By Jimmy Rutkowski
In this lesson I am going to teach you how to use your scales to write harmonized leads and melodies. We will discuss the basic degrees of the Major Scale, how to determine the Harmony notes, and lastly I will give you a few examples of this material in a practical application. This lesson will give you first hand knowledge and insight into the technique Iron Maiden uses in this issues song surgery “The Trooper.”
First, let’s look at the notes that make up the “C” Major scale the notes are C D E F G A & B. What we need to do with the scale is number the note degrees with numbers one through seven as in example #1;
Laying out your notes this way tells you all you need to know in order to figure out your harmony notes. To create a harmony using diatonic thirds from any scale just go up three notes in the scale you are harmonizing from the note you wish to harmonize. This will create a third harmony from your root note. If you want to harmonize the C Major scale in diatonic thirds you would harmonize the scale by placing the “E” note above the “C” note then finish writing the scale this way. See example 2.
Once you have completed this step you can see how the diatonic scale degrees line up in thirds. The C is harmonized by the E, the D is harmonized with the F, the G with the E etc. This will give you the notes to match together. See example 3 to see how this looks on the guitar.
If you want to harmonize the A minor scale in diatonic thirds you would start with the notes A B C D E F G for the A minor scale and use your harmony notes starting from the third tone in the scale “C.” See example 4.
You can apply this principle for any harmony you wish. For harmonies of a fifth for the “C” Major and “A” minor scales, use the fifth degree as your starting pitch for the harmony. See Example 5.
Here a few examples of this technique in action. Example 6 is an excerpt from Motley Crue’s “Shout at the Devil” album. This is a great example of the harmony in thirds in action for the key of “A” minor.
Example 7 is in the style of Metallica. This double harmony technique is a great way to really push a riff to extremes. This is another example of harmonizing in thirds but this time in the key of “G” Major.
Some further listening of this technique can be heard on:
God Bless the Children of the Beast: Motley Crue
Boys are back in Town: Thin Lizzy
For more damn good lessons from Jimmy Rutkowski check his lesson area at Rock House
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