This is the first episode of a weekly blog post series on harmony theory. Our blog is different in three ways:
- We explain harmony theory using music apps. This allows you to checkout everything whenever and where you want. Simply switch on your iPad.
- We try to make sure, that you can read every episode within five to ten minutes. Thus the blog is also for people who don’t have much time at their hands.
- We found out that there are many overlooked symmetries in western harmony. Be one of the first who knows and talks about it.
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We call the theoretical concept discussed within this series “symmetry model”. It consists of some submodels which have one thing in common: All models are not oriented to the root of a certain key or a chord. Much more they are aligned to the so called symmetry tone. The goal of today’s episode is not to explain that in detail. Much more we want to introduce the first three submodels of the symmetry model.
Submodel 1: The key related circle of fifths
Already Pythagoras derived the diatonic scale by tuning tones in fifths. The key related circle of fifths takes that idea and arranges the white keys of the piano in a fifths order. The circle begins with the f and ends with the b. The tone in the center (d) is called symmetry tone.
Submodel 2: The key related circle of thirds
The second model is the key related circle of thirds. This system is perfectly suited for understanding chords and cadences. The tones are arranged in alternating major and minor thirds. Thus three neighbored tones result in major or minor triads. Again all tones are arranged symmetrically around the symmetry tone which defines also the start and the end of the circle.
Submodel 3: The key related melodic circle
The third model is the key related melodic circle. The circle arranges tones in major and minor seconds i.e. whole and half tone steps. Like the other circles this model is also aligned to the symmetry tone d. The strength of the key related melodic circle is the representation of melodic scales.
The following video demonstrates how the tones within the circle sound. It consists of three tracks. The first plays tones in a fifths order, the second in the third order and the last in the melodic order. At the end all three tracks are played together.
In the next blog post we’re going to explain how the sound track of the previous was produced. We’ll talk about the iPad music apps used as well as how three models introduced before were applied.
- Three basic harmony models were introduced named key related circle of fifths, key related circle of thirds and key related melodic circle.
- Every of these models consists of the same seven tones. Only the order of the tones is different.
- Every model arranges the tones mirror-symmetrically around a so called symmetry tone respectively a symmetry axis.
- Together these models grab the most important properties of the western tonal system.