Practice harmonizing the above hymn tune "Anamnese" in 4 parts this way:
1. Place the tune in the soprano and supply missing 2 middle parts
2. Use 3 note chords (tonic, subdominant, dominant etc. and their inversions)
3. Dominant seventh chord works well for the ending of the phrase.
4. End phrases in F minor, Ab major, Bb minor, and Ab major.
5. Make sure you avoid parallel fifths and octaves by moving the upper 3 parts in opposite direction than the bass
Take a slow tempo, aim for a smooth legato touch and 3 correct repetitions in a row. Here's the MIDI file of soprano and bass parts for listening.
Post time and the number of repetitions to comments and share a photo of yourself practicing this exercise.
[HT to Pierre]
A few days ago I opened my hymnal that I usually use for practice and started playing the hymn "Not All the Blood of Beasts" - one of the hymns for Lent. It has a beautiful melody in minor mode and a rather nice harmonization containing simple three-note chords and their inversions with occasional four-note chords.
But I found myself wondering if a harmonization could be more colorful. I wanted to use more advanced four-note chords and create more interesting modulations, at least temporary tonicizations to related keys.
It wasn't very difficult to do. Of course, I had to know these chords and the basics of harmonizing hymns with modulations and the key signatures of other keys. And yes, I recorded a video describing this process so that you could do the same. Enjoy!
Are you tired of always playing your hymns from your hymnal as written in four parts? If so, you could always re-harmonize your hymns. Let me show you how it can be done.
Since we are in the season of Lent right now, I will create a different harmonization of the hymn tune "Sweet the Moments Rich in Blessing".
This video will have 3 steps:
1. I will first play the hymn tune with the right hand.
2. Then I will play the harmonization exactly as written in the hymnal.
3. Finally, I will create an alternate harmonization. In this step I will explain what kind of chords I'm using and what kind of modulations I'm creating.
Learning to harmonize your favorite hymns can be very handy so try this technique with the hymn tune of your choice. I'm sure you and your listeners will be delighted with the new and colorful ways you play your hymns.
Launching today: my new Hymn Harmonization Workshop. It's for people interested in learning to harmonize hymns and chorals in four parts. Check it out if you want to develop a skill in playing your hymns without hymnal harmonizations spontaneously.
This course will greatly enhance your service playing because you can then provide alternate harmonizations. Besides, hymn harmonization is one of the first steps in learning organ improvisation.
It took me many years of struggle to learn to harmonize hymns and chorales on the spot. You can be smarter - you have this course.
Bach had an interesting approach in teaching his students harmonization. His students had to begin with pure four-part continuo realizations.
From there he taught them harmonizing the chorales. But not supplying the three lower parts, as usual. Instead he wrote the bass for them and they only had to supply the alto and the tenor.
It makes sense. When the bass is given, the process is already half finished. All the students had to do was to see what kind of harmony did the bass notes imply and from there to add the two missing parts.
Finally, he asked them to create the bass themselves. This means they were ready to supply the choral tune with the three lower parts.
Apparently Bach even often composed in this order. In his autograph of the Orgelbuchlein chorales preludes, often the bass notes are more prominent. The alto and the tenor appear to be squeezed in later on.
Do you see what it means? It means that Bach already had a piece finished in his mind when he created the bass line.
Try supplying the alto and the tenor parts for this chorale and you will find out how much easier it is to work in this order as opposed to creating all three lower parts right from the beginning.
Since a few of my students asked me to explain in detail the concept of modulation, today I'm going to share with you a plan for modulating from C major to D minor. Because the note D is the 2nd scale degree in C major, the D minor key could be called the key of the 2nd scale degree in relationship with C major.
In order for this modulation to be easy to understand, I will use the chords in the treble clef only. This modulation will have 4 steps:
1. Establishment of the 1st key
2. A common chord
3. A modulating chord
4. Establishment of the 2nd key with the cadence.
As you can see in the above picture, we can establish C major with a few basic chords (T, S and D). Here I chose the tonic chord, subdominant 2nd inversion chord which resolves to the tonic and the dominant 1st inversion chord which resolves to the tonic.
This tonic chord is a common chord for both C major and D minor - in D minor it's called the chord of the 7th scale degree or the Subdominant of the Subdominant (SS).
Then comes the modulating chord. This usually should be the chord which has a new accidental of the D minor key (either Bb or C# - 7th raised scale degree). It is best to use a dissonant four-note chord for this purpose. I chose II34 chord (that's a 2nd inversion of the seventh-chord of the 2nd scale degree.
The last step is to form a cadence in the new key - that's why you can see tonic 2nd inversion and D7 which resolves to the new tonic.
Try to play this exercise on your instrument. If you know how to do it, you can use four-part texture (SATB) with or without the pedals for the bass line placing the tenor part in the left hand. After this modulation becomes easy, transpose it to G major, F major, D major and Bb major.
A few organists asked me to demonstrate how I would harmonize a scale. So today I would like to share with you how you can do it using simple three-note chords. Mostly they are root position chords but in one instance you will need a first inversion chord as well.
If you want to master scale harmonization, transpose this exercise to every major and minor key (on paper or at the instrument). The starting point is here in closed position, but it's possible to begin the soprano one octave higher in open position (chords C-G-E-C and A-E-C-A).
Knowledge and mastery of harmony is very important to every organist. Therefore I teach these and many other concepts in great detail in my Harmony for Organists Level 1 course.
Today I have finished creating a Gradual for the Organ Mass for 30th Sunday. In a couple of weeks I will be performing the entire cycle of 11 pieces for the 19th century organ re-dedication recital in the church from the 18th century in Mosedis (Northern Lithuania). Incidentally, this place is famous for its museum of stones.
This Gradual is based on the opening of the modified Gregorian chant melody "Unam petii a Domino". I thought I would share with you the beginning of this piece because it works perfectly as a harmonization exercise.
So in the above picture you can see this melody of 8 measures. Try to harmonize it with 4 part harmony observing the rules of voice leading and avoiding parallel fifths, octaves, and movement of all parts in the same direction.
I have harmonized this melody using root position, first and second inversion chords as well as the D7 chord at the end. Below each chord I have written the chord symbols so that you will see exactly what kind of chord I used for each instance.
See if you can create a different harmonization than I did (there are dozens of ways to do this).
Here is the PDF file for printing and the MIDI file for listening.
The melody for today's harmonization exercise is written using the question-answer method. Below it I have created my harmonization in 4 parts (SATB) which you can take as one possible model.
Try to harmonize this exercise in 4 parts on paper. You can perfectly get away without using tonicization to C major in measure 6 or writing advanced 7th chords and their inversions (measures 5 and 7).
The only real rule here is to avoid parallel 5ths and 8ves. The rest is optional. After you have completed the exercise, play it on your instrument to see if you like it and how it can be improved.
Here is the PDF file for printing and the MIDI file for listening.
Here comes another of my harmonization exercises. This one is in Bb major.
Under the notes you can see the names of the chords being used. At the bottom of the exercise I put the Bb major scale with scale degree numbers and the notes of the T, S, and D chords for your convenience.
Here is the PDF file for printing.
OPTIONAL: If you want, you can transpose this exercise to C major and D major.
Don't forget to play it on your instrument.
Enjoy it but most importanly, I hope you will do something with it.
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Drs. Vidas Pinkevicius and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene
Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
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