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Welcome to Guitar Secrets
Most harmonized lines,
whether guitars, horns, strings, tuned percussion playing them or sung by a vocalist, are built on notes known as chord
tones. Chord tones are the root, 3rd, 5th and the 7th
of any given scale. In the illustrations to follow, we will learn how to harmonize in thirds in the A major and A
harmonic minor scales. We will stay within the diatonic structure of each scale and cover up to 3 octaves. Recall that
diatonic means to stay within the scale, or use just the notes of a particular scale.
Look at the illustration once again, this time notice the notes that make up the A major scale. The notes are from the (Root A), B, C#, D, E, F#, G#. The diatonic major scale has 7 notes, with the 8th note the same as the 1st and repeating in sequence. Each note following the root goes higher than the next. The root note is the lowest note in the key. For Example, the A note is the root note for the key of A major, but the lowest note can only be the root note. The C would be the root note in the key of C major, but it would be the lowest C note.
The two illustrations below will illustrate the key of A major covering two octaves. The bottom illustration is the same major key, but is shown in tablature.
The major 3rd is always the third note in any major key. The major 3rd is always the 3rd note in a Major Triad. Recall that a Triad is a chord, which uses 3 notes.
The major 3rd note is (2 whole steps) or (4 half steps) away from the root or 1st note. Count the notes from the A below to the C#. You would use all the notes including the sharps. (From the A note you would have, A#, B, C and the C#) This is where the four half steps come from. Recall that a 1/2 step equals one fret and a Whole step = 2 frets. So, four half steps = 2 whole steps. The Major 3rd note is 2 whole steps away from the root.
The minor 3rd would be 3 half steps or 1 and ½ whole steps. We know that in the key of A major the A chord is the A major chord. The B chord in the key of A major is the minor chord. Notice that the D note is only 3 half steps from the B. This would be a minor 3rd.
The chords in the key of A major are, A, Bm, C#m, D, E, F#m, G# diminished. Look at the illustration below and find the D note. The distance from the D to the F# would be 2 whole steps, so the F# is a ma 3rd to the D. The notes in the D chord are D, F# and A.
If you had a D minor chord, the notes would be D, F and A. Notice that the F is a minor 3rd now.
Look at the key of C major. The notes and chords of this key are C, Dm, Em, F, G, Am and B diminished. The notes of the C chord are C E G. These notes are the 1st, 3rd and 5th notes of the scale. The 3rd of C major is the E note. This would be a major 3rd since it is 2 whole steps from the C note.
Now lets look at the C minor chord. The Cm chord has the notes, C, Eb and G. Notice that the E has been lowered by ½ step. This would now be a minor 3rd. The space between the C and Eb is now only 1 and ½ steps. So by lowering the 3rd note of the major chord would make a minor chord.
With all this say, it’s time to learn how to harmonize over any chord in the diatonic major scale. We will continue to use the key of A major. Look at the illustration below.
Look at the illustration below, it illustrates the A major scale with primary line and the harmony lines shown.
Look at the illustration below. It shows the notes of the A major 7 chord. The A major 7 chord is built on the 1st 3rd 5th and 7th notes of the scale.
The notes of the Bm chord
are B, D, F#. All the chords can be figured out by taking every other note from the chord you would like to use. Look at
the notes of the Bm chord, and C#m chord. Once again the notes of the Bm chord are B, D and F#. The notes of the C#m
chord are, C#, E and G#. Put these notes down on paper.
You would use the D note to harmonize over the B note and the F# note to harmonize over the D note. You could also use the F# to harmonize over the B note, this would be using the 5 over the 1, or harmonizing in 5ths.
Look at the illustration below.
You would use the C# to
harmonize over the A note. Use the E note over the C# note, G# over the E note. Or you could play all 4 using four
different guitar parts. Or sing one note play one note; keyboard one note and so on.
The next lesson will explain the A harmonic minor harmonized in thirds.
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