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The Harmony Wheel, quite simply, is an holistic overview
of music theory in one, user friendly format. The front remaining constant,
the 2nd, or rear wheel being moveable and for purposes of this explanation,
referred to as the "Modes of Operations Wheel". The purpose of
the interaction of these two wheels, quite simply stated is to illustrate
the intrinsic and exacting laws governing musical harmony theory, and demonstrating
to all who use it, that BELIEVE IT OR NOTmusic theory is quite a bit easier
to understand than many of you realize. The reasons why this is so and can
even be put into a format such as the Harmony Wheel, is simply as follows:
ALL MUSIC, regardless of style, follows definite theory rules of thumb that
for the most part replicate over and over and when broken down, analyzed
and committed to memory, become not the terrifying ugly sinister stepbrother
of quantum physics, or the torturous Algebra class you flunked last year,
but on the contrary, it is your best friend and roadmap/compass that can
guide you to a clear, concise, and frankly, amazing insight into the mechanics
of music theory, that those that have used it, with even a minimal understanding
of how it works, have been amazed at its ability to clarify so many tenets
of music theory in such a fast, effective fashion. This is not a scam, an
unneeded, or poorly written book, there are no promises that it will give
you perfect pitch in 10 days or"your money back" .
What it does offer, is a schematic, so to speak, of how
all music is structured, the relationships all notes have to each other,
and how all of that wonderment you hear as MUSIC, whatever it is you love
and feel so impassioned to create, and whatever style you love, well, it
ALL comes from the same place. In that regard, the Harmony Wheel is both
universal and eclectic. And, as we are sure you will agree, after incorporating
it into your musical studiesA little bit of Musical Theory goes a long way!
In fact, we guarantee it!! So! Let's get started. Journey with us into the
realms of Harmony
The Harmony Wheel can make good with its claims of having
"every note in Western Music at your fingertips" because it does.
The reason is because it is built off the circle of 5th's, the Rosetta stone
of music theory seemingly FOREVER! WHAT? You may be asking yourself, is
the circle of 5th's? Well. The circle of 5th's is essentially, a very straight
ahead schematic (diagram if you will) of how, much like a simple major scale
(DO/RA/ME/FA/SO/LA/TI/DO) must come back around to its octave tone, so too
must every key in Western Music come full circle back around to the originating
key it started on AND is set up to do just that, mathematically. Far from
leading one into quantum physics or trig Algebra, the math employed is more
akin to grade school flash cards. For instance, can you count to 5? Most
among us here on the planet past the age of 3, and several smart animals
(Lassie comes to mind on this one) are capable of such a feat, so we assume
you are also.
When we count to the 5th degree of any major scale (DO/RA/ME/FA/SO-our
5th tone) We start a new key, then take the 5th tone of that key, and start
a new key, and take the 5th of that key etc. Eventually we arrive home to
the key we started at. This is all set up to coincide in a very straight
forward, logical manner, due to mathematics and the measurement of vibration.
Not to sound "too complex" or abstract, the vibrations
we are talking about are per say, on guitar string vibrations when plucked,
the pitch we tune our guitar to. This is what we mean by vibrations. It
also just happens to be the case, if you want to play an "A440"
note, you better be tuned to A440 (cycles per second) because there is no
other way we know of in the ENTIRE UNIVERSE of playing an "A"
note. Neither Mozart or Beethoven could, and it's highly probable that EVEN
Dr. Duck doesn't know either, though we haven't asked him.
As simply put as is possible, there are basic laws governing
the interplay of notes and the most beautiful and amazing thing about music
being its wonderful abstractions playing freely over a field of physical
laws that are concrete and constant as gravity, as certain as taxes and
as unchanging as birth/death. The emotive expression and release, its infinite
potentialities (for all practical purposes), its countless melodies ARE
ALL MADE POSSIBLE by the fact that our immutable laws (that means unchangeable
laws for those of you that had a hard time counting to 5) are the very
reason that we can enjoy the freedoms and diversity that musical expression
provides us with. It offers us a bedrock solid common ground that frankly
serves as the root of the tree giving blossom to the many diverse branches,
leaves and fruits.
The study of harmony, is to study the many ways that all
the different combinations of notes all fit and work together to create
an infinite number of harmonic patterns. As one realizes that all guitars
have frets that are the same distance apart relative to scale, looks at
a piano and sees the same replicated patterns of white and black keys, realizes
that instrument makers have built instruments based on the same unchanging
laws governing harmonics, for centuries and that they apply to all instruments
everywhere, one then understands that there is a degree of certitude, uniformity
and commonality to all music and instruments which resembles that of humanity.
