#1
Hey everyone.

Long time reader, first time poster here.

Could anyone recommend me a free beginner course that explains the relationship between melodies and chord progressions?

When I play a chord progression I have no trouble singing over it, but I want to know why I choose the notes I sing.

Thanks.
#2
You're sort of thinking about it backwards.

Think about it this way. How do you harmonize a melody?

The short and simple version is that the stressed notes in the melody are generally supported by chords. You pick a chord that includes that melody note, or, when combined with the melody note, creates a new chord that gives you the effect you want.

Really simple songs often spend a lot of time using the melody notes as roots, but you can use 3rds, 5ths, and 7ths too, depending on the effect you're going for.

eg, the most obvious ways to support a stressed G in the melody with a G major chord, a C major chord, an E minor chord, or an A7 chord (if you don't play the 7th, then you are still creating an A7 with the combination of the A major chord and the G melody note - this works with Am7 as well, of course).

You can use other chords, of course, too - Dsus4, F9, etc. If you have a G over an F7 chord, you're really playing an F9, and so on.
#3
Thanks!

Could you recommend me a simple tutorial or lesson that teaches how to harmonize a melody?

Where do you think I should begin?
#4
Quote by theravenhop
Thanks!

Could you recommend me a simple tutorial or lesson that teaches how to harmonize a melody?

Where do you think I should begin?

You don't really harmonize a melody with itself. You harmonize it with the chords underneath. Here's what I would do. I'd write up a simple melody line (having already decided the key, btw). Then, I would pick chords that both fit the key and contain the respective notes of the melody.

So, for instance, if the key was Aminor, you could write up a melody like so:
A, C, D, E

and use the following chord progression:
Am, F, G.

Here's a tab as a visual:
 
[font="Courier New"]Melody:
e---|---|---|---|
B---|---|---|---|
G-2-|-5-|-7-|-9-|
D---|---|---|---|
A---|---|---|---|
E---|---|---|---|

Chords:
e-0-|-1-|-3-|-3-|
B-1-|-1-|-0-|-0-|
G-2-|-2-|-0-|-0-|
D-2-|-3-|-0-|-0-|
A-0-|-3-|-2-|-2-|
E---|-1-|-3-|-3-|[/FONT]


The overall harmony would result as Amin, F, G, and G6. (Note that the E note would change the regular G chord to a G6.) Does that make sense?

Of course, this is a simple example, and you could basically use any notes in your melody, as long as you're aware of how the notes of the melody are going to affect your overall harmony.
Last edited by crazysam23_Atax at Jun 2, 2013,
#5
Two very good answers.
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#6
Quote by theravenhop
Hey everyone.


When I play a chord progression I have no trouble singing over it, but I want to know why I choose the notes I sing.

Thanks.


If your progression is in a Major or Minor key you are choosing certain notes to sing because they just simply sound good. It is all about tension and resolution. This concept sounds somewhat abstract and foggy but the more you think about it as you do music the more sense it makes.

You might find yourself starting a lot of melodies ( your singing voice ) off of the root , 3rd, or 5th of the chord and you might end on those as well. As the chords change your melody changes to adapt to the differences in notes/harmonies of the chord. There a million possible melodies and it just all comes down to intervals, tension, and resolution and intervals against chords.
#7
I normally go about songwriting by finding a chord progression first, but from what you guys are saying it should be the melody first then choose the most appropriate chords from there?

I suppose it's preference but I'll definitely be trying this way out, I think it would improve my melodies a lot rather than being dictated to by chord choices.
#8
Quote by Meikle Treikle
I normally go about songwriting by finding a chord progression first, but from what you guys are saying it should be the melody first then choose the most appropriate chords from there?

I suppose it's preference but I'll definitely be trying this way out, I think it would improve my melodies a lot rather than being dictated to by chord choices.


Neither way is right or wrong.

Give me a chord progression and I'll give you a melody for it instantly. Ask me to create a melody from scratch and I'll struggle. Hence it makes sense for me to start with a harmony riff or progression.
#9
Quote by Meikle Treikle
I normally go about songwriting by finding a chord progression first, but from what you guys are saying it should be the melody first then choose the most appropriate chords from there?

I suppose it's preference but I'll definitely be trying this way out, I think it would improve my melodies a lot rather than being dictated to by chord choices.


Everybody works differently.

I'll only add a few things:

THe first is that, sometimes, when you write chords first, the things that make the chord progression "sound like a song" are an implied melodic line built out of suspensions and extensions. This melodic line is likely to get in the way of trying to make a vocal melodic line. The very stuff that makes a chord progression interesting can make it harder to write over - so sometimes it helps to simplify down your chords, fnd the melody, and then re-complicate them.

Second, it generally seems unproductive to work out chord progressions for every part (here's the intro, here's the bridge, here's the chorus) before you have the melody for any part. For most listeners in most genres, the melody is them most important part of the song, and the hook is the most important part of the melody. Whether or not you do that "first" you should, therefore, make it a priority. If you discovered a chord progression you love, proceed immediately to melody.

Third, related, if you write chords first, be willing to change them to support the melodic and lyrical content of the song. Maybe you change that I to a vi or that IV to a ii because it supports what you're singing.