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Parallel & contrary harmony

The chromatic and diatonic approaches

Each chord can be preceded and approached by a chord of same quality :

Situated ½ tone higher or lower


Chromatic Approach

When its notes belong to the mode


Diatonic Approach

When the approaching intervals are similar


Diatonic Approach


These specific approaches correspond to the "sectional" harmonization found in jazz and pop music.


1. The chromatic approach

a. The note intervals and the direction of both chords are similar :


1/2 tone


b. All harmonic intervals are allowed :

Parallel 8ves

   Parallel 5th and 8ves


c. The use of the 7th and dissonances, softens the parallelism :



d. The parallelism can include 2 or several chords. In this case, it depends on the final chord :

Parallel chromaticism  /    arrival chord


e. This chromatic parallelism can be used inside "sequences", and be more distant :


2. Diatonic approach on a given scale

a. Two consecutive chords on a diatonic scale :

C harmonic minor



Notice : The intervals between the notes of the chords are not similar and are built on a "C harmonic minor" scale.

b. The diatonic approach is used for diatonic melodies :


F lydian mode



c. Unlike the chromatic approach, the diatonic parallelism can be used with distant chords :

F major



3. Diatonic approach by similar intervals

In this case, each note moves to the next chord by the same interval as the melody :


 Augmented 4th




4. The contrary harmony

a. The superimposition of 2 scales going opposite directions gives some original diatonic and chromatic harmonizations :

C mixolydian modes


b. Example on a diatonic scale :

2 diatonic scales in C major







c. Example with a chromatic scale :

2 contrary chromatic scales







d. Diatonic and chromatic combination :

Diatonic + chromatic scales






e. Different note values :


Contrary scales can include different le-rythmes :

2 notes VS 1 note



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