Concepts of Music Harmony & Counterpoint

Scales & Tone Structure of Music

Root Function

The root is the lowest tone of a scale or chord and is the most basic element harmony:
The root is the basic reference from which all other intervals are measured (in its sound or theoretically). When tones are played together as a chord the fifth tone of the scale has no harmonic role in altering whether the chord is major or minor. It simply harmonizes the root of the chord. In a four note chordal harmony, the fifth can be diminished (flattened) or augmented (raised) to create a different harmonic charactaristic.

In order to be called a chord (triad), chords must contain:

  1. Root - The First Scale Tone
  2. Third - The Third Scale Tone
  3. Fifth - The fifth Scale Tone

NoteA chord can consist of less than the above, however it is harder to hear the quality of the chord completely. In order to tell its difference from another chord, the third of the chord must be present at some point in the harmonic progression.

Various Era's of musical composition utilized different types of harmonic rules and variation. For example, see this list of compositional rules for the Baroque Era.

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