Harmonic Shapes

A chaos of possibilities


  • Fredrik Lidin




harmony, key, modal, harmonic shape, rock music, scales, pitch space, music theory


The seven notes of the major scale have since long formed the basis for music theory and music analysis in a European and Anglo-American context. Diatonic music is divided into different keys based around a specific tonal centre – the tonic. This article highlights music that does not conform to the traditional harmonic movement within a key. Such music usually requires an unnecessarily complex theoretical explanation using established theoretical concepts when analysing tonal content. Some musicologists use traditional analysis to demonstrate how, for example, rock music differs from more traditional key-centred music. Other musicologists claim that certain music has established a practice and a tonal language of its own and should be analysed as such. So, how should harmony in music be defined, if not through the notion of traditional keys? In this article a new concept is proposed – harmonic shapes. These shapes are outlined over a pitch space, and can serve as a tool both for analysis and for creating music. Maybe a concept like this can help creators break free from a traditional framework, and still have a kind of dogma and direction for their creativity?


Fredrik Lidin

Fredrik Lidin has been musically active in various capacities since the late 1980s. He holds a master’s degree in music education. His present professional musical activities are shared between composing, performing and teaching. He has composed the soundtracks of ca. 20 films, including the series ‘Den inre cirkeln’ (‘The inner circle’), the documentary ‘Opprørsskolen’ (‘The school of revolt’) and the comedy ‘Prästen i paradiset’ (‘The priest in Paradise’). As a performing musician, Mr. Lidin has toured the Nordic countries, the United Kingdom and the United States, and has been engaged by, among others, Manfred Mann.




Referera så här

Lidin, F. (2023). Harmonic Shapes: A chaos of possibilities. Svensk Tidskrift för Musikforskning Swedish Journal of Music Research, 104, 109–145. https://doi.org/10.58698/stm-sjm.v104.13669




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