Parallel harmony

In music, parallel harmony, also known as harmonic parallelism, harmonic planing or parallel voice leading, is the parallel movement of two or more lines (see voice leading).

Illustrative exampleEdit

Quartal chords descending by semitone

Lines with parallel harmony can be viewed as a series of chords with the same intervallic structure. Parallel means that each note within the chord rises or falls by the same interval.

Examples from worksEdit

Diatonic planing from "Feuilles mortes" ("Dead Leaves") by Claude Debussy.[1]
The "organ chords" in Debussy's tenth prélude, La cathédrale engloutie

Prominent examples include:

In the Schuman example (Three Score Set for Piano), the inversions of the chords suggest a bichordal effect.[2]

In the example to the right,[clarification needed] we see a series of quartal chords in parallel motion, in which the intervallic relationship between each consecutive chord member, in this case a minor second, is consistent. Each note in the chord falls by one semitone in each step, from F, B, and E in the first chord to D, G, and C in the last.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Cope, David (2000). New Directions in Music, p. 6. ISBN 1-57766-108-7.
  2. ^ Kliewer, Vernon (1975). "Melody: Linear Aspects of Twentieth-Century Music", Aspects of Twentieth-Century Music, pp. 332–333. Wittlich, Gary (ed.). Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall. ISBN 0-13-049346-5.