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"Twinkle" Melody Notes As Scale Degrees

 

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Mozart 'Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star'

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Let's look at the first section of the melody as notes and as scale degrees:

A - A - E - E | F# - F# - E | D - D - C# - C# | B - B - A |
1 - 1 - 5 - 5 | 6 - 6 - 5 | 4 - 4 - 3 - 3 | 2 - 2 - 1 |

Now, we can harmonize the melody to figure out a possible bass line. We want to associate an appropriate scale degree as a bass note to play along with each melody note. Start by looking for groupings that fall within a single chord. The first note is an A (scale degree 1) which is part of an A major chord. So, for a bass note I use another note that is also part of the same chord, the A major (I) chord, in this case an A (scale degree 1). This is also useful because as the beginning of the song it helps establish the key of the song firmly (as if "saying" through music, "THIS is the beginning of the song").

Since the tune is in the key of A Major we need to know the chords that are in that key. This will help us in mapping out possible bass notes to play with the melody notes. The idea is to analyze the melody notes from the perspective of harmony (i.e. chordal implications).

The notes of the tonic chord A major, the "one chord" (I):

A (1st scale degree; or Root note)
C# (3rd scale degree)
E (5th scale degree)

The notes of the dominant chord E major, the "five chord" (V):

E (5th scale degree in A major scale)
G# (3rd scale degree in A major scale)
B (2nd scale degree in A major scale)

The notes of the subdominant chord D major, the "four chord" (IV):

D (4th scale degree in A major scale)
F# (6th scale degree in A major scale)
A (1st scale degree in A major scale)

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.

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