Hello and thank you for your time! My knowledge in music theory is limited, so excuse me. I don't know where to look for the answer.

The goal is simple: harmonize a upper melody with chords stacked below the melody so that it sounds like big band brass hits. I heard in a YouTube video to stack thirds below the melody to achieve that jazz brass sound.

But the problem is that such a generated chord below the Cantus firmus results in a chord with a different root than the note that is actually to be harmonized.

Or is the simplest way just to put inverted seventh chords below the melody line?

1 Answer 1


First harmonise the melody. Decide what chord goes with each melody note. Then stack notes below the melody using the notes of THAT chord.

Big Band style will, indeed, probably use a lot of 7th, 9th and 13th chords, secondary dominants and the like. And a tonic function chord may well be spiced up with an added 9th (2nd), 6th or major 7th.

  • Another common adage for brass soli: in a maj7 chord, don't let the melody (top) note make a minor second interval with the note below it. Rather, make that maj7 into a 6 chord instead!
    – user45266
    Commented Jul 25, 2021 at 3:23

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.