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the choices of chords in folk music

The Sandman 27 May 08 - 04:38 AM
Jack Campin 27 May 08 - 06:27 AM
treewind 27 May 08 - 07:23 AM
The Fooles Troupe 27 May 08 - 08:50 AM
The Sandman 27 May 08 - 12:16 PM
GUEST,Jonny Sunshine 27 May 08 - 12:33 PM
M.Ted 27 May 08 - 02:02 PM
Jack Campin 27 May 08 - 04:50 PM
M.Ted 28 May 08 - 12:25 AM
GUEST,Peace 28 May 08 - 12:42 AM
M.Ted 28 May 08 - 01:00 AM
M.Ted 28 May 08 - 01:06 AM
Big Al Whittle 28 May 08 - 01:21 AM
M.Ted 28 May 08 - 12:04 PM
Big Al Whittle 28 May 08 - 12:13 PM
PoppaGator 28 May 08 - 12:58 PM
Big Al Whittle 28 May 08 - 02:58 PM
GUEST,SouthportFrank 28 May 08 - 04:09 PM
GUEST,Stringsinger 28 May 08 - 04:21 PM
GUEST,Frank Hamilton 28 May 08 - 04:37 PM
GUEST,Tunesmith 28 May 08 - 04:48 PM
Jack Campin 28 May 08 - 05:04 PM
GUEST,Tunesmith 28 May 08 - 05:34 PM
PoppaGator 28 May 08 - 06:01 PM
Don Firth 28 May 08 - 08:50 PM
Big Al Whittle 28 May 08 - 09:09 PM
The Fooles Troupe 29 May 08 - 01:44 AM
Big Al Whittle 29 May 08 - 02:23 AM
stormalong 29 May 08 - 03:00 AM
The Fooles Troupe 29 May 08 - 05:00 AM
Jack Campin 29 May 08 - 05:55 AM
The Fooles Troupe 29 May 08 - 06:52 AM
PoppaGator 29 May 08 - 12:34 PM
The Sandman 29 May 08 - 12:42 PM
The Sandman 29 May 08 - 12:48 PM
The Sandman 29 May 08 - 12:50 PM
The Sandman 29 May 08 - 12:53 PM
Big Al Whittle 29 May 08 - 12:57 PM
The Sandman 29 May 08 - 01:32 PM
M.Ted 29 May 08 - 01:48 PM
reggie miles 29 May 08 - 02:50 PM
Don Firth 29 May 08 - 05:57 PM
M.Ted 30 May 08 - 01:41 AM
The Sandman 30 May 08 - 04:33 AM
The Sandman 30 May 08 - 04:44 AM
The Fooles Troupe 30 May 08 - 04:59 AM
The Sandman 30 May 08 - 05:30 AM
M.Ted 30 May 08 - 10:06 AM
The Sandman 30 May 08 - 10:38 AM
The Sandman 30 May 08 - 10:45 AM
Jack Campin 30 May 08 - 11:12 AM
Don Firth 30 May 08 - 03:04 PM
The Sandman 30 May 08 - 04:23 PM
Murray MacLeod 30 May 08 - 06:11 PM
reggie miles 30 May 08 - 10:50 PM
M.Ted 31 May 08 - 12:53 AM
M.Ted 31 May 08 - 01:11 AM
The Fooles Troupe 31 May 08 - 01:42 AM
Peace 31 May 08 - 01:51 AM
M.Ted 31 May 08 - 02:22 AM
The Sandman 31 May 08 - 03:57 AM
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Subject: the choices of chords in folk music
From: The Sandman
Date: 27 May 08 - 04:38 AM

following up from Walkabout verses thread chords in folk music.
I thought the choices of chords,with relation to different modes,might be worth discussion.,in relation to English, irish scottish, welsh,music which uses four different modes.Aeolian Mixolydian,Dorian,Ionian .
The main problem seems to be when we getaway from the major key[ionian mode] to harmonising the other modes and the use of the third note of the chord.
the use of open tunings on the guitar,with the sympathetic ringing of strings,often seems suitable harmonically,with the use of dyads or power chords[often doubled or trebled].
on the other hand guitarists ,such as Peerie willie johnson have used standard tuning and jazz chords successfully to back shetland music,which seems to be using the same modes[please correct me if I am wrong].
do any guitarists know did Willie Johnson leave out thirds[when not in the major key] in his chords?,Ifind it difficult to hear as the chords are often damped.
obviously it is in the end a matter of indidvidual taste,and sometimes the minor third does sound good.the use of the sus 4 chord [whatever the tuning,seems to work on occassions too].Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: the choices of chords in folk music
From: Jack Campin
Date: 27 May 08 - 06:27 AM

I don't think Peerie Willie left out thirds much, but it's been a while since I heard him.

The point of leaving out thirds is (a) when you're stuck with an instrument that would give you the *wrong* third (like a two-row melodeon) or (b) when you're playing in a gapped scale and want to reinforce that character of the tune by maintaining the gaps in the harmony. Since a guitar usually gives you a choice of major or minor thirds everywhere, and Shetland music doesn't use gapped scales as much as Scottish music does, there wasn't much reason for Peerie Willie to do it.


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Subject: RE: the choices of chords in folk music
From: treewind
Date: 27 May 08 - 07:23 AM

"obviously it is in the end a matter of individual taste"
I rather suspect that's the beginning and end of it.
That "individual taste" will in turn be informed by whatever music the performer is used to listening to.

With most traditional songs and tunes, the melody is what is carried from one generation to another, as it can be sung and played on anything (even if it sometimes got written down too) and any harmony is entirely up to the performer.

It might be interesting to consider whether the chords are ever part of the song in folk music. In pop music they are, as is the entire arrangement including key instrumental solos, and in the tunes used as jazz "standards" the chord changes are almost more important than the melody as they are what the musicians improvise around. In classical music all the harmony is written out explicitly note by note, and in early baroque music a figured bass specified a bass line and implied chords but didn't say how they should be filled in. But what about contemporary folk songs? Some you could sing unaccompanied or with different-from-standard chords and they'd still be the same song - or would they?

Anahata


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Subject: RE: the choices of chords in folk music
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 27 May 08 - 08:50 AM

There's only 3 or 4 chords (relative to the key of the tune) NEEDED for Folk Music... and you can 'fake' some of them with others... which is why the Stradella Bass system is so useful - after all it was pretty much 'designed with Folk Music in Mind'... :-P

So much for 'chords', but then when old Stan asked me why I seemed to know mostly all the tunes, or at least catch them by the second verse and get them on the whistle, I did use to point out to Stan that 'there were really only about 7 Folk Music tunes'...

