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Harmonizing the riff/ostinato with rest of the song

Chords, scales, harmony, melody, etc.

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niels85
KVRer
 
23 posts since 17 Oct, 2012

Postby niels85; Fri Feb 08, 2013 1:37 am Harmonizing the riff/ostinato with rest of the song

Hi everyone,

I understand the relationship between chords, melody and bass.
However not the ostinato/riff within these parts. Because the riff plays on and on the same notes, same rhythm but the other parts change every bar.

Say I have a chord prog, like A minor i - iv - V.
I have a bassline following the chord by root and a jumpy melody following the chords.

Which notes should I use for the riff part? How do decide which work because they are played over the chords, bass who both change from I --> IV vice versa.
So you get note clashes on for example the strong notes. A C E, A in the bass. Melody plays the A also octave up.

Which note do you choose for the riff? Or you simply play along the scale of A minor, using the tonic/dominant axis and steps and leaps? So saying as long it's in the scale, it's ok no matter which chord plays or which bass note strikes?

Classic Example:

Larry Heard Can You Feel It;

Bass in riff style.
Chords
Melody
Vocals
Higher riff playing



So the question is, how to get this all together? Hope you guys can help, because it slowes me in my composition.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8dEee7IDuhw
niels85
KVRer
 
23 posts since 17 Oct, 2012

Postby niels85; Mon Feb 18, 2013 4:59 am

I have edited the question. It's more generic now. So if anyone can help, that would be great!
tapper mike
KVRAF
 
3669 posts since 19 Jan, 2008

Postby tapper mike; Mon Feb 18, 2013 5:50 am

In rock they often modulate and harmonize to the 5th above In jazz you can modulate but usually they will harmonize 3rd 6th then root note above those. or Ray Charles minor third.

Contrary your belief all the parts shouldn't be running at the same time throughout. Only select area's. Thats' where arrangment starts to make sense. When to add parts and when to remove others.
jancivil
KVRAF
 
9700 posts since 20 Oct, 2007

Postby jancivil; Mon Feb 18, 2013 7:17 am

You have some notions which don't really apply here. You've read some theory and you feel you 'understand' the relationship between 'chords', 'melody' and 'bass' but your question belies that statement.

in that track, there is a very minimal ostinato. it doesn't amount to more, really than what we call a 'pedal', it is totally sticking to the tonic. What is there: root, fifth? The chord changes all concord with it; what clashes?

You appear to be trying to write music without ever having been involved with this as a player. It's a great bafflement isn't it.

"as long it's in the scale, it's ok no matter which chord plays or which bass note strikes"
If this were true, any idiot can, without thought or more knowledge than that, come up with music that works, right? No, there are a whole lot of things 'in the scale' that might be crap, depending on what else happens.

The thing to do before you start trying to glom music theory lingo onto this is find out what the bass ostinato is, and learn the actual chords and make some observations. You don't need to know book theory, in fact a lot of it isn't going to apply. 'the tonic/dominant axis', what is that? This takes some chords that happen in 'natural minor' IF THAT, minor pentatonic, and they concord with a bass vamp that's totally static.

"Which note do you choose for the riff?" If you don't have an idea, what are you trying to do here? At this stage you copy what you like until things gell a bit more, you aren't going to know from reading people's typing on the 'net. I don't have time to see if this changes any, I doubt it... limit yourself to minor pentatonic and forget about theory of harmony for this, this is very basic.
jancivil
KVRAF
 
9700 posts since 20 Oct, 2007

Postby jancivil; Mon Feb 18, 2013 7:24 am

tapper mike wrote:Contrary your belief all the parts shouldn't be running at the same time throughout.
in his example there is an ostinato in the bass that runs throughout.
niels85
KVRer
 
23 posts since 17 Oct, 2012

Postby niels85; Tue Feb 19, 2013 12:43 am

Thanks for taking the the time to elaborate on my question jancivil.

jancivil wrote:You have some notions which don't really apply here. You've read some theory and you feel you 'understand' the relationship between 'chords', 'melody' and 'bass' but your question belies that statement.


I've been studying about harmony for a while now, I've read about bass and chords, chords itself and how melodies intertwines between these elements. I'm not saying I'm done, I just know some of the basics.
The ostinato/riff however is something completely different for me in this regard. It's an independent still anchored flow of notes which I did not learn anything about. Therefore my question.

jancivil wrote:in that track, there is a very minimal ostinato. it doesn't amount to more, really than what we call a 'pedal', it is totally sticking to the tonic. What is there: root, fifth? The chord changes all concord with it; what clashes?


The bass is root, fifth and root octave up.
jancivil wrote:You appear to be trying to write music without ever having been involved with this as a player. It's a great bafflement isn't it.


Well it sure is :) I got into music making at a later age than most do, learning piano/guitar at their 5th with the classical music theory that comes with it. I'm not that kind of guy. I've taken up some piano lessons in the past which helped me, but theory is a thing I have been into since a while. But as long as I'm working hard for it, I'm gonna master it. I will not be the greatest player, but I at least I know what I'm doing and how I can express myself.[/quote]

jancivil wrote:"as long it's in the scale, it's ok no matter which chord plays or which bass note strikes"
If this were true, any idiot can, without thought or more knowledge than that, come up with music that works, right? No, there are a whole lot of things 'in the scale' that might be crap, depending on what else happens.


Of course, I know that. I was just wondering, it was a question not a statement.

jancivil wrote:The thing to do before you start trying to glom music theory lingo onto this is find out what the bass ostinato is, and learn the actual chords and make some observations. You don't need to know book theory, in fact a lot of it isn't going to apply. 'the tonic/dominant axis', what is that? This takes some chords that happen in 'natural minor' IF THAT, minor pentatonic, and they concord with a bass vamp that's totally static.


The key is in A Minor. The bass A, E, A (octave), the chords are
A min9 2nd inversion
F Maj 7
E Min7
i - VI - v progression.

My observations are that the third is left out in the bass ostinato because the 3rd colors the chords and gives it its minor/major feel. So for a more neutral bass, it uses the fifth and root. (I guess).

The ostinato melody playing later in the track is E - A - B. My conclusion for this is that all the notes played are in all of the 3 chords.

However, why did he choose E - A - B? In that order? And that's why I was wondering about the tonic/dominant note role. (E-A-B is v-i-ii).
I have learned that in melody notes wander off from home (--> dominant) and go back home (--> root) and that the notes jump around that axis in steps or leaps.
jancivil wrote:"Which note do you choose for the riff?" If you don't have an idea, what are you trying to do here?


What I'm trying to here is to figure out how music works and why we choose the notes at a certain time when a harmonic framework has been laid out like this.

jancivil wrote:At this stage you copy what you like until things gell a bit more, you aren't going to know from reading people's typing on the 'net. I don't have time to see if this changes any, I doubt it... limit yourself to minor pentatonic and forget about theory of harmony for this, this is very basic.


There is no copying, there is the reasoning/theory and the ear which enables me to write music. This is inspiration for me and I will learn from it. There are no limits for me.

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