Harmonizing Melodies

author: CPDmusic date: 05/18/2010 category: for beginners
rating: 9.4 / votes: 21 
A Brief Lesson on Harmonization Introduction: Hello, and welcome to lesson number five by CPDmusic! Hopefully you guys have enjoyed my lessons so far, and have learned a lot from them! This lesson will look at how to harmonize melodies. Many bands use harmonized melodies, mainly because they sound cool. A good example of this is the band Avenged Sevenfold. Almost all, if not all, of their lead melodies are harmonized. Now, before you read this lesson, it is recommended you have some knowledge on musical intervals. Luckily, I have written a lesson on this topic, which you can read here http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/lessons/for_beginners/musical_intervals.html. What Is Harmonization? Without getting into the technical specs of things, harmony is where two or more notes are played simultaneously, with these notes usually interacting with each other. A good example of harmonization if your standard guitar chord. All the notes are played simultaneously to form the chord, and if one note was out of tune, you could probably tell. This lesson won't look at chords though, but instead harmonizing melodies, which also follows the same principal. How To Harmonize: Theoretically, you could harmonize any two notes you chose, although some harmonization's don't sound very good (*cough chough* minor second *cough cough*). The lesson will focus on the five most common harmonization tactics, the minor third, major third, perfect fourth, perfect fifth, and octave harmonies. First Harmony: Harmonies are rather simple, and harmonization is just a four step process. Look at the below example of a minor third harmony. Step 1: Take your root note. Let's say your root is A:
E||-------||
B||-------||
G||-------||
D||-------||
A||--0----||
E||-------||
Step 2: Find the minor third interval of this root. From the lesson on musical intervals, you should know that this is 3 semitones.
E||-------||
B||-------||
G||-------||
D||-------||
A||--3----||
E||-------||
Step 3: Well, since you need to play both these notes at the same time, and since they are both on the same string, you will need to transpose. (If you don't know how, I will write a short lesson on the process). Look at the tab below, and notice that both notes sound the same (as long as your guitar is tuned properly).
E||------------||
B||------------||
G||------------||
D||------------||
A||--0---------||
E||-------5----||
Step 4: Now to play the actual minor third harmonization. Play the root, A in this case, and the minor third of the root, C in this case, at the same time.
E||-------||
B||-------||
G||-------||
D||-------||
A||--3----||
E||--5----||
And there you go! A minor third harmonization! All the other harmonization's follow the same rules so let's go through them quickly. For the major third harmonization, you would start with your root note, A in this case:
E||-------||
B||-------||
G||-------||
D||-------||
A||--0----||
E||-------||
Then, you would find the major third of A, which is C#:
E||-------||
B||-------||
G||-------||
D||-------||
A||--4----||
E||-------||
And then you would transpose the root note (only if you have to), and play both notes at the same time:
E||-------||
B||-------||
G||-------||
D||-------||
A||--4----||
E||--5----||
Okay, now let's just breeze through the rest. A perfect fourth harmonization on A would consist of these two notes:
E||------------||
B||------------||
G||------------||
D||------------||
A||--0----5----||
E||------------||
And could be played like this:
E||-------||
B||-------||
G||-------||
D||-------||
A||--5----||
E||--5----||
Or like this:
E||-------||
B||-------||
G||-------||
D||--0----||
A||--0----||
E||-------||
A perfect fifth harmonization on A would consist of these two notes:
E||------------||
B||------------||
G||------------||
D||------------||
A||--0----7----||
E||------------||
And could be played like this:
E||-------||
B||-------||
G||-------||
D||-------||
A||--7----||
E||--5----||
Or like this:
E||-------||
B||-------||
G||-------||
D||--2----||
A||--0----||
E||-------||
You probably also notice that a perfect fifth harmonization is just your standard power-chord, in which case your right! (The third note of the power chord is an octave from the root) And finally, an octave harmonization on A would consist of these two notes:
E||-------------||
B||-------------||
G||-------------||
D||-------------||
A||--0----12----||
E||-------------||
And are usually played like this
E||-------||
B||-------||
G||-------||
D||--7----||
A||-------||
E||--5----||
Or, if you're using a pick, you could play it like this:
E||-------||
B||-------||
G||-------||
D||--7----||
A||--x----||
E||--5----||
Practice Makes Perfect! I believe that the more you practice something, the better you get at it (as many people believe), so as a result, here are two exercises enclosed in this lesson to help you get better at harmonization. Exercise 1: Identification You should probably be able to identify harmonization, so below there will be five examples of harmonization, which you will try to identify as minor third, major third, perfect fourth, perfect fifth, or octave harmonization's. Answers are afterwards.
E||-------|-------|-------|-------|-------||
B||-------|-------|-------|-------|-------||
G||--1----|-------|-------|-------|-------||
D||--2----|-------|--1----|-4-----|--0----||
A||-------|--2----|--3----|-------|-0-----||
E||-------|--0----|-------|-2-----|-------||
Answers: 1. Major third 2. Perfect fifth 3. Minor third 4. Octave 5. Perfect fourth Exercise 2: Composition One other thing you should be able to do is write your own harmonization's to melodies. Try writing different harmonization's for the simply melody below. If you want to play along to this with your harmonization, you can go to my YouTube channel for a recording, with full band!
E||----------------------|----------------------|
B||----------------------|----------------------|
G||-------0----2----0----|------------0---------|
D||--2-------------------|--0----4---------4----|
A||----------------------|----------------------|
E||----------------------|----------------------|
 
|----------------------|-----------------------||
|----------------------|-----------------------||
|----------------------|-----------------------||
|-------2----4----2----|-----------------------||
|--3-------------------|--2--------0-----------||
|----------------------|----------------3------||
Closing Well, yet another lesson has come and gone, and now your riffs (hopefully!) sound more interesting. You now know how to harmonize melodies, and you have also solved another mystery of music: how to have two guitar players in a band, because everyone wants to play lead! So, until next time! Did You Like This Lesson? Check Out My Last Lesson, Musical Intervals. More Lessons Coming Soon!
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