Harmony and melody



Is it better to write the melody first, the harmony first, or both together? Every music writer faces this perennial question. As you might expect, there is no correct answer, some write the melody first, some the harmony, and the rest multitask. It is ultimately a matter of taste and personal choice as much as anything else.

This section summarises the ways in which melody and harmony interact and looks at some additional techniques for connecting the two together.

It starts with harmonisation, the process of adding chords to a melody, and summarises the main methods covered elsewhere in the guide before illustrating a practical example of reharmonisation, adding a new harmony to an old melody. Then follows arpeggio, the process of treating a chord as a melody. It ends by tackling the neglected field of melodisation, an invented word which is the opposite of harmonisation, and considers how to extract a melody from a harmony.