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What is the process you use to work out chords

dilly daly of Adelaide 13 Sep 09 - 03:55 AM
s&r 13 Sep 09 - 04:18 AM
Acorn4 13 Sep 09 - 04:47 AM
Mavis Enderby 13 Sep 09 - 05:29 AM
MGM·Lion 13 Sep 09 - 05:55 AM
Penny S. 13 Sep 09 - 06:16 AM
The Sandman 13 Sep 09 - 07:14 AM
Stringsinger 13 Sep 09 - 10:28 AM
frogprince 13 Sep 09 - 03:54 PM
The Sandman 13 Sep 09 - 04:18 PM
Penny S. 13 Sep 09 - 04:24 PM
Murray MacLeod 13 Sep 09 - 05:41 PM
McGrath of Harlow 13 Sep 09 - 05:43 PM
The Sandman 13 Sep 09 - 05:53 PM
Melissa 13 Sep 09 - 08:13 PM
Richard Bridge 13 Sep 09 - 09:01 PM
M.Ted 13 Sep 09 - 11:17 PM
Murray MacLeod 14 Sep 09 - 02:28 AM
Geoff the Duck 14 Sep 09 - 05:14 AM
GUEST,highlandman at work 14 Sep 09 - 01:27 PM
M.Ted 14 Sep 09 - 03:25 PM
PoppaGator 14 Sep 09 - 03:57 PM
Melissa 14 Sep 09 - 04:13 PM
Lox 14 Sep 09 - 04:14 PM
Nick 14 Sep 09 - 05:40 PM
GUEST,Dave MacKenzie 14 Sep 09 - 08:15 PM
MGM·Lion 14 Sep 09 - 09:39 PM
M.Ted 14 Sep 09 - 11:20 PM
Melissa 15 Sep 09 - 12:02 AM
Geoff the Duck 15 Sep 09 - 05:39 AM
Lox 15 Sep 09 - 06:04 AM
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dilly daly of Adelaide 05 May 10 - 07:28 AM
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Subject: Chord Req: What is the process you use to work out
From: dilly daly of Adelaide
Date: 13 Sep 09 - 03:55 AM

Any sugestions on how you should go about working out the chords of a song ? What process to use ?


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: s&r
Date: 13 Sep 09 - 04:18 AM

This is a post of mine from a couple of years ago that some people have found useful

"crude way of finding chords that work

1. Find the key (usually the last note, or the one that the tune feels happy to finish on).

2. Play the major chord (I) on that note.

3. Sing the song slowly while playing the chord - when it sounds crap, play the V chord - continue till that sounds crap, and change back to I

4. When both sound crap, try the IV chord

this works crudely for songs that aren't minor or modal. It won't give the best chords but it will give you practice at finding them."

Stu


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Acorn4
Date: 13 Sep 09 - 04:47 AM

Once you've established the key, think of the likely chords - each kay has chords that regularly crop up. For instance, in D , the most regular chords will me the IV and V chords, G and A so try these first, and for minors try B minor and E minor.

These should provide most of the chords, but there may be the odd ones that don't fit so try to get these by trial and error working through alphabetically - using and training your ear is the best method. Sometiomes more than one chord will fit eg: a C or an Am7.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Mavis Enderby
Date: 13 Sep 09 - 05:29 AM

s&r's post sounds about right for me! One slight variant that works well on the banjo for songs is to work out & play the melody instead of singing, and then try I, V or IV chords around that.

There's a useful chart of common chords for each key here

Hope this helps!

Pete.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 13 Sep 09 - 05:55 AM

I must say I think that chart would confuse, rather than enlighten, a beginner - includes the proverbial 'more than you wished to know', to my mind.

The point is, that whatever key you are in [assuming for the moment that it doesn't modulate major/minor which only a minority of tunes do]: the chords of the tonic [1st degree of the scale], subdominant [4th] and dominant [5th] will contain all the notes of the scale between them; so that these three are all you will need to provide a satisfactory accompaniment. It is also useful to know that if you play the dominant [5th] with that added flattened 7th (G7 in the key of C, for instance, instead of G-natl), it has that nice effect of implying a return to the tonic where the tune is 99·9% likely to end. You play the dom7, & sit back expecting the tonic to follow as surely as night follows day...


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Penny S.
Date: 13 Sep 09 - 06:16 AM

From the theory lessons I picked up from Candida Tobin's method, the chords are derived as follows.

The major chord has three notes eg for C, C,E,G
G woould then be the base for the next chord, in this case, G7, G,B,D and F. This one naturally leads back to the major chord as stated above.
F then becomes the third chord, F,A and C again.

So, if you want a chord for the whole bar, you need to know the note you sing first in that bar, and pick the chord with it in - for some notes you have a choice. The accompaniment improves if you split the bar up.

The chords for each key work in the same way. Tobin wrote the notes (with sharps and flats as required) around a heptagon, with the key note at the top, and drew lines around, skipping a note each time. There's a way of determining the intervals, as well.

Penny


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: The Sandman
Date: 13 Sep 09 - 07:14 AM

firstly take the notes of the major scale,take the first, third and the fifth[do me so] this will give you a major chord,if you want to make a minor chord flatten[ me] by a semitone.
it is important to understand chords,you dont have to play all three notes of a chord,sometimes it is more suitable to play just [doh] and [so]the first and the fifth note of the chord,and then if you are playing guitar double these notes,this is easier to do in open tunings,but can be done to some extent in standard tuning.then the notes of the chord can be rearranged , so that you can play in different inversions,they are known as root position first inversion and second inversion.
it is a good idea to try and learn chords in different inversions.
then take a simple song ,in a particular key and experiment using five different chords, tonic, sub dom, dominant and related minors, these are chords based on notes 1 2 4 5 6 of the major scale ,in c major this would be c major dminor, f major, gmajor and a minor,to see which fits the melody the best.
then you need to understand about chord substitution,this is quite simple,a fairly good rule of thumb,is to try two chords that share twonotes in common,supposing we were in C major,and the note was e,the most likely possibilities to try first might be c major a minor or e minor,because they all contain the note e,then experiment,and decide which sounds most tasteful,this is an oversimplification,but its the best I can do,use you ears.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Stringsinger
Date: 13 Sep 09 - 10:28 AM

The melody determines the chords. You can break up the melody into two parts,
the part that's built on a scale and the part that's built on the chord (an arpeggio-or broken chord.) Find the chord that matches the scale part and the chord part in the melody.

With folk music, it's often difficult to build an accompaniment based on conventional
harmony. In the tunes, there are "modal" implications that suggest unusual chord progressions. In trad folk tunes, less (harmony) is more.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: frogprince
Date: 13 Sep 09 - 03:54 PM

"You can break up the melody into two parts,
the part that's built on a scale and the part that's built on the chord "
Frank, is it realistic to explain how you do that, in less than a thousand words, for someone who is seriously short on music theory? I can write a melody line, but about all I know to do from there is add thirds and fifths, which sounds decent sometimes . I've tried to read some music theory, but I keep finding material that's like a lot of computer instruction - it makes sense if you already know quite a bit.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: The Sandman
Date: 13 Sep 09 - 04:18 PM

easy, use tonic solfa, do ray me etc,a major chord is do me soh,next thing to do start adding sixths do me so plus lah,or ninths do me so plus ray ,but put ray as far away from do as possible,then start leaving out the [me third] part of the chord but still adding sixths and ninths.
next thing is to think about subbing the dominant seven chord,any chord built on the second note of the scale can be used to sub for the dominant seven,so if the dominant 7 chord was g7,use a chord based on dminor.why does this work?
becausethe notes of g7 are gbdf,the notes of d minor are dfa,so they share two notes in common d and f,of course it is more likely to work if the melody notes are d or f,
one chord i find works very well for G7 is a f d f,you are effectively doubling the seventh note of the g7 chord.another chord that can sometimes work for a g7 is the dominant 11,so instead of playing gbdf try gcdf[this could be a sus4 chord too],this is more likely to work when the melody note is not b,but your ears will tell you.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Penny S.
Date: 13 Sep 09 - 04:24 PM

frogprince, if you go on to the Tobin Music web site, you can buy a book on simple theory designed for primary schools that might nelp get you to where you can understand the computer instructions.

