Getting a Start with Harmony

If you play an instrument that can sound multiple pitches at the same time, then it’d be great to add the chords to your playback, too! As always, embrace your intuition here, and if you’ve figured out melody and/or bass, you can use your knowledge of their pitches to figure out likely chords. But if you’re having difficulty figuring out what’s going on in the chords, you’ll want to skip ahead to the later chapter on harmony and try out techniques such as improvisation and the do/ti test.

Activity: Playing back chords

Goal: Replicate heard chords

Before you start: Make sure you have access to an instrument that can play chords (arpeggiation on a single-line instrument may work for some songs).

Instructions: Listen to the songs in the playlist below. For each, listen to the first 1–2 phrases, and then try to play back the chords on an instrument. Do not worry about playing the melody as well unless you are comfortable with both. It may be helpful to play along with the recording to make sure your chords sound “right.” Trial-and-error is just fine, but make sure you are thinking about likely chords within the key.


Suggest a song for this playlist!


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Foundations of Aural Skills Copyright © 2022 by Timothy Chenette is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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