:-)


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Subject: RE: the choices of chords in folk music
From: The Sandman
Date: 27 May 08 - 12:16 PM

on the concertina often two note chords[dyads?]seem to suffice and two note suspensions.Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: the choices of chords in folk music
From: GUEST,Jonny Sunshine
Date: 27 May 08 - 12:33 PM

Finding chords to folk tunes isn't too tricky, the theory is pretty straightforward- there are 3 major and 3 minor chords in any diatonic scale, which pretty much covers all eventualites. Finding a stylistic approach that's wise to the subtleties of rhythm and melody, that's the real challenge.

The "correct" chord isn't necessarily the "right" one. Sometimes the chord is so obvious that playing it adds nothing, and sometimes there isn't a right chord at all.


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Subject: RE: the choices of chords in folk music
From: M.Ted
Date: 27 May 08 - 02:02 PM

The three major/three minor" chord system that Jonny Sunshine claims is "straightforward" really isn't--A typical melodic phrase is four measures-so with only on chord change per measure, there are 1296 possible chord progressions.

Only thing is, there are seven chords, one triad based on each scale step, not six--so that means that there are 2401 possible chord progressions, and that's if you only allow one change per measure--and we haven't even gotten into talking about modal scales yet.


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Subject: RE: the choices of chords in folk music
From: Jack Campin
Date: 27 May 08 - 04:50 PM

Those extra chords are diminisheds, which are DEGENERATE, SICK and EVIL. They lead to divorce, drug abuse and teenage pregnancy. They need to be STAMPED OUT forthwith and people who play them are to be SHUNNED.

At least, that was the idea the Scottish programming department of the BBC had in the Fifties - dance bands were forbidden to use them on-air.   That eventually changed thanks to the deviousness of Angus Fitchet, who liked adding manouche jazz chords to his arrangements and wasn't going to let Lord Reith stop him. So he wrote a tune, "J.B. Milne", which has a prominent descending diminished seventh arpeggio for which no other harmonization makes sense. It became one of the most popular tunes of the period.


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Subject: RE: the choices of chords in folk music
From: M.Ted
Date: 28 May 08 - 12:25 AM

Of course, if you add the note a respectable major third below the fundamental--the rather iffy B-d-f becomes G-B-d-f, a charming and tastful Dominant 7th--

I have dug out a file of "J.B. Milne" and it doesn't sound particularly manouche to me, though I have no idea how the Scottish Programming Department at the BBC in the 1950's might hear anything--


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Subject: RE: the choices of chords in folk music
From: GUEST,Peace
Date: 28 May 08 - 12:42 AM

I tend to write using (if the key is C) C, Am, Am6, Am7, F, Fsus4, Dm, Dm6, Dm7, G, Gsus4, G6, G7, Em, Em6. However, there are really only three chords there, and without the others, the voice can accomplish some of the 6ths, 7ths and sus 4s. Most songs in a folk/rock vein can be done using the basic three. I only ever once used a D13b5b9, but the song called for a diminished, too. Go figure.


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Subject: RE: the choices of chords in folk music
From: M.Ted
Date: 28 May 08 - 01:00 AM

I like the D13b5b9, Peace--it is one of my favorite chords, in fact, though lately, I've been inclined to use an Eb7 instead, and not even the full chord.   Another go figure.


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Subject: RE: the choices of chords in folk music
From: M.Ted
Date: 28 May 08 - 01:06 AM

Now that Peace has made this serious, I should probably point out that there are a couple of different theories about guitar chording--one holds that you play the melody against the chord progression, the other, that the chord progression follows the melody--


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Subject: RE: the choices of chords in folk music
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 28 May 08 - 01:21 AM

I don't think I know any of these chords. I tend to use three chords - sometimes a relative minor, sometimes a close relation of a relative. Tart it up a bit and hope for the best.

I think even if you're playing musical nonsense, if your hands can find a rhythm in there - it sounds like folk music. That may be naive, but it works for me. The instrument rather than a set of harmonic rules dictates what works.

Perhaps this is why it is so difficult to tab or notate folk guitar. A player like Paul Brady or Robert Johnson makes things work that seem almost impenetrable. I watched Brady's instructional dvd - and I think he had difficulty explaining the whys and wherefores himself - he had just worked at it with his hands til it sounded like something. If YOU worked at the same piece and with the same tuning it will come out differently. Your hands and your guitar is different.

You know the old Eddie Condon quote when asked about the difference between his school of jazz and the modernists: they flatten their fifths, whereas we consume ours.


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Subject: RE: the choices of chords in folk music
From: M.Ted
Date: 28 May 08 - 12:04 PM

There are generally a few strums or picking patterns that are used in any given folk style--(and often, it is really just one) with some common embellishments and variations that are applied at the discretion of the player--but as long as the player keeps the feel, they can bring nearly anything else into the tune--

Some things that people play on the guitar are hard to notate because it is relatively easy to play a complex rhythm, then, with a few strategic finger maneuvers, create a bass line that moving in a different direction---you've got four voices going one way, and one voice playing something else, so you'd need to write out a conductor's score to show what's going on-


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Subject: RE: the choices of chords in folk music
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 28 May 08 - 12:13 PM

If you watch someone like Martin Simpson play you can see him use and adapt the same rhythms used by his plucking fingers with just slight changes for different tunings.

With folk guitar its not really about different modal scales whatever the experts say. Its about the what the hands can accomplish.


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Subject: RE: the choices of chords in folk music
From: PoppaGator
Date: 28 May 08 - 12:58 PM

Well ~ upon returning to Mudcat after the long holiday weekend, I am pleased to see that "Chords in Folk" has finally gone off to thread heaven. Perhaps this discussion will be a bit saner.

I am of the school of thought that believes harmony is a very basic component in the universal language that is music. Why is it that the human ear and the human mind senses certain feelings in association with particular combinations of sounds whose frequencies are related to each other in certain well-defined mathematical ratios? (E.g., minor third vs major third.) This seems to be something built into our DNA, or whatever ~ a very basic and mysterious aspect of the way we have evolved/been created.

While I will gladly admit that not every song necessarily benefits from chordal accompaniment, most do; and while I certainly recognize that there is never only one possible harmonic arrangement for any given tune/air/song, the available alternatives are fairly limited, assuming that the object is to create a series of sounds that will "feel" coherent to the listener.

