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Thread: How to discern the harmonic pulse.

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  1. #1
    Registered User TheAristocrat's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2008

    Question How to discern the harmonic pulse.

    Does anyone here know how to do this, it's the only problem I am having in harmonizing a melody. Any help most appreciated.


  2. #2
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Dec 2002
    Twickenham, UK
    I've not heard that term before (and can't find a musical reference online).
    The only similar term I know is "harmonic rhythm" - which is the rate of chord change, and so doesn't apply until you actually have a chord sequence.

    Of course, a melody may imply chord changes - but it rarely indicates chords firmly.

    Generally, harmonising a melody is about identifying its key, and then finding chords that sit well with it, phrase by phrase. There is no "right" answer to the best chords for any one tune - they might be simple or complicated, changing quickly or slowly Generally the simplest chords possible is the best answer.
    Normaly most of the notes in the melody will also be part of the chord at that moment - but not all need to be. Any single note can be harmonised in many different ways, but groups of notes may point to ideal chords.

  3. #3
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Deep East Texas Piney Woods
    I had to look it up also. http://smu.edu/totw/melody.htm couple of screens down into the paper.
    Harmonizing a Melody
    The process of adding chords to a pre-existing melody is similar to the above process for composing a melody to fit a harmonic progression. The following is a simple process to compose a harmonic progression to fit a given melody. Try to determine what the harmonic pulse is. The harmonic pulse is how often the chords change.

    In theory you can have a chord for each melody note, however, that is not what is done in the real World. The frequency of melody note to chord is known as the harmonic pulse. My Country music gets along fine with one chord per measure even one chord for two to three measures.

    I think you are referring to what is too many chords and what is too few. If the chord in use contains melody notes that are being used now (the chord is still harmonizing the melody) so I don't change the chord. I do not want my harmony to compete with the melody - I want to augment the melody and as long as the "old" chord is harmonizing the melody line being used now - I let the old chord continue doing it's job, i.e. I leave it alone. In comping the saying; "Less is more" seems to work. Look up chord melody - now that is another story.

    Be a little more specific about what you are trying to improve.
    Last edited by Malcolm; 03-20-2010 at 10:51 PM.

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