Join Julian Velard for an in-depth discussion in this video Reharmonize a melody: Change the bass, part of Songwriting Techniques with Chords.
- [Julian Velard] Now that we've established a chord progression for "Say That You Will Stay", let's look at some of the other harmonic possibilities the melody presents. One of the quickest ways to change the feeling of a chord progression is to alter the base notes of the chords. Here is our song again with the original harmony I laid out in the last video. ♫ I know you love me, (piano playing) ♫ It's something you're afraid to say. ♫ So don't say that you love me, ♫ Say that you will stay.
This original chord progression is based around triads of the one, four, and five chords, which are C, F and G, in the key of C major. While I've changed the shape of these triads to voice lead them effectively, the root of each triad is in the base. Just take the first three bars, look at the C chord and you'll see the C is in the base. And if you look at the G chord in bar two, you'll see the G is in the base. And if you look at the F chord in bar three, you'll see the F is in the base as well. Now, let's have a listen to how this chord progression sounds if we alter the base notes of a couple of these triads from the root, to either the third or the fifth of the chord.
By changing the base notes of these chords to one of the other notes in the triad, we aren't inherently changing the harmonic framework of the song. Rather, we are altering the voicing, or shape, of the harmony. So here's our song again, but this time I'm going to play the third in the base when I get to the F chord in bar three, that's going to be the A, and then I'm going to play the third in the base again when I get to the C chord in bar five, and that's going to be the E. You'll notice the shift in the voicing, especially in bar five, as the C major chord will take on a more inspirational quality.
So here is "Say That You Will Stay" with the alterations in the base notes in bar three and bar five. ♫ I know you love me, (piano playing) ♫ it's something you're afraid to say. ♫ So don't say that you love me, ♫ say that you will stay. Can you hear the difference in the two versions? Let me play it again, and I'll put extra emphasis on bar three and bar five.
♫ I know you love me, (piano playing) ♫ it's something you're afraid to say. ♫ So don't say that you love me, ♫ say that you will stay. There's a subtle shift in the voicings, and you can feel the difference. Now let me show you what happens if we change the base note in virtually all the chords of the song. I'm going to play the root of the chord in the base in bars one and eight, which is the C major chord.
This is also the tonic of the key. All the other base notes I play will either be the third or fifth of a triad. You may notice that using different base notes outside of the root will give the harmony of the song more of a floating, restless feel. I've also tried to voice lead the base to create a sort of counter melody, the concept of a melodic base part is something we'll explore more in-depth later on in the course. So here is "Say That You Will Stay" with a selection of non root base notes. ♫ I know you love me, (piano playing) ♫ it's something you're afraid to say.
♫ So don't say that you love me, ♫ say that you will stay. Let's listen to it one more time, so you can really hear how much the base is going to affect the overall feel and voicing schematic of the song. ♫ I know you love me, (piano playing) ♫ it's something you're afraid to say. ♫ So don't say that you love me, ♫ say that you will stay.
Did you hear the tension changing the bass notes created? The song never felt at rest from when we left the tonic chord with the root in the base in bar one, to when we arrived back on it in bar eight. The concept of changing the base note is an effective way to create dramatic shifts in the harmonic feel of a song. It's important to think of the base as a separate, at times, counter melody that provides both harmonic as well as rhythmic context. Now let's see what happens if we start using four note chords to harmonize the same song, namely the dominant seventh chord.
In this course, musician Julian Velard demonstrates the many ways to write songs with chords, and how altering chords can change how a song sounds. He starts by explaining how chords and harmony affect a song's feel and form. Next, he shows how to harmonize a melody with chords, and demonstrates how changing the harmonic rhythm can affect the feel and sound of a song. Julian then illustrates how to form an entire song using chords. Finally, he goes deeper and shows how to use chord extensions as melody notes to create a more complex melody.
- Harmonizing a melody
- Changing the harmonic rhythm
- Treating the melody as a chord extension
- Moving from a verse to a chorus
- Transitioning from a chorus to a bridge