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GT Tips How do bands like Steely Dan, Wishbone Ash and Iron Maiden work out all those harmony guitar parts? Lesson by Dave Kilminster eve hat oads of 4 letters asking about 1 harmony guitar playing an 30, n this ‘special two part GT Tips feature, I attempt to answer all your queries ‘and hopefully provide you with some new coo!-sounding ideas as well For demonstration purposes, I've + The record for the most umber of harmony guitar parts on single song. has never been estabiishes Our bet is Queen's Brian May woula probably win though! ° So called to Aistinguish it trom the melodic and harmonic forms of the minor seale mn May: top dog erties written @ piece called “Skinny Wish’, which utilises all the most ‘commeoniy used harmony ideas found in ‘ands from Thin Lizzy to Racer ¥, from Wishbone Ash to Gacophony, Brian May to Steve Vai to ron Maiden to Steely Dan, For the intro I've used ideas: based on diatonic thirds tn harmony: the boys from Maiden ort au 54 © Guitar Techniques June 1998 TAs. ages Thirds mean that the harmony (guitar 2) is found two notes above the melody (guitar 2) ‘and diatonic means that you stick to the notes in a particular scale. This means that ‘sometimes you will have major 3rds and sometimes you will have minor 3rds ~ don't worry if you don’t understand this bit yet. Just trust me. The scale we are using is A natural minor (aka A Aeolian aka C major: Me 22 8 4 5 6 OW (e719) $0 if the melody starts on the note ©, the harmony above will start on the note E (ie ‘wo notes higher). The next note of the melody \s B, so the harmony note is D and ‘when the melogy goes to G, the harmony 00s to B, and 50 on. AAs an experiment, try working out a melody using any of the notes in A Aeolian, record it, and then work out the armory, It's a8 easy as painting by numbers! At the end of the intro, | decided to make ita litle more interesting by placing ‘an E mejor chord at the end. Now anyone who knows their harmonised C major scale oss giss gts alse of changing the whole scale for this one passing chord, it's far easier (and sounds nicer) if you Just change the relevant note in ‘the scale] Goi changing Gio’ Gv pres Us/Al hharmoni¢ minor (aka E Phrygian dominant) RB CLS DRE Res) OF A: 2G Sinai 18> 417) ABC eR BaP 108 Asean ee Bale S80, 0, for the last four bars, all the diatonic 3rds were derived from this new scale, ANCE Ce Dome. O will realise that E major is nat contained ‘making it sound a bit more exotic A Sata SN TB OAR therein. E major has a Gt int. But instead For the verse, | opted to use 4ths: > June 1998 Guitar Techniques © 55 ¥ GTCD crack 14 Ex 2 Verse - 4ths > tes aay ee 4 Am ‘And it's back to A Aeolian: harmony notes are G and A. This seemed to ‘work fine all the way through, except when |= A B C DE F G __ played the C as a melody note. The F q 2 2 13 4 5 16 47 harmony didn’t sound very pleasant, so 1 ‘changed it to an E instead. This is maybe A © DE F G rot theoretically correct, but it corresponds 2 2 (8 4 5 16 47 __ perfectly to my only rule in music ~ fi Sounds go0d, it /s good! This time the harmony is three notes higher, Men behaving harmoniously; the lovable tron 's0 when the melody plays D and E, the Maiden tortue a few intervals live on stage! 56 © Guitar Techniques June 1998 Ex 3 - Chorus 5ths ou 7 For the chorus, | chose Sths (see above) ‘Again, | wanted to put a ite harmonic twist in there, s0 the chorus alternates between ‘A Aeolian and Aeolian (two bars of each). To find the fifth harmony, you go up four notes so that when the melody is A, the harmony is E. To finish off the chorus, | wanted something @ little ‘off the wal’, sol used parallel flat five harmony for the last bar. The melody if you can call it that) is not based in any scale, but is really a pattern going aoross the strings so the easiest thing to do was to play the same shape, 7 only six frets higher. So, ifyou start on a C# (top E, 9th fret), the harmony would start on the G (top E, 15th fret Finally, we get to the ‘middle 8 which utilises 6ths: Clap ters a wy Bg Bisel nen 4-19 Ch D) Baro 8a Oh 22 Wa se Nn, June 1998, Guitar Techniques © 57 rs & GPCD wack 14 w wenaneeeww pst Oise oles —~-—, Hol time feet ae ee ghss ales oss _glss Pera : EE 210 — 58 © Guitar Techniques June 1998 We're back to the A Aeolian again. To play a diatonic 6th harmony, the note must be five higher than the melody. So ifthe melody starts on E, the harmony starts on C. 6ths sound very sweet and are used a jot in country music, so I thought that they would be a good choice fer our melodic breakciown, The middle 8 finishes with a monster lick taken from A harmonic minor; but this time, instead of the harmony guitar playing Aiatonic 3eds, it's playing parallel Srds. In ‘other words, it plays the same physical shape as the melody guitar, only three frets higher. When harmonisers were frst ‘introduced, all they could do was parallel harmonies (which, admittedly, sounded reat for certain things), Parallel harmonies are also great if you're in a recording studio at 4.00am and Cent be bothered to work out a diatonic harmony... or 0 I've been told, at any rate! ‘See you all next month for part two! & Gratuitous sax: ‘Steely Dan's Walter Becker ‘and Donald Fagan