SONGWRITING: Diatonic Melody and Chromaticism



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This Video: October 31, 2014 | Search Videos by Title/Date.

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Andrew Wasson of Creative Guitar Studio answers a viewers question…

Q: When I make-up melodies I tend to keep things in the key of the song. But, I noticed that some of the melodies I listen to, (Jazz /Blues and Rag-Time), will venture off the established key and use chromatic stuff. I’d like to know how to better approach adding in some chromatic ideas. And, how to add in some backing parts (chords) behind the chromatic lines.
Davis – Byram, Mississippi, USA

A: Chromatic parts can be added to almost any piece of music in order to offer contrast between the diatonic ideas and the chromatic ones. Chromatic parts are often slightly dissonant. And so, these dissonant parts can be added in to generate tension against the diatonic parts. If used sparingly, the chromatic ideas will operate to create interesting, (and perhaps what might even be referred to as ‘exotic’), melody lines. When composing with these ideas, we do need to keep in mind that our harmony can become greatly affected by any non-diatonic melodic lines. Therefore, care will need to be taken in order to organize well connected backing harmonies to follow any non-diatonic alterations made within the melody lines.

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