functional harmony


Definition of functional harmony

: 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

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First Known Use of functional harmony

1946, in the meaning defined above

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Cite this Entry

“Functional harmony.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Jul. 2020.

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