4-Part to Lead Sheet

Part 3 – New Harmonizations

Another way to write a lead sheet is to copy in the melody and lyrics, but to write in your own chords. Those who play by ear, often find this way easier, because they depend on their ear to tell them what sounds good. While this might sound intimidating, it is actually a fun process to try. The process will help you learn the different sounds of chords and also helps you practice identifying different chords.

Copy in the melody and words just like we did in the previous exercise, but this time instead of analyzing each chord, we will create our own. example z.png

First look to write in chords on the strong beats. Since we are in 4/4 time for our example,we will write in chords on beats 1 and 3.  The next step is to identify the different chord options. The first note of the melody is G. We could have G be the root, the third or the fifth. Our first chord option is when G functions as the tonic. This would give us a G Major chord. When G functions as the 3rd this would create an E minor chord. When G functions as the 5th, a C chord is created. Our three chord options to play with the first melody note, is G, Em or C.

example zz.png


Beat 3 (our next strong beat) in that first measure is the same pitch as the first melody note, so our chord options are the same.

The first note of measure 2 is a B. So our chord options would look like these:

example zzz.png

Once you choose the chords you want to play on all the strong beats, then play the lead sheet following the steps. The only difference with this lead sheet from others you have played is that you are the arranger as you have created the harmonization and chords that will be played with the melody. Don’t be afraid to add a chord or change a chord on a weak beat.

This is not a fast process and will require experimentation with different chords. You may find when you change one chord, it requires that the previous or following chord must be changed. This is part of the artistic process. Take time and enjoy it. Your ear will begin to learn how different harmonies fit together and you will learn what harmonies you like.


Create your own harmonization for the hymn And Can It Be. The melody and words are written already notated for you. Using the melody note as the root, the 3rd or the 5th, decide which chord you want to use then write it in. Be sure to check the quality of the chord major, minor, diminished.

Step 1: Find chord options; Using the melody note as the root 3rd and 5th, find possible chords. Then identify the quality of the chord.

Step 2:Play through with a friend writing in the chord you choose over the melody note.

Step 3:Write in the rhythm pattern you want to play.

Step 4: Circle the chord tone you want to play for each note of the rhythm pattern.

Step 5:Play your part. For best success, find an instrument to play the chords as well as someone to sing or play the melody, so you can hear how your part fits.

And Can It Be – SCORE


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