Pop Music Theory


34: Melody: Chord Tones

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Lesson 34: Melody: Chord Tones

This lesson introduces the art of creating melodies. Before you take this lesson, you should know:
To learn about creating your own melodies, we start by studying melodies in existing songs; this is called melodic analysis. Melodic analysis is a big subject, exploring the many different aspects of melodies, for example (these are covered in separate lessons):
For this lesson, let's start analyzing how individual notes in a melody relate to the song's chord progression and to each other. We can divide a melody's notes into:
  • "Anchor notes" (chord tones): More about these below.
  • Embellishing notes: These are relatively "weak" notes which "fill in" between the anchor notes. We'll explore these another time.

Anchor notes. These are the "strong" notes in a melody which sound good "on their own" with the chord that's playing at that moment, generally because they are chord tones. A chord tone is just a tone which can be found in the chord itself. For example:
  1. Let's say the chord playing at a certain moment is C (a "C major triad").
  2. The notes in a C chord are (as I hope you know): C, E, and G.
  3. Therefore, the notes C, E, and G are chord tones at that moment in the song; and you can use any of those notes in your melody at that moment, with confidence that the note will sound good with the chord.

When you understand chord tones, go on to Major Pentatonics, which you'll need for embellishing tones.

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1: Introduction
2: Teaching Yourself
3: Pitch & Keyboard
4: Pitch Names
5: Letters Game
6: Sharps & Flats
7: Half-Steps
8: Whole-Steps
9: Steps Game
10: Scales
11: Major Scale 1-2-3
12: Major 1-2-3 Games
13: Major Scale 1-5
14: Major 1-5 Games
15: Chords: Major Triads
16: Major Triad Games
17: Minor Triads
18: Minor Triad Games
19: Major Scale 1-8
20: Major Scale Games
21: Scales Above 8
22: What Next
23: Keys
24: Roman Numeral Chords
25: Diatonic Triads
26: Using Diatonics
27: Tonic Function
28: Subdominant & Dominant
29: Diatonic Function Analysis
30: 7th Chords
31: 7ths Games
32: Treble Staff
33: Treble Staff Game
34: Melody: Chord Tones
35: Pitch & Frequency

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