I can't find mine, or remember where it is, or I'd offer it to you.

Penny


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 13 Sep 09 - 05:41 PM

I thank the Lord that the days when I used to have to "work out" chords are long gone.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 13 Sep 09 - 05:43 PM

Trial and error.   And the longer you play the error reduces. And follow the tune, don't try to shoehorn the tune into a predtermined chord sequence.   

For any note there are going to be a number of chords which contain that note, and the one you choose to play might not be the one someone else would. So log as it sounds right to you, that's OK.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: The Sandman
Date: 13 Sep 09 - 05:53 PM

spot on MCGRATH.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Melissa
Date: 13 Sep 09 - 08:13 PM

my process is too primitive to post. I don't know how to read, so mine is about how to listen/hear.

I'm surprised nobody has mentioned the importance of being able to Hear where the chord changes belong.
If you know where the chord changes should be and which chords go together, the Trial/Error stuff is a LOT more enjoyable (and productive)


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 13 Sep 09 - 09:01 PM

Bearing in mind that the OP spoke specifically of songs, if I find that one of the "usual suspect" chords (not just the tonic, subdominant and dominant but also the relative major and relative minor) does not "feel" right one can be quite mechanistic about identifying the note of the song, and then trying all of the chords that use that note.

On one occasion I got so stuck that I tried all of the notes on the guitar in turn against the note I wanted in a cadence, string by string, and eventually discovered a chord that does not exist, but was the one I wanted. It took two days.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: M.Ted
Date: 13 Sep 09 - 11:17 PM

Don't let any of them fool you, DDofA, we all do as Melissa does, which is to work things out by ear.

Here is an exercise--Start with a the 3-2-0-0-0-3 "G" chord and work out a descending scale--don't pick, just brush your thumb across the strings, two strokes on each note, which would also be a chord.

Limit yourself to G,D or C chords.

Have fun! And don't hurt anyone.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 02:28 AM

just for Richard ...


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 05:14 AM

Dilly - The approach suggested by Stu (S&R) covers a very broad spectrum of songs. The important part of the system is essentially "if it doesn't sound right, try something different". How to judge that is a skill which can be learned as long as you have a reasonable ear for a tune.

In the meantime, remember that the quickest way to learn ANY skill is to study (watch, listen, ask, copy) other people who already have the skill. Most of this skill comes from recognising patterns you have heard or used previously. Other musicians have spent time learning patterns of notes and the chords which fit (or don't fit) - You can save a lot of time and mistakes by finding out what chords they would use.

Do not try to reinvent the wheel.

If someone plays a song, ask them nicely what chords they used, most of us are happy to jot something down on a piece of paper.

For a specific song, ASK here on Mudcat, you will usually get a dozen variants of different level of ability within a couple of hours.
COPY what others have learned from the combined hard work of composers and instrument players before them. Remember that any "mistakes" you can make have already been tried and discarded by thousands of others, who have passed on their experiences of what to avoid.

Start with something simple or straightforward. You have a better chance of understanding what is being done. If something works for ONE song, there will be a stack of other songs where the same pattern applies. Worry about complex changes once you have a grasp of the basic principles.

If you have a recording of the song with a chord accompaniment, listen over and over, then try to match chords so they sound like those on the recording. Sometimes professionals may use more obscure chords, or change between different chords, but often they don't. As a basic starting point, try to match ONE of the chords used. Once you have decided what it is, play along with the bits where that one chord appears. When you are happy with that, find and identify another chord in the sequence (forget about the first chord - it will just complicate things). Don't try to get them all at once, just leave gaps where the other chords are played.

Remember that the important thing about performing a song, is THE SONG (something which many technically clever players forget), the accompaniment should enhance not swamp the meaning of the words. Sometimes leaving leaving a "space" in your accompaniment can be more effective than trying to fill every second of the song with a chord.
Just because someone else uses a particular "clever" chord sequence doesn't mean that it cannot be played with something more basic. You can always add more as your confidence in your own ability increases.

MOST IMPORTANTLY - HAVE FUN!

Quack!
Geoff the Duck.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: GUEST,highlandman at work
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 01:27 PM

Seriously, I don't think it's fruitful to try to "work out" chords to a melody until one has either (a) studied some basic theory or (b) learned a few hundred songs with chords "included."
The (a) approach may actually be the faster of the two. But the (b) approach, the better one imho, will eventually fill your internal ear with the sound of various common chord sequences and how they fit with various melodies, to the point where it will become fairly obvious what chords belong in a given situation.
-Glenn


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: M.Ted
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 03:25 PM

Glenn-There are a lot of folks out there who figure out the chords by ear and have no idea what the notes in them are. A surprising number don't even know the names of the chords.   Partly, this is because there are really a fairly small number of chord progressions, and partly, it's because we really understand music with out ears--the theory mostly just for explaining it to others. In fact, in a lot of cases, the music came first, and the theory that explained it came next.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: PoppaGator
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 03:57 PM

I recently added the II chord to my list of "usual suspects," that is, chords to try when stumped.

That's E-major in the key of C, for example ~ not nearly as commonly appropriate as the IV and V (F and G/G7 in key of C), the relative minor (Am in C), or even the second-most likely minor chord (again, using the key of C as an example, Em). Note that the II (E-major in C) has a completely different relationship/sound than that of the "second-favoriate" minor (Em).

I can recognize a circle-of-fifths easily enough (C-E-A-D-G, with optional sevenths on all but the tonic C), but when that "II" appears without modulating into the rest of the "circle," I find it harder to recognize.

For years, I was trying on-and-off to come up with an arrangement for a particular song where I-to-II turned out to be the very first chord change on the first line. Failing to figure out THAT change put a damper on my effort, to say the least.

The original recording with which I was familiar was predominantly vocal ~ Gospel harmonies ~ and I just couldn't "hear" the chord. More recently, when I heard the song played on piano, I immediately heard the II, for some reason. Piano isn't my intrument, so it's not as though I heard a guitar chord I could easily identify ~ I suppose that the vocal arrangement might have not have included the whole chord, maybe just two notes (technically, not a chord at all), or maybe even unison.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Melissa
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 04:13 PM

PoppaGator..maybe I don't understand the numbering system. In the key of C, I'd think the E was III?
It took me a while to get used to trying a B when I ran across a weird chord in G.

highlandman-some of us run music from our ears to our fingers..some run it brain to fingers. Neither way is better--neither way is wrong.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Lox
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 04:14 PM

Another more long term approach is to learn three cords, say G,C & D, and then play them in different combinaytions.

In the case of these three chords you will notice that they tend to all want to resolve onto the G,

though listened to in a certain light, and for reasons it is pobably best not to go into here, you might find that they resolve onto the C, but a beginner may not always have a perceptive enough ear to hear this.

If you do then great.


In the case of G being the key, G = I, C = IV and D = V

In the case of C being the key, C = I, D = II and G = V


In the second case, perceptive musicians will note that the D in Cmajor would be Dm if the tune were diatonic, however, in this case iy would serve as a secondary dominant so its major tonality would be justifiied on that basis.


If our tonality were in D, we would describe the piece as being in D mixolydian as a result of the flat 7 implied by the C chord.



For beginners, the important thing is to listen to the qualities of these sounds and to try to form an idea of how these chords work against each other.


Experience is the best teacher and your ears will do the best thinking.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Nick
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 05:40 PM

Still start with my ears and I get quite a lot of practice harmonising tunes on the fly with fiddle playing friends. You realise that there is no one right way to do it but plenty of options - some which sound better than others. You also get used to a tune suggesting its own harmony (if that makes sense) and that a series of notes will often almost lead you inevitably to the next chord

But I increasingly find one of the best ways to find out how something is played is to watch the player play it -live or recorded. There is so much stuff on YouTube now that there is a fair chance that you will be able to see an example of the song you want played the way you like it or want to play it.

