functional harmony

noun

: a theory of tonal music that regards all harmonies as functioning as essentially tonic, dominant, or subdominant harmony
In Riemann's interpretation Berlioz sought to destroy the fundamental unit of functional harmony, the cadence, by substituting 'false' functions.Alexander Rehding, Hugo Riemann and the Birth of Modern Musical Thought, 2003
broadly : harmony as it functions within tonality
Modal harmony can operate as a signifier of the historical period before the development of tonal functional harmony in the seventeenth century. Annette Davison, Hollywood Theory, Non-Hollywood Practice, 2004

Word History

First Known Use

1946, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of functional harmony was in 1946

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Cite this Entry

“Functional harmony.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/functional%20harmony. Accessed 25 May. 2024.

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