• An Introduction To The Reharmonization Of The Major Scale Using Scale Degree Seventh Chords

    in Chords & Progressions,Experienced players,Piano,Theory

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    Reharmonization is one of the fascinating topics that a vast majority of music instructors shy away from.

    You arrived at this page because you want to learn how to add a little twist to the regular approach to the harmonization of melodies.

    If you play the song “Thank You Lord” in the key of Db in this manner…

    Thank:
    …you:

    …lord:

    …and are interested in learning how to harmonize that same melody with spicier chords that will turn heads, then this lesson is for you!.

    Attention: Although this lesson is written with the intermediate player in mind, we’re starting out with a review of the basic harmonization of the tones of the major scale, and this is to let beginners benefit too.

    A Basic Harmonization Of The Tones Of The Major Scale

    Every note on the piano is beautiful – twelve of them:

    However, the repetition of a particular note (let’s say C):

    …does not necessarily make music. Music is a product of the relationship between notes. The relationship between notes can either be melodic or harmonic.

    The relationship between notes that are heard separately is said to be melodic, while the relationship between notes that are heard together is said to be harmonic.

    Melodies and tunes of songs are a product of the melodic relationship between notes while intervals and chords are all products of the harmonic relationship between notes.

    An interval is a product of the relationship between two notes while a chord is a collection of three or more related notes. The former is the building block of the latter; according to Jermaine Griggs, “…intervals are the building blocks of chords.”

    The musical process of using chords (harmony) to provide accompaniment for melodies (melody) is known as harmonization and one of the first steps every serious pianist must take while learning harmonization is to harmonize every tone of the scale using chords.

    Basic Harmonization In The Key Of C Major

    The tones of the C natural major scale:

    …can be harmonized using chord 1 (the C major triad):

    …chord 4 (the F major triad):

    …and chord 5 (the G major triad):

    …which are collectively known as the primary triads in the key of C.

    “Check Out The Harmonization Of The C Major Scale…”

    Harmonization of C:

    …using the first inversion of the C major triad:

    Harmonization of D:

    …using the G major triad:

    …in root position.

    Harmonization of E:

    …using the second inversion of the C major triad:

    Harmonization of F:

    …using the first inversion of the F major triad:

    Harmonization of G:

    …using the C major triad:

    …in root position.

    Harmonization of A:

    …using the second inversion of the F major triad:

    Harmonization of B:

    …using the second inversion of the G major triad:

    Harmonization of C:

    …using the first inversion of the C major triad:

    Having understood what harmonization is all about and also seen how the tones of the C major scale can be harmonized, let’s proceed to learning how these tones can be reharmonized.

    But before we do that, let’s expound on the concept of reharmonization.

    “What Is Reharmonization?”

    Reharmonization is the modification of the basic harmonic structure of a song.

    The harmonic structure of a song is a product of its chords and chord progressions. In the song “Thank You Lord” that I mentioned earlier, the words thank, you, and lord can be chorded thus:

    Thank:
    …you:

    …lord:

    The chords and progressions used over “Thank You Lord” in the key of Db, is a basic harmonic structure, which can be enhanced or modified through a process music scholars refer to as reharmonization.

    Due to the fact that reharmonization basically has to do with the modification of a basic harmonic structure, it can only be approached by someone who is properly schooled in harmonization.

    Reharmonization is basically a tool that intermediate musicians can use to spice up their playing by substituting boring chords with interesting ones.

    Although there are so many ways to approach reharmonization, I’d prefer to focus on the reharmonization of the tones of the major scale using seventh chords and dedicate a subsequent lesson to showing you how it’s done.

    Reharmonization Of The Tones Of The Major Scale Using Seventh Chords

    Let’s go ahead and check out how the tones of the major scale can be harmonized. Permit me to use the C natural major scale:

    …for this reharmonization exercise.

    Before we go into the reharmonization of the tones of the C major scale, here are the seventh chords for every degree of the C major scale…

    Chord 1:

    …the C major seventh chord.

