Two part harmony

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Making your own harmony

There are basically two ways of making a harmony.One is just playing in harmony, this is of course the best, but it requires some exercise. The second is to "compose a harmony". Below some guidance rules for the second method

There is one ground rule

  1. It has to sound good

The other rules are.

  • Avoid parallel fifth, and parallel octaves. (Parallel octaves are beautiful but then it is not considered a harmony, it is just parallel octaves.)
  • Avoid making dissonating distances those are
    • semitone (This is very dissonating)
    • whole tone(may be used for transitions, but take care)
    • threetone (strongly dissonating, also called the interval of the devil)
    • minor seventh(May be used in some occasions)
    • Major Seventh (very dissonating)
  • So what'¨s left
    • Major third
    • minor third
    • fourth
    • minor sixth
    • major sixth


Normally (in Swedish harmonizing, you either put your second harmony voice a third below the melody, or you put it a sixth below.

About being more people playing harmonies

It is possible to make two different harmonies to a melody either running a third below or a sixth below. These harmonies does not necessarily sound good together. Therefore, if you are playing harmonies when playing together, be aware of what the others are playing, and try to follow that.

Improvisational harmonies

If you are the only one playing the harmony, you may improvise, not play the same harmony everytime.