Reharmonization Project

Hello Musicians! This month we are covering some topics under the umbrella of the genre Jazz. So let’s review for a minute.

In my first post, I explained a little bit about HOW Jazz harmonization is derived from traditional triads. I did this by sharing a project I saw on a youtube tutorial, reharmonizing the first line of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. The first step was to match each note of the melody to a Diatonic 7th Chord, then we altered a few of the chords to create more of a chromatic flow and create many ii-V-I progressions. There are further steps we could take to introduce more Jazz concepts, but I left it at that to get the basics.

Moving forward with this topic, I have reharmonized a line of melody ON MY OWN (it was so empowering), which I will share with you today. The numbers represent the Scale Degrees because that is how I like to think about music. This is also the easiest way for me to convey melody without having the use of a sheet music software.

You Are My Sunshine (In the Key of C)

 ii7     V7       vi7     vii7       IM7    I7
Dm7   G7    Am7  Bdim7  Cmaj7 C7
              5        1          2              3       3   

                      iii7      IV7        vi7      IM7
                     Em7   Fmaj7   Am7  Cmaj7
              3        2          3            1          1   

                       iii7     vii7/ii      ii7
                    Em7    C#dim7   Dm7
              1        2          3                 4       6   

             V7                IM7
             G7            Cmaj7
              5        4       3    


The next step to this project is Voicing the chords. Basically, there are two types of piano voicing.

  1. Play the Root and (generally) 7th in the left hand, play melody and other notes in right hand
  2. Rootless voicing – This one would be utilized when playing in combination with a Bass instrument

After this, we get into stylistic stuff, rhythms, interpreting the music, and adding licks and other things. Here is where committing to playing Jazz involves studying with your ears. Every time I ask someone how to start playing Jazz, they tell me “Listen. For hours. and try to play what you hear”. Not everyone can or want to put the time into studying jazz, so I hope this reharmonizing projects gives you simple avenues to enrich your playing on a daily basis; adding a few more tools to your clinical repertoire. Because, after all, as Music Therapists we should have some level of comfort with most genres of music so we can be flexible enough to meet the needs of our clients.

Has anyone else taken the challenge to reharmonize? I would love to hear what you have come up with! I am also interested to know if anyone is currently using Jazz music in their clinical work. Please comment, or head over to our Facebook page to share your experience! I will be sharing a recording of this reharmonization on our page as well!

Be Musical,




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