1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

implied melody/harmony

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Quintin, Jan 18, 2006.

  1. Quintin


    Dec 6, 2005
    A concept I know very little about but often am wondering. Is there a technical answer for that or is it just as it says in its name?
  2. Correlli


    Apr 2, 2004
    New Zealand
    I've never seen the word implied in reference to melody or harmony. A bassline is a type of melody though.

    melody = scales

    harmony = chords and progression of chords.

    That's all I know.
  3. Mixmasta J

    Mixmasta J

    Dec 4, 2004
    really kiwi? I was more in the idwea that melody was the main theme, and the harmony was something in the same key, that was different and supplemented what the melody was doing..

  4. Correlli


    Apr 2, 2004
    New Zealand
  5. ErikP.Bass

    ErikP.Bass Supporting Member

    Nov 23, 2004
    While trying to think of an eloquent way to put what I believe may answer your question.....I Googled the term implied harmony and came across this website. It has a lot of useful information - clear explanations.


    A solo melody can certainly "imply" a particular harmonic accompaniment.

    To expand upon what Kiwi Kid said......when examining melody you are looking at how the notes are laid out horizontally on the page (sounding one after another), when examining harmony you are looking at how notes are laid out vertically on the page (sounding simultaneously).

    Tricky subject - hope I didn't add to the confusion.
  6. Kroy


    Jan 19, 2006
    New member here :ninja: :ninja:

    The website Erik posted looks like it has a ton of great info on harmony. So if you want a really thorough answer to your question I'd read that website and come back with any questions. Until then I can offer a (hopefully) shorter answer.

    Harmony is the prevailing chord progression in a piece or a song. A chord the sounding of three or more notes simultaneously. In Wester classical and pop music, our harmony is based (largely) on Triads, three-note chords, and tertiary harmony (chords built in thirds). *Implied* harmony is when you don't have enough (usually 3) notes to definitively name the chords in a progression, but the lines of music do a fair job of letting you know what the chords are. Most bass lines, taken by themselves, only ever imply harmony since chords that are more than 3 notes are slightly rare on basses. So almost any bass line you play is only going to imply the harmony of the song. It's usually, but not always, up to your guitarist, keyboard player, or whoever to actually fill the chords the rest of the way out.

    Again, this is oversimplified but hopefully it's easier to digest than that website.
  7. brainhii


    Mar 25, 2007
    Melody and harmony go hand in hand. Harmony is, after all, nothing but the simultaneous occurrences of separate melodies (in a traditional sense). Therefore, there are certain melodic fragments that become associated with certain harmonies.

    Here's a very basic example. The second to last note in the major (and also melodic minor) scale is called the leading tone, because it almost always goes up a half step to the root. When this happens, the implied harmonic progression is V-I (or V-i in minor keys). The leading tone is the third of the dominant (V) chord, and the root is obviously the root of the tonic (I) chord.

    Another example: The fourth note of either the major or the minor scale descends down to the third. This is another case of a dominant to tonic progression. But in this case it's a seventh chord. So, if in C major, a given melody goes down from F to E, the F is the seventh of a G7 chord, and the E is the third of a C major chord. This also works in minor keys.

    When you talk about implied harmonies, you really start to go into the subject of counterpoint and voice leading, which is studied more by composers than by instrumentalists. However, a knowledge of such topics can prove invaluable to improvisation.

    My recomendation: Read a book on harmony. Read a book on counterpoint. Then get your hands on some Bach scores and analyze the hell out of them. Results are guaranteed.
  8. Hookus


    Oct 2, 2005
    Austin, TX
    Melody deals with the progression of the piece as it moves along through the song.

    Harmony deals with more than one note being played/sung/heard at once to make each note of the melody more defined.

    For example, if you have a piece of music where the melody goes from the I - IV - V - IV, the melody is sung or played over the chord changes. The chords you select would be an example of harmony, for example if you choose to play a V or V7.