Fun With Negative Harmony And Modal Borrowing

Author: Tommaso Zillio

Negative Harmony is a fun idea that has recently made the headlines thanks to Jacob Collier and other musicians. It allows to create interesting and ‘spicy’ chord progressions.

The trouble with Negative Harmony is that it seems to be shrouded in mystery – but it’s in fact a very simple concept.

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(To be honest this is often the trouble of music theory in general… like using super-complex names for the simplest ideas)

In this video we have fun with Negative Harmony and a related, but different concept (Modal Borrowing) to create several variations of the same melody. The melody is simple on purpose, and you can build up on the concept by using more complex melodies and chord progressions.

  • In Negative Harmony, we can ‘flip’ (invert) the melody – all or just part of it – around a specific axis. We can do the same with the harmony too!

  • In Modal Borrowing, we transform both melody and harmony from major to minor.

You can hear how the concepts work at 00:25 in the video, and if you like the sound, the rest of the video explains in detail how to do it.

And if you want to know more about Negative Harmony – why we ‘flip’ the scale on that particular axis, what else you can do with it – then this is the video for you:

Have fun!

About the Author

Tommaso Zillio is a prog rock guitarist and teacher with a passion for Music Theory applied to Guitar. To know more do not forget to subscribe to his youtube channel.

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