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Harmonizing leads with the FM9

Chas

Member
Hey all, so I've been focusing on learning more about the use of harmony in guitar leads for live use and I would appreciate some advice. I've been using the dual diatonic pitch block and am able to set up basic harmonies like 3rds or 5ths. It's been trial and error to mimic guitar leads from tracks. I mostly play 80s rock and love the sound of harmonized leads but I haven't put the math together to just understand the correlation with keys and modes and determining which one to use in a song. I can easily find the key but the mode is a challenge. Also, I can't figure out how to do a custom scale with the FM9 pitch block, I just downloaded an excellent preset that Mark Day did for Bad Boys but the harmony mode doesn't seem to work. Is it because the preset was created on an Axe Fx3 and it's losing blocks on the FM9? Any help and/or resource you could point me to for learning how to understand and craft harmony leads with the FM9 would be appreciated. Thanks in advance!
 

Pete1959

Inspired
You're not the only one. We have just one electric guitar covering some Styx tunes and trying to figure out the harmonies to use in the pitch block. Songs like "Born for Adventure" and "Lorelei" also using the dual detune and Auto-Learn to figure which key. Modes help but may try using custom notes by figuring out the harmony and setting a map although that may only work for a single tune.

If there's a simpler way......
 

Admin M@

Administrator
Fractal Audio Systems
Moderator
One of the challenges a person new to music or music theory is likely to face is identifying the differences between parallel chromatic, parallel diatonic, or non-parallel harmony. In fact there is very little you need "Fractal Audio know-how" required to execute a desired harmony. Good listening skills and a little music theory knowledge, however, can be essential to determining which type you're aiming for, and whether or not it can be done with the tools at hand.

Three examples follow. In each one, the lower notes are the same but the upper harmony is constructed according to different rules.

In a parallel diatonic harmony, the harmony lines follow each other closely, but not precisely, since all of the notes are drawn from a single scale/key. Here's an example in the key of C major. Notice that the distance between the note heads on the staff appears the same for each pair of notes (some kind of "third"). However, if you were to "measure" those note pairs in semitones, you would find that they change due to the structure of the underlying scale. From C to E is 4 semitones. From D to F is 3 semitones. In Fractal Audio parlance, this is known as Diatonic shifting (since the harmony notes are drawn from a single key) or "Intelligent" shifting (because the processor must first identify the note being played, determine its relationship to a stated key and interval, and set the harmonization interval in semitones accordingly*. An FM9 factory preset that demonstrates this technique is #137 - Diatonic Triads. It adds not one but two notes to whatever you play.

In addition to the listening or theory skills needed to identify this type of harmony, you will need to know how to insert a pitch block, select a diatonic "type", set the correct key, scale, and interval, and adjust mix/pan/level to taste.
* Note that Fractal; Audio's "Diatonic" Pitch Shifter also allows you to force certain non-diatonic operations, such as selecting the "chromatic" or "whole-tone" scales, but the primary use will be diatonic harmony.

1653998947675.png

=======================

In parallel chromatic harmony, the harmony lines follow each other more precisely. The intervallic relationship between the pairs of notes does not change, and remains at a fixed interval -- some number of semitones. Here's an example on the staff. Notice that the distance between the note heads on the staff again remains the same (some kind of "third") but accidentals (sharp signs) are used to force the harmony as needed out of any particular key. From C to E is 4 semitones, from D to F# is 4 semitones, and so on. The shift interval never changes.

In Fractal Audio parlance, this is known as "Chromatic" shifting (since it requires all pitches in the chromatic scale to execute) or "fixed" shifting since the interval does not vary as when using "intelligent" harmony. An FM9 factory preset that demonstrates this technique is #153 - Lonely Heart Solo. No matter which note you play, the harmony will be a 5th above (7 semitones) and there's also some feedback to add additional upper harmonies.

In addition to the listening or theory skills needed to identify this type of harmony, you will need to know how to insert a pitch block, select a chromatic "type", set the desired interval in semitones, and adjust mix/pan/level to taste.

1653999555088.png

=======================

Non-parallel harmony is perhaps the most commonly used type in most music. In this case, the two lines of notes don't "track" in parallel intervals of any kind. They may at moments appear or move in a parallel/diatonic or parallel/chromatic manner, but at other times they don't.

The simple example below shows non-parallel harmony. Notice that the distance between the note heads changes from one pair to the next, so C is paired with G (a perfect 5th or 7 semitones) while D is paired with F (a minor third or 3 semitones).

The Custom Shifter can be used to create this type of harmony, but it is important to understand that once you define a note pairing, it will be applied to the entire passage. Notice below that when the notes E, D and C are repeated in the second measure, the harmony notes are the same as those used in the first measure.

