chapter  6
20 Pages

Harmonic Syntax I

Contrapuntal Chord Function
WithTimothy Cutler

This chapter focuses on the primary contrapuntal chord function. There are three types of harmonic function—tonic, predominant, and dominant. Tonic-function harmonies, while content to remain in a state of repose, can progress to either predominant- or dominant-function harmonies. Armed with an understanding of harmonic function, one might assume that the meaning of most chord progressions is readily discernible. Harmonically significant tones are mistaken for nonharmonic tones. Conversely, nonharmonic tones can be misread as harmonic tones and obscure traditional chordal syntax. One important generator of abnormal syntax is the harmonic sequence. A harmonic sequence is an easily recognizable chordal pattern that binds an opening harmony to its eventual harmonic goal. Harmonic sequences either expand a single harmony or expand motion between two different harmonies. Related to harmonic sequences is the technique of harmonizing a bass or soprano line with parallel 63 chords. The primary harmony in each measure is articulated on the downbeat and receives durational emphasis.