How To Harmonize On Guitar [Harmonize In Thirds]

How To Harmonize On Guitar
[Harmonize In Thirds]

If you've ever listened to Metallica, Judas Priest or Iron Maiden or any band featuring 2 guitar players for that matter, chances are you've come across guitar harmonies before.

A well-known example of guitar harmonies can be found in the outro solo section of "Hotel California".

But that's not all, harmonies are present in various aspects of music, including vocal arrangements, as showcased in many Queen songs.

Harmonies are a powerful tool in music, they add depth, and richness to your compositions, opening up opportunities for creative expression.

So what are harmonies, and how can they be employed to enhance one's musical vocabulary?

Harmony Vs Melody.

Harmony and melody are two fundamental elements in music. Melody refers to playing single notes in succession. However, harmony involves playing two or more notes simultaneously to produce a pleasing and coordinated sound.

Check out min @1:58 for a quick comparison.

So when you're playing a chord, you're harmonizing! That's because you have 2 or more notes ringing at the same time.

For the sake of today's lesson we're going to harmonize the major scale, in the Key of G.

Check out min @1:21 for a quick refresher.

Harmonize By Counting The Thirds

There are multiple ways to harmonize a scale, you can harmonize using intervals of thirds, fifths and many more, but for this lesson we'll stick to harmonizing in thirds.

Let's suppose we have a G note for example, and we want to harmonize it in intervals of thirds.

Meaning you want to play:
-The G note.
-The note that is a third up (or down more on that later)
-But it can't be any third, it needs to be a diatonic third. (a third that's within the scale)

A third up from ''G'' would give us B

A third up from "A" would give us C

Note: Stick till the end for a fretboard visualization deep dive on intervals

Now that we've found our corresponding thirds, we need to play both notes together to create a harmony.
Check out min @3:14 for a quick demonstration.

Now if you want to harmonize a third down, it's the same thing:
-Play the initial note (G)
-Play the note that is a third down (E)

(or put simply the third down is 2 notes down the same scale)

Then play both notes together to create the harmony.
Check out min @3:45 for a quick demonstration.

And that's how you can harmonize in thirds on the same scale, allowing you to play both harmony and melody at the same time by yourself (on one guitar).

Now if all that isn't making sense, here's an easy step by step guide to start harmonizing straight away.

Harmonizing Made Easy.

The easiest way to start harmonizing, is to skip the middle man.

Follow these steps:
-Play the initial note (G)
-Skip the next note in the scale (A)
-Playing the third upcoming note from the scale (B)

(or put simply the third up = 2 notes up the same scale)

Here's how to do it on the G major standard shape
Check out min @5:10 for a quick demonstration.

And if you want to Harmonize a third down, you can follow the same steps.

For the G note:
-Play the initial note (G)
-Skip the next note in the scale (F#)
-Play the third upcoming note from the scale (E)

Same thing for the A note:
-Play the initial note (A)
-Skip the next note in the scale (G)
-Play the third upcoming note from the scale (F#)
Now play both notes together, creating a beautiful harmony in thirds.

Harmonize Using Modes.

Now if you know your modes, here's a simple technique to instantly create harmonies for any melody. Mastering this approach can be extremely useful in impromptu jam sessions, live performances, or when recording multiple guitar parts.

It allows you to quickly create harmonies that complement the melody and add depth to the overall musical arrangement.

All you have to do is move your melody 2 modes up on the same string and repeat the same sequence.

So in this example, we're playing our main melody on the G major scale:
-I move 2 modes up landing on the Phrygian scale.
-Replicate the same motif on the same string.

Check out min @6:18 for a demonstration.

Now if you want to harmonize a third down I do the same thing but going 2 modes down so in our case on the E minor scale.

Check out min @6:47 for a demonstration.

Here's how to visualize your third intervals all aver the guitar fretboard:

1- Visualizing third intervals on the same string:

2- Visualizing third intervals on different strings:

Disclaimer: Make sure to make up for the difference in tuning if you try to harmonize your melody on the G and B strings.

Check out min @8:10 for a demonstration.

Final Words

In conclusion, harmonies are a powerful tool in music that can add depth and richness to your compositions. By harmonizing, you create a pleasing and coordinated sound by playing two or more notes simultaneously.

Adding this to your musical toolbox will help make your melodies stand out, weather harmonizing a melody by yourself on one guitar, or moving the melody up or down two modes in your next jam session.

Do you want to be able to create beautiful solos and melodies. Do you feel stuck and want an extra hand to help you breakthrough your current limits?

Then you need to check out our premium guitar training program "guitar elevation'', it might be just the thing you've been missing!

Author: Jack Haddad
Jack Haddad is an expert Guitar educator and teacher and has been helping guitarists, through his innovative methods, get incredible results on the guitar, whether they want to jam with friends or rock out on the big stage.

You can find out more about Jack Haddad's teaching here:
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