Results 1 to 10 of 10

Thread: Brilliant last verse harmonies formulas

  1. #1
    Lieutenant Commander, Concertmaster
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    109
    Post Thanks / Like

    Brilliant last verse harmonies formulas

    Hi all

    I'm after the rules and techniques, tips and guidelines and the musical formulas to changing the chordal structure within a hymn for the last verse.

    The kind of chords I'm looking to put in typically are such as the chord on the last "O" of "O come let us adore him" in Adeste Fideles.

    Are there any rules to these chords - ie do they tend to be the first note, a third interval and a sixth interval (or whatever?)

    can anyone advise me as I want to start playing some brilliant last verse harmonies and I don't know the harmonisation rules to be able to do so!

    thanks all
    Nicht Bach sondern Meer

  2. #2
    Midshipman, Forte
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Posts
    39
    Post Thanks / Like
    ...well, lots of choices.. you can try sketching out ALL of the common tone possibilities, for starters. I think the one you refer to is often played as a diminished seventh chord. Be careful, though that it's not so far afield that it confuses the melody (and the congregation) It's been my experience that often some of those really dense final verse harmonies often sound best when the organ registration (and acoustics) are also rather dense. Back to your question. Write out your melody, and below each melody note write out all chords that contain that note. Go ahead and use minor chords, major chords, diminished, augmented and seventh chords of all types. I know, many chords. You can then simply choose a path through them that sounds pleasing to your ears. It may or may not be a great "progression", but you'll learn alot about how chords follow each other. This doesn't include harmonizing a note by regarding it as a non-harmonic tone. (easy example: harmonizing a "D" with a C major chord, treating the D as an upper neighbor note) ... At this point, you'll have many decisions to make.
    You can also make an harmonic analysis of alternate verses you may have (there are several collections that have been out for years) and see which ones you like. At my church, the choir prefers if I stick to the hymnal harmonies...but I do add lots of passing tones and rhythmic variety, not to mention registration fun, so I still enjoy myself!

  3. #3
    Commodore con Forza Soubasse's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    It sure as hell ain't MY "lucky" country :(
    Posts
    739
    Post Thanks / Like
    The main thing I find that I have to concentrate on when re-harmonising final verses, is the same rule of thumb when writing it - weaker chords on weaker beats of the bar, same applies to transitory chords too (such as that very nice aforementioned dim 7th that Willcocks put near the end of Adeste Fideles).
    If it's a major key hymn and the original doesn't go to the relative minor at any time, then throwing in a modulation (via a diminished chord if possible) to go there is always a good port of call, and the same applies vice versa.
    I've always been partial to the major7 chord on the 4th degree as that can be a nice substitute to harmonise a 3rd degree melody note, but again, watch for whether it's on a weak or strong beat.
    Pedal points can be quite useful, particularly a sustained note on the dominant with a few shifting chords on top. Also, inversions can spice things up - another I'm personally fond of is introducing a flattened 7th beneath the tonic chord as a means of modulating to the sub-dominant key (1st inversion too, the flat 7 can fall to the 3rd of the sub-dominant chord).
    There are many more techniques and it all takes practice, don't be afraid to experiment.
    Music is made to transform the states of the soul, for an hour or an instant (J. Alain)

  4. #4
    Lieutenant Commander, Concertmaster
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    109
    Post Thanks / Like
    So apart from diminished 7th chords what else could you do?

    I'll do some research into the possibilities but what do people's favourites on here tend to be?

    Thanks everyone for your help - it is very much appreciated :-)
    Nicht Bach sondern Meer

  5. #5
    Lieutenant Commander, Concertmaster
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    109
    Post Thanks / Like
    Am just going through "Let all the world in every corner sing" - what suggestions would you have for "the" and "world" in the first few bars of the last verse?

    Cheers all - many thanks
    Nicht Bach sondern Meer

  6. #6
    Midshipman, Forte thirdcreed's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Oklahoma
    Posts
    34
    Post Thanks / Like
    If you are going to use a diminished 7th make sure at least one of the notes (most commonly the root) is a half step away from the next chord. So if the next chord were going to be an A, G#dim would be a common choice, Gdim would be a very stylistically incorrect choice. I think also, that Half Diminished chords are much more common in this style...so (G# B D F) is more common, and (G# B D Fb) is less common. If you are going to use fully diminished chords make sure they will lead to the half step above the root very strongly.

    Honestly, the best thing you can do is take some theory classes, or get a good textbook on harmony, I have several I can reccomend, but I'll have to wait till I go home. I'll look through them and reccomend something to you.

    One more comment on diminished chords, there made up entirely of minor thirds(If fully diminished. Minor thirds are too close together to be played down low, they'll turn to mud anywhere below the A at the bottom of the bass clef. For me (as a pianist) I always keep dense chords above middle C, certainly this is the the most standard way to use them, all though ultimately it's up to you and your ear.

