Music, the Brain, and Ecstasy (Robert Jourdain)
Chapter 4: Harmony

  • Harmony is essentially the "depth" dimension of music
  • Dissonance is greater between lower notes and it is for this reason that bass notes should be well-spaced
  • The effect or "feeling" of a chord depends mostly on its context within a larger harmonic progression, not solely upon the identity of the chord
  • Notes 1, 3, 4, and 5 in a scale tend to appear more in musical phrases, especially in positions of emphasis
  • "Triads are at the heart of the harmony we are accustomed to"
  • "Western music is built on variations of a few dozen standard progressions"
  • Harmony is all about offsets - relations between notes and chords, not the identity of individual members
  • A group of composers known as serialists, including Arnold Schoenberg, Béla Bartók, and Igor Stravinsky tried discarding tonal centers (thus effectively removing harmony), resulting in a kind of atonal music that few listeners could grasp and even fewer enjoyed