I learned a couple of Richard Thompson songs (Beeswing and Waltzings For Dreamers which I could work out the chords for but not quite as he played it) in the style he plays them by watching them; some John Martyn stuff and various other things. It can also quickly point out that the player may not be playing it in a standard tuning and that's why it is hard to work out 'exactly' (if that is the aim)

What also often becomes apparent is that artists change the way they play their songs over time (even verse to verse)

I have always felt that a lot of tunes have come from people playing
on a guitar or instrument in a modified tuning and that often they don't quite work in others. I play a tune in CGDGAD because it doesn't really work otherwise - working it out by ear would be hard because it doesn't quite work right on a normally tuned guitar


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: GUEST,Dave MacKenzie
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 08:15 PM

John Lee Hooker never bothered - have you heard his version of I Left my heart in San Francisco?


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 09:39 PM

This thread started as an appeal from a beginner as to how to get started working out an accompaniment. Am I the only one to think it is getting far too technical and rarified to be any longer fit·4·purpose?


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: M.Ted
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 11:20 PM

It's always like this, MtheGM, WTMI--way too much information--anything beyond one simple answer makes it all useless, because someone who is just starting out has no criteria for sorting the wheat from the chaff--even still, this is the hardest thing for most musicians to learn, folk and otherwise. When I was in school, Aural Harmony was the course that was most dreaded by first year music students.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Melissa
Date: 15 Sep 09 - 12:02 AM

The good thing about it is that without knowing what stage ddA is at, there will be something useful here. He (she?) will be able to tell which suggestions are suitable.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 15 Sep 09 - 05:39 AM

LOX - As someone who has been playing music for 40 years - Brass in 1969 age 11, mandolin and whistle since 1977, started figuring out 5-string banjo around the same time, but wouldn't call it playing until a couple of years later (still makes it 30 years proper playing) - I didn't understand ANYTHING you said in your posting.

Quack!
GtD.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Lox
Date: 15 Sep 09 - 06:04 AM

He he

Sorry.

I should have ended where I started.

I'll make it simpler.

Exercise 1.

Learn to play the chords G, C and D.

Exercise 2.

Start playing the G chord and change from the G to the C and back several times before ending back on the G.

Take your time on each chord and listen carefully to the sounds they make and how they sound in relation to each other.

Exercise 3. Repeat exercise 2 using the G and D chords, starting and ending on G.

Exercise 4. Start on G and use all three chords in whatever order you like, always liustening to how they sound in relation to each other, but always remembering to return from time to time to the G chord to remind yourself of what key you are in.

Finish on the G.


These exercises will help a beginner to understand basic harony as their ear develops, and soon they will begin to be able to anticipate what chords to play in any song in the key of G.

-------------------------------


Academic fact number 1 - In the key of G, The G chord iis known as the tonic chord or Chord I.

Acedemic fact number 2 - In the Key of G, the C chord is known as the subdominant chord or chord IV

Academic fact number 3 - In the key of G, The D chord is known as the Dominant chord or chord V

------------------------------

The movement from V to I (the changte from D to G) is known in western harmony as "perfect cadence". This is the most fundamental concept in western music theory.

There is something very satisfying about playing G then D then G again.

The D seems to "set up" the return to G and if you leave it hanging it creates a sense of expectation.

To get an idea of this, play G three times and then D once.

You will feel a need to return to G to get a sense of completion.


If you want to push the boundaries, try playing G 3 times and then D7 once.

The addition of the 7 to the dominant chord enhaces the sense of expectation.


-------------------------------------


The point of doing these exercises is to helkp develop an ear for harmony.

Once you have developed an ear for basic harmony, you will begin to hear it everywhere and you will become much more instinctive and be able to apply these instincts in keys other than G without having to have your hand held.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: The Sandman
Date: 15 Sep 09 - 07:45 AM

if there is too much information for now,the OP can always come back and dip into the thread at a later date ,when it may all be of use.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 15 Sep 09 - 10:04 AM

Lox - I understood ALL of that!
Glad you didn't take umbrage at my comment.

Now, can you sort out Modes as simply?
I follow the basic principle of starting on a different note within a Do-Re-Mi scale, but have never worked out how that is supposed to relate to fitting chords. I am aware that one mode matches standard scale and another is equivalent to minor, but the rest are a mystery which I may use, but only follow in the context of specific tunes.
A lot of banjo tunes fall into modal scales and tunings, but the tuning does most of the work, and you usually only need to learn a few different fingerings to fit effects (sometimes full chords, other times two notes out of three - so could be a partial version of any one of a number of chords, or sometimes a Richard Bridge style Non-chord which isn't listed in any chord book).
Quack!
GtD.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Jack Campin
Date: 15 Sep 09 - 10:31 AM

Far more about modes than you want to know:

http://www.campin.me.uk/Music/Modes/

but not a lot about harmony, beyond telling you what the final is. I have some ideas about that but it needs a companion document which is rather complicated to put together.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Lox
Date: 15 Sep 09 - 01:05 PM

No worries Geoff.

Right!!

I shall attempt to explain simply the "modes of the major scale", what they are, where they come from and how they can be used.

Before we get to the "modes of the major scale" however, we must first look at the "notes of the major scale" and the "chords of the major scale.

This may seem too easy to begin with, but it is essential to build upwards from first principles so that we can understand these terms in context when they start to get a bit more complex.

I will add that once you understand these principles, you will have everything you need to build a thorough understanding of western Music from Baroque to Jazz and how and why they have developed.

-----------------------------------

Let us consider the key of C major.


This is the easiest key to examine as it contains no sharps or flats.


The notes of C major are as follows:

C - D - E - F - G - A - B

As we are in the key of C, the tonic note is C.

This is the first degree of the scale and is represented with a 1.

We may therefore see the scale like this:

1   2   3   4   5   6   7
C - D - E - F - G - A - B

With each number signifying the degree of the scale.

Each degree has its own name. You will recognize the names of notes 4 and 5 which are called the "subdominant" and the "dominant" respectively.

----------------------------------------


Ok - now to the chords of the major scale.


In western music, chords are made by "stacking thirds".

Stacking what?

A "third" (3rd) is an "interval" between two notes

There are two types: the Major 3rd and the minor 3rd.

A major 3rd is an interval of two whole tones in either direction from any note.

e.g the distance from C to E.

A minor third is an interval of one whole tone and one semitone.

e.g. the distance from C to E-flat, or the distance from E to G.


right - so lets "stack" some.


Lets start by building a chord from the tonic note in the key of C major.

First we take C (the tonic) and then we stack a 3rd on top.

the third above C is E.

Easy. Our chord now looks like this:

E
C

But we want to make a "Triad" so we need another note.

So we need to stack another 3rd.

to do this we start where we left off, from E

going back and having a look at our notes of the C major scale, we see that the note a 3rd above E in the key of C major is G.

E - G is an interval of one and a half semitones, which is a minor 3rd.

So we can stack G on top of C and E.

So our chord looks like this.

G
E
C

Or more commonly recognized as the chord of C major.

This is the tonic chord in the key of C major and is represented by the roman numeral I

If we go through the same process with note 2 (D) of the C major scale, we get the chord of D minor (Dm).

And if we do the same with each note of the C major scale we get the following chord scale.


I   IIm IIIm IV V   VIm VIIdim   
C - Dm - Em - F - G - Am - Bdim

("dim" signifies "diminished" and refers to the interval of a flattened 5th/diminished 5th which exists between the B and the F)

If we stack another 3rd on top of chord one we get a tetrad as follows.

B
G
E
C

otherwise known as the chord of "C major7" (Cmaj7)

The "major" in this chord symbol refers to the interval of a "major 7th" between the C and the B.


If we apply the same principle to the rest of these chord we get the following chord scale in tetrads.

Imaj7   IIm7   IIIm7   IVmaj7   V7    VIm7    VIIm7(flat 5)
Cmaj7 - Dm7 - Em7 - Fmaj7 - G7 - Am7 -   Bm7 (flat 5)


------------------------------------------------------


The modes of the C major scale are calculated in a similar way.


Mode one is the Ionian mode and is the same a the scale of C major starting and ending on C.

Mode two, the Dorian, starts and ends on the second degree (D) of the scale of C major

IMPORTANT!!!!!

Mode 1 in the key of C is "C Ionian".

Mode 2 in the key of C is "D Dorian".