    I'm not able to help you with this hymn, I don't know it. If you have the score scan it in, i'd love to help with some alternatives to the written part.
    Check out my fledgling ethnomusicology blog...leave a comment while you're at it. --> Such Harmony Is In Immortal Souls

  7. #7
    Lieutenant Commander, Concertmaster
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    109
    Post Thanks / Like
    I'll try and get a copy - its the Luckington version of the hymn though
    Nicht Bach sondern Meer

  8. #8
    Commodore con Forza Soubasse's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    It sure as hell ain't MY "lucky" country :(
    Posts
    739
    Post Thanks / Like
    This is where enharmonic equivalents can get annoying! I agree with this:
    Quote Originally Posted by thirdcreed View Post
    ...so (G# B D F) is more common,
    as it is of course a common and very useful chord for modulating, particularly in the manner you described. This however:
    and (G# B D Fb) is less common.
    is actually quite common when you consider that it's actually an E Dominant 7th 1st inversion chord, but with the E "mis-spelled" as F-flat!!

    If you are going to use a diminished 7th make sure at least one of the notes (most commonly the root) is a half step away from the next chord. <snip> make sure they will lead to the half step above the root very strongly.
    Sage advice. Typically, a Diminished 7th can be used as a substitute for a Dominant 7th when modulating, eg, in C major, you could go to the relative minor (a min) by preceding it with a dim 7th on G#. You could also modulate to the Dominant (G) by preceding it with a dim 7th on F#, always assuming that the melody line allows it. However, the root of the Dim7th chord does not always have to rise a semitone to the next chord, it can be equally effective falling as well.

    In the major key where the melody permits, I sometimes like to use a dim7th falling to a 2nd inversion tonic, then to a Perfect cadence, this has the effect of tricking the ear a bit, and not going quite where it's expected. Again, in C major, an example would be:
    G#-B-D-F --> G(nat)-C-E --> G-B-D (F) --> C-E-G

    All this talk of diminished7ths however is somewhat moot in relation to your query. Luckington is a grand tune, and of moderate length, so one suggestion is perhaps not to try changing every chord! The version I've sourced is in D so note names used refer to that key. The passage you've asked about can't effectively use a Diminshed 7th because of the way the melody skips up the tonic chord. On "the" and "world" it's A and D respectively which plainly suggests a Perfect cadence. Even if you wanted to go to the relative minor (b min) on "world", you couldn't precede it with a diminshed 7th chord because of the A-natural in the melody.

    The first attached graphic is the first thing I tried on that phrase, it's by no means definitive, but capable of spicing things up a little (you'll notice that traditional voice-leading always goes out the window with this sort of stuff!). It's an example of what I mentioned before about a diminished chord falling rather than rising, but in this case, to actually get a dim chord there mean't flattening the 7th of the key.

    And just for a bit of fun, the second graphic has a mildly out-there suggestion for the final phrase (showing my fondness for the flattened 6th!)

    Honestly, the best thing you can do is take some theory classes, or get a good textbook on harmony
    Again, very wise words. The nearest in my bookshelf at work tend to be Walter Piston and Annie Warburton's respective Harmony books, but there are plenty of other good books out there. Read through exercises, and thoroughly analyse them to see how and why these things work.

    Good luck!
    Music is made to transform the states of the soul, for an hour or an instant (J. Alain)

  9. #9
    Lieutenant Commander, Concertmaster
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Posts
    109
    Post Thanks / Like
    thats brilliant! thanks Soubasse!
    Nicht Bach sondern Meer

  10. #10
    Midshipman, Forte thirdcreed's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Oklahoma
    Posts
    34
    Post Thanks / Like
    Great post Soubasse!

    I went home and found my harmony text book from college, it's by Ralph Turek. I'll keep digging though, I have some easier ones, i've collected since then.

    I totally messed up what I was talking about earlier, with the dim7. A G#fully diminished would be G# B D F, and a half-diminished would be G# B D F#. I write these things in between classes and I'm often in a hurry. A fully diminished G#dim is also enharmonically equivalent to Bdim7 Ddim7 and F#dim7 each of which's roots can function as a new ti for a new key. I would also correct myself and say that I don't know that either the half-diminished or the fully diminished is a more stylistically appropriate choice. Like Soubasse said I don't think this is being all that helpful, but I felt stupid when I re-read my post.
    Last edited by thirdcreed; Jan-12-2011 at 19:59.
    Check out my fledgling ethnomusicology blog...leave a comment while you're at it. --> Such Harmony Is In Immortal Souls

Similar Threads

  1. Last verse harmonies for Christmas Hymns
    By Bach>Meer in forum Pipe Organ Forum
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: Nov-18-2010, 14:41
  2. Brahms - Opera Omnia (60 CDs), Brilliant Classics.
    By bwv1080 in forum Classical Music Forum
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: Feb-27-2009, 20:16

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •