Harmonizing a Melody Over a Pedal Tone

In our previous examinations of drone-based licks, we explored ways to play single-note melodies against open-string pedal tones. This month, I’ll show you how to harmonize a melodic line over an open-string drone. One of the cool things about doing this is that it serves to emulate the sound of an open tuning by suggesting chordal sounds. It’s a little more challenging to achieve this kind of sound in standard tuning, but once you have the concept and technique down, the benefit is that you can emulate an open-tuning sound in any key.

For this lesson, let’s stick with using our open low E string as a pedal tone/drone, and we will devise melodic lines based on the E Mixolydian mode (E F# G# A B C# D). Keep in mind that the tonality reflected by the Mixolydian mode is a dominant-seven sound, so in the key of E, the harmonic reference is E7 (E G# B D).

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month**

Join now for unlimited access

US pricing $3.99 per month or $39.00 per year

UK pricing £2.99 per month or £29.00 per year 

Europe pricing €3.49 per month or €34.00 per year

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Prices from £2.99/$3.99/€3.49

Andy Aledort

Guitar World Associate Editor Andy Aledort is recognized worldwide for his vast contributions to guitar instruction, via his many best-selling instructional DVDs, transcription books and online lessons. Andy is a regular contributor to Guitar World and Truefire, and has toured with Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers, as well as participating in several Jimi Hendrix Tribute Tours.