Mode 3       =          "E Phrygian"

Mode 4       =          "F Lydian"

Mode 5       =          "G Mixolydian"

Mode 6       =          "A Aeolian"

Mode 7       =          "B Locrian"



This is the first step in understanding "chord/scale relationships"

We see that Chord I corresponds with the Ionian mode and chord II corresponds with The Dorian etc ...


So if you ever see a G7 chord, you know that G mixolydian will sound good over it.

And it follows that where you see C7, C mixolydian will sound good.


-------------------------------------


Making things a bit more practical .....


But lets say we encounter a C7 and we want to work out C mixolydian to play over it ...

.. the last thing we want to have to do is work out its parent Key and then deduce it the long way as above ...

No.

It makes more sense to view modes independantly in terms of their own structure and not in relation to their parent keys.

So ...


Lets Consider the key of C again.


C Ionian is the same as the scale of C major, so we know that the Ionian mode will always be the same as the major scale in any key.


But how do the other modes compare with their paralell major scales?


Mode 2 in C major is D Dorian.


How does D Dorian compare to D major?


Well, in the scale of D major there is and F# and a C#

In D Dorian there is an F natural and a C natural.

So compared to D major, D dorian has a flat 3rd and a flat 7th


So if we wish to play C Dorian, we should therefore take C major and flatten the 3rd and the 7th.

Which gives us the following:


C - Major > C D E F G A B

C - Dorian > C D Eb F G A Bb



If we apply the same process to all the other modes, we find that the modes compare to the major scale in the following way.



Ionian (Major scale) - no sharps or flats [in context]

Dorian       - b7th b3rd    (I am using a small b as the symbol for a flat)

Phrygian    - b2nd b3rd b6th b7th

Lydian       - #4th

Mixolydian   - b7th

Aeolian      - b3rd b6th b7th

Locrian      - b2nd b3rd b5th b6th b7th



Or we could order them dfferently.


Lydian -    #4

Ionian -    neutral

Mixolydian - b7

Dorian -    b7 b3

Aeolian -    b7 b3 b6

Phrygian -   b7 b3 b6 b2

Locrian -    b7 b3 b6 b2 b5


Notice how the sound of these modes gets steadily darker.


Now - copy and paste that onto a word doument and print it out and sit down with a piano or a guitar and have fun.


If you get to grips with this you will have overcome the biggest step into the world of western musical theory and you will have all the basic tools you need to study music.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: GUEST,Emily S
Date: 15 Sep 09 - 01:49 PM

What a great thread. From the first response by s&r which made me laugh out loud and c&p to a doc, to this last response by Lox on modes which is demanding another c&p, I've been fascinated. As a non-chordal instrumentalist/singer, I haven't spent enough time understanding chords. Why oh why was I allowed to quit piano lessons? Off to the printer and then the keyboard.

Thank you all for the inspiration.
Emily


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: dwditty
Date: 15 Sep 09 - 02:28 PM

Having no patience to learn music theory, etc., if I am having trouble figuring the chords, I google the "(Name of song) chords" If that doesn't get any results, I go to YouTube and search for the song - often you will find someone playing it, and you can watch them (with a finger on the pause button). I have also discovered that there are certain songs that, while I love them, I am just not destined to play.

dw


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Jack Campin
Date: 15 Sep 09 - 03:33 PM

I kinda doubt if there is even one song in the entire British-Isles/Anglo-American traditional idiom that needs a maj7 chord anywhere to back it. You can sometimes add one without it seeming totally alien, but your audience won't notice if they never hear one all evening. Dim chords aren't much more common.

The problem with the sort of jazz-derived theory "lox" is advocating is that it's far too general. Traditional music restricts its scales (and implicit harmonic structures) in a whole range of interesting ways, and that "decorate everything with a stack of thirds" approach throws away all its individuality.

Look at the written-out arrangements by people like the Gows (in the period before 1800 when when the Scottish traditional idiom was more or less fixed) and the harmonies you see are: isolated bass notes; octaves; fifths; major and minor triads; and dom7 chords (only at final cadences). No diminished, maj7th, 9th, 11th or 13th chords. In the present day, you certainly don't have to stick to the harmonization intended by the composers of those tunes, but equally when the jazz theorist insists that their range of harmonic options is ineluctably dictated by the laws of acoustics and works equally well for any tune whatever, they're talking bollocks.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Don Firth
Date: 15 Sep 09 - 03:40 PM

"Having no patience to learn music theory. . . ."

You would be amazed at how much time, effort, confusion, aggravation—and google time—you would save by quelling your impatience and spending a little time learning some basic music theory. A couple of hours of reading, along with experimentation with instrument in hand, will tear the veil away and reveal a whole world of possibilities that you never dreamed were there. And this new knowledge will greatly enhance your ability to work out interesting harmonies, not to mention accompaniments in general, that are not simply copying what others have already done.

For many songs, there are a number of musically correct, not to mention musically interesting harmonies that many theory-shy folkie types often don't know are possible because they don't know what IS possible.

This means, of course, that you will have to make choices, which terrifies some folks. . . .

There are plenty of resources available. For example, CLICKY #1 and CLICKY #2.   These are good, basic books on music theory. And take special note of this one:   CLICKY #3.   In 1952, when I bought my first guitar (Regal steel-string for $9.95, plus $5.00 for a fiberboard case; it sounded like it was made from an apple crate, but miraculously the action was soft and the intonation was acccurate), the salesman threw in a free "Nick Manaloff Patented Chord Wheel." I could read the dots a little bit (very little bit) from having taken some voice lessons a few years before, but messing around with that chord wheel really taught me a lot (without knowing that what I was learning was called "music theory").

It ain't that hard, folks!   And the returns are worth much more than the little time and effort it takes!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Don Firth
Date: 15 Sep 09 - 04:12 PM

In line with what Jack is saying, even though I know what various possible harmonies are, I have to exercise a bit of taste and a sense of what is appropriate. It's that "making choices" part that some people find so scary.

I have a pretty substantial repertoire of songs, and I think I only use a major 7th chord in two song accompaniments. And the songs certainly don't need them. I use them as passing chords (very briefly), and they work nicely in those instances. All the rest of the chords I use for accompaniment are straight major, minor, and dominant 7th type chords.

I know a lot of jazz or added-note type chords, and I can also play some fairly difficult classic guitar stuff. The "making choices" part involves being able to do these things—and then choosing not to, on the basis of what's appropriate for the particular song you're working with.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Penny S.
Date: 15 Sep 09 - 04:24 PM

Has anyone mentioned being able to identify the notes on the frets? Or just assumed that knowledge, as I did.

Penny


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Lox
Date: 15 Sep 09 - 04:26 PM

Jack.

If you read further back you will note a request from Geoff the duck for an explanation of modes.

This I gave, but first gave an explanation of basic chord theory so that they could be put in some sort of context and have some kind of meaning.

A also clarified that the modes that he was referring to were the modes of the major scale.

When I first encountered modes I was put off by the fact that there were so many of them and I didn't have any idea how to use them or why I might want to.

In hindsight, I am able to say that I used to enjoy the sound of the Major scale, the Mixolydian, the harmonic minor, the Dorian and the Aeolian.

However, when i composed music, it tended to remain in one key as i didn't know how to modulate smoothly.

Before you comment further, yes I know that in most folk this isn't an issue.

However, when I heard a song with the chords D, Am, C, G, although I could hear that I needed to use a major chord with a flat 7 to improvise over it, I did not know that this was because the piece was modal, much less that it was in D Mixolydian.

It wasn't until I learned a bit of chord theory that the concept of the modes began to make sense.

As for this comment ...

"when the jazz theorist insists that their range of harmonic options is ineluctably dictated by the laws of acoustics and works equally well for any tune whatever, they're talking bollocks."

If I ever encounter anyone who is doing something of this nature I'll be sure and tell him your point of view.

In case you hadn't noticed, my reason for explaining what are the most rudimentary basics of western music theory was that Geoff reminded us that not everyone knows what it is. since then, at least two people on this thread have found it interesting enough to go away and experiment with.

In the meantime, your analysis of folk forms etc in which you mention ...
"isolated bass notes; octaves; fifths; major and minor triads; and dom7 chords (only at final cadences). No diminished, maj7th, 9th, 11th or 13th chords."
... is an analyisis made using terms and concepts taken straight out of western chord theory.