(Parenthetically, referring back to the controversies explored in "Chords in Folk," I would argue that even in musical traditions of unaccompanied vocals, such as sean nos, there are "implied" harmonies. The vocabulary of vocal flourishes or trills (or whatever you call 'em) within a given tradition consist of sets of notes that constitute chords, expressed as arpeggios because the human voice does not normally produced multiple notes simultaneously. There are different sets of such notes ~ scales or apreggios ~ characteristic of different folk genres: one for Irish/Celtic music, another for soul/gospel, etc.)

A couple of my favorite chord progressions, associated with particular folksongs, come to mind. In both cases, a mid-20th-century "folk revival" artist took a traditional song and sang it against an unconventional and unexpected chord progression ~ not the simple 2- or 3-chord sequence that any halfway-musically-literate person could easily find. These arrangements might well be characteristic of the recent era from which they come, a time when "folk music" had necessarily become more self-conscious than in earlier days, and when folk musicians almost universally played "chordal" instruments like the guitar and thus tended to think in therms of chords.

One is Dave Van Ronk's "House of the Rising Sun," for which he famously gets little credit except from the few insiders aware of the story: Dave comes up with a highly original and very dramatic chordal setting for this old tune, and Bob Dylan promptly "steals" it to record on his first album before Dave has a chance to put it on record. Whenever DVR plays the song to a halfway-knowledgable folk audience, he is met with the response "hey, you're playing that Dylan song," and soon drops the song from his repertoire. A few years later, Eric Burdon and the Animals score a worldwide hit using that same chord progression, and it's Dylan's turn to drop the song in response to cries of "hey, you're playng that Animals song."

I think that, of all Dave Van Ronk's great accomplishments, that one little sequence of chords, so dramatic and so memorable, may be his single most important and most lasting act of musical creation. And, or course, he never made a dime off it! (That, I suppose, marks his accomplishment as true folk music...)

The other song whose chord arrangement I find especially notable is Bob Coltman's setting of "I Know You Rider." He heard a collector's tape (Lomax?) of an unaccompanied singer performing a 16-bar blues, and came up with an original and very exciting arrangement quite different from the "normal," expected, blues chords. For details see this great old Mudcat thread:

thread.cfm?threadid=40592

(I'd recommend reading the whole thread, but for a quicker summary you could read only the posts from "GUEST Bob Coltman.")


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Subject: RE: the choices of chords in folk music
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 28 May 08 - 02:58 PM

Not sure I'd agree about DVR's greatest achievement. For me it would probably be his use of E tuning in Green Green Rocky Road and Bad Dream Blues. Those songs opened a lot of doors of perception for English guitar players. And probably DVR's version of St Louis tickle inspired a lot of the ragtime stuff that emerged in the ten or so years after.

Ragtime has a very secure place in the British music psyche - if you grew up with George Formby, the chord progressions that you get in Blind Blake and Blind Boy Fuller are very similar. Cleaning Windows and too Tight rag for example are virtually the same progression. Quite a lot of people felt immediately at home with these chords and wrote songs using them almost spontaneously. I suppose once DVR had done the revival spade work - and our own Ralph McTell had embellished it.

I was listening to a recently written song by Derby's Mike Gregory just last night, written using a ragtime chord progrssion.


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Subject: RE: the choices of chords in folk music
From: GUEST,SouthportFrank
Date: 28 May 08 - 04:09 PM

Regarding Peerless Willie Johnson, I am currently selling some folk mags on Ebay UK, and one of the mags has a feature on Willie in which he descibes his style. The magazine in question is the first one listed.
Link to mag featuring Peerless Willie Johnson on Ebay UK


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Subject: RE: the choices of chords in folk music
From: GUEST,Stringsinger
Date: 28 May 08 - 04:21 PM

"One is Dave Van Ronk's "House of the Rising Sun," for which he famously gets little credit except from the few insiders aware of the story: Dave comes up with a highly original and very dramatic chordal setting for this old tune, and Bob Dylan promptly "steals" it to record on his first album before Dave has a chance to put it on record."

Sorry, I go with Josh White.

Frank


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Subject: RE: the choices of chords in folk music
From: GUEST,Frank Hamilton
Date: 28 May 08 - 04:37 PM

Although there are many choices, much has to do with the orientation and the expectation of the listener. Some are stopped by certain chords that are used, others accept them without reservation. It comes down to this: interpretation. Does this interpretation suit you or not? I would argue for example that Leadbelly did not know the changes for "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out" and therefore did not do a great job on that song. Also, when you listen to early recordings of Micheal Coleman, the renowned Sligo fiddler, the piano player that accompanied him was either drunk at the time or completely unknowledgeable about the melodic implications of the music.

OTOH, Josh White brought "House of the Rising Sun" to life with his chordal arrangements and I think even might have changed the tune a bit. The Animals picked up the tune and introduced their own chord arrangements which Joan Baez apparently used.

Tony Saletan did the chords for Micheal Row The Boat Ashore which Pete Seeger used (and I don't know if Pete ever gave him credit for that).

"All My Sorrows" by Glen Yarborough was originally "All My Trials" and Erik Darling put the Bahamian beat to it making it popular.

I advocate that choices of chords can make or break a song. Irving Berlin thought so when he hired trained musicians into his studio to run through different chord progressions for his newly minted tunes. It was, "not that chord, try another one" until Berlin got what he wanted.

Ralph Vaughan-Williams popularized "Greensleeves" with his chord progression in (the London Symphony?)

I don't know who put the Latiin beat to "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?" but Pete's original chord progression (and a rubato interpretation of the song) reflected the mood of Stenka Razin and Russian choral or balalaika folk music. The source for "Flowers" can be found in Mahail Sholokov's final pages in the novel, "Quiet Flows the Don".

Chords can make the song as clothes (the man) but if not right they can detract also.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: the choices of chords in folk music
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 28 May 08 - 04:48 PM

We've been through this before! The Animals got "The House of the Rising Sun" - and the chords, from Dylan, who got it, in turn, from Dave Van Ronk. By the way, I hate the way The Animals sing the song in their phoney American accent, and, unlike Bob Dylan, without the slightest trace of subtlety in their vocal delivery.


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Subject: RE: the choices of chords in folk music
From: Jack Campin
Date: 28 May 08 - 05:04 PM

Wasn't Dylan's middle-class imitation of a rootsy southern American accent just as fake as what the Animals did?

They sang it in tune, anyway.

As fars as I know Vaughan Williams only treated "Greensleeves" once, in his "Fantasia on Greensleeves" for string orchestra. I'm not sure how different his harmonization was from the earliest printed ones, but the main effect of that version was just to confuse a couple of generations of listeners into thinking that "Lovely Joan" (which he used for a contrasting B section) had something intrinsically to do with the "Greensleeves" melody itself.


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Subject: RE: the choices of chords in folk music
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 28 May 08 - 05:34 PM

Dylan's singing on "The House of the Rising Sun" is terrific!


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Subject: RE: the choices of chords in folk music
From: PoppaGator
Date: 28 May 08 - 06:01 PM

Without going to any great effort or expense, I'd like to hear Josh White's arrangement of "House..." While I have great respect for Frank/Stringsinger, I strongly suspect that Josh White's chordal arrangement of the song was different from, and more conventional than, Dave Van Ronk's later effort ~ regardless of how well Josh undoubtedly performed the piece.

This opinion-verging-upon-conviction of mine is based mostly upon things that I've read ~ from several different sources ~ about the controversy around Dylan's appropriation of Dave's arrangment.

Of course, I'm willing to stand corrected; God knows I've been wrong before. However, I suppose I'm just "from Missouri" on this question: you gotta show me before I believe.

Al, I don't denegrate Van Ronk's great influence as an acoustic guitar player (as fingerpicker of ragtime pieces written for the paino, and as a pioneer in the use of certain tunings), but I still feel certain that he reached more people, more deeply, worldwide, in and out of the "folk world," nonmusicians as well as players, with that one particular brilliant original chord progression. (Of course he reached them indirectly, through the performances of others.)

Unless, of course, it was Josh White's chord progression ;^)

Jack Campin, it's perfectly acceptable to dislike and denigrate Bob Dylan's singing voice. We all understand that it's raspy and nasal and not to everyone's taste. But Bob never sang a note out of tune. His general overall "sound" or "tone" is definitely not everyone's cup of tea, but there has never been anything wrong with his sense of pitch.

I agree that Bob's singing persona is just as "fake" as Eric Burdon's, but I do not agree that there's anything wrong with that. The sound of words as pronouced in a given song is one aspect of the musical sound, and various different "accents" are appropriate to different genres of song. Use of the appropriate vowel and consonant sounds is part of the vocal artist's "palette," so to speak. If the singer truly understands the tradition in which he is working ~ as did both Dylan and Burdon, to my ear ~ the song will sound "right." And if it sounds right when you hear it without knowledge of the singer's identity, it shouldn't sound any less right after one learns that the singer is actually from Minnesota rather than Oklahoma, for example, or that he's White and English rather than Black and American.

In other words, I believe (among other things) that a white boy CAN sing the blues...


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Subject: RE: the choices of chords in folk music
From: Don Firth
Date: 28 May 08 - 08:50 PM

Walt Robertson, from whom I first took guitar lessons in 1952, sang a lot of songs that he had learned from Josh White—in person—complete with the guitar licks that White taught him. Among them was "House of the Rising Sun." I first heard the song sung by Walt, and shortly thereafter I heard Josh White's recorded version. Dead ringers!

I, in turn, learned it from Walt, complete with some of the Josh White licks, but it turned out that 1) I can't really sing the song for sour owl jowls; and 2) not long after I learned it, everybody and his or her pet chicken were singing it, so I just sorta "tabled" it. I may be able to probe the depths of my memory and resurrect the accompaniment, and if so, I'll try to post the chords at least (gimme a couple of days--no guarantees, though).

In the meantime, I checked YouTube to see if it might by chance have been posted there. Sorry, no joy. But I did find these videos of Josh White:

CLICKY #1 and CLICKY #2.

PoppaGator, I don't exactly know what you mean by "conventional," but I don't think one can really expect the accompaniments this man used to be all that "conventional."

It may very well be that Frank Hamilton knows exactly how Josh White did it.   Frank?

Don Firth

P. S. By the way, in the second clip, the smoke that seems to be drifting out of Josh White's right ear? Walt told me that when Josh started to sing, he would often take his unfinished cigarette and stick it behind his ear. Sometimes drove his audiences nuts, expecting his hair to catch fire or burn his ear, but it never happened that Walt ever saw! [Don't try that at home! Don't try that at all! Leave it for the professionals!]


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Subject: RE: the choices of chords in folk music
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 28 May 08 - 09:09 PM

The Animals were fantastic.. One of the best live bands ever. Hilton Valentine's guitar was really the defining sound. they have had other vocalists, other organists - but it was Hilt's guitar that really nailed it all together and made it unique.

Once again it wasn't really the chords - it was his touch. Hilt's work with the Animals was a bit like say Tampa Red's. Not sort of mindblowingly complicated - but there was something in the touch, that was pure magic. As long as he was with them the sound was unmistakeable.

If he'd been making records nobody listened to, or been an old black guy. he would have had a zillion middle class folk fans saying,sagely - oh that's the real stuff alright. Instead he was hung out to dry by 'the music industry', and people as you can see get very sniffy. Sometime - just listen to those original recordings.


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Subject: RE: the choices of chords in folk music
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 29 May 08 - 01:44 AM

QUOTE
Those extra chords are diminisheds, which are DEGENERATE, SICK and EVIL. They lead to divorce, drug abuse and teenage pregnancy. They need to be STAMPED OUT forthwith and people who play them are to be SHUNNED.

using (if the key is C) C, Am, Am6, Am7, F, Fsus4, Dm, Dm6, Dm7, G, Gsus4, G6, G7, Em, Em6. However, there are really only three chords there, and without the others, the voice can accomplish some of the 6ths, 7ths and sus 4s. Most songs in a folk/rock vein can be done using the basic three.
UNQUOTE

Yep - only need the "Stradella triple" ... if you really NEED any of those notes in the other relative chords, they SHOULD be in the melody... :-P


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Subject: RE: the choices of chords in folk music
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 29 May 08 - 02:23 AM

too weird - if you need a note, use it.

its like these people who always claim to be being used in relationships. what's the virtue in being useless?

This business of, for it to be real folk music, how we all have to try and sing modal scales that were prescribed in the days when there was only one set of bagpipes in the village and that had half the notes missing. Screw it! Its for slavish morons.

We cannot unmake ourselves. We grew up in an age where we had access to all kinds of musical experiences, and we all absorbed those experiences at an age when we were too clever to absorb dumb ideas about 'the nature of folkmusic'. If we selfconciously deny that eclectic aspect of the culture and we were brought up in, we are (probably for not wholly honourable reasons) turning away from our fellow humans.


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Subject: RE: the choices of chords in folk music
From: stormalong
Date: 29 May 08 - 03:00 AM

Many years ago I picked up a book called called 'Folk Tunes to Accompany: Modes and Minors' (1971) by Robert Noble. I've not found anything since that addresses so explicitly the issue of harmonising modal tunes.

His basic approach is to build triads, but only on the actual notes used in the mode. For example, if you have a 'pre-Aeolian' tune in A with no 6th note, you wouldn't use any chords containing F.

