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Introduction to Tonality

Music has two overarching frameworks: rhythm and tonality. There are two main parts to tonal learning: 

  • Harmony
  • Melody

We will begin with harmony because it will establish the aural foundation (context!) for melody. 

Melody vs. Harmony

Melody can be thought of as pitches moving in a forward, horizontal manner. Harmony, however, should be initially conceptualized vertically. Eventually, melody and harmony weave in and out of each other in unique and interesting ways. However, when we are first learning to audiate tonally, it’s best to separate the elements, and learn one at a time.

Think of learning to audiate harmony and melody like constructing a building. Harmony, along with resting tone, provide a foundation and frame. Since you have no stairs at first, you need a scaffold.  Tonic and dominant harmonic functions form the foundation and frame of each floor, as well as the basement. 

Melody would be analogous to laying down the concrete of the individual floors, as well as creating the stairs so that one can navigate between the floors. One can travel up several flights, and then return back to the bottom to get more material to build additional floors.  

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