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Thread: How best to learn, about different ways of using harmony? (ie: chords, progressions)

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    Default How best to learn, about different ways of using harmony? (ie: chords, progressions)

    I've been looking for a way of improving my writing, and I think even though I have played for years, I seem to be stuck using the same chords, and melodies over and over, and would like to learn how to add to what I can do, I've tried looking up on YouTube, but maybe I am searching for the wrong thing. What can I do as far as, book reading, or online reading, that will improve my knowledge of, chords, and how things work together?

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    Senior Member EdwardBast's Avatar
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    Read music, not words! Take pieces of music you like that have the kind of vocabulary you want to master and figure out how they work. Write practice exercises using what you find in them. Imitate until you internalize and make the vocabulary your own.

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    I have the same problem. I often wonder if it is a problem. I’m not Ravel! What I have done is repeat a tune in my head until I come up with a variation of that tune with a few chromatic notes. I then fall into a realm where the standard harmony doesn’t work. Then it get interesting and can be engaging.

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    Agreed it's best to find e.g. highly chromatic music you like and study what's going on. I'd suggest turning to lounge-type songs of yesteryear: Gershwin, Carmichael, Porter.... full of rich harmony but good and useful arrangements are difficult to find. They're there, though.

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    How to learn tunes: A jazz musician's survival guide: a quick and easy method for learning and remembering the melody and chord changes to any tune in any key (Play-A-Long Book/CD Set) Paperback – by David Baker (Author)

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    I suggest improvisation within limitations. Take a collection or scale or mode that you wouldn't usually use and play only in that scale for a while until it becomes more natural to you. Try weird stuff and see what shakes out.

    Another suggestion: think less about harmony and more about voiceleading. Most common progressions are actually more a product of how voices move horizontally than arbitrary definitions of vertical alignments.

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    Hi, Guitar is my main instrument and I think I gain a huge benefit from playing it since it is a harmony instrument. I have not received formal musical training until my undergraduate. So before that time, I mostly learned by transcribing. The more I explore new genre, the more excited for me to know what chords they used, how melody lines go and so on. My recommendation is exploring music and transcribe it so that you will know more and more chord changes that you 've never thought before. I know sometimes it is so tempted to listen to the music that you like and stick with it because you like it but exploring will definitely help you. Hope this help

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    Quote Originally Posted by vthitivongse View Post
    Hi, Guitar is my main instrument and I think I gain a huge benefit from playing it since it is a harmony instrument. I have not received formal musical training until my undergraduate. So before that time, I mostly learned by transcribing. The more I explore new genre, the more excited for me to know what chords they used, how melody lines go and so on. My recommendation is exploring music and transcribe it so that you will know more and more chord changes that you 've never thought before. I know sometimes it is so tempted to listen to the music that you like and stick with it because you like it but exploring will definitely help you. Hope this help
    I hope O.P sees it as well, welcome to Talk Classical by the way.

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    the way to push yourself is to get out of your comfort zone and do what you have not done before.

    but consider this...if you are thinking chords and scales, why not think on other terms?

    frankly, and please don't take this the wrong way...but as an artist I'm telling you that if you are looking on You Tube for direction, you aren't asking the right questions.

    Look at your world. Think in terms of associating meaning. Consider that some sounds have meaning in and of themselves. The sound of breaking glass has an immediate meaning. In music, sounds derives their meaning through structure and context. Repetition is the engine that generates that structure.

    so think about it and experiment.

    try this...play a series of chords that all have a tritone somewhere in them. Take note of the quality of the harmonies, and the relative tension, when there are natural 2nds and minor 7ths in the chord. Then compare that with those triton structures with minor 2nds and major 7ths.

    then think about the general progression from one level of tension to another and back...those sorts of structures.

    anyway, that bit is sort of from Hindemith's "Craft"

    if you haven't already, you really should read that

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