SMG Guitar Lesson #8: How to Harmonize a Scale

The other type of basic harmony is “four-part” harmony, meaning that instead of three notes forming a chord, there are four. For this reason, four-part harmony chords tend to sound a bit “thicker,” “fuller,” and perhaps somewhat “jazzy” or even “bluesy.” But don’t let this fool you. Four part harmony chords are constructed using the same “skipping pattern” we used earlier. Check it out:

You may notice that all the four part harmony chords in the key have some type of “7” in their name. All that this means is that in order to form the chord, we’ve added the seventh note up from the root note of the chord.

So here’s all the chords we’ve learned how to construct in the key of C Major:

This same process can be used to harmonize all 12 Major keys! In fact, if you really want to learn something, get out a notebook and a pen and get cracking!

Take a few moments to strum through each of these fourteen chords. For each chord, refer back to the note labeling exercise we did earlier. Locate the notes within each chord.

Take a moment to notice how the major, minor, and mb5 chords will all have their unique sound.

  • Major chords tend to sound bright and cheerful, while minor chords tend to sound melancholic and moody.
  • The mb5 chord tends to sound somewhat dissonant and unsettling.
  • The two Maj7 chords tend to sound Jazzy, while the G7 chord tends to sound bluesy.
  • The minor seventh chords sound richer than their three-part harmony counterparts, while retaining their distinctive “minor” sound.

And that, is how to harmonize a scale. Phew! I know it seems like a lot to take in, but it’s really easy once you try it. If you have any questions, just post them below and I’ll be more than happy to help!


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