Though no two people are exactly alike, we all have uniformity
of body systems, organs, blood, heart , skin etc. As all instruments and
musical styles, melody, chords etc, are varied, they all share the same
common ground, all made possible by those same laws, inherent throughout
the spectrum that the study of theory, regarding music, points to.
For instance, let's dig into the major scale. Pick a key.
Any key. Let's go with "C".
Obviously you death metal heads might feel a bit un-hip
singing DO/RA/ME/FA/SO/LA /TI/DO. BUT! THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT YOU ARE DOING
EVERY TIME YOU PICK UP YOUR GUITAR, BASS, OR KEYBOARDS!
Every time you sing a metal song in a major key, that's
exactly what you are doing. Picking a succession of notes from the major
key and screaming or growling them into the mic. This my friends is a truism
- can't escape it.
Far beyond that the Major Scale is very important to Western
Music is that it is more or less the mother of all our other scales, so
to speak. Many of you have bought instructional books or scale books and
if self taught it is a good possibility that you've learned things piecemeal
and "on the fly" but have yet to discover that they all fit together
in a much larger integrated system that once grasped, clarifies so many
things, that it will do nothing short of amaze you!
As we view our major scale in such a way as to see it simplistically
enough as the "mother of all scales", we then can start to envision
the branches leaves and blossoms which issue forth within very different
"harmonic patterns of form, creating the wondrous diversity we have
come to recognize as trees, not one tree is anything at all like any other
tree, even it's own genus, yet they all are derived from the same abstractions
of "tree trunk, branches, leaves, blossoms etc.throw in some bark and
roots and depending on whether they are derived from an apple seed or acorn
etc., are all trees!
One can use this figurative " imagination logic"
to great effect regarding music and music theory as well as comprehending
the vast world of myriad form around us. If we can do this, the structural
variations of our different scales will be a snap.
For openers, and laid out quite simply are our major and
relative (Aeolian) minor key and scale relationships, illustrated via the
wheel. If we realize that just by starting on our 6th degree of our MAJOR
SCALE we derive our "relative minor scale"(one where we can see
that our scale patterns are naturally altered so as our minor scale is AUTOMATICALLY
produced. To really grasp a rather simplistic point that once grasped will
help one get a handle on many other points governing musical theory, it
is important that our major and minor relationships, whether chordal, note-wise,
or via the relativity of keys is determined and set up via our relative
minor 6th interaction.
TO CLARIFY THIS POINT let us point out that "C"
and "Am" have 1,000's of more things in common, harmonically,
than "C" and "Cm" do, though to the beginner this might
seem a hard thing to grasp. DUE TO THE HARMONIC MINOR 6th RELATIONSHIP,
which we can see and understand via our wheel, to find the scale and key
that "Cm" interacts with, let's check out our key of "Eb".
We will see that melodically, our "Cm" interacts with our "Eb"
key sharing the same number of "b's" that our "Eb" has
in it's key signature, which is 3.
In reviewing how we arrive at forming our "cm"
chord from our "Cmajor" chord, we will see that our 3rd degree
of our "C" triad is "E" which we "flat" 1/2
scale tone, arriving at C Minor. Not surprising at all when we become just
a little bit familiar with understanding our relative minor connections
The truly cool thing about the Harmony Wheel is that until
we can commit these tenets of theory to memory, is that we can follow the
Harmony Wheel and it can assist us, much like a compass as we explore and
experiment with our different keys and scales, along with our chord relationships.
Experimenting with guitar harmonies like the Allman Bros.
and wishing to see how they are formed from a schematic overview to guide
you to realizing that every harmony you play or sing with whatever instrument
is formed the same way, once you get the hang of it? Let's go simply to
any given key on the wheel and play our major scale. If we have a "guitar
buddy", band mate or multi track recorder, just go to whatever scale
degree we wish and then play to the complete octave note of the major scale,
STARTING ON WHATEVER SCALE DEGREE , and play to that SAME SCALE DEGREE AN
OCTAVE HIGHER!!! (example: in "C", if starting on "C",
and going to our 3rd (Which is "E", and PLAYING OUR SAME SCALE,
only ending with an Octave "E" we will see how this creates our
3rd Harmonies in the key of C.
Going to our 5th tone (which we can see is "G")
& by repeating the same process, we will see and understand how we form
our 5th harmonies. The same holds true for all scale degrees, and if we
want to use the color patterns think of them as a great aid in helping us
locate our harmony patterns transpose from one key to the next and also
help us learn, understand and develop our organizational music memory for
how we build our triads.
