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.

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 #96- Last-Minute Chorus Key Change

You might have already heard this in a song on the radio or on your playlist today. Nonetheless, it is a cool topic to cover.

Even with an awesome chorus in your song or exciting exposition in your composition, you might want to spice it up.

Take this mock-chorus below:

One thing that we can do is repeat the chorus, but transpose the section up an entire interval – creating a key change last minute to surprise the audience. The most commonly used intervals are the minor second (m2):

Major second (M2):

And minor third (m3):

Experiment with all three, or try a rarely used interval!

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 #93 – Negative Harmony

Some of you may have already been familiar with the concept. Others might still be yearning for a better explanation. And some might not have heard of this concept (like myself back in the summer of this previous year).

While this concept is not “new” in any form, I do what to introduce it as a new topic on this website.

Basically, negative harmony is the application of changing notes in a chords for new ones, but still have the same active and passive tendencies and the original chord. Meaning, if the original harmony had a tensional pull to resolve, so will this new chord based on negative harmony.

So, how does one get negative harmony?

First, establish the key that your harmonic progression is in. For this example, we will be in C Major. Now, find the two most-stable pitches: the tonic and dominant.

After that, find the pitch that meets in the middle. This will be the axis of our soon-to-be, point of reflection:

As you notice, there is no defined pitch in the middle of the tonic and dominant. That is not a problem, as it will work to our advantage as we make the point between the mediants the point of reflection:

And now you can see that we reflect the rest of the notes around the point between the mediants. This chart then shows what notes of the original harmony become in order to achieve negative harmony.

So, a F major chord of F – A – C , become D – Bb – G (or a G minor triad).

Play around with it, and experiment in different keys with different points of reflection.

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 #92 – Common-Tone Pad Moods

When scoring a film scene or just writing a legato section in your piece that calls for sublime changes in mood, it might be a good idea to try and use a pad built on common-tone relations to achieve this. Not only does it make transitions between chords sound smoother, but it offers a new pallet of harmonic progression possibilities that best fit the feelings you are going after.

To do so, start off with any chord in mind:

Then, take a note from the preceding chord:

And make it the root of the following chord. (For this example, we are making it the root of the triad, but it can be any chord tone – even the seventh if you want to get experimental!)

Continue this process, and don’t be afraid to change up the chord qualities or adjust the inversions of the chords to best fit.

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 #90 – Carousel-ing Harmonic Progressions

Sometimes, it seems that popular music stays with the same chord progression and all the radio-hits are born the same way. Times, you may feel like your harmonic progressions falls into the “norm” category.

One way to break free as well as find something new and exciting is to treat your progression like a carousel.

When looking at a carousel, you see the painted ponies chasing each other in a circle. But which pony is the first? Who is ahead of this race.

Point being taken here: nothing in a cyclical pattern can be defined as being “first” or “last,” so everything can be adjusted in framework to appear as first of last.

Now, let’s take this into practice. Take this common repeated progression below:

So, like the painted ponies on a carousel, let’s imagine that a different church of the cyclical progression is really the start. We would get possibilities from the original like this:

Out of one common chord progression, we have just created three new ones to experiment with and see how they can work with your song. Play around and see what else you can come up with!


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 #89 – Crafting Modal Interchange from a Tone Drone

Going back to an early topic of borrowed chords and altering a harmony by changing a chord quality to its parallel major/minor – here is another way on how to view it:

Say you have a melody that you want to craft around a single note drone. In this example, the tone used will be E.

So, E what?? E major? E minor? E Dorian mode? E Mixolydian mode?

Well… why not all give them a shot?

With keeping the tone drone constant in the harmonies (either as a chord tone or upper structure tension), try changing each section of the melody to be in a different mode. Below is the example with every measure changing to a different mode corresponding to E as the center tone.


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.