On the concertina I'm learning (a Crane Duet), it is certainly easier to use broken chords based on the 1st and 5th notes which I presume are equivalent to Power Chords on a guitar, than to bring in the 3rds, but that's quite possible too. On an Anglo Concertina (or Melodeon), however, it's very easy to play in thirds, but the results can be unusual by the standards of modern harmony. Dan Worrall's book on William Kimber covers this in detail.


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Subject: RE: the choices of chords in folk music
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 29 May 08 - 05:00 AM

"For example, if you have a 'pre-Aeolian' tune in A with no 6th note, you wouldn't use any chords containing F"

Brillant - and brillant musical theory too!


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Subject: RE: the choices of chords in folk music
From: Jack Campin
Date: 29 May 08 - 05:55 AM

I alluded to that approach to gapped scales in my first reply in this thread - I'd considered writing something along those lines as a companion piece for my modes tutorial but didn't realize there was already a book about it.

With an autoharp you don't have as many choices. I've got one of the very simple six-bar models, originally designed for playing in G - I retuned it into two sharps and cut the felts to give me the major/minor triads. I can get a few simpler chords by combining bars, e.g. just F# and A by combining the Dmaj and F#min bars. It still isn't all that useful. I have wondered if some sort of "subtractive" system might not be more flexible, where all normal chords were formed by holding a few bars down at once, with each bar taking only one or two pitch classes out.


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Subject: RE: the choices of chords in folk music
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 29 May 08 - 06:52 AM

Well, Jack...

If it had a bar for each note - you would need 12 for a chromatic system - it would release each octave of the named note when depressed.

All you gotta figure out is some way of arranging them so that with 4 fingers - it may be difficult to use the thumb, especially if the instrument is held at some angles - you could get most reasonable chords... you may have to be satisfied with having a 'base' key like C Major...


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Subject: RE: the choices of chords in folk music
From: PoppaGator
Date: 29 May 08 - 12:34 PM

Don Firth:

I really appreciate your effort to dredge that long-ago information out of your memory. Best of luck, and if you just can't find it, we understand. (Those of us "of a certain age," anyway...)

I certainly realize how important and how powerful a performer Josh White was, and I have no doubt that his take on "House of the Rising Sun" was terrific. My only reason for not backing off immediately ~ from the contention that his arrangement was not the same one later played by Dave Van Ronk and others ~ is that I've read in a number of different books and articles that Van Ronk originated the dramatic and unconventional chord progression for "House" that has become so familiar to so many through the Animals' recording (and to a smaller population at an earlier date through Bob's).

That progression, for anyone not already familiar, goes like this (one measure per chord symbol, and ~ I think ~ six eighth-note beats per measure):

Am C D F
Am C E E7
Am C D F
Am E Am E7


That's it, for each four-line verse. Of course, this can be transposed into any other key, either using a capo or the old-fashioned method that requires one to use his/her brain.

The transition from "C" to "D" and then to "F" at the end of the 1st and 3rd lines is the part that sounds most dramatic and "unconventional" to me.

A more obvious or "conventional" arrangement, to my mind, would be one that used only Am, Dm and E/E7, when playing in Am ~ the good old "three-chord" system in a minor key.

I seem to hear Joan Baez singing "House of the Rising Sun" in my mind's ear. If indeed she recorded the song, I'm pretty sure that she would not have used the DVR/Dylan/Animals chords ~ that's not how my fading (and perhaps imagined) memory sounds, anyway. And if she did indeed record the song, she may well have done so before Van Ronk (putatively) came up with his arrangement and began singing it nightly at various Village nightspots in the weeks preceeding Dylan's recording sessions for his first album. That would have been about early 1963, if I'm not mistaken.

By the way, WLD ~ nice appreciation of Animals guitarist Hilton Valentine. While the chord progression was copped from the Dylan recording, Valentine was not only the first to "electrify" the sound, he also was the first to play the chords as arpeggios. His rhythmic little picking-pattern, as repeated on each chord change, added another layer of appeal to an already-excellent arrangement.


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Subject: RE: the choices of chords in folk music
From: The Sandman
Date: 29 May 08 - 12:42 PM

Also, when you listen to early recordings of Micheal Coleman, the renowned Sligo fiddler, the piano player that accompanied him was either drunk at the time or completely unknowledgeable about the melodic implications of the music.
very true,
some of the BC ACCORDION PLAYERS are bizarre as well,playing in a dorian and using A major basses.
so sometimes the choices are wrong,sometimes there can be more than one correct chord progression.
what I do find interesting are some of the alternatives to the dominant seventh,a minor chord based on the fifth of the dominant seventh with added notes,or a series of minor thirds for example for g7,d f g# b,or my favourite the dominant 11 substitution.,how these work obviously depends upon the melody notes.Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: the choices of chords in folk music
From: The Sandman
Date: 29 May 08 - 12:48 PM

The transition from "C" to "D" and then to "F" at the end of the 1st and 3rd lines is the part that sounds most dramatic and "unconventional" to me.
there is a logical reason why it works though,it involves contrary motion,and chromatic movement [c e g c e] to[ a d f #a d]to [f c f a c f].Dick Miles [egotistical Twat]


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Subject: RE: the choices of chords in folk music
From: The Sandman
Date: 29 May 08 - 12:50 PM

the should read [cegce] to [a d a d f#].


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Subject: RE: the choices of chords in folk music
From: The Sandman
Date: 29 May 08 - 12:53 PM

the same chord progressions do not sound nearly as good in different inversions ,or if youplay them as bar chords.Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: the choices of chords in folk music
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 29 May 08 - 12:57 PM

The other thing about Hilton Valentine on that particular piece. he bought all that Shadows (through an echoplex) sound with him. Now that was very of its period. Dare one say, part of English beat group folk culture. Also unlike Josh or DVR, he was playing the arpeggios with a plectrum. There weren't a hell of a lot of fingerpickers to see in those days not round here there weren't) - so I guess so his way of working was very much of his class.

Also the choice of a Gretsch (I can't remember, was it a Country Gentleman?) as opposed to the thinner sound of strat favoured by The Shads and (stateside) The Ventures.

Ah well I guess this stuff will be lost in the mists of time. After all its not valid folkmusic, is it?


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Subject: RE: the choices of chords in folk music
From: The Sandman
Date: 29 May 08 - 01:32 PM

yes it is,but not according to Jim Carroll.


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Subject: RE: the choices of chords in folk music
From: M.Ted
Date: 29 May 08 - 01:48 PM

When finding chords for modal music, it is often useful to use one chord for each tone center, even when the melody notes around that tonal center are outside of the chord.


