Post Image

Continuing from the previous article this one will look at using distorted guitar harmonies, firstly using riffs then for lead work.

This concludes this series of articles on guitar harmonies.






To start with, here’s a quick reminder of some of the options available.

  • Having the parts move in different directions or independently
  • Using odd time signatures
  • Blending the parts into a composite texture
  • Using parts that are completely different to each other
  • Changing the intervals


Ever – Options 2, 4

This Is the bridge section from a song called Ever. The rhythm part is comprised of chords played on the off beat. The harmony basically goes from C#m to A but the chords outlined here are C#m sus11, B sus4 and A sus2.  The sus triads have a nice clear sound and set the groundwork for the rest. The next part to enter is some big power chords. This fills in space and helps to create a big sound.

The higher part starts with some natural harmonics and then uses some sliding thirds played against the open E string for an extra note clash.  It doesn’t start and end on the bars so the phrase stretching across them creates extra tension. The parts enter one by one and build to create a mix of sound.  Having this in 5/4 also helps the chords to bounce around in an unusual way. Now has all that been done before? It’s very unlikely that someone else has combined those particular elements in that way over those chords, so even if it has been done and its not unique it’s still at least ‘extremely rare’.  It’s impossible to tell without listening to every piece of music in the world today, but I wouldn’t lose any sleep over it!

Audio example:


Potential – Options 1, 3, 4, 5

This example, whilst not being a classical piece has a slightly baroque feel and makes use of counterpoint to expand the texture. The bass has important part to play here: rhythmically it supprts the guitar parts and it dictates the harmony from Bbm to F7. An interesting way to create variety in the harmonies is to put more space in between the notes. Harmonising scale runs or chords is all well and good but if you want something to stand out try some big sweeps. This part of the song was the deliberately indulgent ‘prog out’ so the intention here is to dazzle the listener. The first part here is based around the Bbm triad with string skips then some wide jumps finishing with a scalar run. This two bar phrase repeats 4 times.

The second part enters at bar 3. It is also a two bar phrase but changes pace. The first time it leaves space, the second time it starts busier and the third time it is busy all the way through. Also, because it changes pace, sometimes it locks in (rhythmically) with the other part and sometimes it doesn’t. With lots of changes the ear will struggle to find something to grasp on to, at least initially. A third part enters at the start other section but as it’s just some two note chords I have left it out of the tab. The previous section had three guitar parts in so this short part was added to provide a smooth transition from 3 parts into this section which features two comparatively delicate parts.

Audio example:


This concludes this series of articles on guitar harmonies. Of course there are many other examples across the different styles of music and I would encourage you to seek these out and I hope this has inspired you to write something unusual and interesting!


Related articles:

Writing Guitar Harmonies - part 1

Writing Guitar Harmonies - part 2

Writing Guitar Harmonies - part 3


Check out Matt's guitar lessons here.