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Section 9.2 Harmonic Rhythm

You will find that all of the progressions we discuss can have different harmonic rhythm. Harmonic rhythm is a term for how long each chord lasts. For example, in “Fly Me To The Moon” (Figure 9.1.7), “I Will Survive” (Figure 9.1.8), and “I Love You Like A Love Song” (Figure 9.1.9), each chord lasts for four beats and has whole-note harmonic rhythm. In the Mozart (Figure 9.1.5) and Wagner examples (Figure 9.1.6), on the other hand, each chord lasted for two beats, and so had a faster harmonic rhythm.

Listen to the following example to hear four-beat harmonic rhythm change to two-beat harmonic rhythm.

Figure 9.2.1 Bastille, “Pompeii”

In some music, harmonic rhythm will remain consistent, while in other pieces there will be an infinite variety to the length of harmonies. Throughout this text, we will be examining harmonic rhythm and the placement of harmonies within the phrase.