements in your music. For the course assignment, use everything you’ve learned so far to create a chord and bass progression.