#1
So I write a lot of guitar harmony parts (usually just straight 3rds), but I recently became aware of a harmonization technique where guitars harmonize along an arpeggio.
Regular 3rds harmony: D F A F A C
Arpeggio harmony: D F A F A D
This seems to only sound good with straight minor or major arpeggios. Does anyone know of any other types of arpeggios that would sound good for this type of harmonization.
#2
What is the melody you are trying to harmonize? Usually it sounds good if the harmony follows the chords in the background. This means you will use a mixture of 3rds, 4ths, 5ths and 6ths, maybe even 7ths.

Regular 3rds harmony: D F A F A C


Harmonizing in thirds refers to harmonic intervals (not melodic intervals), i.e., the interval between the two guitar parts is a 3rd all the time. This doesn't mean that every interval in your melody needs to be a third - it's just the interval between the two guitar parts that needs to be a third when we are talking about harmonizing in thirds. I don't see a second melody anywhere so I'm not sure if you have understood what "harmonizing in thirds" means. But correct me if I'm wrong and I just didn't understand what you meant.

Arpeggio harmony: D F A F A D


I'm not sure what you mean by "arpeggio harmony". Do you mean that one of the guitars is playing notes in one arpeggio all the time or what? Again, I don't see a second melody anywhere so I'm not sure if I understand what you are talking about.
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Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Feb 8, 2017,
#3
Generally speaking, harmonies should work from the chords in the first place. That means notes from the arpeggio, essentially. With triads, this might be a 3rd above (or below) a melody note, or it might be a 4th (and in more "open" voicings you could have a 5th, 6th, octave or 10th).
E.g., for a Dm chord, if the melody is on A, then the next harmony above is D, a 4th. A 3rd above would mean adding a 7th: C - or C#? On minor chords, a b7 is almost always good, but on major chords the choice is dependent on context and style.
So, if you want a 3rd above A on a D major chord, the choice is still C or C#, but which sounds right depends on whether the D is I, IV or V, or whether the style is blues or not.
IOW, that principle of "straight 3rds" can't possibly work all the time - unless you have no chords and are just working from riffs. OTOH, the principle of always using the next chord tone above (or below) a melody note will always work - er,except when the melody is a non-chord tone (but it still might work even then).
IOW, when you discovered arpeggios, you actually discovered the standard (basic) method of harmonization. It works for 7th chords too, of course, which give you an extra note choice. Depending on which chord tone your melody note is on, you could have the choice of a harmony a 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th or 7th, above or below! (and that's just staying within the same octave...)

OK, this all sounds horrendously complicated (at least if you don't know your chords properly), but your ear should always be your failsafe guide. If in doubt, just use whatever note sounds like it fits. You can't go wrong that way.
Last edited by jongtr at Feb 8, 2017,
#4
I'm going to guess it should be something like this:

Regular 3rds
melody: D F A F A
harmony: F A C A C

Arpeggio
melody: D F A F A
harmony: F A D A D

So for the 'arpeggio harmony' the harmony is going to switch between thirds and fourths (D > F and F > A normal thirds, A > D fourth).
This is going to work best when you're only playing the notes from an arpeggio as your 'melody' and harmonising by playing the next note up in the arpeggio each time. It may not work so well with most other arpeggios apart from straight minor or major, because if you add for example a seventh, you would end up with C and D played together, melody + harmony note.
But one that will certainly work is a diminished arpeggio (as long as you like diminished sounding stuff!)
e.g. use D F Ab Cb, harmonise each time with the next note up in the arpeggio.
#5
Quote by NSpen1
It may not work so well with most other arpeggios apart from straight minor or major, because if you add for example a seventh, you would end up with C and D played together, melody + harmony note.
That could be OK though. C and D together are a mild dissonance, but no problem in passing, if both are in key.

There may be an issue on a major chord, where a 3rd above the 5th might be a major 7th. C# on a D chord (in key of D or A). That's a much stronger dissonance. But it can still work in passing. Listen to the Beatles "Please Please Me", where John and Paul sing a D# and E together (half-step apart) on the second word of the verse ("Last night..."). It's not just OK - it works great! Mainly because it's part of a descending melodic line and only lasts one beat, connecting two consonant harmonies (unison and 3rd); but also because it adds a dissonant edge that catches your ear. It was part of their signature sound (borrowed from the Everly Bros).
Quote by NSpen1

But one that will certainly work is a diminished arpeggio (as long as you like diminished sounding stuff!)
Not "certainly" at all! If there is a dim7 chord, then sure. If not, it's rarely a good idea to insert one.
If you're composing of course (rather than harmonizing an existing tune) it's different. Put in a dim7 if you like the sound. Their tension generally needs proper resolution though - then you're into voice-leading, the mechanism by which chords connect in progressions.
#6
Quote by jongtr
That could be OK though. C and D together are a mild dissonance, but no problem in passing, if both are in key.

A mild dissonance is a good way of putting it, I think of that interval as being something that is not a harmony but not quite a dissonance either. But yes, it could be ok. Adding a seventh was an example to show that the more notes you add to an arpeggio, if you then try to harmonise just using the arpeggio, you're going to be more likely to end up with notes that don't work together. e.g. add a 2nd to a minor arpeggio and then try to harmonise with that, probably not good!

Not "certainly" at all! If there is a dim7 chord, then sure. If not, it's rarely a good idea to insert one.
If you're composing of course (rather than harmonizing an existing tune) it's different. Put in a dim7 if you like the sound. Their tension generally needs proper resolution though - then you're into voice-leading, the mechanism by which chords connect in progressions.

That's coming from the starting point of the 'melody' being a diminished line; then harmonising that with a diminished arpeggio / minor thirds will work. Well, the OP was talking about writing guitar harmony parts, so yeah ... composing, and it may be something that is just riff based. Or if it's over a chord then it could be a dim7 but it doesn't have to be - a low power chord with higher diminished lines over it, even if some notes technically will clash, will sound fine (I believe!).