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Harmonizing a melody


ansthenia
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Hey everyone :)

 

So I have a nice melody and I am trying to come up with some chords/rythm that work with it. But everywhere I read on harmonizing a melody just says the same thing; simply change to a chord so the melody note lands on either the 1st, 3rd or 5th of the chord.

 

However just doing this all the time sounds rather bland I would like to start experimenting with other chords, but i don't really know where to start.

 

I thought it would be a good idea to just think of the melody notes that don't land on a tone in a triad as extensions. So if the melody lands on a D, I can play a C major chord and think of that as a CMaj 9 (without the 7th) But of couse there are many chord extensions and I find myself taking forever to choose a chord. When I want a chord change I will go through all the chords on a piano so that the melody note will either be the 1st, 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, 11th or 13th of the chord, and just test them out. I have absolutley no idea how I would make the decision of which chord to use if I was away from a piano.

 

So yeah, how do you guys decide which chord to use (if it's one where the melody note isn't the 1st, 3rd or 5th)?

 

Thanks for your time :)

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i don't understand music theory, nor enjoy rules, so i play around till something sounds/feels good

 

That's all people who do know music theory do too, it's just that they know more about how the decisions they make will turn out.

 

of course everybody plays around till something is right, but playing around, sans theory is much more of a stab in the dark

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Yeah, I tend to think of chords as seperate voices. I went out with a girl who was working her way through Bach's fugues a few years back, that was a great education in harmony and counterpoint.

 

Dare I say…

 

Your interest in her was beyond her being on her Bach?

 

Personally, I hated that part of my theory courses. I always said they could fugue off.

 

(Okay I'm done now.)

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Yore compearing apples with bandanas.

JSB was way ahead of anything that could even be hinted at here.

Piddling aroubd teaches you something about what's happening.

Learning the boring s#!+ necessary will boost your acceleration through the process.

It's not rocket science.

It's much more subtle.

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Yore compearing apples with bandanas.

JSB was way ahead of anything that could even be hinted at here.

 

He was a clever fella, way beyond me in skill and knowledge, but that doesn't mean a little of that can't sink in.

 

BTW El Bo old chum,'snot rules,'s observations.Centuries of 'em.With lots of exceptions.

You wouldn't do science and ignore all that's gone before,now,would you?

 

Very well put.

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BTW El Bo old chum,'snot rules,'s observations.Centuries of 'em.With lots of exceptions.

You wouldn't do science and ignore all that's gone before,now,would you?

 

i get ya, but i've had mates who have musical telling me that i can't do this or i can't do that with respect to music composition...."can't" is a word i associate with rules

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I've always been amused by the conceit that you have to learn the "rules" to be able to break the "rules." I mean, to a certain extent that's accurate, and that's how things felt for me as I developed in my composing as well as conducting technique, but people that hold steadfast to the thought (even/especially just the first half) I've always thought need to switch to decaf, or something to that extent.
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Learning some theory didn't change the way I write music, it gave me a terminology for what I was doing (so I can communicate meaningfully with other musicians), and it gave me context (as in, I can now work out which scale or chord I'm playing).

 

Beer Moth already nailed it, music theory is the study of harmonic convention to a large extent; the music came first, then people studied it. Sometimes people talk as if someone wrote the laws of music before there were any composers.

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if i wanted anything from theory it woud be choices....i often get stuck in a certain passage wishing to switch up mood/key/feel...what i normally end up doing is throwing a wash of effects on to come out the other side with a different section...would be nice to make that a musical journey
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That's part of what I was getting at by saying theory gives "context", knowing what kind of effect a change of chord or key will elicit.

 

don't wish to be pedantic but that's already a step too far.....one of the mates i mentioned used to talk of this in such a way as to make it seem like music-by-numbers e.g "xxx chord naturally leads to xxx chord, which elicits xxx mood" etc

 

what i don't want to lose is the sense of discovery that i have at the moment....i want to have options but have no wish to know how they will work out in advance

 

prolly not making sense :)

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No, it makes sense. It seems to be a concern for lots of people who haven't looked at any theory. I played guitar and wrote music for over a decade before I learnt any theory, and the thought that it might change the way I approached music in an undesireable way occurred to me too. It was completely unfounded though.

 

Music can be made by numbers, soulless producers do it all the time. But that isn't a result of knowing music theory, it's a decision based on it. And the "standard" chord sequences or song forms don't spring from a set of rules, they're just a reflection of how most popular songs work, and it's nothing you couldn't work out by ear.

 

The thing is, if you've been making music for some years, you already do know some music theory, because you will have cobbled together a rough mental map of how it works. Learning theory will shine a light on that and fill in the gaps, as well as give you the words to describe what you're doing. I do understand the concern, but fearing theory because it might turn you into a Song-A-Matic android is akin to refusing to ever listen to any new music ever again because it could alter your tastes and you might not enjoy your favourite band anymore (if that makes sense?).

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