I hate making posts like this since I always feel like there are more important things to be talking about. I think everybody and their mom thinks bards are fine, and they are. However, over the past couple of months this issue has become more of a problem. Literally every GM I played with this year has ruled differently on this and they all seem to feel they needed more guidance. So this is me trying to get that.
It seems the intent of Harmonize is to allow the bard to use two compositions at the same time. However, rules as written says starting a harmonized composition ends a normal composition currently in effect (see rules below). This means if you start a normal composition as your first action in a turn and then Harmonize, your first action is wasted as that normal composition immediately ends as soon as you start your third action to play a harmonized composition.
The same is true if you use Lingering Performance (or the new Martial Performance) on the normal composition. Even if you don't get tripped up by the order of operations issue above and use your first action to Harmonize, then start your harmonized composition as your second action. Next you use a free action to use Lingering Performance and finally use your third action to cast a normal composition, in the next turn, as soon as you start your harmonized composition, the lingering performance normal composition ends.
Basically Harmonize allows the following.
- Start a normal composition the same turn as a harmonized composition.
- Start a normal composition without ending a harmonized composition.
What it doesn't do is
- Start a harmonized composition without ending a normal composition.
Without this, there is a problem with the order of operations that cause these edge cases. It seems like we don't want harmonize to work with the other spellshape feats, which honestly is fine but, it would be better to say so instead of having confusion, IMHO.
Rules as Written (using non-remaster rules though none of this has changed in the remaster):
Composition (Source Core Rulebook pg. 629 4.0)
To cast a composition cantrip or focus spell, you usually use a type of Performance. If the spell includes a verbal component, you must use an auditory performance, and if it includes a somatic component, you must use a visual one. The spell gains all the traits of the performance you used. You can cast only one composition spell each turn, and you can have only one active at a time. If you cast a new composition spell, any ongoing effects from your previous composition spell end immediately.
Harmonize (Source Core Rulebook pg. 101 4.0)
Bard Concentrate Manipulate Metamagic
Prerequisites maestro muse
You can perform multiple compositions simultaneously. If your next action is to cast a composition, it becomes a harmonized composition. Unlike a normal composition, a harmonized composition doesn’t end if you cast another composition, and you can cast another composition on the same turn as a harmonized one. Casting another harmonized composition ends any harmonized composition you have in effect.