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I wonder if guitars playing in harmony is as simple as this: Let's say you want to play a solo part in Am with the minor scale. If you would play the 3 notes on each of the 3 highest strings (G, B and e):

e|-------------5-7-8|
B|-------5-6-8------|
G|-4-5-7------------|

That would be: B C D E F G A B C

Now, let's say I want to play a 5th above that in harmony, would that mean that every note is just 5 notes above in the scale being used, so being: F G A B C D E F G. Resulting in such tab:

e|-------------------12-13-15|
B|----------12-13-15---------|
G|-10-12-14------------------|

Or could I just take the same patern as the original and move it up a few frets?

Additionally, I have a Digitech Whammy 5. If I choose to have a 4th above and enable the pedal, would that mean that it plays this solo part perfectly a 4th above, or does the pedal do something else?

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1 Answer 1

up vote 5 down vote accepted

It's nearly as simple as that. Nearly. But - harmony such as you illustrate here is made up from the notes of the scale, yes - but, everything does not move exactly parallel as I think you say. Let's take a 1-3-5, say in Cmaj. C-E (1-3) is a major third, which is 4 frets, and the 3-5 is a minor third, which is 3 frets. So the spacing is 4 frets then 3 frets. Move up to the second note of D. The chord made from this is usually Dmin. in key C. This is D-F-A, which has a different spacing from the C maj. chord. It's 3 frets, then 4 frets - the opposite way from the C maj.You'll notice that the 1st and 5th notes are spaced the same, at 7 frets, so they can go parallel.Until the last but one chord, where there's only 6 frets between the top and bottom note of the triad.Having said that, this chord is the least used in pop music - the m7b5.

This is why, if you just programmed a harmony unit to, say, thirds, it would be out of tune on half of them.It needs to be told which key you're playing in.Then it will compensate automatically.The clever ones that you plug your guitar into analyse the current chord, and sort out for you. For instance, in C, occasionally you'll use Dmaj. instead of Dm. On the earlier machines, they would still play an F, rather than the much needed F#.

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Thanks for the answer! One addition small question: If I were to create a solo in the key of Am that goes (randomized) C A B G G F A D. In theory to be in harmonic, I could just play any other solo over that with notes from the Am scale like for example (randomized) A F G D C C B A. Obviously, that wouldn't be a 5th above the whole time but kind of all mixed up together, but still in harmony? –  Valentin Grégoire May 2 at 14:28
3  
If I understand what you're saying, I don't think it would work very well. To sound acceptable in harmony, thirds (both maj. and min.) will sound good.4ths and 5ths often have a 'hard' sound to them on their own. 6ths sound good - they're upside down thirds, so why wouldn't they - but 2nds and 7ths are close and can sound like "has someone missed the right note by a couple of frets?". The bottom line,as ever, is 'If it sounds good it probably is!' Play it and listen. –  Tim May 2 at 14:54
    
Ok, thanks, I got it completely now! :) –  Valentin Grégoire May 2 at 14:55
    
@ValentinGrégoire - You mention the word 'harmonic'. Don't know if you meant 'harmony', but if you meant 'harmonic' with reference to harmonic minor, there's another little twist. The G note will now be G#, so that needs to be thought about as well ! –  Tim May 2 at 16:38
    
Tim, I didn't mean the harmonic scale but harmony. –  Valentin Grégoire May 2 at 16:46

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