I love many styles of music. I most love those pieces or songs that offer beautiful harmony. To me a classic example of true harmony is Simon & Garfunkel’s The Sound of Silence. Good harmony feeds my soul with peace, beauty, and Oneness.
The same is true in work and in life. In today’s BBTL entry Chet describes so well what is false harmony and the harm it brings to a team, a marriage, or an organization.
However today I learned of something that I think is worse than false harmony… it’s negative harmony. I had never heard of this concept until this morning when I was talking with my youngest son, a professional musician. John described negative harmony as a ‘flashy trend’ especially among online artists. In it the musician takes a piece of music that is constructed, for example around a C major chord with true harmony and changes its construct to an F minor chord, for example, therein inverting the pitch and creating negative harmony.
He sent me an example of it, and I’ll be honest – it was disorienting, disturbing, and if I listened to it any longer it felt like I would get a headache. He said that’s the point of negative harmony – it is designed to be disorienting and totally change the emotional feel of the song.
I think this concept of negative harmony is best experienced, so I’ve attached samples for you at the end of this blog. Listen to both versions of the well-known song All-Star by Smash Mouth to experience the impact of negative harmony.
So how does this riff of mine apply to the theme of false harmony? I have seen the damage done to teams, organizations, families, and friendships when false harmony goes on unchecked. It can eventually so damage relationships that the impact feels like negative harmony, leaving people disoriented, disturbed, not at peace.
So, leader…husband…wife…daughter…son…father…mother…colleague…friend… where are you tolerating false harmony in your world? Is yours a culture of compliance or one of commitment? What steps are you willing to take to have the tough conversation to surface conflict, to root out false harmony, in order to build true harmony…Oneness?
That’s where the beauty of true harmony lies. Dear God, help us all to root out what hinders Oneness, starting within ourselves.
All Star by Smash Mouth – Original version:
All Star by Smash Mouth – Negative harmony version: