#1
Is there someone who can explain to me what 'melody through harmony' and 'harmony through melody' mean practically? I mean, what would someone play when using the harmony through melody concept?
ty
#2
Harmony through melody basically means that you create your harmony by counterpoint, or sort of "layering" melodies that interact in ways that create functional harmonic motion. I've never really heard of melody through harmony, but I suppose it could be something like the opposite.
#3
For me, melody through harmony means creatively using voice leading in your chord progressions to create melodies usually using the higher notes in the chords. Of course this can be expanded to include counterpoint melodies happening on any strings within the chord shapes.
Andy
#4
Quote by Karel Juwet
Is there someone who can explain to me what 'melody through harmony' and 'harmony through melody' mean practically? I mean, what would someone play when using the harmony through melody concept?
ty

Do you mean chord melody? If so try and get hold of some jazz standards, preferable some slow ones like Misty. Standards have very strong melodies. Analyze and see how the melody note relates to the chord (harmony) underneath it.
#5
Thank you for your explanations.
I still have a question though:
In a situation where someone else plays the chords, and I have to play a solo over it,

for example: the rhythm guitar plays:
Cmaj 7 Dm7 A7 D7 G7 Cmaj7 (so that would be a modulation from C to D and back to C)
and the solo guitar stays in C

Would this be melody through harmony?
Last edited by Karel Juwet at Jul 28, 2011,
#6
No. I'm not familiar with the terminology, but the concept is something which I've spent some time looking at.

As a classical musician, you'll have to forgive me for using examples from the classical repertoire, as this is what I'm most familiar with.

The first way in which "harmony through melody" can appear is in fugue, for example. In a fugue the voices all play independant linear material, i.e. each voice has a line which may or may not be the main voice, but is definitely a voice in its own right, rather than just being "harmonic filler", or notes added just to complete a chord. The superimposition of some or all of these lines can create a chord when analyzed vertically. This is different from writing a chord with a melody over the top: it is the consequence of two or more contrapuntal lines arriving at a consonance (or indeed a dissonance), rather than the conscious decision to write a particular chord. This does not stop the harmony acting in a functional manner (i.e. cadences can still appear, and there can still exist a strong feeling of tonic or home key).
It is not always appropriate or useful to analyze contrapuntal writing such as fugue vertically, this shows a misunderstanding of the nature of counterpoint and what it sets out to achieve, but in doing so, you arrive at hamony through melody, which sometimes is useful in order to make phrasing decisions and such.
So, short answer, it's two or more independant contrapuntal lines that coincide at a given point to create a harmony.

The second way in which harmony through melody can be achieved is "implied harmony", which normally appears in monophonic music such as Bach's suites for solo cello or violin. Implied harmony is essentially incorporating arpeggio or broken chord figures into a melody so as to imply the harmony which is being broken, although in high class music like Bach, it gains subtlety and ambiguity, so it's not just a random broken chord figure inserted into the music.

I've never heard of melody through harmony, but it seems like a misnomer to me. The only thing it could possibly mean to me is using voice leading to create a melody out of a progression of chords. But as soon as you do this, it's actually just a melody, and there's not actually very much to distinguish it from just writing a melody and harmonizing it, especially from the point of view of the listener.
#7
I suppose melody through harmony is linked to the belief of some musicologists that melody is derived from harmony. Tbh it can go either way, you can write a melody and harmonize it, or you can write a chord sequence and fit a melody around it.
#8
Quote by Karel Juwet
Thank you for your explanations.
I still have a question though:
In a situation where someone else plays the chords, and I have to play a solo over it,

for example: the rhythm guitar plays:
Cmaj 7 Dm7 A7 D7 G7 Cmaj7 (so that would be a modulation from C to D and back to C)
and the solo guitar stays in C

Would this be melody through harmony?


first off, that's not a modulation. it indicates no resolution on D -- A7 resolves to D7, which resolves to G7, which resolves to Cmaj7. the whole thing is in C.

second, that's not what we're talking about with melody over harmony. we're talking about voice leading. chord melodies and such, which depend on how the chords are voiced. none of us have ever heard of melody through harmony, but we all seem to have the same opinion what it means. learn more chord voicings if you don't completely understand. knowing only 1 or 2 voicings for a chord generally won't serve you that well. if you know more voicings, great -- play them and start paying attention to the highest voice.
Anfangen ist leicht, Beharren eine Kunst.
#9
the idea of harmony through melody (or as some would tell you "playing the changes"), is that functional harmony is dictated by the way lines move, and the melodic tendancies of notes, and not by the names of chords--and this is where the idea of guide tones come from (the 3rds and sevenths of chords having the most harmonic significance). In a major key, fa and ti (the fourth and seventh) can be considered to have the most tension, lying a half step away from the root and third of the one chord, and being the 3rd and seventh of the V chord, and are often lead to from the third and the root. sit down at a keyboard, and firmly establish the note C in your head, as a tonal center, then play the notes E-F-F-E, and C-C-B-C (seperatly, then together), there should be a sense of harmonic motion. then add in the left hand playing C-F-G-C, then C-D-G-C (when you add in the bass notes, you are playing a I-IV-V-I and I-ii-V-I chord progression). after a while, you'll probably realize the idea of tension and release (and tonic-predominant-dominant-tonic), has to do with a few simple ways to move voices to and from relevant chord tones, which you can do melodically as well as harmonically.
all the best.
(insert self-aggrandizing quote here)