Tip #231 – Reducing to the Essentials

If you could only play two notes to suggest the harmony, which ones would you choose? How can you choose the right night to imply the right harmony without making it ambiguous?

Previously, we have talked about making harmonic accompaniment ambiguous by playing only octaves and fifths. What if we want to do the opposite.

Well, instead of the fifth, what other notes of the chord impact its quality? That would be the third (telling us if it is major of minor), the seventh (tell us what kind of seventh chord it is), and sixth (for extra color).

Some people have been known to call this “shell voicing” when you limit your harmonic voicings down to two notes: the root/bass and a tone that tells us the quality of the chord.

NOTE: if the chord was diminished, playing the flat fifth would be more of a priority, but not when it is a perfect fifth.

Try it out. When building a bass line, an accompaniment, or whatever, challenge yourself by only playing 2 notes.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read! Feel free to comment, share, and subscribe for more daily tips below! Till next time.

Author: Bryan M. Waring

Bryan Waring is a graduate of USM's School of Music with a B.M. in Performance – Composition and is now attending Belmont University for a M.M. in Commercial Media – Composition & Arranging. During his time at USM, he studied violin with Dino Liva and composition with Dr. Daniel Sonenberg, as well as has premiered several pieces during the semiannual Composer's Ensemble concert series. In 2017, Bryan was a writer for the original musical theater work of "Molded By The Flow," directed by Paul Dresher and Rinde Eckert. Outside of school, Bryan has been involved with writing music for videogame developers at Portland's CI2 Lab, collaborating with the King Tide Party, and studying with Larry Groupé (Straw Dogs) in San Diego. Now living in Nashville. Along with composing, Bryan teaches music to children, receiving the Master Teacher Award for his work at ESF Camps; and does audio engineering for live ensembles. Besides talents in music, Bryan is a team-player in any competitive work environment; equipped with skills in leadership, organization, mathematics, creativity, communication, and managing. On the side, Bryan has worked as a model for several skilled artists in the New England area. Among his other accomplishments include obtaining the rank of Eagle Scout in April 2013 with a project of building a side parking area with guide rails for Webb Mountain Park in Monroe, CT.

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