Chord Melody – using intervals to harmonize your melody

Mentioned previously in the last post, there are a couple of ways to add harmony to your chord melody. One of the easiest most effective ways to do this is to use intervals to build harmony. Last lesson we discussed putting thirds below the melody note. In this lesson we are going to take this technique a little bit further.

Once you are comfortable adding a third below the melody note, you can extend this interval for different sounds. Now you can experiment with putting fourths, fifths, sixths, or sevenths under your melody note. This adds more interest to the melody and can give you more options to work with. The more tools you have in your tool box, the more options you have to do something great. This isn’t a hard step to accomplish. Once you understand the concept of adding a note below the melody note, with a certain interval, this is easy to accomplish. Now here are a few ways you can use different intervals to build interesting harmony.

1)      You can use a simple scheme of just a certain interval to harmonize your melody. For example you could use the interval of a 6th exclusively. Keep in mind that chords are typically built in thirds and the third is typically one of the strongest notes to use for harmonizing. Ultimately, use your ear to decide what sounds good.

2)      Buildings your intervals through a period of time. For example for 2 measures use the interval of thirds exclusively. The next 2 measures use the interval of fourths exclusively. The next 2 measures use the interval of fifths exclusively. This could build an interesting sound.

3)      Last, but not least. Contrary motion! This is one of the most important things for good voice leading in classical music. You may be asking how you do this, it is easy. If your melody note is going higher in pitch, harmony goes lower. If the melody is going lower, harmony is going higher.  The easiest way of thinking of this is while a melody is walking up the scale, the harmony is walking down the same scale.

This is just a few things you can do to get your toes wet with this technique. With this information you will be able to create more interesting chord melodies that have movement in them. Try playing with these ideas and see what works for your own personal style. Chord melodies are very personal and can be played many different ways, so find what you like and go with it.