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Left Unexplained

Parallel Harmony

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 I love using parallel harmony, and am just starting to learn how to use its dark side. I believe that if you use parallel harmony with major chords/keys you get a feeling of "god" and if you use minor chords/keys you get a feeling of "the devil". I don't know if that's a coincidence or a hint about the world. I know that's kind of out there but that's what I think.

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1 hour ago, Left Unexplained said:

I believe that if you use parallel harmony with major chords/keys you get a feeling of "god" and if you use minor chords/keys you get a feeling of "the devil".

What? 

You have to realize that major and minor modes don't really mean anything and that your reaction to them is learned. In the transition between the Medieval and the Baroque, Willaert and Zarlino codified the minor thirds as sweetness and grief and major modes with harshness and bitterness (Burkholder, 249). Obviously completely contrary to what most people think today, but all it takes is a few hundred years to change what the world thinks.

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You probably already know about the "harmonic series" and overtones so I won't dwell on it here. Monarcheon can probably explain this better than I anyway. 

But it's about overtones. If you play a fundamental of, say, C(3) on a piano, the following notes also sound: C(4), G(4), C(5), E(5) - etc. You don't hear them separately (unless you're listening out for them). They're what gives the piano and every other instrument its timbre (along with a few other parameters). Note that the fundamental produces a harmonic that turns up as the Major 3rd in a triad. C-E-G.

In a minor key, the 3rd is flattened. So in C minor: C Eb G. 

Thus a discord occurs between the major 3rd in the instrument's natural sound and the minor 3rd.

It also explains why some instruments rich in harmonics sound angrier in a minor key than others. Compare a trio of horns (as in Peter and the Wolf for instance with the three flutes in the last movement of The Planets, The flute's lower register is weak in harmonics, the horns strong so the clash is greater. 

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Well, I really like to jump a major 3rd with major and minor chords in either direction, in some situations I like jumping to the tritone (I think that's the most jarring one), minor thirds in either direction (I need to keep experimenting to find more that I like).

Also, by non functional what do you mean, just like non-diatonic? Because to be honest I find diatonicism to be very constricting, maybe that's my achilles heel but I just find it to be pretty boring. (No offense meant)

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Hi! Now that you mentioned that you like to jump a major 3rd with this major and minor chords, you reminded me of Prokofiev. Have you seen how he uses chords (mostly major) in a non-functional manner? “Non-functional” meaning “used in a coloristic way”, or at least thats one way to look at it. Maybe you can check out this video if you haven’t already, to see what I mean:

 

It’s not parallel harmony, but I thought it could help.

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2 hours ago, José Montero said:

It’s not parallel harmony, but I thought it could help.

 

Maybe I'm misunderstanding what parallel harmony means. I thought it just meant shifting to "unrelated" keys that are identical. Also I really like that song, I've heard of Prokofiev but I'll have to check out more of his stuff.

Edited by Left Unexplained

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2 hours ago, Left Unexplained said:

Maybe I'm misunderstanding what parallel harmony means. I thought it just meant shifting to "unrelated" keys that are identical. Also I really like that song, I've heard of Prokofiev but I'll have to check out more of his stuff.

 

I see it this way:

To define “parallel harmony”, it think it would be good to analise the term a little.

Roughly speaking, harmony takes place when we play notes simultaneously, usually more than two. (That doesn’t necesarily mean that there is a key — although it may suggest it). When we have more than two of this combination of notes (called chords), we perceive the moving of the notes as “voices”: moving melodic lines.

On the other hand, there are three basic forms of contrapuntual motion: oblique, contrary and similar. Parallel motion is a type of similar motion (or at least that’s a way to look at it). In similar motion, the two (or more) voices move in the same direction, but not necessarily result in the same interval as they started. In parallel motion, the two (or more) voices move in the same direction AND result in the same interval as they started. For example, if you have a set of notes C, E and G —in the same octave— and you move them up a minor third by parallel motion, you will get Eb, G and Bb.

So, when we talk about parallel harmony, we mean that the voices that constitute the harmony move in parallel motion.

If you search Parallel Harmony in Google, you’ll find several visual examples of that.

The use of parallel harmony often results in “shifting to "unrelated" keys that are identical”, but it isn’t just that, so I wanted to make sure you know this. I hope it worked.

Luis Hernández mentioned Debussy and I think it will be illistrative to look at his music. The first bars of this prelude by him use parallel harmony.

Notice that in this piece not every possibility of parallel harmony is used. There are many cool things you can do with it!

I hope it helps 🤔😁

P.S.: Also notice that some parallel movement in a piece of music doesn’t necessarily imply that the music has parallel harmony. I was listening to Corcovado by Darius Milhaud, and it has a bit of parallel motion in the harmonization of a melody, but that doesn’t mean that he is really using parallel harmony. 

Edited by José Montero
P.S. (Aditional information)
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7 minutes ago, Monarcheon said:

If we're defining parallel harmony that way, look up the term "planing", specifically "chromatic planing". 

 

Oh, I think I see what you mean. I hand’t heard of the term. It would be like transposing something diatonically or chromatically (Finale has this option, for example), if I understand it correctly?

Edited by José Montero
Writing mistake

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OP defined parallel harmony as parallel related tonalities, or at least that's what I infer they meant by their post.
You are defining it differently, as a method of harmonic planing, and there are two variants: diatonic and chromatic, which, yes, would correspond to the Finale transposition options available. The idea behind planing, is that voice leading remains in constant structured harmony, oven supporting a melody line either explicitly or secondarily. 

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3 minutes ago, Monarcheon said:

OP defined parallel harmony as parallel related tonalities, or at least that's what I infer they meant by their post.
You are defining it differently, as a method of harmonic planing, and there are two variants: diatonic and chromatic, which, yes, would correspond to the Finale transposition options available. The idea behind planing, is that voice leading remains in constant structured harmony, oven supporting a melody line either explicitly or secondarily. 

 

That is certainly good to know, thank you😁.

I think OP meant that the use of parallel harmony was relating (originally or traditionally) unrelated keys. But since he mentioned the use of (progressions of) purely major (or minor) chords, I don’t think he intends to really establish a tonality. So chromatic planing would apply, right?

Anyway, I think there is enough material on this thread for him to respond, it would be cool.

Thanks.

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13 hours ago, José Montero said:

ISo, when we talk about parallel harmony, we mean that the voices that constitute the harmony move in parallel motion.

 

 

Ahh it has to do with counterpoint. Ok, thank you. It's kind of interesting how some of the stuff that comes naturally to you is really hard to define.

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1 hour ago, Left Unexplained said:

 

Ahh it has to do with counterpoint. Ok, thank you. It's kind of interesting how some of the stuff that comes naturally to you is really hard to define.

 

Yes but unlike the usual the usual ways of counterpoint, the voices are not as individual or free (because they serve the purpose of being parallel). At least that’s what I’ve said. You should also research this things by your own.

The main thing here is that you’ve found an emotional way to use the sounds! The theory comes later. So thank you for sharing 🙂

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