Hey JazzGuy, March 2011

Hey Jazz Guy, What are some more ideas for re-harmonizing a melody? –Standard in Syracuse
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Hey Jazz Guy,
What are some more ideas for re-harmonizing a melody? –Standard in Syracuse

Dear Standard,
Using re-harmonization to spice up a melody can be very exciting. One method that is useful and interesting is to change the bass note. In the examples here we’ve used F as the melody note, and re-harmonized it using all 12 notes as bass notes. The melody note (F) then becomes every possible interval in relationship to the bass. The quality of each chord reflects the tension or chord tone that the F becomes, with the other notes chosen for variety. Ex. 1 starts the F as the root of F6 and the b9 of E7b9. F next becomes a major 9 (Ebmaj9) and minor 3rd (Dm maj7). In Ex. 2, F becomes the major 3rd of Db with a #5, C7sus4 creates a perfect 4th, and Bmaj7(#11) makes F a #11. Bbmin7 lets F be the natural 5th. An A bass note in Ex. 3 makes F the #5, Ab13 gives the F a 13th tension and a regular G7 makes F the 7. When F becomes the major 7 we use Gbmaj7(#11). Now that all the bases are covered, Ex. 4 shows a cluster voicing and spread voicing with F as the melody note. The texture, not harmony, is what matters here. Finally, the symmetrical scales are always available for harmonization, Ex. 5 gives F as a chord tone to a Ddim7 chord and Faug. Using the interval between the melody note and the bass note to inspire new chord changes can be beautiful and exotic. So shed hard and your chords—and maybe your mind—will be reinvented.

Jake Hertzog is the jazz ambassador to the non-jazz world. Send your questions to guitplyr@ musicplayer.com. Jake’s latest release is Patterns [Buckyball].