1654001212402.png

Determining if this is the case requires more advanced listening skills,. To use the Custom Shifter, you will need to know how to insert a pitch block, create and assign a custom scale, and adjust other parameters to taste.

IMPORTANT: Custom scales are currently NOT saved within presets; they reside instead under Setup > Global, so if you want to import a preset that uses one or more custom scales, you must also recreate the required custom scale(s) at the correct scale number. There's a nice feature to help with this, however: all of our editors (including FM9-Edit) have the capability to export and import custom scales, which can make this process a lot easier.

=======================

Some non-parallel harmony defies the type of strict tracking enforced by custom scales. The same note in one part of the passage may be harmonized with a different note in a different part of the passage. Simply learning to recognize this type of harmony can spare you the frustration of trying to incorrectly apply one of the above techniques. An example appears below. As with strict custom shifting, the intervals change by one or more scale degrees from one note pair to the next. Notice also, however, that the lower note D is harmonized with an F in the first measure, and then harmonized with a Bb in the second measure. The lower note E is also harmonized in two different ways. This can't be done with one custom scale!

1654003348024.png

Of course, as seen in various Fractal Audio related videos, a clever person can use footswitches or a computer to change from one custom scale to another right in the middle of a harmony passage, placing even this complex non-parallel type of harmony at your fingertips. (If I remember correctly, Mark Day did a video demonstrating this approach by playing "Hotel California" but the video was taken down for copyright infringement.)
 
Last edited:

Chas

Member
One of the challenges a person new to music or music theory is likely to face is identifying the differences between parallel chromatic, parallel diatonic, or non-parallel harmony. In fact there is very little you need "Fractal Audio know-how" required to execute a desired harmony. Good listening skills and a little music theory knowledge, however, can be essential to determining which type you're aiming for, and whether or not it can be done with the tools at hand.

Three examples follow. In each one, the lower notes are the same but the upper harmony is constructed according to different rules.

In a parallel diatonic harmony, the harmony lines follow each other closely, but not precisely, since all of the notes are drawn from a single scale/key. Here's an example in the key of C major. Notice that the distance between the note heads on the staff appears the same for each pair of notes (some kind of "third"). However, if you were to "measure" those note pairs in semitones, you would find that they change due to the structure of the underlying scale. From C to E is 4 semitones. From D to F is 3 semitones. In Fractal Audio parlance, this is known as Diatonic shifting (since the harmony notes are drawn from a single key) or "Intelligent" shifting (because the processor must first identify the note being played, determine its relationship to a stated key and interval, and set the harmonization interval in semitones accordingly*. An FM9 factory preset that demonstrates this technique is #137 - Diatonic Triads. It adds not one but two notes to whatever you play.

In addition to the listening or theory skills needed to identify this type of harmony, you will need to know how to insert a pitch block, select a diatonic "type", set the correct key, scale, and interval, and adjust mix/pan/level to taste.
* Note that Fractal; Audio's "Diatonic" Pitch Shifter also allows you to force certain non-diatonic operations, such as selecting the "chromatic" or "whole-tone" scales, but the primary use will be diatonic harmony.

View attachment 102803

=======================

In parallel chromatic harmony, the harmony lines follow each other more precisely. The intervallic relationship between the pairs of notes does not change, and remains at a fixed interval -- some number of semitones. Here's an example on the staff. Notice that the distance between the note heads on the staff again remains the same (some kind of "third") but accidentals (sharp signs) are used to force the harmony as needed out of any particular key. From C to E is 4 semitones, from D to F# is 4 semitones, and so on. The shift interval never changes.

In Fractal Audio parlance, this is known as "Chromatic" shifting (since it requires all pitches in the chromatic scale to execute) or "fixed" shifting since the interval does not vary as when using "intelligent" harmony. An FM9 factory preset that demonstrates this technique is #153 - Lonely Heart Solo. No matter which note you play, the harmony will be a 5th above (7 semitones) and there's also some feedback to add additional upper harmonies.

In addition to the listening or theory skills needed to identify this type of harmony, you will need to know how to insert a pitch block, select a chromatic "type", set the desired interval in semitones, and adjust mix/pan/level to taste.

View attachment 102805

=======================

Non-parallel harmony is perhaps the most commonly used type in most music. In this case, the two lines of notes don't "track" in parallel intervals of any kind. They may at moments appear or move in a parallel/diatonic or parallel/chromatic manner, but at other times they don't.

The simple example below shows non-parallel harmony. Notice that the distance between the note heads changes from one pair to the next, so C is paired with G (a perfect 5th or 7 semitones) while D is paired with F (a minor third or 3 semitones).

