Chapter Six

Chord Progressions

Harmonization: Suppose you wish to add chords to a melody. This process is called harmonization. For each note that you wish to harmonize there are usually three triads which can be used. That is because the note can be the root, or the third, or the fifth of a triad. Let's look at an example. We will begin with showing the notes of the melody.

Midi File for Example

Does it sound familiar? This melody is in the key of G and we will begin by creating triads for the half notes.

1) The half note in the third measure is B. B is one of three tones in G major (B, D, G). Thus, it makes sense that we place a G triad in the third measure.

2) The half note in the fifth measure is C. Here we create a triad on C and the notes are B, C, and G.

3) The half note in the seventh measure is D. Your first instinct may be to use D major (because the notes are A, D, and F sharp). D is also the dominant in the key of G. If you choose a D triad, then who is to say you are wrong? Certainly not me. However, D is also a tone in the G triad. Furthermore, a G triad in the seventh measure complements the G triad in the third measure. Thus, our vote is a G triad in the seventh measure.

4) The note in the ninth measure is A. A is interval ii in the key of G, so we will construct a triad on A minor.

5) But wait a minute. If our melody has A minor in the ninth measure, then is it not reasonable that we could try using C minor in the fifth measure? Thus, the E becomes E flat in the triad in the fifth measure. It makes sense, but our ear is the best test.

Midi File for Example

Sounds like we got a keeper. We added a few more chords to the remaining measures to give the music some variety. You should try experimenting with this piece by adding or removing chords as you see fit. Try changing almost all the notes to chords. You will probably find that it begins to sound like traditional church music, which relies heavily on chords.

Midi File for Home on the Range

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