The previous article focussed on the basic approach to writing harmonies, in this one we will look at some more progressive examples.
Below is a section from ‘Symphony of Destruction’ by Megadeth. The chorus riff is played once in unison and then repeated with a half time feel using a harmonised part a third above.
Bar 3 takes an interesting approach – guitar 1 is playing around the C power chord (CG) and guitar 2 is focusing on E (EB) and combined they make a CMaj7 chord.
Bar 4 is a small phrase which is harmonised in thirds. By not harmonising everything and introducing some variety it becomes less predictable.
In terms of articulation it is played as smoothly as possible, giving the impression of the harmony being warped and folded over itself as the notes descend chromatically, dragging it along the half time feel to create a contrast to the surrounding sections which have more momentum.
This is an extremely well written passage. Go Dave!
This is an example from Dream Theater’s ‘Metropolis Pt1’. Rhythmically the parts are pretty much the same but the motion is different. Instead of scale runs or playing up and down a triad, this is basically harmonised +9 chords. These can be viewed as one fifth on top of another. I think the intention here was to basically harmonise in thirds but the shapes of the top part have been altered to allow for easier fingering, although some of it is still quite a stretch. This produces some different intervals and adds more variety. Because the melody lines jump bigger gaps together it creates a sense of space that isn’t present in the Iron Maiden example.
Alternating between 6/8 and 7/8 also shifts it off centre in an interesting way. With John Petrucci’s razor like precision, the space between the notes and the gliding, dancing motion of the notes this creates a sort of high tech, futuristic sound.
Like many prog bands, Dream Theater only have one guitarist but also a keyboard player. Harmonies are often played between the two and usually at breakneck speeds!
In the next article we will look at some different methods of writing harmonies, different textures and how to sound more unique.