Which Chords with Which Notes? Harmonizing a Melody

August 31, 2014

The Essential Secrets of Songwriting Blog

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I wish more songwriters would do the melody-first method. Coming up with the melody after endless strumming of chords can often result in a tune that is directionless and uninspiring. What probably scares writers off of writing a melody first is… how do you harmonize it?

Getting a bit of understanding with regard to chord theory is always a great idea. If you can’t read music, you might feel tempted to resort to a kind of random process of applying chords to melody. But good songwriting is not usually a random process. And while through the random process you may eventually come up with chords that sort of work, it’s better to understand why certain chords harmonize certain notes, and how chords should ideally progress.

Here are some tips for adding chords to your melody:

1. Every song needs a basic harmonic rhythm. It’s the frequency of the…

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