Harmony and Form

Melodic Intervals


Harmonic Intervals

Websites for Harmony

Primary Instruments for Playing Harmony as Accompaniment to Singing

Musical Form

Piano Accompaniment

Frequently, the left hand will play chords in harmony as the right hand plays the melody.  Here's an example of a beginning "chord progression" played n the key of C (no flats or sharps).  The left hand accompaniment is written in the bass clef (or F clef) rather than the treble clef.  The C chord below is played as a triad (3 notes, each a 3rd apart) with C on the bottom, providing the "root" of the chord.  The G7 and F chords are not played in triad form, but are inverted in the example below.  This means that the bottom tone is not the root of the chord.  Inverting the tones, or placing a note other than the root on the bottom makes the chord progression easier to play because the hand can stay in one position rather than moving to a different root tone.  This C chord progression is in the "key of C" with no flats or sharps.  See the chords Powerpoint presentation, as well as the Circle of 5ths presentation on major scales.  This progression includes the pictures of the guitar chords (tablature) that match the piano chords in traditional music notation.  These indicate on which fret your fingers must be placed on the neck of the guitar in order for the correct tones to sound.


C Major Chord on the Piano

Chord progression in the Key of G - with one sharp (F#).

Inversions of the C chord and the G7 chord (G major triad plus the 7th note above the G).

Piano Websites


Guitar Accompaniment

Common Chords for Guitar

Guitar Chords are frequently notated by tablature which gives you a picture of the 6 strings and frets that divide each string.  You can play many songs with just 2-3 chords.  The two chords below - D and A7 can be used to play songs like "Hush Little Baby," He's Got the Whole World," and "Tom Dooley."  Adding the G chord will give you many more possibilities - like "This Land is Your Land" or "Bingo."  See additional chord charts, go through the chord progressions Powerpoint, and try the guitar lessons online.  Check out the guitar learning tracks at Wholenote - http://www.wholenote.com/tracks/beginner.asp 

Building chords from the major scale

Chords are built from scales. Taking a look at the basic chords built from a C major scale is the best place to start your chord theory exploration. A C major scale contains no sharps or flats. Below are the notes of a C major scale.

C Major scale = C D E F G A B C


Basic triads built from the C major scale

The first chords that we are taking a look at are sometimes called triads. A triad is just a term for a 3 note chord.

So putting it all together, here are the 7 basic triads built from the C major scale.

triads in the key of C

* The numbers in red are the degrees of the C major scale used to build the

C major scale

If you start on C and skip every other note in the scale for a total of 3, this a C major chord.

|___|___| = C (C major chord)

If you start on D and do the same thing, a Dm chord is created. What makes this a minor chord will be looked into later in this lesson.

  |___|___| = Dm (D minor chord)

The process of stacking 3 notes up in the major scale could continue until you have a total of 7 different chords, one for each note of the scale.

    |___|___| = Em (E minor chord)

      |___|___| = F (F major chord)

        |___|___| = G (G major chord)

          |___|___| = Am (A minor chord)

            |___|___| = Bo
* (B diminished chord)

Tuning your Guitar

image24.gif (3134 bytes)

Electronic Tuner: Allows you to tune the guitar string by measuring the frequency of the string. Very easy way to tune the guitar. 
Pitch Pipe: A pitch pipe has 6 pipes, for each string on the guitar. Just tune the strings to match the pitch from each respective pipe.  
Tuning Fork: When a tuning fork is struck, it emits an A note at a frequency of 440hz. Simply tune the 5th fret of the top string to this.  

Follow these instructions for tuning your guitar, with the top string being already tuned to an E.  

Which looks like this:

E||---------------------------------------------------0--|| 1st
B||---------------------------------------0------5-------|| 2nd
G||-----------------------------0----4-------------------|| 3rd
D||-----------------0------5-----------------------------|| 4th
A||-------0----5-----------------------------------------|| 5th
E||--5---------------------------------------------------|| 6th

Autoharp Accompaniment

Autoharp is a popular instrument for harmonic accompaniment!

