# what is harmony and why does it sound good?

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what is harmony and why does it sound good?

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Harmony is when multiple notes are sounding at the same time. It’s ‘technically’ not always pleasing sounding, but it sounds very pleasing when the notes are a certain distance (pitch-wise) apart from each other. This is how harmony is used in 99% of music we hear. When multiple voices are singing these different notes together, while saying the same words, you often get a very pleasing sound.

Harmony is when multiple notes are sounding at the same time. It’s ‘technically’ not always pleasing sounding, but it sounds very pleasing when the notes are a certain distance (pitch-wise) apart from each other. This is how harmony is used in 99% of music we hear. When multiple voices are singing these different notes together, while saying the same words, you often get a very pleasing sound.

It has a lot to do with math.

Sound is a wave, and the wavelength (or frequency, they’re just two ways of expressing the same thing) determines the pitch.

When two sound waves have frequencies that are even multiples of each other, or both waves are multiples of another number, the waves line up nicely and make a pattern that we perceive as pleasant.

It is actually way more complex than can be eli5d , bur we can try say the simple bits.

Sound is the air vibrating in waves. When we say waves, it actually looks more like someone leaving a line while weaving perfectly between two sides of a road. A musical note, or pitch, is defined by how fast the driver weaves, or how fast it changes from the top to the bottom.

Notes that harmonize generally have their peaks and dips line up in interesting ways. Notes that are discordant (opposite of harmony) have their peaks and dips almost never line up.

Why do we like this, and what sort of ones do we like exactly? Really, really hard to say.

It is actually way more complex than can be eli5d , bur we can try say the simple bits.

Sound is the air vibrating in waves. When we say waves, it actually looks more like someone leaving a line while weaving perfectly between two sides of a road. A musical note, or pitch, is defined by how fast the driver weaves, or how fast it changes from the top to the bottom.

Notes that harmonize generally have their peaks and dips line up in interesting ways. Notes that are discordant (opposite of harmony) have their peaks and dips almost never line up.

Why do we like this, and what sort of ones do we like exactly? Really, really hard to say.

It has a lot to do with math.

Sound is a wave, and the wavelength (or frequency, they’re just two ways of expressing the same thing) determines the pitch.

When two sound waves have frequencies that are even multiples of each other, or both waves are multiples of another number, the waves line up nicely and make a pattern that we perceive as pleasant.

You might find this video interesting. Jacob Collier explains harmony in 5 levels of difficulty. https://youtu.be/eRkgK4jfi6M

You might find this video interesting. Jacob Collier explains harmony in 5 levels of difficulty. https://youtu.be/eRkgK4jfi6M

It’s probably worth starting with the fact that most sounds we hear aren’t one frequency but multiple frequencies playing together, even a note on a piano isn’t just the frequency of that note.

When we play a note on an instrument it plays the root frequency (the frequency of the note) and a set of other frequencies above that note, these are harmonic frequencies, the volume of these higher frequencies play a key part in how the instrument sounds and why instruments playing the same note sound different, this is called timbre.

Essentially when a singer sings one note and another singer sings a harmony of that note, the second singer is complimenting the harmonic frequencies of that first singer by singing one or more of the notes the first singer produced. Like painting with the same colours as each other.

Dissonance is where you’re singing notes that don’t compliment that original singer and that sounds harsh because there are too many frequencies that don’t compliment each other.

Getting into the reason why harmonies sound good is more of a study of maths and philosophy going back thousands of years, but if you’re interested it’s a very interesting topic to deep dive into.