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Harmonies to make your Melodies Come Alive
What you should
should be able to create simple harmonies for your melodies and vocal
lines, and make sure they don’t clash with the rest of the band.
sounds like a
complicated term, but it simply means playing more than one note at a
time. A chord contains harmony, so if you’ve been playing chords,
you’ve automatically been doing it already!
But how do we
to enrich a melody or vocal line?
Well that all
what you want. Some people like really beautiful, sweet harmonies,
whilst others like nasty harmonies that clash and create a discordant
sound. As a rule:
create a happier type sound
create a sadder type of sound
On a personal
favourite harmonies are minor 3rds, perfect 4ths, and minor and Major
6ths. My ear tends to like more melancholy types of music, but I also
love Mozart who wrote some pretty happy tunes!!
Here’s a step-by-step process you can use to create a harmony for any melody you wish to use.
Write your melody out on manuscript paper, and/or
On another stave, write out the melody again but a
third higher. So if, for example, you started the original piece on G,
start the second stave on B. Notice that although I went a third
HIGHER, I placed the harmony underneath, as if I placed it higher it
would then become more dominant than the original melody. There are no
rules here, but for now I would stay within the same key signature and
not add any sharps or flats.
Repeat the exercise, but write out the melody a
fourth higher than the original. So for example, if you started the
melody on A in the original stave, write it out but start on D.
out the same melody,
but start a sixth higher than the
original. So in
example, we’ll start on F
Play each harmony over the original melody
Mark which passages you like the sound of or dislike
the sound of from each one.
Mix up the three new harmonies until you have a new,
finished, combination harmony you really like.
Write this one out, and this becomes your new
You can use this
for vocal lines, piano lines, guitars, strings... you name it. You can do his
harmony you like, and you DON’T have to stay within the key, but at the
beginning, it’s a good idea to keep within the key until you’re a bit
more confident, and you’re happy with the harmonies you’re creating.
A mistake a lot of people make when they’re starting to create harmonies, is harmonising EVERY
note in the melody or phrase. You definitely don’t have to do this.
Many pieces of music will have a really simple harmony going in the
bass or mid range, while a more frantic melody line goes over the top.
Let’s take a look at how we can do this. We’ll use the same melody
line, but we’ll just simplify it so it’s a lot less “busy”.
Here is the
melody with a harmony placed underneath.
bear in mind that
these are ONLY examples and you can use any harmony you like. If you
want to write an entire harmony consisting of nothing but diminished
fifths, then go for it. It will probably sound a bit weird, but as a
musician, that’s perfectly up to you.
How to take a melody and create as
many harmonies as you like from it
How to pick which harmonies sound
best and how to integrate them to create a finished harmony.
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Smith 2007. All rights