A basic guide to harmony(not world peace)

Discussion in 'Beginner's Q&A Forum' started by bjr, Mar 7, 2006.

  1. bjr

    bjr Lady of the Evening

    I've been due to write this for awhile so finally took the time out to do it. It's the first of two or three lessons I planned out and the later sections are quite useful for musicians in general.

    In the next few posts, I'll try to give you what little I've collected from music theory and downloading karaoke tracks to listen to the backup vocals. The terms I use might be incorrect or self-invented so I’d appreciate some proof-reading.

    First the basic harmonies. The typical barbershop quartet 1-3-5.

    Pick a key. Any key. Sing a note in that key. Any note. Sing it. Think of the note you’re singing as the root note of the chord corresponding to the key you’re in and sing the 3rd and the 5th of the chord. That would be your basic harmony.

    This is difficult to explain without examples. Let’s actually pick a key. I pick my favourite….C major.

    Let’s take a look at all the notes in the C major scale: C D E F G A B C

    Now we examine the chords corresponding to the notes of the scale. I’m including this here since I’m not sure we have a reference guide for this and I want the lesson to be as complete as I can hope for it to be.

    C- The root of the scale. Corresponds to a major chord..i.e.- C major
    D- The second note of the scale corresponds to a minor chord. D minor.
    E- Third note corresponds to minor chord- E minor.
    F- Fourth note corresponds to a major chord. F major
    G- Fifth note corresponds to a Dominant 7th chord. G7. However, you may also just exclude the seventh note and play a G major.
    A- Sixth note of the major scale is known as it’s relative minor since the natural minor scale with this note as the root is the same as the original major scale that we spoke of. Eg- A is the relative minor of C. A minor scale is A B C D E F G A which is the same as the C major scale played from A to A. The chord would be A minor.
    B- The seventh note of the chord. It corresponds to a half-diminished chord(also known as a minor 7th flat 5th).

    The barber-shop quartet type harmony revolves around the Major or minor chord corresponding to the note you’re singing. The note that the first person sings is taken to be the root. The second person sings the third and the next person sings the fifth and the resulting sound is the same as you’d be getting from a major or minor chord

    Now I pick a random melody and harmonize it.

    Suppose there are 3 people singing together and the lead singer is singing these four notes:


    The second person could sing-


    And the third person would then sing-


    That would be your basic harmony.

    Now to take things a step further, we get into slightly advanced territory. This section could be useful for a lot of instruments since its basic music theory and does not change.

    When we come up with chord progressions, we look at the melody lines we’re creating….usually an ascent or descent of notes. For example....a “pedestrian” (in the words of elitists) progression like C G Am G F Fm C.
    Look at the bold notes in the tab

    Take a look at the basic melody line in bold running through the chord progression. It is usually some line like this that they backup chorus is singing in songs as the “aah or ooh” part.

    Yeah, I’ve been working on this for a while now so I’ll do the rest in another post where we’ll go in for slightly more harmonies.
    abhimanjrekar and sayanakaharry like this.
  2. alpha1

    alpha1 I BLUES!

    WTF is all this?

    Do you know you are on IGT, how dare you post some as informative as this?

    PS: as an addition to this informative "BS", harmonization can be actually done in many ways, but the folllowing ways have been observed to be most populrly used:

    suppose you are playing root note
    * playing third
    * playing fourth
    * playing fifth
    * playing sixth

    All of the notes confirm to the scale based on root note.

    If you are playing the nth note of the scale, then just transpose everything.
    you are playing 3rd note, then you can harmonize using:
    * (third) 5th note of the scale

    Infact playing harmonies will also illustrate you how teh interval theory really works.
    The same leads can be made bright or dark by using appropriate harmonizing note.
    anshphenomenon likes this.
  3. abhimanjrekar

    abhimanjrekar ----> Zhol-Man<----

    man...readin all this....i think im standin near the root of a largeeeeeeee treee........good one yaar u 2.....
  4. bjr

    bjr Lady of the Evening

    Thank you for ruining the mysterious aura surrounding my next BS post in this thread. Like I said, this was a basic brush up after which I can go into slightly advanced stuff.

    abhi: feel free to ask questions if you do not understand something.
    Johny Bravo likes this.
  5. abhimanjrekar

    abhimanjrekar ----> Zhol-Man<----

    ^^ man ya sure....
  6. alpha1

    alpha1 I BLUES!

    Haha, so I WAS right.

    See, not many people dig this stuff.

    Anyway bjr, you may post teh follow up to your lesson.
  7. Johny Bravo

    Johny Bravo The Boy Genius!

    Good stuff man! Informative. Reps. Wherez the sequel?
  8. ronnieanand

    ronnieanand n00bier th@n th0u

    Oooppsss....Wrong post...
  9. ronnieanand

    ronnieanand n00bier th@n th0u

    Not correct all the time. If you are planning to harmonize on something like 3rd, then you should be very careful. You cant just transpose and harmonize it. It will lead to out of key dissonant haromny which could sound really bad.

    Maj3rd, Min3rd, Min3rd, Maj3rd, Maj3rd, Min3rd, Min3rd should be harominizing thirds of a Major Scale. Same Gyaan with the 7ths

    Maj7th Min7th Min7th Maj7th Min7th Min7th Min7th
  10. alpha1

    alpha1 I BLUES!

    Arre, but if I am within the same scale, how will it sound dissonant?

    By harmonizing on 3rd I didn't say play 3rd on major scale of the note.
    I said play 3rd note after the note one wishes to harmonize with in the same scale.
    So that 3rd note can actually be minor 3rd or major 3rd etc.
  11. ronnieanand

    ronnieanand n00bier th@n th0u

    :cry2: sorry.....Misunderstood....You became a poor victim of misunderstanding....:cry1:

Share This Page