Harmonic Tension and Release
Harmonic tension is tension that is produced by chords and chord progressions. We study the details of this particular element of music composition in harmony but here are some common ways of creating harmonic tension.
The first is through dissonant (or unstable) chords, which in traditional harmony always require a resolution into a consonant (stable) chord. Here’s one of the most beautiful examples I can think of. It’s from Chopin’s Nocturne in C sharp minor. Notice the thick-sounding chord producing a tension that is released in the next chord:
Oh my god, Withney Houston, it is a TRS that create that emotion
Let’s look at some examples in which a repeating rhythmic pattern (known as an ostinato) builds up a sense of anticipation. Such repetitions tend to get louder and build up even more intensity.
Another way that rhythm can produce tension is by getting faster, known in musical terms as “accelerando”. Like the crescendo, an accelerando typically means a rise in intensity.