    Chord 2:

    …the D minor seventh chord.

    Chord 3:

    …the E minor seventh chord.

    Chord 4:

    …the F major seventh chord.

    Chord 5:

    …the G dominant seventh chord.

    Chord 6:

    …the A minor seventh chord.

    Chord 7:

    …the B half-diminished seventh chord.

    Reharmonization Of The First Tone

    The first tone in the C major scale:

    …is C:

    …and can be reharmonized using the following chords…

    The C major seventh chord:

    The A minor seventh chord:

    The F major seventh chord:

    The D minor seventh chord:

    Reharmonization Of The Second Tone

    The second tone in the C major scale:

    …is D:

    …and can be reharmonized using the following seventh chords…

    The D minor seventh chord:

    The B half-diminished seventh chord:

    The G dominant seventh chord:

    The E minor seventh chord:

    Reharmonization Of The Third Tone

    The third tone in the C major scale:

    …which is E:

    …can be reharmonized using the following chords…

    The E minor seventh chord:

    The C major seventh chord:

    The A minor seventh chord:

    The F major seventh chord:

    Reharmonization Of The Fourth Tone

    The fourth tone in the C major scale:

    …is F:

    …and can be reharmonized using the following seventh chords…
    The F major seventh chord:

    The D minor seventh chord:

    The B half-diminished seventh chord:

    The G dominant seventh chord:

    Reharmonization Of The Fifth Tone

    The fifth tone in the C major scale:

    …which is G:

    …can be reharmonized using the following chords…

    The G dominant seventh chord:

    The E minor seventh chord:

    The C major seventh chord:

    The A minor seventh chord:

    Reharmonization Of The Sixth Tone

    The sixth tone in the C major scale:

    …is A:

    …and can be reharmonized using the following seventh chords…

    The A minor seventh chord:

    The F major seventh chord:

    The D minor seventh chord:

    The B half-diminished seventh chord:

    Reharmonization Of The Seventh Tone

    The seventh tone in the C major scale:

    …which is B:

    …can be reharmonized using the following chords…
    The B half-diminished seventh chord:

    The G dominant seventh chord:

    The E minor seventh chord:

    The C major seventh chord:

    “Just Before We Round Up…”

    Let me show you how you can apply your knowledge of the reharmonization of the tones of the major scale in the key of C.

    We’ll be using the song “Mary Had A Little Lamb” as our example.

    The Basic Version

    Ma:

    …ry:

    …had:

    …a:

    …li:

    …ttle:

    …lamb:

    The Reharmonized Version

    Ma:

    …ry:

    …had:

    …a:

    …li:

    …ttle:

    …lamb:

    Let me know in the comment section how that sounded.

    Final Words

    There’s almost no limit to what you can do with the reharmonization of melodies using seventh chords. Feel free to explore and discover new and spicier ways to play songs with reharmonization and I’ll see you in the next lesson.

    Thank you.

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    Hello, I'm Chuku Onyemachi (aka - "Dr. Pokey") - a musicologist, pianist, author, clinician and Nigerian. Inspired by my role model Jermaine Griggs, I started teaching musicians in my neighborhood in April 2005. Today, I'm privileged to work as a music consultant and content creator with HearandPlay Music Group sharing my wealth of knowledge with thousands of musicians across the world.

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    { 4 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 George A. Dennos

    Excellent study on reharmonization. Thank you for the magnificient lesson. Please continue to bring such opportunity to futher the music apoetite.

    Reply

    2 George A. Dennos

    Excellent study on reharmonization. Thank you for the magnificient lesson. Please continue to bring such opportunity to futher the musical appetite.

    Reply

    3 Vikk

    This is mind blowing. Thanks sir.

    Reply

    4 sizikah

    hey mr Jermaine,i thank for your help on piano playing by ear, i please request that sent me the procedure on how to access digital downloader,so that i will be getting your videos by downloading,since am oversea and getting dvds is hard, i will appreciate more and if you know how i can get dvds it will be well and good for me.Thanks and be blessed.

    Reply

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