The Custom Shifter can be used to create this type of harmony, but it is important to understand that once you define a note pairing, it will be applied to the entire passage. Notice below that when the notes E, D and C are repeated in the second measure, the harmony notes are the same as those used in the first measure.

View attachment 102809

Determining if this is the case requires more advanced listening skills,. To use the Custom Shifter, you will need to know how to insert a pitch block, create and assign a custom scale, and adjust other parameters to taste.

IMPORTANT: Custom scales are currently NOT saved within presets; they reside instead under Setup > Global, so if you want to import a preset that uses one or more custom scales, you must also recreate the required custom scale(s) at the correct scale number. There's a nice feature to help with this, however: all of our editors (including FM9-Edit) have the capability to export and import custom scales, which can make this process a lot easier.

=======================

Some non-parallel harmony defies the type of strict tracking enforced by custom scales. The same note in one part of the passage may be harmonized with a different note in a different part of the passage. Simply learning to recognize this type of harmony can spare you the frustration of trying to incorrectly apply one of the above techniques. An example appears below. As with strict custom shifting, the intervals change by one or more scale degrees from one note pair to the next. Notice also, however, that the lower note D is harmonized with an F in the first measure, and then harmonized with a Bb in the second measure. The lower note E is also harmonized in two different ways. This can't be done with one custom scale!

View attachment 102811

Of course, as seen in various Fractal Audio related videos, a clever person can use footswitches or a computer to change from one custom scale to another right in the middle of a harmony passage, placing even this complex non-parallel type of harmony at your fingertips. (If I remember correctly, Mark Day did a video demonstrating this approach by playing "Hotel California" but the video was taken down for copyright infringement.)
Wow! This is incredible information and certainly the best explanation I've ever read regarding harmonies. Thank you so much for taking the time to put this together!
 

austinbuddy

Fractal Fanatic
Vendor
One of the challenges a person new to music or music theory is likely to face is identifying the differences between parallel chromatic, parallel diatonic, or non-parallel harmony. In fact there is very little you need "Fractal Audio know-how" required to execute a desired harmony. Good listening skills and a little music theory knowledge, however, can be essential to determining which type you're aiming for, and whether or not it can be done with the tools at hand.

Three examples follow. In each one, the lower notes are the same but the upper harmony is constructed according to different rules.

In a parallel diatonic harmony, the harmony lines follow each other closely, but not precisely, since all of the notes are drawn from a single scale/key. Here's an example in the key of C major. Notice that the distance between the note heads on the staff appears the same for each pair of notes (some kind of "third"). However, if you were to "measure" those note pairs in semitones, you would find that they change due to the structure of the underlying scale. From C to E is 4 semitones. From D to F is 3 semitones. In Fractal Audio parlance, this is known as Diatonic shifting (since the harmony notes are drawn from a single key) or "Intelligent" shifting (because the processor must first identify the note being played, determine its relationship to a stated key and interval, and set the harmonization interval in semitones accordingly*. An FM9 factory preset that demonstrates this technique is #137 - Diatonic Triads. It adds not one but two notes to whatever you play.

In addition to the listening or theory skills needed to identify this type of harmony, you will need to know how to insert a pitch block, select a diatonic "type", set the correct key, scale, and interval, and adjust mix/pan/level to taste.
* Note that Fractal; Audio's "Diatonic" Pitch Shifter also allows you to force certain non-diatonic operations, such as selecting the "chromatic" or "whole-tone" scales, but the primary use will be diatonic harmony.

View attachment 102803

=======================

In parallel chromatic harmony, the harmony lines follow each other more precisely. The intervallic relationship between the pairs of notes does not change, and remains at a fixed interval -- some number of semitones. Here's an example on the staff. Notice that the distance between the note heads on the staff again remains the same (some kind of "third") but accidentals (sharp signs) are used to force the harmony as needed out of any particular key. From C to E is 4 semitones, from D to F# is 4 semitones, and so on. The shift interval never changes.

In Fractal Audio parlance, this is known as "Chromatic" shifting (since it requires all pitches in the chromatic scale to execute) or "fixed" shifting since the interval does not vary as when using "intelligent" harmony. An FM9 factory preset that demonstrates this technique is #153 - Lonely Heart Solo. No matter which note you play, the harmony will be a 5th above (7 semitones) and there's also some feedback to add additional upper harmonies.

In addition to the listening or theory skills needed to identify this type of harmony, you will need to know how to insert a pitch block, select a chromatic "type", set the desired interval in semitones, and adjust mix/pan/level to taste.

