General Principles of Harmony


  • Forte, Allen. The Structure of Atonal Music. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1973.
  • Forte, Allen. Tonal Harmony in Concept and Practice. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1979.
  • Forte, Allen, and Steven Gilbert, Introduction to Schenkerian Analysis. New York: W. W. Norton, 1982.
  • Hindemith, Paul. Traditional Harmony (two volumes). London: Schott, 1968.
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  • Koechlin, Charles. Etude sur les notes de passage. Paris: Max Eschig, 1920.
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  • Messiaen, Olivier. Vingt Leçons d’Harmonie. Paris: Alphonse Leduc, no date.
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  • Piston, Walter. Harmony, Fourth Edition. New York: W. W. Norton, 1978.
  • Reger, Max. On the Theory of Modulation. New York: Edwin F. Kalmus, no date.
  • Schoenberg, Arnold. Theory of Harmony, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978.
  • Schoenberg, Arnold. Structural Functions of Harmony. New York: W. W. Norton, 1969.
  • Sessions, Roger. Harmonic Practice. New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1951.
  • Simpson, Robert. Carl Nielsen, Symphonist. New York: Taplinger, 1979.
  • Tchaikovsky, Peter Ilyitch. Guide to the Practical Study of Harmony. New York: Dover Publications, 2005.



Introduction: Why this book?

  • Discussion of other approaches
  • Limits of our discussion
  • A new approach to understanding harmony


  • A definition of harmony
  • Intervals
  • Chords
  • Progressions

Principles of coherence and continuity

  • Pitch and interval limitations
  • Linear aspects: melody and bass lines; voice leading
  • An aside: open vs. closed harmonic systems
  • Hierarchy, landmarks, cadences

Principles of movement, interest and variety

  • General aspects of harmonic accent
  • Creating momentum and renewing interest on various structural levels
    • Locally
    • Higher Levels
  • Harmonic rhythm
  • Modulation and harmonic transition

Transitions between various types of harmony
Harmony, texture, and orchestration

  • Spacing and register
  • Doubling
  • Timbre
  • Harmony with multiple planes of tone

Criteria for evaluating harmony; pedagogy