The melody of a song is a group of notes that are played one after the other. The melody is the main tune, like “Here Comes The Bride”. You’ll know it because it’s easy to remember. Plus, you are familiar with the song and can hum it a lot. When you add the harmony, the mood or tone of the song changes. It has a fuller sound that is pleasing to hear.
What is Harmony?
Well, harmony is a group of notes that support the melody. The melody gives the music texture that folks relate to. So, to harmonize a melody means to create a chord accompaniment for it. The results produced will sound full, like many voices singing. Perhaps like a choir. This is definitely a technique that everyone needs to learn. Harmonizing the melody makes happy sounds. I can hear the third intervals, for sure.
The I-IV-V chords contain all the notes of the major scale. Many melodies in a major key can be harmonized with just these three chords.
The 7 basic chords one can use in the Key of C:
C major = C-E-G
D minor = D-F-A
E minor = E-G-B
F major = F-A-C
G major = G-B-D
A minor = A-C-E
B diminished = B-D-F
Determine chords to be used and analyze the melody notes. Follow the chart to see which chord is used with each melody note of a major scale. Play these notes all at the same time with the melody note on top.
L.H. / R.H.
Here is a simple song to try, Mary Had A Little Lamb.
Formula For Harmonizing The Melody:
A. Determine the melody to any song
B. Replace the melody notes with harmonizing chords making sure to keep the melody note as the highest tone of each chord.
C. Add the bass/ left hand notes
I have found that harmonizing the melody to all children’s songs, Christmas songs and hymns is fun and easy to do. I learned to play the harmonization scale. This is the same scale that Jermaine Griggs teaches in his piano course book. I have been playing the keyboard on worship teams for over 30 years and teaching students for over 15 years. This is a technique that really works. I think church musicians can relate to the technique, especially in playing hymns.
You are on your way to harmonizing the melody. Have fun!