Tip #189 – Adding Chromatics into your Scalar Line

By default, use any chromatics that are included in said scale that you are using (such as blues, bebop scale, etc.)

However, in the case that you are using any regular major, natural minor, or modal scale – here are some times and where and how to throw in chromatics:

Typically, chromatics between the notes of the scale are used as neighboring tones, passing tones, or enclosures.

That being said, in any job their focus in to bring emphasis the arrival note.

So, as you are using a chromatic line, or just inserting chromatic pitches into a scale, think about the following:

  • Are they going in the direction of the note that needs the most attention?
  • Is it used for enclosing/neighboring effect?
  • Does the chromatics sound sublime or out-of-nature to the key?

From this assessment, you can add the right chromatic notes to the line.

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Tip #175 – Harmonizing a Chromatic Scale with Secondary Dominants

Once you see the process to doing this, you aren’t going to forget it.

Now, say that you have a diatonic melodic line like the one below with the notes appearing in sequential order:

Between each of the diatonic notes, we are going to approach each with a chromatic note. It should look like this now:

Okay, from here we are going to harmonize the diatonic notes with triads within the key. For the simplicity of this tip, the notes will act as the root of the chords:

Finally, it is time to add the secondary dominants. A secondary dominant is the “V7” chord proceeding before a chord it wants to temporarily tonicize. It just so happens that those chromatic tones are part of the secondary dominants we are going to build:

Our progression is now I – V7/ii – ii – V7/iii – iii , all built on a chromatic line!

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Tip #163 – Building Heavy Chromatic Lines

In a lot of modern (and even classic) heavy metal songs, there is use of chromatics in the guitar riff.

Today’s tip is about constructing a fast sixteenth-note riff that utilizes chromatics in a melodic way while appealing to the dissonance resolution tendencies.

First, start off by playing a chord member of the harmony on every quarter-note pulse. If the harmony is a power chord, decide if it is major of minor (most like it will be minor):

Then, add eighth-notes in between. These should be diatonic notes to the key or chord members:

Finally, add sixteenth-notes in between. These notes should be chromatic notes outside of the key; however, they can also be diatonic notes so long as the fit the direction of the moving melodic line:

From there, you can change the rhythm, notes, accentuation, etc. of your riff!

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Tip #109 – Key Change with Chromaticism

In the past, we have talked about using a key change by transposing an entire section of the song by an interval. This interval can usually range from a m2 to a m3.

Today we will go more in-depth with the similar idea of using chromaticism to create a key change.

Study the example below:

As we get to the V chord of the composition, we get a pull back to the tonic. However, that pull is “redirected” an is instead used in a chromatic pull towards a new chord outside of the original key – that also become the new tonic as well.

So for today’s tip, experiment with the resolving tendencies of the V chord and how with chromatic motion a composition can get to a new key.

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