The whole idea of intervals of any sort, let alone Major and minor 3rds etc is at the heart of the evolution of western music. It is from the study of intervals during medieval and rennaissance times that western chord theory was developed.

Western chord theory was first defined during the Baroque era and is not just some Jazzers wet dream as you appear to be implying.

The first person to define chord theory as we know it today was Rameau in his "Traite d'Harmonie" in 1722.

It is not a series of rules, but a series of observations as a result of which our understanding of harmony was able to evolve further and faster.

Why you should have a problem with me taking the time and effort to explain it in brief when asked to do so is beyond me.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: M.Ted
Date: 15 Sep 09 - 05:29 PM

If things weren't confusing before;-) I'm not going to try to explain modes, because there is no single explanation of modes that is either adequate or accurate.

Suffice it to say that the term "modes" as it is used in jazz, the term "modes" as it is used to refer to certain scales that appear in folk music, the term "modes" as it is used to refer to various Middle Eastern classical performing and compositional schools, the term "modes" as used in reference to vocal church music of the Middle Ages, and the term "modes" as it is used in Western Music theory of the Classical Period, are all different things.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Lox
Date: 15 Sep 09 - 05:35 PM

Quite,

but the modes of the major scale, to which Geoff was pretty obviously referring are easily explained and have been explained above.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Tangledwood
Date: 15 Sep 09 - 06:31 PM

Lox, it must have taken quite some time to type out the detailed explanation of modes. I've copied it down in order to take much longer to digest it all. Thank you!


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Don Firth
Date: 15 Sep 09 - 06:34 PM

Music theory:    "It is not a series of rules, but a series of observations. .  .  ."

Exactly! This is what I keep trying to explain to people (folkies) who continuously intone that "If you learn music theory, you'll be bound by a whole bunch of rules and restrictions—" As if being pig-ignorant gives you some kind of wild-eyed, creative freedom! As I keep trying to explain, knowing something about music theory doesn't restrict you, it shows you what is possible, much of which one probably would never think of on one's own.

The Guitar Review, a very high-toned magazine published by the New York Classic Guitar Society back in the 1950s and 1960s (published irregularly, but containing articles on guitar music, guitar makers, guitarists, and music theory, especially pertaining to the guitar) had a two-part article on modes that miraculously opened the whole field of modes to me.

What I wound up doing was undoubtedly not as it was done several hundred years ago, but—I wrote out the scales of each of the modes, then added a 3rd and a 5th on top of each scale step (using only notes of the mode) to see what kind of chord sequences I got.

Very revealing! And very interesting! When I learn a song that I identify as modal (other than major [Ionian] or minor [Aeolian], the modes I have encountered most frequently in British and Anglo-American folk music seem to be Dorian and Mixolydian), I use chords built on the mode itself. Works beautifully! Gives the accompaniment a quite appropriately "ancient" sound that inevitably works very well with the mood of the song itself.

I discovered later that Rolf Cahn had worked it out the same way. And so, apparently, had Joan Baez. Two songs from Joan's repertoire that illustrate this are The Great Silkie (Mixolydian mode) and John Riley (Dorian mode).

Try it.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: M.Ted
Date: 15 Sep 09 - 08:43 PM

I am sure that there are some that would argue the point, but my feeling is that when you go through all this, it isn't actually modal--you maybe working around different degrees of the major scale, but you're still moving from tonic to dominant harmony, and building your arrangement around those major and minor intervals--this is that good old fashioned classical harmony that we all know and love--


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Melissa
Date: 15 Sep 09 - 08:48 PM

Ouch, Don!
I think I'm the only one here that admitted not reading..and I mostly don't feel overly pig ignorant.

If I get interested in some of this stuff one of these days, I bet I'll come back to this thread and learn all kinds of things. There's a lot of information floating around from different directions.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Willie-O
Date: 15 Sep 09 - 10:03 PM

Fisticuffs at dawn then?

Or sharpened mountain dulcimers?

I fall on both sides of every debate, so I think I'll just go in th bathroom and privately argue with myself now.

Oy veh och aye.

W-O


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Don Firth
Date: 15 Sep 09 - 11:46 PM

Fret not, Melissa, the "pig-ignorant" epithet is not aimed at you. What I had in mind was the type of person who comes on like the ultimate authority on music in general and folk music in particular, and tells you that you don't need to learn anything. When I hear that sort of thing, I tend to suspect a hidden agenda. Like the guy (a pretty good singer and guitarist) who once told me that he couldn't read music, didn't really know one chord from another (!?), and that If I kept studying music and taking lessons, I would never be able to do folk music. Then, his sister tells me later that he had nine years of violin lessons when he was a kid! The simple explanation for this bit of skullduggery was that he didn't want me as competition for the available singing jobs.

Don't let the idea of learning to read the dots buffalo you. It may be confusing and not make sense to begin with (sort of like Martian hieroglyphics), but after messing with it for a bit, it'll start coming clear. And suddenly, a lot of things will become possible.

####

Ted, I do indeed use the standard chords, but at least according to one of my music professors at the Cornish School of the Arts (a conservatory), what I had worked out for accompanying modal songs was unique, in that, historically, the modes were not harmonized in the usual sense (using "block chords"). What harmony that did occur generally came as a byproduct of polyphony. Yet, what I do can't really be called "classical" harmony. There is more to classical harmony than just vertical structures of thirds and fifths. There's a very large element of style as well. For example, neither Renaissance or Baroque are "Classical," even though non-musicians may lump them all together, regarding all "serious music" is "classical." The songs remain modal, even thought the accompanying chords are not from the period in which the modes prevailed.

The point is, it works.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: GUEST,Peace
Date: 16 Sep 09 - 12:21 AM

MOST songs contain three main chords (and maybe their relative minors).

If you are playing in G, the major chords will be G, C, D(7).

The relative minors for the major chords are G (Em); C (Am) and D (Bm). In some places you may be able to use sevenths so's they don't make it sound discordant.

So, let's say we want to do "Go, Lassie, Go" in G. (The chords are from a site I went to.) In line one for example, instead of the first Am play a C. In the last line instead of the first G play an Em


Oh[G] the summer[Am] time is com[G]ing,
and the[C] tree's are sweetly[G] blooming,
And the[C] wild mountain[Em] thyme,
grows[C] around the[Am] blooming[C] heather,
Will you[G] go[C] lassie[G] go,
and we'll[C] all go to[G]gether,
To pluck[C] wild mountain[Em] thyme,
all a[C]round the [Am]blooming[C] heather,
Will you[G] go[C] lassie[G] go.



[2]
I will build my love a tower,by yon crystal fountain,
And on it I will pile,all the wild flowers of the mountain,
Will you go ,,,,,,
[3]
If my true love she were gone,I would surely find another,
Where wild mountain thyme,grows around the blooming heather,
Will you go,,,,,


You could try some 'arranging' by substituting relative minors for their respective major chords.

Along the way you'll discover some terrible combinations of chords. That's OK. It practice. And when you practice it's important to know it's OK to make mistakes.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Melissa
Date: 16 Sep 09 - 03:24 AM

one handy skill pigs have is an ability to root around in the rotting leaves and locate the nuts. That seems like a useful talent!

Those of us who rely solely on our ears are using theory whether we admit it or not..we're just doing it without knowing terms/names for the stuff we do.
Pignorance is bliss, you know!

It's all music and there's enough for all of us. The poor horse might not get to sing..but Wilbur had some good ones in "Charlotte's Web".
Outside this thread, I don't want to be banished to the barnyard, but I'm happy enough mingling with livestock while you guys talk here. It's interesting to watch!


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Lox
Date: 16 Sep 09 - 04:34 AM

At this point I should probably quote Lou Reed of the Velvet Underground who is alleged to have said:

"two chords is a song - three chords is showing off."


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 16 Sep 09 - 04:44 AM

Lox - Thanks for taking the time and effort to offer an explanation of a starting point for Modes and how they might fit with particular chords.
I've only just got back to the thread, so haven't worked through any of it yet, but it seems to be more understandable than many explanations I have had thrown at me. Too many people would just say "it's in ... mode" and throw a name at you and think that what they said actually meant something. It doesn't unless you have the same background knowledge that fills in all the assumptions they don't bother to mention. If the question was about Fungi, I could do exactly the same - give scientific classifications and likely habitat - but the person asking only wanted to know if they would go nicely in a Risotto.

