Experimenting Harmonizing The Major Scale


Student Of The Blues
Not sure if this should go here (or anywhere), but there hasn't been much activity in this forum recently.

And I like just messin' around.

I've been experimenting with trying to harmonize melody lines.

So my first attempt was to "simply" harmonize the A Major scale.

If this piques your interest ....

The first link is the Standard 2 Octave pattern from A at the 5th fret, 6th string.

I included the high B at the "top"of the pattern.

Then I added 3rds, then 5ths, 7ths, 2nds,
4ths and finally 6ths.

A Major scale
https://dl.dropbox.com/s/qjt5rssl3aegg04/1 a major.mp3?dl=0

3rd above each scale degree

added 5ths





By the time you get to 6ths you're playing all the notes of the scale vertically for each chord so they tend to sound pretty much the same. :sneaky:
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Silicon Valley Tom

It makes me happpy to play The Blues!
Thank you Paleo. If I am lucky, I will complete the above, preferable before Christmas! ;) It looks like a good exercise, and my sense is that your ears will be your guide. Well, I should say that my ears will be my guide! :)



Student Of The Blues

Just realized that when I added what I thought were 7ths, I actually added 2nds below each scale degree.

That really muddies things up the rest of the way having 2nds (inverted 7ths?) both below and above each note of the scale.

I may go back and fix that if I can do it before the edit button disappears.

Also realized that to add 9, 11 and 13 I should go an octave above 2, 4 and 6.

Like I said, I'm experimenting.

And since each addition is on a separate track, I can mute selected tracks in order to compare any combination(s) of intervals I want to hear.

I'm sure there are theory and ear training programs available that do all this stuff, but I like to figure it all out on my own.

I learn more and it's less expensive.

And if you know your standard 2 octave patterns from "Modes Unleashed", the whole process is much easier than you might think. :sneaky:
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Student Of The Blues
Redone starting with the standard 2 octave pattern of A Major (Ionian), i.e. from A on 6th string, right-facing, to A on first.

Each added interval is now going up (=stacking 3rds).

I ran out of notes adding the last two 13ths.

With 22 frets the highest note on the 1st string is D.

There ain't no E and F#, unless I dust off a slide.

Those 2 notes were played down an octave.

A Major (Ionian) 8 beat count in
https://dl.dropbox.com/s/0m5clxu0nfycn4v/1 a ionian.mp3?dl=0

Added 3rds (C# Phrygian)
https://dl.dropbox.com/s/l3351d8cmq4zgcg/3 c# phrygian.mp3?dl=0

Added 5ths (E Mixolydian) =Triads
https://dl.dropbox.com/s/o4wa9nnfxbg18w2/5 E Mixolydian.mp3?dl=0

Added 7ths (G# Locrian)
https://dl.dropbox.com/s/skrtp26edbagy6z/7 g# locrian.mp3?dl=0

Added 9ths (B Dorian)
https://dl.dropbox.com/s/0l4jffoykp4gwhi/9 b dorian.mp3?dl=0

Added 11ths (D Lydian)
https://dl.dropbox.com/s/0zkojeoy2ewnnqm/11 d lydian.mp3?dl=0

Added 13ths (F# Aeolian)
https://dl.dropbox.com/s/rbuydlnn0kxmwtn/13 f# aeolian.mp3?dl=0

These may not sound all that different from the first go round above. :whistle:

Now on to working with actual melodies.

And further experimentation with non-paralell intervals.

As I've been trying in the VJR. :sneaky:
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Student Of The Blues
Thanks for posting this! Several years ago I did a 1/2 day workshop with Robben Ford. The first thing he asked us was, "who knows how to harmonize the major scale?" A couple hands went up, after which he proceeded to spend the next hour or so focusing on that. One of his favorite practice activities is to practice harmonizing the major scale "with the respect and reverence that it's due!" I still have my notes and recording from that workshop, and somewhere on my to-do list is to go back and start integrating those approaches into my practice.


Student Of The Blues
Wow ! That’s way cool.

Guess I’m in good company if, in fact, I’ve given it the “respect and reverence that it’s due”.

I wonder if he described it similar to the way I did it.

Maybe I actually know what I'm doing. :unsure:
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Student Of The Blues
Wow ! That’s way cool.

Guess I’m in good company if, in fact, I’ve given it the “respect and reverence that it’s due”.

I wonder if he described doing it similar to the way I did.

Yep, from what I remember you're not far from his approach. Thanks for the reminder to go back and take a look at this.

david moon

Attempting the Blues
a tone with less distortion might let you actually hear the notes and not all the cross products generated by the distortion,


Vice Assistant General Manager
Staff member
Now, the fun part is adding a chord progression because you'll find you want to change certain harmonies from 3rds to 4ths, for certain chords.

If you listen carefully to most of the famous harmony leads like, The Boys Are Back In Town, it's not just one harmony all the way through, so that adds to the fun :)