Review of Modern Harmony Methodology

Michael Griffin, author of Music and Keyboard in the Classroom and developer of the helpful website Music Education World has produced another great resource for music teachers and students.

His newest book, Modern Harmony Methodology, describes itself as being “of value to all students of composition and musical arrangement, and also to classically trained pianists who yearn to play modern sounds and extend their harmonic vocabulary.” And it certainly delivers!

The book is divided into two parts :
A – Harmonizing Melodies
B – Chord Voicing

It starts with a basic overview of primary triads and how to use them to harmonize the chordal notes in a melody. The next section moves into secondary triads and uses the same melody to illustrate how secondary triads can be effectively substituted for the primary triads to produce a different sound. Next is a clear overview of the different types of 7th chords, followed by a more detailed discussion of when it’s appropriate to use each type of chord. This is followed by an explanation of the Circle of Fourths and some points on how it can be utilized to assist in harmonization. Following chapters expand into 9th and 13th extensions, chord alterations, suspensions, secondary dominants, and more!

The second part of the book shares tips on the range and which voices to use where. Helpful examples of poor voicing choices with opportunity for students to identify what makes it a poor choice.

There are numerous exercises included in the text, as well as in a supporting workbook designed for this purpose. Solutions are included at the end of each book so that you can check the student’s work.

Mr. Griffin does a superb job giving clear and concise steps that students should take when approaching the task of harmonizing a melody. The book is laid out in a clean, easy-to-understand format. Mr. Griffin is obviously a gifted teacher, and has developed a book that would be a great resource for any music teacher or student interested in understanding and implementing more complex theory/harmony concepts! I encourage you to check out his website and order your own copy of Modern Harmony Methodologies.

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