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Harmonizing a lick

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(@mattypretends116)
Honorable Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 530
Topic starter  

I'm studying some basic/intermediate theory with my guitar teacher, and one of the questions I asked him was if there was a default way to harmonize a melody line. Recordings that I enjoy often times have a rhythm part, harmony and a melody solo. He said that the standard practice was to do it in thirds, but in reverse ( instead of A - C# it would be A- F#). So if we have (key of C):

B------------5-----8----------
G----5--7---------------------

I played that while he played the following over my part:

B-------------------5----------
G----------5----7---------------
D-----7------------------------

He showed further variations depending on the sound I was after, such as using a Db instead of the C on the G string to make it more blue, etc etc. By the end of the lesson it was pretty much clear that you can harmonize anything with anything, since this is how chords are formed. But what is not clear to me is that the above lick that is not in thirds...completely. Starting on my C in the top example, he plays an A which is a minor third (reversed, of course) but then when I play the next note, a D, he plays the C. Likewise, when I play the E, he plays D, and the last notes are G/E.

So the intervals are as follows, with my line on top:

C D E G
A C D E

Since the first and last are minor thirds, they make sense. But shouldn't the second and third harmony notes be B and C? C Would actually be a major third, but you get the idea.

Anyone able to explain this?

Thanks!
Matt

"Contrary to popular belief, Clapton is NOT God. The prospect that he is God probably had a large hand in driving him to drugs and booze. Thanks everyone."

-Guitar World :lol:


   
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(@noteboat)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 4921
 

Sure thing, Matt.

The trouble you're seeing is that your teacher isn't harmonizing with you on the major scale... he's doing it on the pentatonic scale.

In C, the Major pentatonic scale will consist of notes C-D-E-G-A; he's harmonizing with you using the relative minor pentatonic of A (A-C-D-E-G). He's essentially one note 'behind' you, which will result in a minor third, a major second, a major second, a minor third, and a major second.

You can also harmonize all in thirds using the major scale notes within the key. Each key is going to consist of some major thirds (1-3, 4-6, 5-7) and some minor thirds (2-4, 3-5, 6-1, 7-2).

As you noted, you can harmonize anything with anything, in the key or out, and that's what composers use to give music its harmonic richness. He just got you confused by talking about harmonizing in thirds, which would give you this:

C D E G
A B C E

and then domonstrating harmonization from the pentatonic.

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


   
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(@mattypretends116)
Honorable Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 530
Topic starter  

Yep, that makes sense. It occured to me that maybe the reason for the discrepency was because of the scale pattern we were using, but thought that perhaps I had missed something. Thanks Tom!

:D

Matt

"Contrary to popular belief, Clapton is NOT God. The prospect that he is God probably had a large hand in driving him to drugs and booze. Thanks everyone."

-Guitar World :lol:


   
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