Moving on to "song construction", possibly the
most helpful and coolest thing about the Harmony Wheel is how it aids in
comprehending song/compositional construction AND how all of our favorite
or ORIGINAL pieces of music are indeed in fact constructed. Here it is probably
best to buy or borrow, check out from a library different songbooks with
the songs of your favorite artists or bands.
Here, a good rule of thumb is as follows:
1)- After obtaining the songbook, go to the appropriate
song, and view the key signature
2)- Compare it to the key signature on the Harmony Wheel.
We can see what key we are in due to the number of sharps(#'s)/flats(b's)
on the face of the Wheel.
3)- Once we have that together, let's zero in on the "Consonant
Chord mode" and compare it to the letters lined up, we can readily
see this by the color band, even if we are rather far away from the Index
4)- After finding the patterns of notes let's see what
the pattern is. It should be Major/minor/minor/major/major/minor/minorb5
and it's back to our octave, the same tone or corresponding chord we started
5)- Now let's review whatever song it is that we are trying
to see and understand how it is structured. You will see in most cases it
IS or is some form of one of our consonant chords built off of our tones.
In some cases the "note" will be the same, but it will be some
form of it. Perhaps an A-minor 6th instead of an A-minor, or 7thperhaps
it says A-7th instead of following the "consonant chord pattern".
This is due to usage of "Accidentals". When viewing our chord
structure as it pertains to our 7th tone, we will find our dominant 7th
more predominantly than our major 7th (here just use the letter name in
parenthesis). Most of you will be UTTERLY SHOCKED TO FIND OUT that one can
trace the journey of our chord structures from verse through the Chorus,
via our Harmony Wheel and start to see that, quite simply that's how are
songs are indeed structured.
As we dissect more complex forms of music we will start
to run across modulations(the introduction of new keys etc.) But
this should assist you in at least getting started. Believe me, once you
start to get the hang of things, what a fun journey it can become!!!
Also, once you start to see that music is comprised of
very definite organizational patterns, you will, in most probability, start
to amaze yourself how you will quite naturally, pick up on things, and all
Again, as pertaining to song construction, when starting
out and being a "borderline complete novice", or 100% beginner,
it is best to start out with songs of a folkie, slower ballad-like or moderate
tempo type nature-even if hard driving up-tempo rock is your music of choice,
as for one thing, you can handle the speed of the chord changes, strums
etc. much easier, and let's face it, even the drivingest band has slow,
Some suggestions here are Beatles, Eagles (due to the craftsmanship
of the songs), Dylan, James Taylor etc. As there are a lot of ballads, stock
chords that can be easily played AND though you might be struggling with
the chord changes or strumming, you can still make something that resembles
music. Another reason that this is a good idea is that these kind of songs
were written in a predominantly "songwriter mode" to begin with,
thus they can easily be broken down to a voice, one guitar or piano and
a series of stock chords and still retain the character and feeling of the
song. Contemporary country, traditional folk & country as well as simple
blues, celtic folk and lots of Broadway musical standards lend themselves
to this treatment quite readily.
The trouble with much of contemporary rock, pop, hip hop
and the like for a beginner, is that the sound of the music relies more
on riffs, synthesized and multi-layered synth sounds, as well as multi-layered
rythmic tracks, or a recurrent lick that the song is built around, as well
as a dependence with some bands and material on "hot-licks" that
a beginner simply can't play when they first attempt the guitar. When any
of these things are missing, the song loses its character, feeling, and
any semblance of resembling it's original sound.
If you are not a beginner, but somewhat intermediate, there
are a whole bunch of things the Harmony Wheel can assist you with. A few
are as follows:
1)- Improvisation and melody creation: By playing any of
your scale tones in ANY ORDER, you can play all day and never run out of
melodic invention possibilities or riffs chops and hot licks that are available
to you. If you know your blues boxes and major and minor scales mix and
match. By utilizing your chord changes for the appropriate key you will
see that the scale tones will fit WITH ANY CHORD CONSTRUCTION YOU MIGHT
COME UP WITH!!!!! They do so effortlessly and most naturally. This applies
to both guitar and piano.
If you can play your blues boxes, dig into them and find
the theory behind them and what constitutes your "blue notes"
of b3rd, b5th, and b7th in any given key. Check them out via the wheel and
then find them on your keyboard or fretboard!
Are you a slave to the tab sites but have not a clue to
any QUITE BASIC theory, just parroting what you see, don't shortchange yourself,
you can find out "why" what you're learning works in one song
and then be able to incorporate it into any key.
