Tip #103 – Negative Harmony Reflection Over Tonic

Back in the winter, I was told by a professor a different way of doing negative harmony – an alternative, one could say.

In the past, I have talk about the use and understanding of negative harmony, so be sure to read-up on it before diving into this new technique.

Anyways, my proposed two different ideas of this alternative to negative harmony by reflecting pitches over different point of the key/scale/pitch collection.

The first method was to reflect on the tonic. So in a C major key, we have the diatonic and chromatic notes of:

By reflecting the tonic onto itself, we get a formula like this:

Now, we can substitute original pitches in a harmony for new ones to get an negative harmony alternative approach.

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Tip #102 – Ending on a “Wrong” Note

I dislike using the word “wrong” – mostly because a note is wrong only if you don’t like it and you purposely played it. So in that case, anything musically done with purpose is right.

That being said, on with today’s topic:

Sometimes, I find myself ending a phrase, melody, or musical idea on a note that appears in the chord. While that is not necessarily a problem, I do find it predictable. Especially if the harmony is stagnant.

Today is a gentle reminder that you should experiment with ending on melodic tones that are not the tonic or a chord member of the present playing harmony. This can allow a feeling on continuation or mystery. Irresolution that can develop into a new idea.

See how different tension tones work or sound better/worse than each other.

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 #101 – Weird Third Interval Substitution

This is an odd tip I received from a professor on a way to do chord substitutions.

First, it involves taking a composed progression. Like this one below:

From there, you take a chord you want to substitute (be it in this case the Fmaj7 chord) and change the root to a minor/major third below or above the original. For the pitch F, we get Db, D, Ab, and A.

After that, you change the quality of the chord from the root you choose to a minor chord (either a min7 or a min7(b5), otherwise known as a half-diminished seventh chord).

And there you have it. 8 different substitute possibilities for one chord. However, as I have learned from using this professor’s tip, not all the possibilities work. So, take this as a “last-resort” idea when you are stuck and in need of a more interesting harmonic progression.

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 #99 – Understanding the Vanaspati Scale

The Carnatic music of South India has 72 scales (melakartas) comprised of seven different notes in either an ascending (arohana) or descending (avarohana) fashion. These scales are used in a kind of India music called rāga and are extremely beautiful. In addition these scales are grouped into different chakras, based on certain similarities.

Today’s melakarta is the Vanaspati (meaning “fruit-bearing tree”) scale, the fourth scale from the first chakra.

Below is a representation of the scale as if it was put into Western notation:

Both the first (SA) and fifth (PA) scale degrees are in a placement normal to most scales found in Western music. However, the other scale degrees are lowered as well as clustered in chromatic runs. In addition, the sixth scale degree (DHA) is raised, creating a tendency to resolve upwards. While this may sound dissonant or exotic, this scale gives a great amount of opportunity to play with tension and chromatic passing tones.

Try playing around with the scale, possible harmonies, and progressions!


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Tip #98 – Pushing-Forward by Dropping a Beat

There are several ways that you can create an effect of pushing forward within a piece of music. The music can increase in dynamics (volume), increase in tempo (speed), become more accentuated, modulate, or have rhythmic anticipations in the melody or harmony.

But what if we become so anticipatory that we skip an entire beat?

In some compositions and popular songs, a steady meter of 4/4 might momentarily drop to 3/4 do accomplish some of the following:

  1. Push forward to a new section
  2. Create a moment of cutting-off early an older section
  3. Reformat the melody to land on a strong beat in an awkward meter

Each of them having the common purpose to make things line metrically in the song according to the hierarchy of beats while creating an unexpected surprise while dropping a beat to mimic momentum into a new section.

I encourage you to play around with a melodic riff and see how dropping a beat in a what-would-be 4/4 sound like.

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.

How To Beat Writer’s Block – Tip #10

In some DAWs (actually, in most) you have a piano roll setting where you can draw in “notes” that will be played horizontally in time along with a keyboard instrument propped up vertically.

While most people use this piano roll setting to create the exact melody, harmony, rhythmic pattern that they are looking for – you can also use it to draw!

Because the “notes” are in shapes of lines and blocks, you can use them as lines in a drawing to create a cool image… as well as a cool musical idea!

Take a look at an example below made in FL Studios:

Notice how the blocks where arranged to look like a heart-shape… or shape of a cat’s face. Whatever you are up to imagine and interpret.

You can do a similar thing, too – but also try to stay conscious of the melodic and harmonic qualities of the thing you are drying. The object of this writer’s block tip is to be visually creative while musically driven.

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Improve Your Lyrics – Tip #8

Metaphors. They are a comparison between two ideas that don’t really belong together. “Figure of speeches,” as one may call them.

Today, we will be discussing one type of metaphor that can be used in your lyrics to create symbolic imagery and descriptive expression.

An expressed identity metaphor is a metaphor that asserts an identity between two nouns. Below are some typical outlines on how to for them (using variables “x” and “y” as the two different nouns of your choice):

  • (x) is/are (y)
  • the (y) of (x)
  • (x)’s (y)

Here is a way on how to use them! Instead of saying a work like “rain,” you can alternatively use a metaphor like “the cloud’s blood” to give a darker shade to the word while expressing the same meaning.

Play around as you are writing lyrics. But word of caution – try sticking to one metaphoric idea when writing a song. This is so you don’t clutter with an overabundance of imagery… or maybe that is your goal.


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.