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Lesson 146: Diatonic Melody w/ Non-Diatonic Harmony

What's the Idea?

The idea is to have a melody, which stays within a key or a scale. The key or scale can be:

  • a major key
  • a minor key
  • a mode
  • a pentatonic scale
Then you color it with harmony, which is not entirely from that key. You can use:
  • mediant and submediant chords - see lesson 138
  • modal interchange - see lesson 105
  • chord substitutions
  • any chord to color a melody note, as long as you like the sound of it
My composition Fall, Break is a good example. It has a very hummable/ singable melody, but it would be very boring if harmonized using diatonic chords entirely. I wrote a complete lesson on this tune, check out lesson 121.

Some Examples of Tunes with a Diatonic Melody and Non-Diatonic Harmony

Listen to the following tunes:

  • Beatrice by Sam Rivers
  • Cantaloupe Island by Herbie Hancock
  • E.S.P. by Wayne Shorter
  • Fall, Break by me
  • Heal, Rise by me
  • Heroic Theme by me
  • The Imperial March by John Williams
  • Last Train Home by Pat Metheny
  • Mr. C by Max Schultz
  • Scary Tune by me
  • Searching for the Box by Tom Forsman
  • Stella by Starlight by Victor Young

2015 Tomas Karlsson. All rights reserved.