Playing songs in the basement with hopes of something "more"
down the road? Your lead singer can't sing the song in the appropriate key
so once learned in any given key, utilize the color band and find that song
in any key (hint here, is just play the chords in the same color band
that correspond to the original key.)
2)- If you are attempting to grow out of "garage band
status" or R&R gunslinger aspirations, the Harmony Wheel can aid
you in growing into a more adept musician, more well versed within different
idioms and able to understand more complex chord forms, the modes etc. IT
LENDS ITSELF EXTREMELY WELL as a learning addendum to any book, and once
having a degree of understanding to how it functions you can cross-reference
quite well with any instructional book, and often times things that are
hard to grasp in a more linear fashion, are quite easily seen with a more
aerial view which the Wheel provides ( by this we mean reading from left
to right, via text, tab, and/or instructive diagram.)
By aerial, we mean looking at things from a perspective
more akin to an airplane's view of any given topographyl ike seeing the
relationships all laid out at once. In some cases the combination of the
two working in consort can make many things exceedingly clear like OH, NOW
I GET IT !! - An example of this effect is most easily seen by how we view
our guitar grids, all you guitar players out there.
Many of you will be quite surprised to think of the limitations
accompanying seeing your guitar chords as consisting of a little "box
grid". In reality they are hardly that, though when we learn them we
see our open "D" a certain way, our "A" another, our
"G" and "C" another and so on. Our barre(power)chords
another, and so on. When we are playing simple folk or Rock, country or
folk, the limitations are not really all that apparent, except possibly
in the lack of our soloing ideas.
When we think like this, we really aren't gonna set anybody
on fire or have them jump up and take notice. In reality, the way we see
our chord formations, or our leads as little series of blues box patterns
that we string together, is just a limitation.
What we are playing ARE TRIADS THAT CAN BE SET UP IN ANY
VOICINGS, AND CAN BE USED IN ANY COMBINATION OF OCTAVE TONES, PEDAL TONES
DRONE 9th's,TONICS, 5th's etc. and our solo's ARE ESSENTIALLY THE SAME BASIC
THINGWE CAN JUMP OCTAVES, WE CAN EMOTE WITH A MELODIC IDEA IN THE LOWER
REGISTERS AND RE-INSTATE THE SAME PASSAGE WITH GREAT DRAMATIC EFFECT!!!We
can slow down our 1,000 licks a second conception that really goes nowhere,
and start to construct meaningful emotive passages, turn the speed on when
we wish, but not keep playing fast to merely, so to speak"fill up the
measures" as we don't know how to play off our contrasting energies
of space, notes, melodic intent and purpose and utilize the dramatic elements
awaiting our discovery!.
Nowhere is this more apparent than when we start to build
jazz chordings or attempt to transform ourself from a basic rock player
to a jazz player (where chord theory and knowledge of textures are EVERYTHING)
or a more advanced "chicken pickin'country guitarist extraordinaire",
or a Segovia or Randy Rhoades, Steve Vai classically influenced guitar virtuoso.
HERE AT ANY OF THESE POINTS WE MUST PITCH THE "BOX". A simple
example of this logic is as follows:
If you've ever purchased a chord encyclopedia and tried
to memorize all the guitar chords by rote and tried to use them effectively
you've found it can't be done without some kind of basic theory knowledge,
and even then it won't come off very effectively. How much EASIER to build
chords on the spot with tremendously developed chord knowledge. To voice
guitar lines with piano lines, to play over implied tonal centers, to have
a truck full of substitutions and/or play through keys with the bass players
line holding down the tone center and building inversions alone or with
keys, horns or other guitarists with common scale tones, common to different
keys creating amazing textural possibilities that awaits you once outside
of the box!
3)- On a level much more akin to the beginner, many of
you do not realize that when we strum an open basic "G" chord
on a guitar, we are striking all 6 strings, but only playing 3 notes---we
are doubling up on our strings an octave apart, certain notes for desired
effect. That is all. The same is true with piano, and in many instances
to much greater effect, due to having 10 fingers to converse several given
octaves at any given time, not to mention pedal tones in 5th's, a recurring
bass line etc.
This is hitting upon what the developers of the Harmony
Wheel are pointing to, by getting an overview of basic, functional music
If any questions remain regarding the Harmony Wheels basic
use, you can contact me, Robert Creveling. I am the Harmony Wheel's creator,
feel free to write me at Robert Creveling c/o Ducks Deluxe - P.O.Box 35677,
Las Vegas, Nevada. 89133 - U.S.A. Thanks for checking it out!! Hope this
helps you understand the immense world of music a little better!! - Remember,
practice makes perfect!! Later, Dude