Chords: Melody & Harmony

In order to illustrate how critically-important chords are in music-making, consider this gallery of famous pieces (with chord tones circled)… and notice two things:

  • The accompaniments to the melodies are almost exclusively based on chords. (This should come as no surprise.)
  • The melodies are built almost exclusively using chord tones. (This may come as a HUGE revelation. Realizing that melody may be more about harmony and chord tones, and not all about scales, will transform the way you read and play music!)


Sonata Facile (Mozart)

Play each piece slowly and really listen. Do your ears agree with the analysis?

piano-ology-chords-melody-and-harmony-mozart-sonata


For Elise (Beethoven)

You will discover that most pieces are harmonically very straightforward and their melodies usually consist mostly of chord tones!

piano-ology-chords-melody-and-harmony-for-elise


Invention No. 8 (Bach)

piano-ology-chords-melody-and-harmony-bach-invention


Imagine (John Lennon)

piano-ology-chords-melody-and-harmony-imagine


Moonlight Sonata (Beethoven)

piano-ology-chords-melody-and-harmony-moonlight-sonata


Solfegietto (C. P. E. Bach)

Take your time to study each piece. Use your knowledge of music theory (key signatures, scales, chords, etc) and your ears (which chords sound/feel tense, which sound major, which sound minor, etc?).

piano-ology-chords-melody-and-harmony-cpe-bach-solfegietto


The Entertainer (Scott Joplin)

piano-ology-chords-melody-and-harmony-the-entertainer


Theme From Cheers

piano-ology-chords-melody-and-harmony-theme-from-cheers

This is an example of pedal point… The harmony changes from a Bb major triad to F major triad, but the note Bb is sustained in the left hand as a pedal point, creating a very sweet dissonance against the F chord.


Toccata and Fugue (Bach)

The skill to recognize chords using both your eyes and ears will pay enormous dividends when sight reading, learning a new piece, improvising, transposing, and playing by ear.

piano-ology-chords-melody-and-harmony-bach-toccata


Maple Leaf Rag (Joplin)

piano-ology-chords-melody-and-harmony-maple-leaf-rag


Baby Elephant Walk (Henry Mancini)

piano-ology-chords-melody-and-harmony-baby-elephant-walk


Linus & Lucy (Vince Guaraldi)

piano-ology-chords-melody-and-harmony-linus-and-lucy

Note: One could even make an argument that the last bar is really an Ab6 chord, counting the note F as a chord tone.


Minute Waltz (Chopin)

Hint: Here is one of those pieces where the melody does not include lots of chord tones.

piano-ology-chords-melody-and-harmony-minute-waltz


Color My World (Chicago)

Notice the many simple, but very inventive ways that chords are used to create an incredible variety of fabulous music.

piano-ology-chords-melody-and-harmony-color-my-world

Now go get serious about learning chords!

About Frank J Peter

A uniquely burdened and blessed citizen of the world thinking and acting out loud!
This entry was posted in Aural Comprehension, Chords, How to Study-Practice, Music Theory and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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