A Fun Harmonic Game

Update: A friend, whose brother is a composer, pointed out that this is known as an “L” transformation in neo-Riemannian theory. TIL! Every so often, the internet actually delivers on its promise. 🤓🥳

The other day I discovered a fun harmonic game. It’s a bit like the line cliché, but (I think) a bit more challenging. Here are the rules:

  1. Use only the 4 basic triads (major, minor, augmented, diminished). Start with any triad.
  2. To get the next triad, move only 1 note of the chord up or down 1 half step.
  3. Each chord change must change its root. (For example, E major → E minor is not allowed. Don’t cheat by using enharmonic names! 😉)

That’s it! It’s simple, but the limitations are tight. I find it’s a bit hard to end up with a progression that works, but you can surprise yourself, and perhaps come up with something you would not have otherwise.

You can make it significantly easier and generate richer changes by removing rule 1 or rule 3.

Here are some ideas I like. (Note that example 🄱 breaks rule 3.)