Jack - As has been pointed out, Lox was answering a direct question from me, not inserting a piece of gratuitous tuition.
I've also got as far as the link you posted, but so far only on to the explanation that you are looking at specific Scottish aspects of mode usage. I have not yet reached the actual explanations themselves.

Don - What you have contributed also sounds interesting, and if I can find time, I will follow your links and try some of the ideas you have described. Perhaps it might help all of us if you could show us a couple of tunes, with chording, which are particularly good examples of your "unique" style?

Dilly - If I'm responsible for too big a "Thread Drift", sorry!

Quack!
Geoff.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: The Sandman
Date: 16 Sep 09 - 07:27 AM

What I wound up doing was undoubtedly not as it was done several hundred years ago, but—I wrote out the scales of each of the modes, then added a 3rd and a 5th on top of each scale step (using only notes of the mode) to see what kind of chord sequences I got.

Very revealing! And very interesting! When I learn a song that I identify as modal (other than major [Ionian] or minor [Aeolian], the modes I have encountered most frequently in British and Anglo-American folk music seem to be Dorian and Mixolydian), I use chords built on the mode itself. Works beautifully! Gives the accompaniment a quite appropriately "ancient" sound that inevitably works very well with the mood of the song itself.[quote don firth]
thankyou,this is what I think have been doing without realising it,this is very useful info,thanks again.
so to clarify, Don,if you took the scale of c mixolydian c d e f g a bflat c,
could you give examples of the chords you would use for each note do you mean this/ ceg,dfa,egbflat,fac,g bflat d,ace,ceg.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: The Sandman
Date: 16 Sep 09 - 07:59 AM

now ,I will give an example of a song which Ithink is in the mode E DORIAN,The song is BUSHES AND BRIARS,the guitar accompaniment was worked out by messing around,but if I analyse it I am using three chords an e modal two note[no third] chord e b, d modal[no third] 6/9[adbe],and a d modal[no third] two note chord d a.
but the added notes in the dmodal[ or 6/9 were taken from the e dorian scale e f# g a b c#d e.here it is
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojVFPeU0YQU&feature=channel_page


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: The Sandman
Date: 16 Sep 09 - 08:28 AM

my one reservation[on further listening] on Don firths method is note three, the e in the c mix scale[I DONT LIKE E G BFLAT ]it sounds like a diminished chord,I would be inclined to use a two note chord/dyad there
scale of c mixolydian c d e f g a bflat c,
could you give examples of the chords you would use for each note do you mean this/ ceg,dfa,egbflat,fac,g bflat d,ace,ceg?.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Lox
Date: 16 Sep 09 - 10:21 AM

"if you took the scale of c mixolydian c d e f g a bflat c,"

The chords available to you would be the chords of C Major (or C7), D minor , E diminished (triad), F Major, G minor, A minor and Bflat Major.

something to remember is that, the reason why this scale is C Mixolydian is because you have chosen C to be the tonal centre.

To distinguish it as it C mixolydian and not Bflat Lydian or D Aeolian, which all come from the same collection of notes, you must always refer to the C major as the main chord in your riff.

So you could have a riff that went C major, G minor, Bflat major, F Major over and over and as long as the C major is clearly the tonal centre of the song, you would be playing in C mixolydian.

This is achieved as much by which notes you emphasise in your melody.

play a D chord and sing the notes C, E, G, A and B flat over it in that order ...

... then when you start to get a feel for the mode start playing with the chords of Am and C ...

... after that you should have no difficulty going deeper on your own

Another riff could be C major (6 beats) G minor (1 beat), Bflat Major (1 beat)

I suspect none of these sounds will be new to you, you just didn't know their names before.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Lox
Date: 16 Sep 09 - 11:10 AM

"play a D chord and sing the notes C, E, G, A and B flat over it in that order ..."

I meant play a C major chord and sing the notes C, E, G, A and Bflat over it.

For the record, Jacks Website is superbly and meticulously set up and I would highly recommend that anyone give it their full attention.

He has done us all a service by creating it and it would be a fool who ignored it.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: The Sandman
Date: 16 Sep 09 - 12:49 PM

if i might bring something else into the equation.
take a major key,lets use c,and take the tonic chord which happens to be c major,the chord is made up of the ist, third and fifth,of the major scale,if youwant to start down the road of introducing bass runs with your chords,look for the second note of the scale[in this case d,and the sixth A]If you use this formula 12356 for every chord,it will help you either with bass runs or passing notes up at the top end,you will have to use your ears to assess how it fits or doesnt fit diferent songs.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Don Firth
Date: 16 Sep 09 - 04:09 PM

Okay, The Great Silkie (Selchie) (essentially the same version Joan Baez has recorded), is in Mixolydian mode. I do it in the key of D (Mix.). The scale is

D E F# G A B C D

The available chords in the key are D, Em, F#dim, G, Am, Bm, C. And, of course, you don't need to use all of these chords; the main ones would be D, G, and C. The others might be considered "color" chords.

The only difference between this and a D major scale is the C natural instead of the C# that would be the 7th degree of the D scale. The interesting thing with this mode is that it doesn't have a Dominant chord (A or A7), because both of these chords contain a C#, which, using D as the tonic or keynote, is not in the Mixolydian mode (this C# would also be known as the "leading tone," a half-step below the key note). So the C chord acts as the Dominant.

An [D]earthly [C]nourris sits and [D]sings
And aye, she [C]sings, "Ba lilly [D]wean;
[G] "Little ken [D]I my [C]bairn's fa-[D]ther.
"Far [Em]less the land that [C]he dwells [D]in."

A song in the Dorian mode (also recorded by Joan Baez) is John Riley. I do this in the key of A (Dor.). The scale is

A B C E D F# G A

Chords:   Am, Bm, C, D(major!), Em, F#dim, G. The salient feature here is that the IV chord (subdominant) in the natural minor has to be major because of the F#—the raised sixth degree of the Dorian mode) instead of minor subdominant.

Fair young [Am]maid all [D]in a [Am]garden;
Strange young man came [D]riding [Am]by.
He said, "Fair [C]maid, will you marry [G]me?"
This, then, [Bm]sir, was [Am]her reply:

####

As a reference for the tunes, I refer you to the either the recordings of Joan Baez or The Joan Baez Songbook. John Riley can be found on her first recording, Vanguard, 1960, and The Great Silkie (Selchie) on her second album, also Vanguard, 1961. Some of the examples that I found on the internet are far enough off to thoroughly confuse the issue. Some folks apparently didn't grasp that they were modal and tried to cram them into major or minor, which took the starch right out of them.

I learned this version of The Great Selchie of Sule Skerry in Dr. David C. Fowler's "The Popular Ballad" class at the University of Washington in 1957 and John Riley from Walt Roberson at about the same time. I didn't like the guitar accompaniments that I initially heard for these two songs (they "clanked"), so I did a little analysis, noted that they were both modal, and that's why the usual I, IV, V7 chords simply didn't work.

I notice that Joan's accompaniments are very close to what I had worked out.

Don Firth

P. S. By the way, according to the first texts I encountered in Dr. Fowler's ballad class, the word for the seal-to-human-to-seal changeling is "selchie," pronounced "SELL-kee" (that is, pending correction from someone who lives in the Orkney Islands north of Scotland, or the Hebrides to the west—Megen L., are you there?). Sule ("SHOOL") Skerry is a small island 60 kilometers to the west of Orkney Mainland. As remote as it is, there is a manned lighthouse there. Mainly, it's where puffins go to breed and where many of the great grey Atlantic seals (some of whom may be selchies, perhaps?) hang out.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: The Sandman
Date: 16 Sep 09 - 05:50 PM

with respect Don, a [AE] modal chord can be used here for a minor,it is a matter of taste,Plus in open tunings,inversions can be used on occasions,which can flavour a minor or major chord differently[and give it a more modal feel,by doubling certain notes of the chord,the easiest example to give is one, that can be done in standard tuning as well instead of playing a g major chord gdgbd,but to play it gbdgdd,there is also another a minor [again in standard tuning]eaacee,which has a different flavour from the commonly used one eaeace
Fair young [Am]maid all [D]in a [Am]garden;
Strange young man came [D]riding [Am]by.
He said, "Fair [C]maid, will you marry [G]me?"
This, then, [Bm]sir, was [Am]her reply:
the above song has an English version,Which I imagine is older,which is definitely in the major key,I believe it came from the Copper Family of Rottingdean in Sussex,here it is
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j1QrQlmVAuc


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Lox
Date: 16 Sep 09 - 06:11 PM

Good Soldier Schweik,

You are right to point out that different voicings of chords affect the way they sound and the mood the create significantly nd it is not enough just to play a straight triad.

