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!

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