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Thread: What Works?

  1. #1
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    What Works?

    Simple question: what practices have musicians been using for chord progressions and melodies on top of those chord progressions that has worked (i.e. sounded pleasant)? I know this question has been answered here in long in the past but I think it might be interesting to hear a short, more straight to the point, answer for this question. This should be fun!

    (I suppose another way to ask this question might be what doesn't work)
    Last edited by zedrein; 12-22-2011 at 10:38 PM.

  2. #2
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zedrein View Post
    Simple question: what practices have musicians been using for chord progressions and melodies on top of those chord progressions that has worked (i.e. sounded pleasant)? I know this question has been answered here in long in the past but I think it might be interesting to hear a short, more straight to the point, answer for this question. This should be fun!

    (I suppose another way to ask this question might be what doesn't work)
    It's real simple. Chord progressions - and melodies should share the same notes. When they share like notes they harmonize each other.

    That brings up the question; which comes first the chord or the melody?

    What works for me. The I IV V progression for verse movement and the melody coming from the chord's pentatonic scale for harmony. The chord's pentatonic scale gives three like notes for harmony and two passing notes for color. More than enough for most songs.

    Anything beyond that is gravy. If you like gravy, help yourself, spoon on all you want.
    Last edited by Malcolm; 12-22-2011 at 10:56 PM.

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    The appropriate pentatonic scale should sound pleasant.

  4. #4
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zedrein View Post
    Simple question: what practices have musicians been using for chord progressions and melodies on top of those chord progressions that has worked (i.e. sounded pleasant)? I know this question has been answered here in long in the past but I think it might be interesting to hear a short, more straight to the point, answer for this question.
    There is no "short, straight to the point" answer.
    Partly because you have to define what you mean by "works".

    Malcolm's is about the most basic answer you could get: melodies and chord progressions tend to use the same set of notes. But it can also "work" when they don't. It just depends what sort of sound you want.

    But certainly the first thing to understand (whether you're composing or improvising) is the basic foundation of a "key" and a "scale". Melody and chords (whichever comes first) use the same material, as rule #1. You can make things more "interesting" by moving beyond that, but you may not need to.
    ("Rule #1" is not the most important rule, only the first one. The most important rule is "if it sounds right, it is right." That over-rides all other rules.)

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    What works should be ears. Providing one has ears to hear!

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