The Mood-Enhancing Flavors and Colors of Harmony

Featuring Paul Baloche Posted on January 20, 2010

Harmony, like ice cream, comes in all flavors an colors, from plain vanilla to rainbow sherbet.  It can be pleasantly scented and spicy, tart, tangy, bittersweet, salty-or syrupy to the point of nausea. 

Remember what we said about the sound of words evoking or matching the felling and meaning of the message? Well, chords can do that too.  Harmony can call up all the feelings to be found in human experience.  It can make us happy, hopeful, peaceful, pensive, merry, mournful, apprehensive.   It can jangle, menace, or soothe us, leave us thrilled, threatened or comforted, romantic or nostalgic. It can be pure and ethereal, lifting us to heavenly places.  It can be earthy, sensual, even devilish, pandering to baser instincts.

So write a melody people can ride on, something they can hum or that sounds great as an instrumental only.  And as they listen, that great lyric hook you’ve written will automatically come to mind. 

 Tri—Tri Again 

So much of the western world’s music is based on the simple 3-note chord called a triad. “Tri” means “three” and is where we get such words as trinity, triune, and triple. Triads are the basic harmonic building blocks that serve as a foundation for most praise and worship songs. In fact, triads are the predominant chord forms that define various styles of music including reggae, folk, country, rock, and various hybrids of these styles. Triads are the “meat and potatoes” before you start seasoning with various spices. Triads are the blank canvas that you can put color on. Triads, by definition, are the combination of 3 musical pitches heard simultaneously: a root, a 3rd, and a 5th. If you are looking at a C scale and you play the root, 3rd, and 5th of the scale (C-E-G), all at the same time, you will be playing a “C major triad”. If you start playing more than 3 chord tones simultaneously you’ll be venturing off into 4-part and 5-part chords, which will automatically tell the listener that you’re playing Pop or Jazz music. 

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