tl;dr
HARMONICITY PATTERN:

when an artist temporarily confuses the number of sound sources playing, resulting in listener chills when combined effectively with a Structural Pattern

“My god Art Garfunkel’s voice. My goosebumps have goosebumps.”

Technique 1:

Holds in alignment

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Technique 2:

Movement in alignment

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Technique 3:

Alternating intervals

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Technique 4:

Atypical resonances

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Technique 5:

Self-harmonization

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How It Works

When artists use the Harmonicity pattern, they create sounds with frequency components that fit perfectly into one harmonic series. Every voice and instrument tends to resonate at a slightly different fundamental frequency (e.g. A5 at 440.3 Hz vs. 441.5 Hz) produce different amounts of harmonic overtones. It’s rare – and attention-grabbing – when two musicians perfectly align their tones. There are two theories of why the Harmonicity pattern can induce frisson. One theory is that harmonicity temporarily confuses our auditory system for separating sounds. A second theory posits that harmonicity-driven chills are an evolutionary “reward” for pro-social behavior like singing and aligning with another human.

Harmonicity and Proximity share many technical features and tend to appear together.

Top Acoustic Pattern pairing:

Top Structural Pattern pairing:

Genre that most uses pattern:

Proximity, Grief
Surprise
Folk/Acoustic

Technique 1: Holds in alignment

Multiple musicians adjusting to each other and achieving perfect alignment on a prolonged note. Some of the ways artists implement this technique are:

— Chord voicings mirroring the order of the harmonic series (e.g. octaves in lower, 3rds in upper voices) 

— Perfectly-tuned close harmonies (e.g. 3rds and 6ths in same octave)

— Timbres that blend well (e.g. voices, brass, wind instruments like saxophone, clarinet, oboe)

Genre

Pop/R&B
Hip Hop/Rap
Country/Folk
Alternative/Indie
Rock/Metal
Dance/Electronic
Film/Games
Classical/World

Song

I Won’t Give Up
Better Now
Go Rest High On That Mountain
Ragged Wood
While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Wonder
Take Me Or Leave Me (Rent)
Marie Theres! (Rosenkavalier)

Artist

Jason Mraz
Post Malone
Vince Gill
Fleet Foxes
The Beatles
Shawn Mendes
Idina Menzel, Tracie Thomas
Richard Strauss

Frisson Reported by Listeners

2:50
3:31
1:10
0:01
0:53
0:01
3:37
3:35

Technique 2: Movement in alignment

Counterpoint motion with multiple musicians maintaining perfect harmonic alignment. Some of the ways artists implement this technique are:

— Parallel motion maintaining perfect alignment (e.g., voices typically separated by 3rd or 5th)

— Oblique motion into perfect alignment (e.g. drone on tonic with lead line moving through perfect intervals)

— Timbres with rich harmonics (e.g. voices, strings, wind instruments in upper registers)

Genre

Pop/R&B
Hip Hop/Rap
Country/Folk
Alternative/Indie
Rock/Metal
Dance/Electronic
Film/Games
Classical/World

Song

You Need To Calm Down
End of the Road
Ashokan Farewell
Royals
The Sound of Silence
Lean On
Into the Unknown (Frozen 2)
Spem in Alium

Artist

Taylor Swift
Boys II Men
Jay Unger
Lorde
Simon & Garfunkel
Major Lazer
Idina Menzel, AURORA
Thomas Tallis

Frisson Reported by Listeners

0:45
5:30
3:07
0:23
0:24
0:31
2:49
7:43

Technique 3: Alternating intervals

Repetitive, perfectly in-tune sequences that cycle through the intervals of the harmonic series. Some of the ways artists implement this technique are:

— Alternating perfect 4ths, 5ths, octaves with varied rhythms and note lengths to draw listener attention

— Certain repeating arpeggios with reverb and voicings mirroring the order of the harmonic series 

— Slow-decay timbres (e.g., steel-pedal guitar, crotales, piano with pedal down, etc.)

Genre

Pop/R&B
Hip Hop/Rap
Country/Folk
Alternative/Indie
Rock/Metal
Dance/Electronic
Film/Games
Classical/World

Song

Cheerleader (Felix Jaehn Remix)
Focus
Walking In Memphis
One Big Holiday
Where The Streets Have No…
Opus
Ava (Ex Machina)
Cello Suite No. 1

Artist

Omi
H.E.R.
Marc Cohn
My Morning Jacket
U2
Eric Prydz
Ben Salisbury, Geoff Barrow
Bach (Yo-Yo Ma)

Frisson Reported by Listeners

1:12
0:01
0:01
0:20
0:42
3:09
0:50
2:07

Technique 4: Atypical resonances

When a musician makes certain overtones more prominent in a note, resulting in a different and more attention-grabbing tone. Some of the ways artists implement this technique are:

— Certain belting techniques that use the first and second formants (e.g. “edge” in American bluegrass)

Undertone singing that resonates a subharmonic below the fundamental (e.g. Sardinian cantu e tenore)

— Production techniques like formant shifters and “chopped and screwed” editing

Genre

Pop/R&B
Hip Hop/Rap
Country/Folk
Alternative/Indie
Rock/Metal
Dance/Electronic
Film/Games
Classical/World

Song

Don’t Leave
BLOOD.
One Loaf of Bread
Familiar
Nightrain (live)
Invincible
God Yu Tekem Laef Blong Mi
Pilentze Pee

Artist

Ane Brun
Kendrick Lamar
Dave Evans
Agnes Obel
Myles Kennedy
Big Wild
Choir of All Saints (Honaira)
Bulgarian State Female Choir

Frisson Reported by Listeners

0:49
0:01
4:02
1:19
2:44
0:37
0:01
0:09

Technique 5: Self-harmonization

When a musician brings out harmonic overtones to such an extent that listeners temporarily hear a second pitch separate from the fundamental. Some of the ways artists implement this technique are:

— Overtone singing and multiphonic techniques (e.g. didgeridoo)

— Mutli-tracked or over-dubbed vocals

— Artificial harmonics on string instruments

Genre

Pop/R&B
Hip Hop/Rap
Country/Folk
Alternative/Indie
Rock/Metal
Dance/Electronic
Film/Games
Classical/World

Song

Only Time
Something (ft. Lalah Hathaway)
Holocene
Bride
Life on Mars?
Divine Moments of Truth
Skinny Love
Violin Concerto, Op. 47

Artist

Enya
Snarky Puppy
Bon Iver
San Fermin
David Bowie
Shpongle
U. Michigan G-Men
Sibelius (Mutter)

Frisson Reported by Listeners

0:12
6:10
1:14
1:01
1:20
2:33
0:06
4:03

Listen to more examples in the Qbrio Library