Intermediate – Sample Lesson

Melodic Tension
In this free lesson we are going to discuss one of the ways to add tension to a composition or solo.

There are many ways to add tension to your composition this idea using a form of melodic tension is just one aspect. When using melodic tension, like anything in music remember the trick is not to repeat an idea too much in one composition. You want your music to sound fresh and different so don’t use the same format every time try and mix it up or limit the use.

In this example we are going to play over the key’s main tonality, in this example this means to play the strongest chord tones of chord I of the key. By adding tension to the chords that they do not belong to, before, they resolve back on the tonic chord at the end. (ie: the tension is created by using the notes of an Em arpeggio over other chords and returning back to the original sound of the Em chord. This is used to create a sense of eagerness to the ear of the listen, evoking the sense of anticipation. Em works in this progression as you are playing the keys main tonality.)

Ex – In the key of Em minor
Melodic Tension

Another way of adding tension to a piece is to play, what I think of as dancing around the note you want to hear (ie. above and below the note you are wanting to play/here, toying with the sound creating tension in the opposite way of the above example. By missing out the chord tones of the tonic chord you create a sense of tension to your root chord. This idea/technique has been used by many of the worlds Rock, Pop, Jazz and Classical musicians.