View attachment 102805

=======================

Non-parallel harmony is perhaps the most commonly used type in most music. In this case, the two lines of notes don't "track" in parallel intervals of any kind. They may at moments appear or move in a parallel/diatonic or parallel/chromatic manner, but at other times they don't.

The simple example below shows non-parallel harmony. Notice that the distance between the note heads changes from one pair to the next, so C is paired with G (a perfect 5th or 7 semitones) while D is paired with F (a minor third or 3 semitones).

The Custom Shifter can be used to create this type of harmony, but it is important to understand that once you define a note pairing, it will be applied to the entire passage. Notice below that when the notes E, D and C are repeated in the second measure, the harmony notes are the same as those used in the first measure.

View attachment 102809

Determining if this is the case requires more advanced listening skills,. To use the Custom Shifter, you will need to know how to insert a pitch block, create and assign a custom scale, and adjust other parameters to taste.

IMPORTANT: Custom scales are currently NOT saved within presets; they reside instead under Setup > Global, so if you want to import a preset that uses one or more custom scales, you must also recreate the required custom scale(s) at the correct scale number. There's a nice feature to help with this, however: all of our editors (including FM9-Edit) have the capability to export and import custom scales, which can make this process a lot easier.

=======================

Some non-parallel harmony defies the type of strict tracking enforced by custom scales. The same note in one part of the passage may be harmonized with a different note in a different part of the passage. Simply learning to recognize this type of harmony can spare you the frustration of trying to incorrectly apply one of the above techniques. An example appears below. As with strict custom shifting, the intervals change by one or more scale degrees from one note pair to the next. Notice also, however, that the lower note D is harmonized with an F in the first measure, and then harmonized with a Bb in the second measure. The lower note E is also harmonized in two different ways. This can't be done with one custom scale!

View attachment 102811

Of course, as seen in various Fractal Audio related videos, a clever person can use footswitches or a computer to change from one custom scale to another right in the middle of a harmony passage, placing even this complex non-parallel type of harmony at your fingertips. (If I remember correctly, Mark Day did a video demonstrating this approach by playing "Hotel California" but the video was taken down for copyright infringement.)
Love this!
 

Rex

Legend!
One of the challenges a person new to music or music theory is likely to face is identifying the differences between parallel chromatic, parallel diatonic, or non-parallel harmony. In fact there is very little you need "Fractal Audio know-how" required to execute a desired harmony. Good listening skills and a little music theory knowledge, however, can be essential to determining which type you're aiming for, and whether or not it can be done with the tools at hand.

Three examples follow. In each one, the lower notes are the same but the upper harmony is constructed according to different rules.

In a parallel diatonic harmony, the harmony lines follow each other closely, but not precisely, since all of the notes are drawn from a single scale/key. Here's an example in the key of C major. Notice that the distance between the note heads on the staff appears the same for each pair of notes (some kind of "third"). However, if you were to "measure" those note pairs in semitones, you would find that they change due to the structure of the underlying scale. From C to E is 4 semitones. From D to F is 3 semitones. In Fractal Audio parlance, this is known as Diatonic shifting (since the harmony notes are drawn from a single key) or "Intelligent" shifting (because the processor must first identify the note being played, determine its relationship to a stated key and interval, and set the harmonization interval in semitones accordingly*. An FM9 factory preset that demonstrates this technique is #137 - Diatonic Triads. It adds not one but two notes to whatever you play.

In addition to the listening or theory skills needed to identify this type of harmony, you will need to know how to insert a pitch block, select a diatonic "type", set the correct key, scale, and interval, and adjust mix/pan/level to taste.
* Note that Fractal; Audio's "Diatonic" Pitch Shifter also allows you to force certain non-diatonic operations, such as selecting the "chromatic" or "whole-tone" scales, but the primary use will be diatonic harmony.

View attachment 102803

=======================

In parallel chromatic harmony, the harmony lines follow each other more precisely. The intervallic relationship between the pairs of notes does not change, and remains at a fixed interval -- some number of semitones. Here's an example on the staff. Notice that the distance between the note heads on the staff again remains the same (some kind of "third") but accidentals (sharp signs) are used to force the harmony as needed out of any particular key. From C to E is 4 semitones, from D to F# is 4 semitones, and so on. The shift interval never changes.

In Fractal Audio parlance, this is known as "Chromatic" shifting (since it requires all pitches in the chromatic scale to execute) or "fixed" shifting since the interval does not vary as when using "intelligent" harmony. An FM9 factory preset that demonstrates this technique is #153 - Lonely Heart Solo. No matter which note you play, the harmony will be a 5th above (7 semitones) and there's also some feedback to add additional upper harmonies.