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Subject: RE: the choices of chords in folk music
From: reggie miles
Date: 29 May 08 - 02:50 PM

These conversations are far beyond someone like me who has no technical knowledge of music in general or any music in particular. I've never had any kind of formal lessons in anything musical, only what my friend showed me, a few of the most basic guitar chords when I was first learning. I also had someone show me a few seconds of how to play my saw. I've learned all that I now know by beating on my guitars until they fell to pieces in my hands or by bowing the hairs off my bows as I was trying to master the art of making music with my saw.

I was going to make a comment about what I've heard in early acoustic blues music. Much of what those early players were doing has baffled me for decades. Without the ability to read music or understand tab, I've not been able to glean what others have discovered about the styles and approaches of some of those early masters. The one thing that I've noticed while listening to them was that their playing was unique and not guided by the formal principles that are so prevalent today. Their approaches were unothodox and unconventional and that fact made their sound unlike anything else being played in the popular music circles of the day and even unlike anyone else among the blues players of the day.

I find the standardization of teaching techniques and the use of modern communication modes like this web we enjoy, to be both a blessing and a curse when it comes to it's influence on chord choices used in folk styles of music. Yes, this WWW allows us to spread virally in mere hours what could have taken a lifetime to share just a few decades ago but this mass intermingling of information on a world wide scale has a kind of diluting and homogenizing affect on our musical landscape. I hear it when I attend open stages and when I go to club performances. I see the effect of it in the kinds of music represented in festival lineups and when I turn on my radio. It's everywhere, on the TV, and in movie scores.

It disturbs me. Because I've always thought of 'real' folk music as having had no such world wide influences. Folk music was always a much more individual and personal expression, even to the point of being uneducated and primitive. It was that uniqueness that I found fascinating when listening to early folk music examples and it is that loss of individualism in musical expression today that I find so very sad. But what's even more sad is the fact that we rush so blindly forward toward becoming even more connected to everything else around us and it seems that no one is mourning the loss of what we had.

So many obsess over making certain that we pass on the exact chords or notes to future generations of some, now long forgotten, past creative moment and forget that it was creative inspiration not blind imitation that wrought the chord or note choice in the first place. We seem to have lost sight of paradise and are caught up in substituting ritual for that creative spark that truly makes our music a divine experience.

Okay, I'm getting down off my soap box now.


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Subject: RE: the choices of chords in folk music
From: Don Firth
Date: 29 May 08 - 05:57 PM

Just as a point, the fellow up in the Southern Appalachians accompanying songs he learned from his great-uncle on his Sear-Roebuck guitar is not re-inventing the wheel. Among other things, he may have gotten a "How to Play the Guitar" chord booklet with the guitar, showing basic chord diagrams. I think Sears used to include such things. And/or he may be able to read music a bit, having picked it up from singing from hymnals in church. The Southern mountains were pretty isolated, but they were not that isolated. And what music he'd be familiar with, even if only by ear, would have sprung from the broad western European music tradition, which encompassed everything from plainsong to madrigals, to Baroque, to classical, to country and western to, yes, Anglo-American folk songs and ballads. It also strongly colors the structure of blues. There is a lot of cross-fertilization.

There is a fear on the part of a lot of folks who haven't had any formal musical training (particularly in the folk music arena) that such training—especially the study of music theory—constitutes a sort of straightjacket woven out of strict rules and conventions, all of which are arbitrary. And that this inhibits or downright kills creativity and originality.

Before I first got actively interested in folk music, I'd had about a year's worth of singing lessons, just for the fun of it. I had no idea what I was going to do with it, but I enjoyed the lessons and went around blatting tenor operatic arias about an octave down (I'm a bass). But doing a bit of reading about music and the singing voice gave me a nodding acquaintance with a little music theory.   When I took up the guitar and started learning folk songs, I heard lots of interesting stuff on records in terms of guitar accompaniments, but I didn't know enough to be able to figure out accompaniments on my own. So I decided to study music theory. I was so much into wanting to perform folk songs and perform them well—with full respect for the songs and their histories and traditions—that I decided to change my major in college from English Literature to Music, but keeping English Lit. as a minor.

Some of my folkie friends had a real hissy-fit and warned me that if I studied music formally, I would be so bound down by rules that I would never be able to do folk music. I didn't believe this however, and pressed on, while said folkie friends shook their heads sadly and declared me a dead man.

Between two years at the University of Washington School of Music and another two years at the Cornish School of the Arts (a music conservatory, among other things) studying music theory, while taking further voice lessons and classic guitar lessons, I most definitely learned the advantages of tapping into the huge knowledge base of many centuries of musicians who have gone before.

With my voice, I learned to sing easily, with good breath support and voice placement and avoid the danger of damaging my voice the way many untrained singers often do (and no, I don't sound like an opera singer!). With the guitar, I learned enough technique to play a number of classic pieces (although I'm certainly no virtuoso!), and developed the kind of skill with my fingers that allowed me to watch someone play some pretty complicated things, such as alternate-bass picking for example, figure out what they were doing, and with a bit of practice, apply the technique myself.

But from studying music theory, I learned a bunch of "rules," yes. But this was in first year theory, about which Professor Verrall said, "First we learn the rules, and why they are rules. And then—we will learn how to break them. And when you break them, you will do it with a reason and know why you are breaking them!"

I learned about scales and modes. And I learned about building chords. And I learned why, with a given tune, some chords work and others do not. I also learned that, at any given point in a melody line, there is no single, "correct" chord—that there are a number of possibilities, some of which sound good and some sound terrible. And that sometimes, with a particular melody, what would be a wrong chord change in another melody sounds surprisingly good in this one.

I found that I was not bound by arbitrary rules and restrictions, I found that I was presented with a whole menu of possibilities that, had I not had this kind of training, I would never have thought of. Instead of a confining straightjacket, this training presented me a map of the whole territory. And once seeing that map, I could then decide where I wanted to go—and where I did not want to go.

It freed me.

When working out an accompaniment for a song I have just learn, it usually takes me only a few seconds to come up with a set of chords that are "correct" and provide a perfectly good accompaniment as is. And a lot of the time, I will simply stick with that. But if I wish, I have a whole bagful of things I can try to make the accompaniment something, still "correct," but a bit different and special—such as the chord change that just "makes" the accompaniment.

The trick then was to know when not to tart-up an accompaniment so much that it no longer supports the song, but distracts from it. If an accompaniment is more interesting than the song it accompanies, then it's not a good accompaniment.

