Using intervals to build chords for your chord melody

We just covered some interesting ways you can use intervals to add harmony to your melody. You can review that lessons here. In this lesson we are going to learn how to build chords by using intervals. This may sound hard, but don’t worry, this is easier than it sounds. Let’s jump in and get started.

To refresh our memories of previously covered material that is important on this topic, the most stable interval for harmony is the third. Chords are built in thirds, this makes this interval a good candidate for making chords. This does not mean that you cannot experiment with other intervals as well. For the sake of this lesson I am going to use thirds, however you can do the same process with other intervals.

You have your melody note that you want to add harmony to. Now you added a third below it. What if you add a third note to this? If you add another third below the harmony note you get a triad. A triad is a 3 note chord. You can continue to add as many harmony notes as you desire. Once you get comfortable creating chords using thirds, you can build chords using other intervals.

The cool thing about building chords under the melody note is that often they build the same chord that is originally written in the tune. If the chord is not the same, it can most likely be labeled as an extended chord, rootless chord or substitution.

One more cool trick that can be done with this style of creating harmony is creating varied intervallic chords. If you take different intervals and apply them to the same chord you can make some interesting sounding chords. Some may be a challenge to play, some may not. It is worth experimenting with them to see what works for you. Also you can take these chords and try to harmonize the whole major scale with the same intervals. I will cover this soon in another lesson. You may be asking how you create these chords. It is easy, take different intervals and create a chord with it on the melody note. For example You can play a 6th below the melody note, second below that, then a 4th below that. (These numbers were created at random as an example.) You may find some combinations sound better to you than others. Experiment to find your sound.

Good luck on your path to chord melody playing!

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.

All you need to know about music theory intervals part 2

Previously on part 1 we discuss what music theory intervals are and some different types of intervals used in music. Review that post if you have not yet read it. Today we will define the distances that make up different intervals. We will also discuss how many intervals you have and how to count higher than an octave.

Intervals are counted by numbers. However, when we consider intervals we need to remember that each number has 3 notes in that group. For example: a half step is a second. A whole step is a second and a 3 half steps is a second. The difference between these is that a half step is a flat 2. The whole step is a 2 and the 3 half steps is a #2. What makes this confusing is that a #2 is the same note as a b3. They sound the exact same pitch. The #2 and b3 are called enharmonic minors. For example say we are in G and we play a #2 the note is A#, if we play a b3 the note is Bb. These are the exact same notes with a different name.

You can count numbers up to 2 octaves high. Once you get more than an octave you do not recount the numbers 1, 3, 5 or 7. However, the 2 becomes a 9, 4 becomes 11 and 6 becomes 13. Most of the time you see a flat or sharp 2 you call it a flat or sharp nine. Same thing goes with a sharp 4 is a sharp 11 and flat 6 is flat 13. This is called the rule of 7. If it is a 2, 4 and 6 you add seven to it to get an octave higher.

Intervals are all over in music. They make up chords and scales and lead us to our knowledge about music. Intervals are distances described by numbers. Each number has a sharp and flat possibility. You can count intervals up past an octave. If you take a number and add 7 to it you get the octave higher. Usually only 2, 4 and 6 are talked about an octave higher. This allows you to mention chord extensions and melody notes with more than an octave between the 2 notes. Memorize that 2 becomes 9, 4 becomes 11 and 6 becomes 13. This will be very beneficial to your music education and understanding of music and music theory.

All you need to know about music theory intervals.

In music theory, there is a concept called intervals. This term is used a lot and is very important to understand if you wish to learn music well. Intervals are the foundation for western music (music that we know of in America). All chords, melodies, scale, and everything else that is used in music is based on intervals. Without intervals there wouldn’t be music as we know it today. So in this article I am going to explain what intervals are and a little bit about the different types of intervals.

So what exactly is an interval? It is the distance between 2 notes. For example if you are on a basketball court and you run from one hoop to the other, that is an interval. An interval is a distance between 2 objects.  When you have 2 notes in music they create an interval. The notes are the object that creates the distance. There are many types of intervals. Let’s take a look at some of the different types and learn about them.

There will be some new vocabulary you should learn to understand the different types of intervals. The first thing you should consider about intervals is the distance between the 2 notes. Some intervals have very small distances, this is called small intervals. If the distance is long between the 2 intervals the word is wide intervals. There is definite definition of small or wide intervals, but typically seconds and thirds are considered small, Fourths and more are considered wide.

Another consideration when it comes to intervals is the sound of the 2 notes. Does it sound good or does it sound bad? When you hear 2 notes played together or one after the other you will hear that the note resonates well and seems relaxing. The good sounding intervals are called consonant. The bad sounding intervals which clash and sound harsh are called dissonant intervals. Examples of dissonant intervals are the raised fourth and the upper seventh.

Intervals are a very important concept to understand in music. All Scales, arpeggios, guitar licks and melodies are based on intervals. In this lesson you learned what intervals are and about different types of intervals. You have small and wide intervals depending how the distance between the notes and you have consonant and dissonant intervals depending on their sound. Next lesson we will learn how to tell what the interval distance is. Discuss below!