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Guitar Theory:
Harmonizing Melodic Lines

             


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Question:
I'm having a hard time with understanding how to harmonize guitar riffs. Like how to determine to go up a 3rd or a 5th, or even a 7th I think, I don't really get how to do that, and your videos are always really good at explaining things. So, I was wondering if you can do one about this (if you haven't already). And if you have any tips or any help on it would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks again,
Taylor - California U.S.A.

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The act of harmonizing a melody is not at all difficult to do once you are aware of a few basic concepts.

1). Guitar players will need to know their key signatures, as well as the notes found in scales associated with the basic major and natural minor. These other scales include, but are not limited to the modes and the other common forms of minor; including the Harmonic and Melodic minor scales.

 

2). Learning the shapes of the various scales on the fingerboard is also quite an integral element of harmonizing melody lines. This knowledge allows the guitarist to be able to trace the interval of the harmony being followed. For example; if the guitarist wanted to track a series of third intervals through a key, the speed with which this could be accomplished would mostly be dependent upon their knowledge of scales on the neck.

3). Aside from a solid understanding of the full scale patterns, players must also understand individual interval shapes. The various shapes for 3rds, 5ths, 4ths, and octaves are quite similar around the fingerboard. However, new patterns are present between strings three and two. This is due to how the guitar is tuned and how the intervals alter between these strings.

To develop the ability to harmonize melodies is an important musical concept for guitarists to master. Obviously the key to success is practice, so download and study the examples below. Most importantly, write a melody of your own and work out a harmonized line. You might also like to consider recording it and composing an alternate interval idea to complement the primary and secondary lines.

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The Powertab Document below contains the
Harmonizing Melodic Lines examples

powertab_doc

To Download > Left Click > Save

Harmonized Melodic Lines Jam Track
MP3 Download
- Key of B Minor

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To Download > Left Click > Save

Powertab is Windows software. To download the program and watch a few tutorials, just follow
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