Jam School Activities
Turn Your Own Solo Into A Duet
Starting Point #6 in the Series
Examples on this page require Noteworthy Player version 1.70 or later. Click on the icon to download your free copy. Click here for further information and troubleshooting .
Add a harmony part, based on diatonic 3rd & 6th intervals, to a given melody
What You Need to Know Already:
Things to Help You With This Activity:
Master Theory Lessons 44-46, 75-78 (background on intervals) & 81-82 (this particular subject)
Duet Playing - The best possible experience in harmony and counterpoint
There are few subjects more neglected--or more difficult to teach--in music education than the art of harmonizing. Yet, many musicians and singers do it instinctively. Or is it really instinctive? Well, it is in a way. We have found that certain interval relationships are consonant (pleasing to the ear), while others are dissonant (less than pleasing), and that most singable melodies can benefit from having a secondary part that uses the consonant (pleasing) intervals. This is what we'll do in this activity.
Once you get going with this, and listen to a few samples, you'll start to recognize harmony parts as something that you have probably heard in your head. In fact, this how we really learn harmony--from experience. If you have sung in a choir as anything other than a soprano, if you have played any instrument in a school band, or if you have ever played piano or guitar, you have experience in the sound of harmony. Experience, in fact, is the best teacher.
This activity will put your experience to use, and will hopefully give you some insights that will help you to analyze harmony that you hear in the future.
Rules for Beginning Harmonizers:
Melody notes should always be on top, with all harmony notes below. (There are exceptions, but this is the most common practice)
Harmony notes should be either a 3rd (count down three notes starting with the melody note) or a 6th (count down six scale notes starting with the melody note) below the melody note in most cases. Example Find36 will show you how this works..
When learning to do your own harmony, remember to keep it simple. Apply your new found knowledge to as many simple melodies as you can find. Write them up in a program like Noteworthy Composer, or--better yet--play them on your instrument as duets with yourself. As you get better and more experienced, you'll learn to take the harmonies that you hear in your head and play them by ear.
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