According to Mike Strickland...."Autoharp is VERY easy to play. You press "chord" keys down with one hand as you strum (the strings) using your other hand. That's all there is to it. You needn't know theory to find chord "progressions" that sound good. You WILL need to know chord NAMES if you expect to play with other players.  Perhaps the EASIEST way to "hold" an  Autoharp is NOT to hold it at all.  Just place the instrument ON a table.. and play!  Each string is directly above a "written" note name.  The layout is similar to a keyboard.. UNTIL you get to the bass strings.  The bass notes are spread out sparingly to say the least.  Their main function is to pick up "general" low notes.  This causes the low end to START on the Root note (one) at times.. but ALSO the 3rd (or minor 3rd) OR.. Major 5th tones. As you "pluck" (for instance) a "C" on one end (the keyboard looking thing under the strings shown above), your other hand "tunes" the corresponding "C" note at the other end (via the tuning pegs.. by using a tuning wrench is usually included when instrument is purchased).  


Chords are clearly marked on Autoharp.. but you DON'T have to know theory to press a key and play!  In time you will learn WHAT is a "G" or "G7" or "Gm" (which are just a few of the chords available) by the SOUND of the chord (or because you're jamming with someone who keeps reminding you, "That's supposed to be "Gm".. NOT "G" Major").  

From Mike Strickland's website - Free Autoharp Lessons and Information - http://mikestrickland.net/autoharp/index.html  

Computer Accompaniment with MIDI - Musical Instrument Digital Interface 

Use your computer to play musical accompaniments!

What do you need? A sound card on your computer that is hooked up to speakers!

Free MIDI songs on the Web!

The Musical Instrument Digital Interface, or MIDI standard was originally developed by Japanese musical instrument companies.  "In 1983, Sequential Circuits from the U.S. and Roland from Japan introduced the first keyboards with MIDI, soon followed by virtually every other synthesizer company in the world.  Within three years after MIDI's introduction, almost no electronic instrument was made in the world that didn't have a MIDI plug on it. It became a true universal standard. To this day there is no competition to MIDI for connecting all types of electronic musical instruments together or for creating personal musical systems. Like computers, MIDI is used by millions of people for thousands of applications. It's also being used in fields other than just music, such as theatrical lighting, computer games, and recording studio automation."  (MIDI History - http://www.mtsu.edu/~dsmitche/rim419/midi/HTMLs/MIDHIS~1.HTM)

What is MIDI?  "MIDI is an 'electronic language', a digital language consisting of "bytes" just like the data in files that you have on your computer, which electronic instruments use to control each other. MIDI is itself a protocol for transferring information, mostly about music. This information takes the form of electronic signals that the instruments pass between each other." 

"MIDI uses a single wire in the cable to send information, the musical data that MIDI sends travels in only one direction over a single cable. However, MIDI was devised to allow information to go both directions between two instruments, by simply using two cables. At the same time, MIDI can also pass data on to a third, fourth, fifth instrument, or as many synthesizers as you can afford. To accomplish this, it was decided to have three different MIDI connectors on each instrument:

(Taken from (http://www.mtsu.edu/~dsmitche/rim419/midi/HTMLs/MIDIIN~1.HTM#anchor%20whatmid))



Musical Form

Music is formally organized with themes or patterns that are repeated or manipulated in various ways.  The balance of repetition and variation with melody, rhythm, and harmony make the theme interesting, and yet cohesive.  Often the melody may be presented at a different pitch or with a slightly different rhythm.  The overall form of a more complex piece of music present contrasting sections, generally returning to the initial theme.  The most common form in music is the ABA song form.  An example can be found in this notation for colored bells of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star

ABA Song Form

Section A

Section B

Section A (Repeat)

Form More on the ABC Song Form - http://www.musictechteacher.com/lessons/mtlesson004.htm 

Ways of Manipulating a Melodic Theme - or Providing Variation with Rhythm or Melody

Retrograde Lesson for Third Graders - http://www.musictechteacher.com/lessons/mtlesson003.htm 

Major vs. Minor Harmony

Another common way of introducing variety and yet maintaining relationships between different sections of a piece is to go from a major key to its relative minor key for one section, then returning to the major key.  Here's an example of a C major chord and the A minor chord which is related to C because it uses the same key signature with no flats or sharps. 


G Major and E minor.


For a more complete understanding of musical forms, go to these websites:

Copyright 2003 by Carla Piper, Ed. D.