So, A minor can be a tonic chord or a subdominant chord, again based on where and how it is used in the music. The tonic (C Major) in bar 1 steps up to the D minor subdominant in bar 2, followed by G Major ⇨ C Major in bars 3-4 as a dominant-tonic cadence. If a musical function describes the role that a particular musical element plays in the creation of a larger musical unit, then a harmonic function describes the role that a particular chord plays in the creating of a larger harmonic progression. For now this label can simply apply T, S, or D to individual chords; in the future, we will alter this practice slightly in order to show functional prolongation. Promotes the idea of completion. Chicago and London : University of Chicago Press, 1994. When I harmonized Michael Row the Boat Ashore, I really needed to use the tonic chord [SOUND] at the beginning [SOUND] and end. A tonic chord with do in the bass is T1, a dominant chord with ti in the bass is D7, etc. If you are already comfortable with Roman numerals, you can generally think of I, III, and VI as tonic, II and IV as subdominant, and V and VII as dominant. Interestingly, in common-practice music, a chord’s function can be determined solely by its internal characteristics (the notes that make up the chord). This is not true of all styles. Similarly, when composing, there are patterns that might take an S4, with the specific chord (IV or II6) determined by voice-leading rather than harmonic syntax, but where a D4 chord (V4/2) would be syntactically inappropriate, regardless of voice-leading. As we explore specific genres, composers, and works within that common practice, we will have opportunity to explore the more nuanced differences between composers, as well as to move beyond common-practice Western art music to include other styles, such as pop/rock. Subdominant’s characteristic scale degrees are 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6. Dominant’s characteristic scale degrees are 2, 4, 5, 6, and 7. There are two main theories of Harmonic Function and how it works. For example, in pop/rock music a IV chord can exhibit very different functional tendencies depending on its context. Harrison, Harmonic Function in Chromatic Music . This article is all about harmonic function in music – what is it, how does it work, and how can we analyze it? In common-practice music, harmonies tend to cluster around three high-level categories of harmonic function. In this text, we will discuss four. According to those who created this Theory, each specific scale degree has its own function and they all relate to the tonic in a different way. But in classical music, simply knowing the notes in a chord is enough to determine its general harmonic function and the general tendencies of that chord and its individual notes. When doing so, place the appropriate Roman numeral below the bass line, the thoroughbass figure above the bass line (since it represents the upper voices), and place a functional label T/S/D below the Roman numeral (no Tx; simply call a VI chord T). Your email address will not be published. Quinn uses the special functional label is Tx, rather than simply T, for this chord. Subdominant’s characteristic scale degrees are 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6. This can be in the form of intervals – two notes at a time – or chords, which are three or more notes played simultaneously. 9-12 The Phrase Model (Laitz 2015) Tymoczko, The Geometry of Music, Ch. The study of harmony or form, then, is not a matter of learning to label chords, phrases, and modules correctly. An Overview Of The 20th Century Music Era. Your email address will not be published. If more than one function contains all the scale degrees, take the function with the most triggers in the chord. Daniel. In this article, I advocate for a syntactical definition of harmonic function in rock music such that function is acquired not by a chord’s scale-degree content but by its role in the context of a song’s form. When referring to broader categories of chords, we will more often use functional bass. Harmony, in its most basic sense, is what happens when more than one note is played at a time. Following is an example of interpreted functional bass. Music starts, ends, and travels to and from the tonic, and every piece of music is unique in how it does this, but knowing which chords function in which way allows musicians and composers to analyze others’ music and create their own.