Music is meant to be expressive not just mathematical, though there is science behind it that can help to make the musician better versed in his art.

The song in the link was very enjoyable and was indeed in the major scale, though my imagination allows me to imagine it in Mixolydian and I reckon it would sound good.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: GUEST,highlandman at work
Date: 16 Sep 09 - 06:17 PM

To MTed & Melissa-
Yikes, my post way upthread must have sounded a lot more elitist or something than I meant it.

My point was, partly, exactly what MT and others have said (better), which is that theory is just observation of practice. Learning many songs to which one hasn't had to work out the chords, one can't help but make observations whether one cares to systematize that knowledge into "theory" or not.

And Melissa, you are right, I could have left off the "better" value judgment - but I personally find that way to result in better understanding when I am teaching.

I didn't mean to imply that there is anything illicit or presumptuous about trying to "work out" chords without some knowledge of how they function (whether arrived at by book-larnin' or observation) but that I have found it to not be a *fruitful* effort most of the time. Meaning that one's effort is better spent gaining some understanding before trying to reinvent the wheel. (Don F made this point somewhere upthread, too.) The vast, vast majority of songs fall within a reasonably small range of common practice, and one does learn to identify the "likely suspects" out of all the possible chords rather quickly.

Having said all that, I have at times (despite my obviously encyclopedic knowledge of theory) resorted to plucking at all the possible triads containing a given note before I arrived at the one that sounded right.

And I, too, began my epic explorations of music theory with a bent-up cardboard Mel Bay circular slide rule thingy found in a used guitar case. Small world, eh?

Cheers
-Glenn


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Don Firth
Date: 16 Sep 09 - 06:54 PM

Good Soldier Schweik, all of that is taken as understood. Never anywhere have I said that only certain voicings of these chords should be used, only that, in order to keep the feel of the mode, the chords be made of only of notes from the modal scale itself, One can, of course, go wild, but then the feeling of the mode is lost.

Music theory is not an aggregate of hard and fast rules, it consists of observations of what musicians have done over the centuries, with guidelines (suggestions) as to what works and what doesn't.

Some of the things that haven't worked, might, if applied in different situations.

By the way, the version of John Riley that you linked to on YouTube has an entirely different tune from the version I'm using as an example. Here's the one I'm talking about, sung by Judy Collins. A note or two different and she plays with the tune a bit, but not enough to take it out of Dorian mode:    CLICKY.

Don Firth

P. S. I'll be gone for the rest of the day. Things to do.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Jack Campin
Date: 16 Sep 09 - 07:57 PM

I wrote out the scales of each of the modes, then added a 3rd and a 5th on top of each scale step (using only notes of the mode) to see what kind of chord sequences I got

Don's methodology as used by 19th century Scottish musicians: the duets from my Old Scottish Flute Music collection, except that they used a 3rd, 4th or 5th below.

Probably they got the idea from hymnbooks. Works fine for two flutes, but the chords change way too fast for a voice and guitar arrangement, it would sound frantic. I guess Don simplified the accompaniment lines that his procedure suggested. (The Tunes with a Bass part of my collection is a lot more sophisticated and uses no simple rule-based procedures - it's more like what a good guitarist would come up with).


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Don Firth
Date: 16 Sep 09 - 10:31 PM

Exactly, Jack.

Ye, gods, I'm not suggesting that, with modal songs, one play a different chord with each note of the melody! No more than while accompanying any other song. I would think my examples above make that abundantly clear.

Perhaps my use of the word "sequences" confused the issue. I probably should have used the word "family," as in "chord family." I don't use any more chords (or chord changes) to accompany a modal song than I do with a song in major or minor. Usually three, with occasional other chords from the mode used as "color chords," the same way I might use occasional chords from the relative minor in a song in a major key.

Probably the untutored ear would not even be aware that I'm doing anything different from the other songs I do, apart from noticing that the tune is a bit unusual. Another guitarist, unfamiliar with modes, might note that I'm not using the conventional I, IV, V7 chords in the accompaniment and wonder what I'm up to ("That song's in A minor. What is he doing using a D major as a subdominant!??"). But he or she would note that the chords sound right.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: The Sandman
Date: 17 Sep 09 - 09:45 AM

thanks Don,one of the versions of scarborough fair is a classic exampleof what youare saying,It can start off with an a minor chord go to g major ,go to a minor then go to a d major chord.
incidentally there is a family of tunes in irish music, swallowstail reel,lilting banshee and more that go a minor to gmajor,and quite alot of e dorian tunes [drowsy maggie],that go eminor or emodal to dmajor.   
so for songs in the dorian mode,try[ eminor dmajor] or [dminor cmajor], or a minor[or very occasionally F major this is more likely to work if the melody is a or c] g major dmajor or the modal equivalents if you prefer.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Don Firth
Date: 17 Sep 09 - 06:37 PM

Good Soldier Schweik, it sounds like you've got the hang of it.

Working out what chords to use to accompany modal songs is certainly not something I invented. All I did was take one of the exercises in a work book (by German composer Paul Hindemith) for beginning music theory students that we used when I was taking first year music theory and applied what I had learned about building chords on the major and the various minor scales (natural, melodic, harmonic) to modes, which, after all, are simply scales with a different order of steps and half-steps. Hindemith had written out the scales on a standard music staff, and the student was to write in a third and a fifth above each scale step, using only notes within the scale itself. So all I did was apply the same exercise to the modes. Simple.

So with a major scale, for example, with the chords built running up the scale, I came up with Major, minor, minor, Major, Major, minor, diminished, then a repeat of the first Major chord an octave higher. [C, Dm, Em, F, G, Am, Bdim, C]

When I tried the same exercise to the Dorian mode, for example (like a natural minor with the sixth degree raised a half-step), I came up with minor, minor, Major, Major, minor, dim, minor. [Am, Bm, C, D, Em, F#dim, G].

With a standard major key, the three primary chords (I, IV, and V, Tonic, Sub-Dominant, and Dominant) are all major. With the Dorian mode, the I chord was minor, the IV chord was Major, and the V chord was minor. I found (at least, my ear told me) that the VII chord (the relative major of the minor V chord) actually functioned better as a Dominant (the "drop the other shoe" chord).

That's kinda messy. Anybody follow that?

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Jack Campin
Date: 17 Sep 09 - 07:11 PM

With a standard major key, the three primary chords (I, IV, and V, Tonic, Sub-Dominant, and Dominant) are all major. With the Dorian mode, the I chord was minor, the IV chord was Major, and the V chord was minor. I found (at least, my ear told me) that the VII chord (the relative major of the minor V chord) actually functioned better as a Dominant (the "drop the other shoe" chord).

A lot of tunes thought of as Dorian are actually dorian/minor hexatonic. With those, there's a very good reason for the dominant being VII.

The dorian/minor hexatonic scale on D goes D E F G A c d. Of the six notes in the scale, D F A are in a D minor chord and C E G are in a C major one. So two triads cover all the pitches you're ever going to get. You can restrict all the harmonic movement to be an oscillation from "home" (D minor) to "away" (C major) and back. For a certain kind of tonally simple tune, anyway.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Lox
Date: 17 Sep 09 - 08:21 PM

Alternatively, instead of feeling that one is bound to make sure some form of dominant is included, a different approach to accompaniment can be taken.

It is true that a dominant chord in conventional harmony serves to establish the tonality of a piece, but the mood and feel of ones music can be given a different quality through the use of non standard chord combinations.

