Lets say you have a bunch of chords you play a melody over. If the melody notes are a part of the underlying chord it sounds more consonant.

But if the melody notes over the chord, are not a part of the chord, they essentially change the harmony (add extensions).

Lets say we have a G minor chord, and the melody note A occurs, it basicly changes the chord to Gmadd9, even if it's for a brief second.

Is this a valid way of viewing things? Or am I over analysing?

1 Answer 1


They're often passing notes, and as such, don't really change the basic underlying harmony. If that was the case, a bar may contain not just a simple chord, but several chords with extensions, or even different chords. Yes, it could be portrayed that way, but what are the benefits? By just playing the extensions, those 'new chords' are being recognised, but are usually so ephemeral that it's not worth mentioning in the chord written in that bar. An Am9 chord still is basically an Am chord, but then is it Am add9 or Am7 with a 9th extension?

Look at 'Laura'. Most of the chords are just triads, but the tune is around the 9th of the chord a lot of the time. The chords don't reflect this.

An interesting idea, but unwieldy in operation. It's a valid way to look at things, but important academically rather than practically.

  • They are not always passing notes - a passing note needs to go somewhere. I've seen songs where a particular melody figure is repeated (without change) over a sequence of chords. On some chords the melody 'fits' and on others it doesn't - e.g. a repeated E melody over the sequence C, G/B, Am. It seems common in songs where the melody and chords are only loosely coupled.
    – Ian Goldby
    Nov 26, 2018 at 13:30
  • @Ian Goldby - your example of the repeated E would be classified as a pedal point and therefore often classified as a non-chord tone in the underlying harmony (analysis).
    – Dekkadeci
    Nov 26, 2018 at 15:27
  • The OP may be thinking in terms of homophonic harmony. The exact replication of the rhythm often leads one to this conclusion, each note defines a new chord. But this is false, or at lease unnecessary as you have pointed out.
    – user50691
    Nov 26, 2018 at 15:58
  • @Dekkadeci My example was intentionally simplistic. Another example would be the three notes E, D, C repeated over each chord. I honestly don't know if this changes the analysis or if that is still classified as a pedal point. (Does a pedal point have to be a single pitch?)
    – Ian Goldby
    Nov 26, 2018 at 16:02
  • @Dekkadeci - would a repeated note in the melody, on top, be classed as a pedal point?
    – Tim
    Nov 26, 2018 at 16:03

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