Harmonization |
Music Terms

Harmonization |

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terms and concepts

Harmonization is the composition of harmonic accompaniment to any melody, as well as the harmonic accompaniment itself. The same melody can be harmonized in different ways; each harmonization, as it were, gives it a different harmonic interpretation (harmonic variation). However, the most important elements (general style, functions, modulations, etc.) of the most natural harmonization are determined by the modal and intonational structure of the melody itself.

Solving the problems of harmonizing a melody is the main method of teaching harmony. Harmonizing someone else’s melody can also be an artistic task. Of particular importance is the harmonization of folk songs, which was already addressed by J. Haydn and L. Beethoven. It was also widely used in Russian music; its outstanding examples were created by Russian classical composers (M. A. Balakirev, M. P. Mussorgsky, N. A. Rimsky-Korsakov, A. K. Lyadov, and others). They considered the harmonization of Russian folk songs as one of the ways to form a national harmonic language. Numerous arrangements of Russian folk songs, performed by Russian classical composers, are collected in separate collections; in addition, they are also found in their own compositions (operas, symphonic works, chamber music).

Some Russian folk songs have repeatedly received various harmonic interpretations that correspond to the style of each of the composers and the specific artistic tasks that he set for himself:

HA Rimsky-Korsakov. One hundred Russian folk songs. No 11, “A baby came out.”

M. P. Mussorgsky. “Khovanshchina”. Marfa’s song “The baby came out.”

Great attention was paid to the harmonization of folk melodies by outstanding musical figures of other peoples of Russia (N.V. Lysenko in the Ukraine, Komitas in Armenia). Many foreign composers also turned to the harmonization of folk melodies (L. Janacek in Czechoslovakia, B. Bartok in Hungary, K. Szymanowski in Poland, M. de Falla in Spain, Vaughan Williams in England, and others).

The harmonization of folk music attracted the attention of Soviet composers (S. S. Prokofiev, D. D. Shostakovich, A. V. Aleksandrov in the RSFSR, L. N. Revutsky in Ukraine, A. L. Stepanyan in Armenia, etc.) . Harmonization also plays an important role in various transcriptions and paraphrases.

References: Kastalsky A., Fundamentals of folk polyphony, M.-L., 1948; History of Russian Soviet Music, vol. 2, M., 1959, p. 83-110, v. 3, M., 1959, p. 75-99, v. 4, part 1, M., 1963, p. 88-107; Evseev S., Russian folk polyphony, M., 1960, Dubovsky I., The simplest patterns of Russian folk-song two-three-voice warehouse, M., 1964. See also lit. under the article Harmony.

Yu. G. Kon

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