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 #174 – Reimagining Purpose of a Circle-Of-Fifths Progression

To some people, a circle-of-fifths progression (a sequential chord progression with root movement all done by perfect fifths) is a very artistic way of composing music. Others may find it predictable because you know well in advance where the next chord is going to.

Take a look at this one for example:

You can view this as a simple circle-of-fifths progression, but how about another way:

You can also reimagine this as an overlay of IV – I – V movements. And now when you are in this mindset, you can control how to get out of the predictable pattern into a set key with the understanding that you have the momentum of a IV – I – V progression.

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Teach Yourself Music Theory – 20.) Mixing Beat Divisions

To remind: when you are in simple meter (4/4) the beat is easily divided into 2s or 4s, and when you are in compound meter (12/8) the beat is divided into 3s or 6s. Review old posts if you are not familiar with these concepts.

However, just because you are in simple meter doesn’t mean that you can’t incorporate compound meter divisions.

Take an example below:

We know that this piece is in duple meter because the time signature is 4/4, but there is a figure notated with a “3.” This is called a triplet, and it appears in duple meter pieces to tell the performer to divide the beat into three eighth notes of even length instead of two – just as you would find in a compound meter.

This can happen in reverse, too…

Thae a look now at this example:

This piece is in compound meter (12/8 and the beat is divided into 3s), but there are two figures – one noted with a “2” and the other with a “4.” They are called duplets and quadruplets respectively, and they divide the beats in compound meter pieces into even divisions.

Practice performing switching between these different divisions.

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Tip #173 – Retrograde Harmony

Some of you might recall that retrograde in music involves taking a music figure and playing in backwards. Usually, this is done with a melodic line, but we can use it with harmony and get some interesting progressions!

Take a look at these two phrases below and their harmony:

Play the piece how it is above first. Now: try the retrograde option below:

You will hear that the resolutions are unexpected – which can work to your advantage or not.

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Tip #172 – Understanding the Jhankaradhvani 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 Jhankaradhvani (meaning “chiming sound”) scale, the first scale from the fourth 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. In addition, it looks similar to a minor scale, but with a lowered seventh degree (NI).

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

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Tip #171 – Incorporating a Diminished Passing Chord

Say that you have a progression that utilizes two chords (one after the other) a M2 distance apart in the root:

As you can see by the example above, the Eb major triad and the F major triad fit that definition.

What you can do for some added harmonic progression color is insert a diminished passing chord in-between.

Simply, you build a diminished triad on the root of the pitch that falls chromatically in between the two chords:

From there, you would then orchestrate the chords for better voice leading, but the added diminished passing chord gives a little more emphasis to the arrival of the F major triad in the progression.

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Tip #170 – Incorporating a Chromatic Approach/Passing Chord

We are going to be talking about different kinds of passing chords.

Today is about the chromatic passing chord (although I prefer to call it a chromatic approach chord – and you will see why shortly).

Take a simple pop chord progression like the example below:

To create this passing chord, you approach to destination chord with a chord the same shape/structure/voicing a m2 higher or lower. While you are using to pass in-between two chord, the structure of this passing chord is based on the chord you want to approach onto.

It would look like this, going from above and from below, respectively:

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