Author Topic: Playing harmony to what you are singing  (Read 1943 times)

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Flea

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Playing harmony to what you are singing
« on: February 15, 2011, 11:42:25 am »
Well, where do i begin?
alright, i usually start my compositions by writing the lyrics first then taking it out to the guitar,
if i choose a chord progression first its pretty easy but i like the former method and thats where the problem arises.

you have the lyrics, you have the melody, how do you determine the harmony?
lets take the song The scientist by coldplay

the melody goes as follows
D         E    D   A       F#   D    E     D    A   F#
Come   up   to  meet  you, tell  you  I'm  sorry, you don't....  pretty easy  :)

 and the chords are (as in Justin's lesson)
Dm                 Bb                               F
Come   up   to  meet  you, tell  you  I'm  sorry, you don't....

but where did they come from? :(
what i mean is forget that you ever heard the song you just heard the singer sing it (without any instruments) then how do you determine the chords??

PS-pardon my elaborate explanation this is my first question and i dint want any confusion arising...

Offline SJP

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Re: Playing harmony to what you are singing
« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2011, 06:22:39 pm »
Flea,

I'm assuming the question is related more to songwriting than transcribing ?

Taking lyrics out of the equation for a second, ask yourself why it's 'easier' creating a melody on top of a chord progression rather than the other way around.

'Determine' is too strong a word but you probably didn't mean it that way. I'd say the melody and harmony are inter-linked but without one determining the other. Whichever one of the two you begin with, it sets up a vague 'boundary' wherein certain choices will make more 'sense' than others. That sounds necessarily vague because obviously an individual's pair of lugs is the ultimate judge, but you know that as well.

I think i'm right in saying that melody notes usually come from the key of the song/underlying chord. The notes of the actual chord - e.g a root, third and fifth of a major - are pretty safe bets for the melody. Then, it definitely adds interest using other notes outside those three but within the key. Lastly, notes that are 'alien' to the key/chord are also worth trying out, but more sparingly and often as passing notes leading back into a (safe) root, third or fifth.

More practically speaking, you'd probably just fanny around with a few chords until something worked/pleased you.

Hope i'm not too wide of the mark.

Offline TB-AV

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Re: Playing harmony to what you are singing
« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2011, 08:09:08 pm »
Key of F ---- F G A Bb C D E

Dm7 / / / | Bb / / / | F / / / | Fsus2 / / / |

Dm7---------------|Bb-------------------------|F----------------------------------|Fsus2--------------|
F-----G--F--C-------A ............F---G---F--C------A ........C---F----G-----F---A-------A--A--A------G--F
Come up to mee---t you. ....... Tell you I'm sorrrr---ry ...... You don't know how love-----ly you are

Every note is chosen from the key of F.

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Flea

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Re: Playing harmony to what you are singing
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2011, 04:21:10 pm »
Thanks SJP, i do get your point

@TB thanks, and i have one more question for you
why isn't the key in Bb or D Aeolian, they have the same notes?


but can i get a practical example please
i have uploaded vocals of a song i wrote can anyone tell me what will the chords be?
i know there are no right answers/chords, but it would be educating to see different versions.

here's the link
http://soundcloud.com/fleaxx/summer

Offline TB-AV

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Re: Playing harmony to what you are singing
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2011, 05:46:13 pm »
@TB thanks, and i have one more question for you
why isn't the key in Bb or D Aeolian, they have the same notes?

You would need to ask Zapped about that. I haven't even listened to the song but my guess is simply that it sounds very "F centric". It's got the F note in heavy use. Maybe they wanted to create something of an ominous key center between Ionian/Aeolian. It's a bit of moot point though as you mentioned the notes are the same. You said you had a melody and wanted chords. Pick some from F Ionian or D Aeolian. Use the ones the you think sound best. Maybe Bb from D Aeolian sounds different than Bb from F Ionian?  ;)

Also most people don't write something out in D Aeolian. I got that off the sheet music. The G Clef had one flat. That's the key of F.

The key of Bb has 2 flats. Bb and Eb so that Eb would clash.

EDIT: The key you are singing in?..... You have to look at what notes you are singing. You are singing a lot of B notes. You also use A and G. You hit G# some. I think one went up to C or C#.

So you need to do two things. 1. decide which notes are important and which might be sung incorrectly or just passing tones. 2. Take the good notes and figure which key they fit.

Since several were the B note it might be worth starting there.

B C# D# E F# G# A# - not really on the money


 C D E F G A B C - That's very close and several of your notes are borderline so the G# probably should be a G and the C# a C.

Harmonize the C Major Scale.

C Dm Em F G Am Bm7b5

Those are your chords

Try C Dm Am G7 C and see how that works for you.


« Last Edit: February 16, 2011, 06:12:14 pm by TB-AV »
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Flea

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Re: Playing harmony to what you are singing
« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2011, 05:00:06 am »
finally i get it, thanks a lot TB :)

also i realized i'm not that good in transcribing hence the difficulty in composing songs, maybe i need to polish my transcribing skills before venturing into songwriting again...

Offline SJP

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Re: Playing harmony to what you are singing
« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2011, 09:25:03 am »
but can i get a practical example please
i have uploaded vocals of a song i wrote can anyone tell me what will the chords be?
i know there are no right answers/chords, but it would be educating to see different versions.

here's the link
http://soundcloud.com/fleaxx/summer

I'm drowsy (cos my cat slept on me all night), but right off I get :

G / C / Am / F Bb

Offline TB-AV

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Re: Playing harmony to what you are singing
« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2011, 03:25:32 pm »
You might also want to try the key of D. You start each phrase on the D note.


D E F# G A B C#

D Em F#m G A7 Bm C#m7b5

You still have a couple notes that need to be fixed. Mostly you sing a G# that should be an A or G. Some of your other notes are borderline but mostly on the mark.

I would pick one key C D or G and play the chords then refit your vocal to the chords you like best and the ones that suit your voice best. But one key you choose should at some point sound pretty good when you play a V I.

Key ----- V I
C -------G7 C
D ------ A7 D
G ------ D7 G

One of those combinations is probably going to sound better than another at some major point in your melody. I would go with that Key.





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Flea

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Re: Playing harmony to what you are singing
« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2011, 07:41:10 pm »
thanks a lot guys, for your time and effort really appreciate it.

Key of D sounds nice! (after adjusting my singing)


 

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