World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Close and open harmony

Article Id: WHEBN0000288458
Reproduction Date:

Title: Close and open harmony  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Voicing (music), Harmony, The Johnstons, Cuarteto d'Aida, Los Zafiros
Collection: Barbershop Music, Harmony, Musical Terminology, Voicing (Music)
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Close and open harmony

Close harmony on C triad. About this sound Play  
Open harmony on C triad. About this sound Play  
"Yankee Doodle"[1] with accompaniment in close harmony About this sound Play  .
Example of an open harmony spaced according to the overtone series begins Schubert's "Meeresstille," D. 216.[2] About this sound Play  

Close harmony is an arrangement of the notes of chords within a narrow range, usually notes that are no more than an octave apart. It is different from open harmony or voicing in that it uses each part on the closest harmonizing note (such as - C4, E4, G4), while the open voicing uses a broader pitch array (like - C3, G3, E4) expanding the harmonic range past the octave. Close harmony or voicing can refer to both instrumental and vocal arrangements. It can follow the standard voice-leading rules of classical harmony, as in string quartets or Bach's Chorales, or proceed in parallel motion with the melody in 3rds or 6ths.

  1. ^ Porter, Steven (1987). Harmonization of the Chorale, p.9. ISBN 0-935016-80-5.
  2. ^ Jonas, Oswald (1982). Introduction to the Theory of Heinrich Schenker (1934: Das Wesen des musikalischen Kunstwerks: Eine Einführung in Die Lehre Heinrich Schenkers), p.18. Trans. John Rothgeb. ISBN 0-582-28227-6.
  3. ^ Simon, Paul (April 20, 2011). "100 Greatest Artists: 33. The Everly Brothers".  
  4. ^ "Joseph Schillinger, the forgotten Guru", The Schillinger School of Music.
  5. ^ "Who Is Joseph Schillinger?", The Schillinger System.
  6. ^ Shanaphy, Edward and Knowlton, Joseph (1990). The Do It Yourself Handbook for Keyboard Playing, p.220. ISBN 0-943748-00-3.


See also

In melody in the right hand, while the left hand doubles the melody an octave lower, while in open harmony the middle note of the chord is played an octave lower creating a "open" space in the chord.[6]

In music, block harmony is close position harmonization, and contrasted with open harmony.

Block harmony

A well-known example of consistent instrumental close harmony is Glenn Miller's "Moonlight Serenade" which uses the full range of single-reed wind instruments (soprano clarinet, alto, tenor, and baritone saxophones) to make a distinctive sound by harmonizing the different sections all within a single octave. Miller studied the Schillinger technique with Joseph Schillinger,[4] who is credited with helping Miller create the "Miller sound", and under whose tutelage he himself composed what became his signature theme, "Moonlight Serenade".[5]


Soul and gospel groups flourished in America in the years after WWII, building on the foundation of blues, 1930's gospel songs and big band music. Originally called "race music" by white mainstream radio and its target market, it was the precursors to rock and roll and rhythm and blues of the 1960s and 1970s, influencing many English and American artists of that era. As noted above, they often used the more traditional TTBB or SSAA 4-part structure, but with heavy use of solos and call-and-response, which is rooted in the African American church. These groups sometimes sang a cappella but also used more instrumental backing, especially when recorded by the bigger labels. Pop music and doo-wop can be seen as a commercialization of this genre.

Barbershop harmony has a unique TTBB structure - the melody is in the 2nd tenor or "lead" voice, while the 1st tenor takes the next part up, usually in 3rds, with the baritone and bass voices supporting. The bass line tends to be more rhythmic and covers the root notes of the harmonic progression, providing more "support" and independence than in classical vocal music, since Barbershop is usually sung a cappella. Barbershop can be sung by males (TTBB) or females (SSAA). Public domain pieces, such as "Sweet Adeline", and newer pieces are abundant. National organizations promote the music with local chapters in many communities.

Close harmony singing was especially popular in the 1940's with Pop and R&B groups using the technique quite frequently. Many gospel and soul groups in the 1950s and 60s also used this technique, usually 3- or 4-part SSAA or TTBB harmony with one person (either Bass or Lead) doing a call-and-response type lead. One example of this is The Blind Boys of Alabama, a group that is still recording today. The folk-rock duo Simon & Garfunkel used close harmony, echoing their chosen role-models, the Everly Brothers.[3] The Louvin Brothers were a duo that used close harmony in the genre of country music.


  • Vocal 1
  • Instrumental 2
  • Block harmony 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5


This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.