What Is Original About Negative Harmony?

Author: Tommaso Zillio

What can you do with Negative Harmony? (and in fact, what is this Negative Harmony thing that everybody is talking about?)

Negative Harmony is a theory of music that seems to have become popular after YouTube superstar Jacob Collier mentioned it in an interview.

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It rapidly become a highly controversial theory, with some people saying that it represented a complete revolution in the world of music theory, and others saying that it was nothing new and just a repackaging of old ideas.

I, for one, am more interested in what you can DO with Negative Harmony rather than on how original it is…

… but why not talk about both? In the video below we can see together exactly what you can do with Negative Harmony, how it can help in writing music (yes, it’s a ver ‘practical’ theory, so to speak) and in the meantime we can also see what is new about it and what is just old ideas.

So, if you watch this video, you will come up with a new compositional tool for your trick bag:

If you want to see more practical examples of Negative Harmony in action, here’s a short Logic Pro session where we can see how Negative Harmony can be applied to the whole or only parts of a melody, and how this creates interesting and usable effects:

And if instead you want a famous example, here’s how Rachmaninov openly took a theme from Paganini and wrote a completely different (and famous) piece of music using negative melody:



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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