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Harmonization of the Common Scales

by Dan Palladino

All chords are derived from scales. This article is based on the four common scales in western music (Major, Natural Minor, Harmonic Minor and Melodic Minor). If scale and chord theory is new for you, take a look at the Common Chord Formula Chart. Having a working knowledge of where chords originate, and how they function, is very important if you are a songwriter, composer or improviser.

The following section focuses on triads only (3-note chords). See the link below for the section that addresses seventh chords (4-note chords). Since this is a very broad topic, new articles, illustrating the use of these chords, will be added frequently. For now, try to play these chords on piano or guitar and familiarize yourself with their sounds.

Key: "-" denotes minor

The Major scale contains the degrees 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 (C, D, E, F, G, A, B in the key of C).
Harmonization of the major scale

The Natural Minor scale contains the degrees 1, 2, b3, 4, 5, b6, b7 (C, D, Eb, F, G, Ab, Bb in the key of C minor).
Harmonization of the natural minor scale

The Harmonic Minor scale contains the degrees 1, 2, b3, 4, 5, b6, 7 (C, D, Eb, F, G, Ab, B in the key of C minor). Note the raised seventh degree. Harmonization of the harmonic minor scale

The Melodic Minor scale contains the degrees 1, 2, b3, 4, 5, 6, 7 (C, D, Eb, F, G, A, B in the key of C minor). Note the raised sixth and seventh degrees. You can think of the Melodic Minor scale as a Major Scale with a "flat 3".
Harmonization of the melodic minor scale

Seventh Chord Harmonizations


© 2003 Dan Palladino
Reproduction is prohibited without prior written permission.
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