#1January 26th, 2010 · 04:26 PM
102 threads / 59 songs
204 posts
Lesson 12: Arranging Exercise

So we talked a little bit about arranging but I think it might be good to do a quick exercise to reinforce some of those ideas because they are particularly important to the sort of music theory we are trying to build. The first exercise is going to be to write a chord progression given a melody. To keep things simple let's consider the melody Marry Had a Little Lamb, each note is a quarter in length, except the final C which is a whole note. Each measure contains 4 quarter notes (the -'s are quarter rests). In C major the melody is:

| E D C D | E E E - | D D D - | E G G - |

| E D C D | E E E E | D D E D | C |

There is no right answer but there are answers that are more right than others and ones that are more interesting.

Here's a hint: At the lowest level, our goal is to match each note with a chord that contains that note so that every note sounds consonant with its harmony. Better and more interesting harmony is all about contrasting dissonance and consonance. The first and third notes of each measure are downbeats, because of the way the rhythm is punctuated, these notes will sound louder so it's best to avoid having dissonance occur on a downbeat, however the second and fourth notes are upbeats and we will consider them passing notes. Here dissonance can make for more interesting harmony and if we can resolve the dissonance and move smoothly to a consonant interval for the downbeat we will have created more interesting harmony. But remember these are only guidelines, play your solution and see how it sounds and decide yourself if you are satisfied with it.

Try and give a few solutions and we'll take a look at them and discuss what works, what doesn't, and why. Good luck.
#2February 3rd, 2011 · 07:56 PM
4 posts
United States of America


There's a lot of possibilities, but this might be the most common. Cadd9 also works as just C.
#3April 16th, 2011 · 07:19 PM
5 threads
24 posts
United Kingdom
I wanted to try something a little more extreme, so firstly...

By treating it as Dm, you can run most of it over a Vv V, then resolve to Am at the end....
E7♭6 | A7 | E7 | A7
E7♭6 | A7 | E7 | Am
(To loop it, try an F7 on the last beat of the Am bar.)

Alternatively, keep to the relative minor, and try a bit of flamenco
Am G F E7 | Am ... | E7 ... | C. G.
Am G F E7 | Am ... | Dm .E7. | Am ...

I guess I'm just trying to illustrate what you said about "no right answer".
#4April 25th, 2011 · 03:17 AM
1 posts
United States of America
C/A7/Dm G/C


Am/A7/Dm G/C
#5July 13th, 2012 · 09:47 PM
1 posts
United States of America
Hey, I'm new and thought I'd take a stab. Using altered chords, extensions and prolongation. (Analysis provided) I've composed a track to it as well, but may upload it later.
EbMaj9-AbMaj9-Gm7-C7b9 (I-IV-iii-VI)

Fm9-Bb7b9-EbMaj7-C7#5b9/E-Fm9-Bb13b9b11 (ii-V-I-VI-ii-V)

EbMaj9-D7b9-Bbm6/Db-C7b9 (I-VII-v-VI)

BMaj7-Abm6/B-Bb9sus-Bb13b9-Bb7b9-Eb(add9) (bVI-iv-V ... I)

Bb7#5b9 (V)

EbMaj9-Eb7-Fm7-E7b9-Eb-EbMaj7-C9sus-C7b9  (I ... ii-bII-I ...VI ...)

Fm7/B-Bb13b9b11-Bb7b9-Gm7-Gb9-Fm9-E9sus (ii-V ... iii-bIII-ii-bII)

EbMaj9-Edim7-Fm9-E9/Bb-EbMaj9 Gm7-Db9-C9sus-C7b9 (I-bii-ii-bII-I-iii-bVII-VI ...)

F13sus-F9#5-Bb9sus-Bb13b9b11-Bb7b9-Abm9-Bb7susb9-Eb(add9) (II ... V ... iv-V-I)
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