A harmonic sequence is a musical concept that has been around for centuries. It is a sequence of chords or notes that are played in a specific order to create a sense of harmony and structure in music. In this article, we will explore what exactly a harmonic sequence is, how it works in music theory, and some examples of its use.
What Is a Harmonic Sequence?
Simply put, a harmonic sequence is a series of chords or notes that follow a specific pattern. This pattern can be based on intervals, such as the distance between each note or chord. For example, one common harmonic sequence is the “circle progression,” which consists of chords that are spaced apart by fourths (or fifths).
Another way to think about a harmonic sequence is as a chain of related chords. Each chord in the sequence is related to the one that came before it and the one that comes after it. This creates a sense of continuity and progression in the music.
How Does It Work?
Harmonic sequences can work in many different ways depending on the specific musical context. However, there are some general principles that apply to most sequences.
One important concept in harmonic sequences is “tonicization.” This refers to the process of temporarily establishing a new tonal center within the context of an existing key. For example, if you are playing in the key of C major and suddenly play an F major chord (which is not diatonic to C major), you have tonicized the F major chord.
Another important aspect of harmonic sequences is voice leading. This refers to how each note in each chord moves to the next note in the next chord. Good voice leading creates smooth transitions between chords and helps create an overall sense of coherence in the music.
There are countless examples of harmonic sequences throughout music history. Here are just a few:
- The “Andalusian cadence” is a common harmonic sequence used in flamenco music. It consists of four chords: Am, G, F, and E.
- The “Pachelbel Canon” is a famous piece of classical music that uses a simple harmonic sequence consisting of three chords: D, A, and Bm.
- The Beatles’ song “Let It Be” uses a harmonic sequence that starts with C major and moves through G major, Am, F, and ends on C. This creates a sense of resolution and closure at the end of the song.
In conclusion, a harmonic sequence is an essential part of music theory that helps create structure and coherence in music. By understanding how harmonic sequences work and using them effectively in your own compositions or performances, you can take your music to the next level. So go ahead and experiment with different chord progressions and see what kind of harmonic sequences you can come up with!