Songwriting Techniques 4: Harmony

In the latest article from the Songwriting Techniques series we will be looking at ‘Harmony’. Harmony is the term used to describe the chordal elements of a song, and a harmony is created when 2 or more notes are played simultaneously. Here are this weeks 5 points for you to consider:

1. Try writing a song that uses just 2, 3 or 4 chords. Using a simple chord structure can help to make a song catchy and familiar to the listener and there are many successful songs that use just a few simple chords.

A good example of this technique is Songbird by Oasis which is based around just 2 chords:

2. Experiment with using the same chords in both the verse and chorus sections, but try utilising them in a different order. Changing the chord progression gives a different overall feeling to a section of the track while using the same chords keeps the track familiar.

3. Work out the chord sequence to one of your favourite songs and then use these chords to write your own song. You may decide to use chords from all of the song or just one particular section.

4. Vary the length of the chords between each section. For example, using faster chord changes in the chorus can give the impression of a tempo change and heightened sense of importance of the chorus.

This technique has been used to good effect in the Feeder single Borders:

5. When building up the harmony part, try adding multiple layers of instruments playing the same part as this helps to create a thicker overall texture. In pop music, this could be a combination of rhythm guitar, piano and strings.

Humongous by Declan McKenna is a good recent example of this approach in action: