Adding Harmony To Melody On The Piano

Lisa Witt  /  Chord Theory  /  UPDATED Jan 10, 2023

Learning to harmonize your melodies will open up a whole new world of texture and color to your songs. Harmonizing will not only make you sound like a pro, but it will also help you to gain a deeper understanding of chord structures and how they work. When you harmonize you are improvising, utilizing music theory, and training your ear!

Download This Lesson’s Lead Sheet >>

Finding the right notes

To add harmony you need to be able to know what other tones will compliment the notes you are already playing. This can be complex but it doesn’t have to be! In this lesson, I show you exactly how to find the harmony notes using chord names as your guide!

The four most important points

In the lesson, I use “House Of The Rising Sun” as an example but you will be able to apply these concepts to anything you play from covers to original compositions. Here are the most important points from the lesson:

  1. Harmonies can be selected from the notes of the chord you are playing. Using a chord chart or lead sheet makes this easy!
  2. The highest tone played is the one that is most noticed by the listener so build your harmonies BELOW the melody line.
  3. What this really comes down to is chord inversions. If you can learn how to build a chord below your melody note, you will be able to harmonize very quickly.
  4. You don’t need to harmonize every note! Less is often more.

Once you see how this all works (watch the lesson!) you will be amazed by the simplicity of it all.

Have fun!

Lisa Witt has been teaching piano for more than 20 years and in that time has helped hundreds of students learn to play the songs they love. Lisa received classical piano training through the Royal Conservatory of Music, but she has since embraced popular music and playing by ear in order to accompany herself and others. Learn more about Lisa.

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