Harmonic Analysis

Understanding how a chord is related to the key and to the other chords in a piece of music

Harmonic Analysis is a method used in music theory to analyze the chords and harmonic progressions in a piece of music. It involves identifying and understanding the underlying harmonic structure and relationships between chords.

The process of harmonic analysis typically involves several steps. First, the chords in the music are identified, usually by labeling them with Roman numerals or chord symbols. This allows for a standardized representation of the chords regardless of key or specific notes.

Next, the harmonic function of each chord is determined. This involves understanding how each chord functions within the overall key and harmonic context. Chords may have different functions, such as tonic (stable and final), dominant (tense and leading), or subdominant (transitional). The harmonic function helps to establish the tonality and overall direction of the music.

Harmonic analysis also involves studying chord progressions and the relationships between chords. This includes identifying common chord progressions, such as cadences, modulations, and other harmonic patterns. Analyzing these progressions helps to reveal the structure and form of the music.

Additionally, harmonic analysis examines the use of non-chord tones or dissonances within the music. These tones create tension and resolution, adding color and expression to the harmonic language.

Harmonic analysis is an essential tool for musicians, composers, and music theorists. It provides insights into the harmonic language of a piece, its tonal center, and how chords and progressions contribute to the overall musical effect. By understanding the harmonic structure, musicians can make informed interpretive choices and gain a deeper appreciation of the music they perform or study.

Example of Harmonic Analysis

How to Analyse a Chord Progression (Harmonic Analysis)