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Harmonizing The Melody 2nd Section


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Mozart 'Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star'

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In this third lesson we are going to add a bass line to accompany the second part of our melody. The idea is to analyze the melody notes from the perspective of harmony (i.e. chordal implications).

Keep in mind, if this discussion of harmonic implications is too much information right now, then just skip it! Just learn to play the tune and worry about the theory later. It is all implied in the notes. Learning the theory will help you understand how and why the notes work together. And ultimately even when you learn and understand the theory the main point is to be able to enjoy playing the music in the first place.

Now we want to associate an appropriate scale degree as a bass note to play along with each melody note. Start by look for groupings that fall within a single chord. The first note is an E (scale degree 5) which is part of an A major chord but also an E major chord. Since this is the second part of the song try the E chord - V chord. That would be a good variation since the beginning of the song used the I chord, the A major. Find a place to play either the G# or the B notes to go along with the E in the top voice. That way you are not simply doubling your voicings. After all the point behind being able to play more than one note at a time is to play different notes in order to add variety and richness to the music.

Do you like the sound of the E chord?

My own personal choice is the A major chord. I am looking at the E note of the melody as if it is the 5th of the A major chord. Then I view the next note D as the root of the D major chord and play a F# in the bass voice because that is the third of a D major chord. I follow that up with an E to match with the C# to imply an A major chord again (even though there is no note A sounding it is implying that chord!). Finally, I chose a low E to match with the B in the melody. This is to have an E major chord sounding at the end of the phrase.

The reason I have made these choices is in order to have this chord progression happen:

| I - IV | I - V |

It is very important to consider your choices carefully. The solution I have provide is certainly not the only option that works. There are many different ways to harmonize this melody. There are many different way to harmonize this melody and still achieve this same chord progression! Remember to analyze each melody note as it occurs and see which chord it could belong to. Then try different notes from that chord to see which works as the best choice as a bass note.

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