Amusingly enough, some of the very people who tried to warn me off formal training wound up trying to copy a lot of my song accompaniments. And in more than one case, coming to me for lessons.

For accompanying songs and ballads, I use basic chords almost entirely:   major and minor triads with standard doublings, guitar chord fingerings right out of the chord diagrams in the beginners' book. I sometimes carefully work out a bass line (a little harmony or counterpoint to my voice) or toss in a bit of the melody somewhere between phrases or between verses. I almost never use augmented and diminished chords, although I will toss in an occasional added-note chord if it seems to fit.

Modes? No sweat. Just build the chords on the notes of the mode, same as with straight major or minor. For example, in Dorian mode, which differs from the standard natural minor only in that the 6th is raised a half-step.

Natural minor:    A B C D E F G a. The chords would be Am, Dm, and Em, with C, F, and G also available for "color" chords. These six chords contain only the notes within the A natural minor scale itself.

Dorian mode:    A B C D E F# G a. The chords would Am, D major (to accommodate the F#), and Em, with C, Bm (once again, because of the F#), and G as color chords. These six chords contain only the notes of the Dorian mode.

Music theory can get a little complicated. It's a bit like math, in a way. But knowing math makes all kinds of things possible, such as balancing your check book, building a bridge, or figuring out how the Cosmos works.

Give it a shot. Get a good book on music theory. Heck, Music Theory for Dummies would be a perfectly good place to start. It won't kill you. And it will turn on all kinds of light bulbs and have you saying "Aha!!" a lot.

Don Firth

P. S. Reggie, sometime when we're at a song fest or hoot, if you like, I can show you what I'm talking about.


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Subject: RE: the choices of chords in folk music
From: M.Ted
Date: 30 May 08 - 01:41 AM

Reggie Miles said "Much of what those early players were doing has baffled me for decades. Without the ability to read music or understand tab, I've not been able to glean what others have discovered about the styles and approaches of some of those early masters. The one thing that I've noticed while listening to them was that their playing was unique and not guided by the formal principles that are so prevalent today. "

Early blues has a really solid theoretical structure, and the formal principles that it is built on are very similar to the ones that are used in classical music of a certain period.

Some of the people that learned blues by copying from records never grasped the underlying musical structure, but it is there--


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Subject: RE: the choices of chords in folk music
From: The Sandman
Date: 30 May 08 - 04:33 AM

I will try and simplify what I said.The reasons why the chord progressions at the beginning of Rising Sun sound so good,is the choice of the inversions[the way the notes of the chords are arranged ],the relationship of the bass line to what the left hand is doing on the treble strings
the bass line starts with an A,When it comes to the C chord,the fifth string is fretted 3rd fret with a c notethe fourth string is fretted with an E note second fret,bassline moving upwards,meanwhile treble strings have some downward movement,third string goes from second fret downwards to open third string,next chord is D major,treble strings move up,bassline moves down,this is contrary motion.
if i chose different inversions[of the same chords] perhaps bar chords.
I would not get the same bass line.moving in theopposite

direction to the treble strings chords,so choice of inversions of chords as well as choice of chords is vitally important.
Dorian mode:    A B C D E F# G a. The chords would Am, D major (to accommodate the F#), and Em, with C, Bm (once again, because of the F#), and G as color chords. These six chords contain only the notes of the Dorian mode.
now the above is a very useful explanation,but it goes further than six chords,we have their cega[c6],and bdf#a [b minor seventh],or b modal 7 [bda]now this where open tunings on the guitar can be useful,because in open tunings,we have a little more freedom to double or treble [or quadruple even ]certain notes of the chord inversion,thus altering the flavour of the inversion completely.
I am going to put some links to my playing that illustrate,the importance of inversions,the first is in standard tuning but Ihave made it sound like an open tuning,the chord progressionis e modal,followed by d modal 6 /9 [a d b e no third],followed by d modal[ a d a d a]back to E modal.http://ie.youtube.com/watch?v=ojVFPeU0YQU Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: the choices of chords in folk music
From: The Sandman
Date: 30 May 08 - 04:44 AM

finally to illustrate with another example,the use of contrary motion again,and how important the choice of inversions are.
Willie of the Winsbury,the tune starts high and comes down,so I start my harmony line low and work upwards in direct contrast and moving in the opposite direction to my voice.
this accompaniment is not a single line melody accompaniment,but is chordally based.you can get to it through the Bushes And Briars link.
so inversions and the doubling or trebling or quadrupling of notes can give vitally different flavours.
in dadgad,its possible to have a d modal chord,dadaad,or dadddd,something that is very difficult in standard tuning.Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: the choices of chords in folk music
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 30 May 08 - 04:59 AM

Well said Don.

Theory is just the basis of effective transmitted knowledge.

Ignorance is the basis of just fumbling in the dark.

And Captain Birdseye gave just one example of this:

"why the chord progressions at the beginning of Rising Sun sound so good,is the choice of the inversions"

With enough knowledge of theory, there is no need to tell those who have studied music theory, that IS one of the things you just learn.


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Subject: RE: the choices of chords in folk music
From: The Sandman
Date: 30 May 08 - 05:30 AM

sorry, didnt mean to be patronising ,jut trying to help Reggie.


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Subject: RE: the choices of chords in folk music
From: M.Ted
Date: 30 May 08 - 10:06 AM

It would help if folks could see the fretboard while you play, Dick--otherwise, they are unable to understand the lesson, being stunned senseless by your sterling profile;-)--


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Subject: RE: the choices of chords in folk music
From: The Sandman
Date: 30 May 08 - 10:38 AM

so.my first chord is 6 string open,5 string 7 fret,4string 9fret,3 string 9fret top two strings open.
the next chord is the same shape slid two frets down, top two strings open b and e,sixth string is not played.
then dmajor shape but top string is fretted at fifth fret,second string is fretted at 3rd fret,3rd string is fretted at


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Subject: RE: the choices of chords in folk music
From: The Sandman
Date: 30 May 08 - 10:45 AM

sorry hit wrong button,to continue: at second fret.so although the first two chords are not contrary motion,the top two strings are staying still while I am moving down,then between second and third chord there is contrary motion,and contrary motion as I return to my original chord.E modal.
sixth string is not picked at all,apart from on e modal chord.Dick Miles


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Subject: RE: the choices of chords in folk music
From: Jack Campin
Date: 30 May 08 - 11:12 AM

I had diatonic autoharps in mind (as I said, mine is tuned in two sharps, for the commonest keys in Scottish music).

