Tip #178 – Applying What You’ve Learned

Now I know that I’m preaching to the choir as I type up this post, but it is important to remind:

That no matter how much you read of these blog posts, you will not become a better composer/songwriter/arranger/music theorist without actually doing them.

The only tip that I can give is to actually do the tips as you are reading them, or be creative and come up with your own way.

For example: in the past we have talked about chord substitution and the use of the vi – V progression to avoid the tonic. If you remember those topics and have been using them in your writing, then this should look like a no-brainer:

A chord progression of vi – IV – V – vi to substitute the tonic and create an avoidance to resolve back to the home key area.

Basically, the more you practice these tips, the more you will discover and the better your writing will become.

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.

Tip #161 – Cheat-Sheet for Building Large Eight-Part Chord Structures

Previously, we have talked about reimagining the idea of eight-part chord structures. Instead of thinking the chords as one big harmony, we can mentally divide the chord into two different chords at smaller harmonic density – and then from there, arrange the two chords into unique voicings.

Below is a cheat-sheet on how to build these large chord structures:

To read the cheat-sheet, start by deciding what chord harmony/family you want to do in the left-most column. Then, you will notice that each selection is made up of two horizontal rows. The bottom horizontal rows are chord harmonies that work best for the bottom half. Likewise, the upper horizontal row is of chord harmonies that work best for the upper half.

If the chord is highlighted in light blues, that means that it is most optimal to use if you want the root to be in the melody.

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.

Tip #160 – Cheat-Sheet for Pairing Scales and Chords Together

Many times I hear among jazz musicians the idea of what scale(s) should go with what chord harmony.

It makes sense to understand what scale works best with what harmony so that you know which pitches to chose from when constructing a melody, improvisation, counterpoint, etc.

Below is a lengthy (but not perfect) cheat-sheet for multiple kids of scales, and what chords work best:

Note that this graph is turned on its side so that it can fit your screen better. To turn it, simply download the picture and edit it with a rotation app.

To read this cheat-sheet, find the scale you want starting on the right scale degree of the key that you are in. From there, look at the harmonic possibilities as the Roman numerals relate to the key that you are in.

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.

Tip #159 – Reframing Thoughts on Eight-Part Chord Structures

Say that you are being extravagant and want to incorporate a chord like this into your composition:

This is a D7(b9 b13) chord with the doubling of the root at the top.

Instead of thinking of this as one big chord, you can divide it in half and get this result:

Now, you have a D7 chord on the bottom with an Ebmaj7 chord above it.

Thinking of large chords at a micro level can help with voicing. Now that we know that the D7(b9 b13) chord is really just a combination of the two chords (D7 and Ebmaj7), we can essentially “divide and conquer” with solving how we want to voice the chord harmony:

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.

Tip #157 – Orchestrating to Avoid Minor Second Dissonance

Say that you are creating a closed fifth cluster (or any other cluster as a matter of fact) like the one below:

We have talked about previously about assigning the added tone the disrupts the triadic sound to another instrument family group. However, that rule is not so easy to apply to other clusters…

…especially, even when there is a m2 sound formed in the cluster.

To best resolve around the dissonance of the m2 sound, divide up the cluster chord so that the m2 harmonic interval sound doesn’t appear within the same instrument family.

So, one way of dividing this into two voices would be:

And there you go!

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.

Tip #156 – Orchestrating Closed Fifth Structures

One interesting idea that I just read about that I want to share with you all is on how to orchestrate the closed fifth cluster.

To remind, the structure of the closed fifth cluster is a major or minor triad in root position with an extra note added a perfect fourth below the melody note.

The orchestration revolves around the idea of separating between two orchestral families.

In other words, try having the three notes that form the major/minor triad from one instrumental family in your orchestration while having the extra tone of the cluster come from a completely different instrument.

Not only will this create a variety and blend in the timbre, but it will also make the “cluster” sound become more pronounced.

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.

Tip #155 – Building Four-Part Closed Fifth Clusters

Once again, the title of today’s tip might sound a bit intimidating… but it is a lot more simpler than you think.

Today, we will be talking about building clusters that span over the harmonic interval distance of a perfect fifth by using only four different pitches.

Basically, to build a closed fifth cluster, you take a melody and harmonize underneath it by a perfect fifth interval. Then, you “fill in the middle” with the diatonic minor third of major fifth. So, now you have a bunch of triads. Finally, you add a note a perfect fourth below the melody note. And there you go, harmonization built from closed fifth clusters:

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.