In addition to the listening or theory skills needed to identify this type of harmony, you will need to know how to insert a pitch block, select a chromatic "type", set the desired interval in semitones, and adjust mix/pan/level to taste.

View attachment 102805

=======================

Non-parallel harmony is perhaps the most commonly used type in most music. In this case, the two lines of notes don't "track" in parallel intervals of any kind. They may at moments appear or move in a parallel/diatonic or parallel/chromatic manner, but at other times they don't.

The simple example below shows non-parallel harmony. Notice that the distance between the note heads changes from one pair to the next, so C is paired with G (a perfect 5th or 7 semitones) while D is paired with F (a minor third or 3 semitones).

The Custom Shifter can be used to create this type of harmony, but it is important to understand that once you define a note pairing, it will be applied to the entire passage. Notice below that when the notes E, D and C are repeated in the second measure, the harmony notes are the same as those used in the first measure.

View attachment 102809

Determining if this is the case requires more advanced listening skills,. To use the Custom Shifter, you will need to know how to insert a pitch block, create and assign a custom scale, and adjust other parameters to taste.

IMPORTANT: Custom scales are currently NOT saved within presets; they reside instead under Setup > Global, so if you want to import a preset that uses one or more custom scales, you must also recreate the required custom scale(s) at the correct scale number. There's a nice feature to help with this, however: all of our editors (including FM9-Edit) have the capability to export and import custom scales, which can make this process a lot easier.

=======================

Some non-parallel harmony defies the type of strict tracking enforced by custom scales. The same note in one part of the passage may be harmonized with a different note in a different part of the passage. Simply learning to recognize this type of harmony can spare you the frustration of trying to incorrectly apply one of the above techniques. An example appears below. As with strict custom shifting, the intervals change by one or more scale degrees from one note pair to the next. Notice also, however, that the lower note D is harmonized with an F in the first measure, and then harmonized with a Bb in the second measure. The lower note E is also harmonized in two different ways. This can't be done with one custom scale!

View attachment 102811

Of course, as seen in various Fractal Audio related videos, a clever person can use footswitches or a computer to change from one custom scale to another right in the middle of a harmony passage, placing even this complex non-parallel type of harmony at your fingertips. (If I remember correctly, Mark Day did a video demonstrating this approach by playing "Hotel California" but the video was taken down for copyright infringement.)
Thanks, @Admin M@! That was a clear, simple explanation of a complex subject.
 

Bakerman

Axe-Master
Some non-parallel harmony defies the type of strict tracking enforced by custom scales. The same note in one part of the passage may be harmonized with a different note in a different part of the passage. Simply learning to recognize this type of harmony can spare you the frustration of trying to incorrectly apply one of the above techniques. An example appears below. As with strict custom shifting, the intervals change by one or more scale degrees from one note pair to the next. Notice also, however, that the lower note D is harmonized with an F in the first measure, and then harmonized with a Bb in the second measure. The lower note E is also harmonized in two different ways. This can't be done with one custom scale!

View attachment 102811
One custom scale could work here if you played C F G A♭ B♭ D C.
 

Rumbletone

Inspired
The same note in one part of the passage may be harmonized with a different note in a different part of the passage.
And, for clarity for those who are trying to tackle this, one solution (for example in the Dual Diatonic block) can be to assign a modifier to the “harmony 1” and/or “harmony 2” parameters so that the interval can be changed in real time. I use this approach live on “One of These Nights” to change the lower harmony note from ‘a diatonic 6th below the fretted note’ to ‘a diatonic 5th below’ (the other harmony note remains a diatonic 3rd below ….).
 

hobbes1

Inspired
And, for clarity for those who are trying to tackle this, one solution (for example in the Dual Diatonic block) can be to assign a modifier to the “harmony 1” and/or “harmony 2” parameters so that the interval can be changed in real time. I use this approach live on “One of These Nights” to change the lower harmony note from ‘a diatonic 6th below the fretted note’ to ‘a diatonic 5th below’ (the other harmony note remains a diatonic 3rd below ….).
Hi. Is the modifier you speak of setup on a Control Switch for activation or some other way? Thanks
 

Rumbletone

Inspired
Hi. Is the modifier you speak of setup on a Control Switch for activation or some other way? Thanks
I have it set up on an expression pedal for physical/logistical reasons for this particular song (my XPDL has a toe switch that toggles scenes, and then the treadle changes the harmonies when on the scene with the harmonizer - I do it this way on this song so I can leave my foot on the XPDL and do all the switching without having to look down to find a different switch ...), but it would work the same on a control switch.
 
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