AQA Music GCSE- AoS2- Harmony and Tonality

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Harmony and Tonality

Harmony- When two notes of different pitch are sounded together.

What we will need to recognise in the Exam:

  • diatonic, chromatic
  • consonant, dissonant
  • pedal, drone
  • cadence: perfect, plagal, imperfect, interrupted, tierce de Picardie
  • Major, minor and dominant seventh chords using Roman numerals or chord symbols

Diatonic and Chromatic

  • Diatonic harmony uses only notes in the scale or key that the music is written in
  • They will only use notes from the same scale
  • Chromatic harmony uses other notes as well like flats and sharps
  • These notes don't belong in the scale but are usuallyused to add emotional effect to the music

Consonant and Dissonant

  • Consonant is nice and pleasant sounding
  • The harmony is agreeable
  • Dissonant is uncomfortable, even painful to listen to, it clashes.
  • Often used to create suspence or tension

Pedal and Drone

  • A pedal note is sustained or repeated whilst the harmonies change
  • It can be doubled, adding the same note an octive higher or lower
  • If the harmony doesn't change it is not a pedal note
  • Pedal notes are normally in the bass
  • If they are higher than the meoldy it is known as Inverted pedal
  • A drone is played in the bass
  • It can be one note, but is normally two- a fifth apart
  • They may be sustained or repeated
  • Usually ued to accompany melodies in folk or medieval music, or Indian.

Cadences- formed by two chords at the end of a musical phrase, like a full stop, or comma

  • Perfect: Gives the music a sense of completion. Chord V to Chord I, Dominant to Tonic
  • Plagal: 'Amen' cadence. Chord IV to Chord I, Subdominant to Tonic. Also gives sense of completion, but less strongly.
  • Imperfect: Feels incomplete, like music should go on, like a comma. Made up of any chord though usually I, to Chord V (dominant)
  • Interrupted: A 'surprise' cadence. Goes from Chord…




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