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LinkedIn Learning

Music Theory for Songwriters: Harmony

via LinkedIn Learning


Learn music theory through the lens of songwriting. These tutorials cover the basics of harmony: minor scales, modes, 7th chords, modulations, and more.

Music theory is fundamental to making and playing music—but it can be kind of dry. Music Theory for Songwriters is taught in a user-friendly and songwriting-focused way, demonstrating techniques on both keyboard and guitar, allowing songwriters to learn music theory while they learn song craft.

In this installment, musician Julian Velard digs into more intermediate-level music theory topics. Starting with minor scales, he shows examples of classic songs in minor keys, and then explores the modes of the diatonic scale (e.g., the mixolydian mode). Next, Julian dives into chords with 4 or more notes, covering 7th chords, chord extensions (e.g., 9ths, 11ths, and 13ths), suspended chords, diminished chords, augmented chords, and inversions. Finally, he covers key centers, modulations, pedal points, alternate bass notes, and polychords. At the end of each chapter, Julian explains the techniques shown within the context of his own original songs.


  • Welcome
  • What you should know before watching this course
  • Why music theory?
1. Minor Keys and Modes
  • The natural minor scale
  • The harmonic and melodic minor scales
  • Basic minor scale chord progressions
  • A song in a minor key
  • What are modes?
  • Dorian and Phrygian modes
  • Lydian and Mixolydian modes
  • Locrian mode and the whole tone scale
2. Four-Note Chords and Beyond
  • Major 7th chords
  • Minor 7th chords
  • Dominant 7th chords
  • Half-diminished 7th chords
  • Chord extensions
  • The color tones
  • Triads with an added note
  • Diminished 7th chords
  • Using 7th chords in a song
3. Key Centers, Modulations, and Alternate Bass Notes
  • Transposing a song for feel change or different voice ranges
  • Modulation
  • Modulation within a progression
  • The pedal point
  • Slash chords or upper structures
  • Building different harmonies from a single melody
  • Exploring modulation and pedal point in a song
  • Next steps

Taught by

Julian Velard


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