The kind of arrangement I was thinking of: seven bars, with each bar suppressing two pitch classes a third apart: c#e, f#a, bd, eg, ac#, df#. You can then get all the basic triads by holding two bars down. Marking the pitch classes that *do* sound in upper case and the muted ones in lower, we get:

ACE / bdfg = bg + df : A
DFA / bceg = bg + ce : D
GBD / acef = af + ce : G
FAC / bdeg = bd + eg : F#m
BDF / aceg = ac + eg : Bm
EGB / acdf = ac + df : Em
CEG / abdf = af + bd : C#dim

And we can also get sevenths:

CEGB / adf = df + af : C#half-dim??
DFAC / beg = bg + bd : Dmaj7
GBDF / ace = ac + ce : Gmaj7
FACE / bdg = bd + bg : F#min7
BDFA / ceg = ce + eg : Bmin7
EGBD / acf = ac + af : Emin7
ACEG / bdf = bd + df : Adom7

So effectively we get 14 "logical" bars from 7 physical ones (and a whole lot of weird or useless combinations as well). Anybody got a more efficient design along the same lines?


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Subject: RE: the choices of chords in folk music
From: Don Firth
Date: 30 May 08 - 03:04 PM

Dick, I didn't want to get involved in trying to explain added note chords, like C6, which is basically a C major chord with an A added—but not really a different chord. Or get involved in different inversions. Playing a C chord, composed of C, E, and G (and various doublings of those three notes) with an E in the bass, a C in the middle, and a G on top doesn't make it a different chord. It's still a C chord, but in first inversion. No matter how you slice it, there are still only six basic major or minor triads (chords) in any key.

[Before someone leaps in to "correct" me, let me forestall that by pointing out that the diminished triad built on the seventh position of the major scale is rarely used as anything more than a passing chord, and is generally subsumed in the dominant seventh, which, in addition to its own root, contains the diminished triad. Or get involved in "modal" chords (a misnomer), i.e., omitting one of the notes of a triad, which is perfectly okay, but as far as nomenclature is concerned, it's no longer a "chord."]

I didn't want to create more confusion in a subject that a lot of people find plenty confusing already. The subject itself is not really that difficult, but attempts to explain it can get pretty messy.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: the choices of chords in folk music
From: The Sandman
Date: 30 May 08 - 04:23 PM

yes Don, your right,two note groups are Dyads,
Sorry, I just got over enthusiastic.


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Subject: RE: the choices of chords in folk music
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 30 May 08 - 06:11 PM

... Early blues has a really solid theoretical structure, and the formal principles that it is built on are very similar to the ones that are used in classical music of a certain period.

Some of the people that learned blues by copying from records never grasped the underlying musical structure, but it is there...


Hi Ted, long time no talk, but I think you will have to amplify this particular assertion for the benefit of those luckless individuals like myself who grew up thousands of miles from the Mississippi delta, but who came to love the blues through listening to recordings ...


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Subject: RE: the choices of chords in folk music
From: reggie miles
Date: 30 May 08 - 10:50 PM

Ted, I have no doubt that there was a lot of really solid theoretical structure in the blues from that period. Those influences are easy to hear. I am aware that folks were imitating more sophisticated music of the day in some respects. What fascinates me more than the educated stuff is the stuff that seems to come from no such background. It has a much more primitive feel and an undereducated or uneducated sound but even so it has a power and spirit that shakes me to my core. I've heard it on some scratchy old 78s that I've found. Somehow, I don't think that those folks were concerned about theoretical structures and formal principles.

Foolestroupe, you can call it ignorance and fumbling in the dark if you like, but I consider it unlocking the door to their souls and laying bare their spirits.


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Subject: RE: the choices of chords in folk music
From: M.Ted
Date: 31 May 08 - 12:53 AM

Actually, I just made that up--blues is just some crazy random music with no structure at all;-)

Really, the repeating "Boogie Woogie" bass line is the equivalent to the classical basso ostinato, which repeats in three sets of four measure phrases, in a manner similar to the chaconne or the passagalia. Each four measure phrase breaks down into a pair of two measure phrases where the second pair either repeats of first phrase, or is variation, played as a call and response, or, if you like, antiphonally.

That's purely for discussion, though-- the important thing is that the blues structure allows a player to take a simple one or two measure phrase and a variation or alternating phrase, by applying the formula create a full composition--


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Subject: RE: the choices of chords in folk music
From: M.Ted
Date: 31 May 08 - 01:11 AM

Reggie-It is pretty clear that there was a solid oral pedagogy for teaching the blues--I am inclined to think that it wasn't borrowed from any "educated" sources, in fact, it moved the other way. The "system" is a way of using repeating rhythmic/musical ideas that was brought by the African laborers who were forced into bondage in the slave trade.

Anyway, the same underlying system can be used to play the rawest, dirtiest, blues or the smoothest cool jazz--evidence being that players like Rahsaan Roland Kirk could mix the extremes--


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Subject: RE: the choices of chords in folk music
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 31 May 08 - 01:42 AM

"there are still only six basic major or minor triads (chords) in any key"

Don is correct - but the various inversions - and the tricks of separating some of the pitches by an octave or more, or doubling up some of them over several octaves does have various interesting resultant 'sounds' or 'timbre's... those who have not studied the theory may often believe that these are somnehow 'new chords' though...


"you can call it ignorance and fumbling in the dark if you like, but I consider it unlocking the door to their souls and laying bare their spirits."

Reggie, no insult intended.

It is possible thru a process of fumbling and stumbling to end up somewhere worthwhile, even if by accident.

Sadly it is also possible to 'know all the theory' and still get nowhere useful or interesting - isn't it Don? :-)


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Subject: RE: the choices of chords in folk music
From: Peace
Date: 31 May 08 - 01:51 AM

Make a mistake once, it's a mistake. Make the same mistake twice, it's jazz! Good night all.


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Subject: RE: the choices of chords in folk music
From: M.Ted
Date: 31 May 08 - 02:22 AM

Murray--I need a little time to rethink it so that I can explain it in writing, but I had a couple examples that illustrated my point--it took about ten or fifteen minutes in my guitar classes, though, and that's more explanation than anyone cares to read in a discussion thread-


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Subject: RE: the choices of chords in folk music
From: The Sandman
Date: 31 May 08 - 03:57 AM

the most wonderful thing is when you discover an interesting chord progression by accident.
my accompaniment to Bushes and Briars,is a case in point,I did not sit down,and write the music out,I was just messing with shapes on the guitar,I had no idea what the chords were until I sat down afterwards and worked them out[so that I had a record].
I would recommend all guitarists,make a diagram of their fingerboard,then learn how chords are made up,then at a glance its possible to see where all your alternatives are.Dick Miles


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