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Chromatic Melody Harmonization

Posted by adam furay 
adam furay
Chromatic Melody Harmonization
July 16, 2012 11:20AM
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My attempt at harmonizing a one octave descending chromatic scale. My goal was to keep it as interesting and as functional as possible. This isn't intended to be musical, but more of a "thought experiment", and a fun excercise for myself. Can you guys offer any criticism on my analysis, voice leading, or simply offer a better way to get from A to B so to speak? Are there examples of this in the CPP literatuire? Thanks in advance!
Re: Chromatic Melody Harmonization
July 17, 2012 03:54AM
Look into omnibus progressions. Baroque lament bass figures are also of relevance.

Regarding your exercise: I only had a quick peek at it, but I noticed a lot of unresolved leading tones. It's your music, but you should be aware that you start losing the essence of functional harmony when you screw around with the leading tone. Sevenths like to descend, so you would be better to involve them in your chromatic descent rather than frustrate all those poor leading tones.
adam furay
Re: Chromatic Melody Harmonization
July 17, 2012 09:35AM
trust me, I wrestled with that.

there are a lot of lies I tell myself to get away with that sort of thing. On the A/E-->F#o7, it is not a "dominant chord", the leading tone is left by step, it a passing 6/4, even though F#o7 is basically D7, it isn't D7, so the resolution is unconventional. etc etc etc My goal with the opening chords was to establish the key. DMI---A/E seemed like the least evil way to establish the key, keep interesting soprano/bass movement, and apologetically frustrate a leading tone.
Re: Chromatic Melody Harmonization
July 17, 2012 10:11AM
Going I V doesn't establish the key, it's the V I that does it.
adam furay
Re: Chromatic Melody Harmonization
July 17, 2012 10:22AM
i'm not disagreeing with you but, with a chromatic melody being the only unbreakable rule, that is probably the best you could hope for.
Re: Chromatic Melody Harmonization
July 17, 2012 11:40PM
Nah, it's perfectly possible to harmonize a descending chromatic scale with strict CPP voice leading rules.



I agree that if all you care about is the scale, then the other stuff is secondary to that, but it's kinda fun to try to make the two work together.
adam furay
Re: Chromatic Melody Harmonization
July 18, 2012 09:14AM
I admit sir, you are better than I. My first incarnation of the above simulation started on 3 so the final cadence would do as you demonstrated above. I never made it past the second bar. The GerDim3/VII was a stroke of genius. Where did you learn that?
Re: Chromatic Melody Harmonization
July 18, 2012 12:41PM
I thought of how I could keep that B from acting as a leading tone, and then what I could do with the Bb afterward. There were other options, but I decided that this worked. Truthfully, it's a littke clunky. There have been smoother harmonizations of the chromatic scale.



Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 07/18/2012 03:40PM by LuxembourgianSixth. (view changes)
Re: Chromatic Melody Harmonization
December 18, 2019 02:16PM
Here is the simplest purely tonal/functional chromatic scale harmonization I have arrived at. You can place the chromatic line in any voice... Soprano, Alto, Tenor, Bass. I end each example with a cadence.

chromatic scale harmonization


I realize this is years late. I just wanted to add my two cents considering I haven't found much information on this topic online. CPE Bach's chapter on improvisation in his Essay also gives many great examples of how to harmonize various scales in the bass. He includes a chromatic scale ascending and descending in both major and minor. It is worth studying.
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