I played for years with a goosd ear and a good instinct for music, and have never found it hard to fit good chords to music, modal or otherwise, and I had no idea what perfect cadence was, much less functional harmony.

In modal music, as long as the strong notes in the melody are notes 1, 3, 5 and 7, with the others being used more as passing notes, and as long as note 1 is referred to throughout, I think you could, for the sake of tension, get away with playing any combination of 2 or 3 chrds from the chords of the mixolydian and it would sound ok.

I can imagine singing a tune in D Dorian with just the chord of C major to accompany me and it sounding good and clearly having a sense of D tonality as long as the tune explicitly implies D as the tonality, again with lots of emphasis on notes 1,3 and 5, but also note 7 with repeated referecct to note 1.

Make sense?


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: M.Ted
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 01:19 AM

I give up. I think I'll just burn my instruments, chuck all the music books in the recycling bin, and take up stamp collecting.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 06:22 AM

I haven't read all the above postings, but learning lots of songs with lots of different chord changes really trains the ear to being able to anticipate what chords are needed. Like many of the above posters, knowing your chord families ( I,IV,V and relative minors etc is very helpful),also, with folk, there is the I and bV11 change e.g. if D were chord I, then many folk songs move to C at certain points.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Lox
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 06:28 AM

"also, with folk, there is the I and bV11 change e.g. if D were chord I, then many folk songs move to C at certain points."

This is exactly what is being talked about right now.

What you are talking about is D mixilydian.

Major scale with a flat 7, therefore use chord C (bVII)

Sometimes you can mix and match (outside the "rules") and just sing a major scale but use the bVII chord.

Such is the beauty of music theory. The rules are there to be broken if you think it sounds nice.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 06:59 AM

Of course, the same thing happens in tunes based on the dorian mode; Beloved in the Appalachians. Where a "minor" sounding song ( Pretty Polly e.g.) would moved from chord I ( The Cuckoo e.g.) to the C chord.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: M.Ted
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 09:08 AM

That didn't help, so now I am just going to jump out of the window. But before I go, I'm going to the prosecutor and swear out a complain against all of you for taking seven notes and seven triads and making such a god awful complicated mess out of them.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Melissa
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 01:15 PM

I think I like the idea of being a little bit illicit, highlandman. Is it ok if we get rid of the 'presumptuous' part and keep a little bit of 'illicit'?


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 01:24 PM

Don,I have had the hang of it for a long time,how else would I have made a living as a professional musician for the last 30 years.
http://www.dickmiles.com


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Don Firth
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 02:41 PM

Verily, Dick! I didn't know that was you.

Be of good cheer, M.Ted. It's not all that complicated, but trying to explain it verbally is what makes it seem complicated. I have been able to teach this stuff to a class of beginning guitar students (eighth class in a course of ten) with guitar in hand, demonstrating, then having them try it. They got it! Duck soup!

As I say, it's not as complicated as it looks when laid out on these threads. Wrong medium!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: PoppaGator
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 03:43 PM

On the one hand, gaining knowledge should always be a positive experience. Learn what you can, apply as much of it as you need. Can't hurt.

On the other hand, there is an old adage to the effect that "too much knowledge is a dangerous thing."

If a person is instinctively musical, he/she might be doing OK without a lot of formal training, and might be a bit resitant to the prospect of studying such. The idea is to resist the idea of being scared, and to "take what you need and leave the rest."

If a person just doesn't get it, lacks a musical "ear," theory can only help so much, if at all. And pontification by someone with more theoretical knowledge than natural musicality can give a bad name to knowledge of musical theory.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: M.Ted
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 03:53 PM

I actually know what you are all talking about,and even a few extra things, and this discussion (an every other one on the subject) provides more smoke than light--

I despair for anyone who reads this thread because they are trying to learn how to work out chords for song, and double that despair for anyone who wonders anything about modes.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Lox
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 04:36 PM

"Wrong medium!"

Hear hear!!


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: GUEST,Peace
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 05:02 PM

(C) Happy birthday to (?) you

Regarding the (?): Since you are in the key of C, and since many many songs do use just three chords, you have two chords left to 'deal with'. Try both. Hum along as we do this.

Happy birthday to -- try an F on the you. Sounds awful, right? Now, try singing the 'you' with a G chord. WOW. OK. Now we can move on.

(C) Happy birthday to (G) you   

Now, for the next line

(?) Happy birthday to you (?)

You tell me what the next two chords are.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Tootler
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 05:59 PM

With a standard major key, the three primary chords (I, IV, and V, Tonic, Sub-Dominant, and Dominant) are all major. With the Dorian mode, the I chord was minor, the IV chord was Major, and the V chord was minor. I found (at least, my ear told me) that the VII chord (the relative major of the minor V chord) actually functioned better as a Dominant (the "drop the other shoe" chord).

Being a melody instrument player I am generally not very hot on chords and often ignore them when writing out tunes, but I discovered this some years ago in a book where it was explained using the Black Nag as an example. I tried it out (plonk plonk on the keyboard) and it worked beautifully.

The Blackleg miner is a song where the I - VII pattern works well.

In D-dorian

It's in the evening after dark
The blackleg miner goes to work
With his moleskin pants and dirty shirt
There goes the blackleg miner

The chord pattern is
Dmin   C
Dmin   C
Dmin   Amin
Dmin   C

I was accompanying this recently on a harmonica using a Paddy Richter tuned C harmonica and I could clearly sense those changes because they coincided with where the strong notes were suck or blow.

I wondered about this chord VII acting like a dominant chord and I realised something. Using D-dorian as an example again

The V7 Chord in D-dorian is Am7: A C E G
Remove the root (A) and you get C E G - a C major chord.

It also works in the Ionian (natural minor) and Mixolydian modes.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Joe_F
Date: 18 Sep 09 - 06:19 PM

Peace: Well, continuing the C chord thru the A note of "birth" doesn't exactly sound awful, but it sounds lazy to me. Why not switch to an F chord for the duration of that note?


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 19 Sep 09 - 11:11 AM

Work out chords????? No need, I just play them !


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: GUEST,John Hartford
Date: 19 Sep 09 - 01:47 PM

Hi Ted

I think I will join you !!!

Come back Bert Weedon all is forgiven....lol

Bobby Shafto's gone to sea....etc

cheers

John


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Tootler
Date: 19 Sep 09 - 02:29 PM

Sing unaccompanied and/or play a melody instrument.

No need for chords then :-)

G


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: M.Ted
Date: 19 Sep 09 - 06:02 PM

John--I am an American, and as such, would have no way of understanding your reference to Bert Weedon's "Play in a Day" tuition course.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: GUEST,Peace
Date: 19 Sep 09 - 06:58 PM

Joe F: Lazy? Sheesh . . . .


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Lox
Date: 19 Sep 09 - 07:36 PM

"Well, continuing the C chord thru the A note of "birth" doesn't exactly sound awful, but it sounds lazy to me. Why not switch to an F chord for the duration of that note?"

Alternatively you could see the shift to F as clumsy and unnecesssary.

The A is the 6th of the tonic chord and as such it would create a Cmaj6 chord which is a static chord and needs no justification in the key of C so the A wouldn't even qualify as a passing note.

You could perhaps use F/C (F in 2nd inversion) thus maintaining the C bass and using the F as a passing 2nd inversion IV chord (known in classical terminology as a passing 6/4 chord) and in all probability that was the original intent of the composer, however the Cmaj6 produced by continuing the C chord serves the same purpose in this context from a more advanced perspective.

innit ...


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: M.Ted
Date: 20 Sep 09 - 01:01 AM

Lox--wake up and smell the coffee!!!


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Lox
Date: 20 Sep 09 - 05:46 AM

M Ted,

Indeed ...

"innit ..."

I suggest you get some stronger coffee!!


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 20 Sep 09 - 07:15 AM

It's in the evening after dark
The blackleg miner goes to work
With his moleskin pants and dirty shirt
There goes the blackleg miner

The chord pattern is
Dmin   C
Dmin   C
Dmin   Amin
Dmin   C


Naah, that's the relative miner...


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: maeve
Date: 20 Sep 09 - 07:39 AM

I'm following the discussion with much interest. Thank you to all.

maeve


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: dilly daly of Adelaide
Date: 05 May 10 - 07:28 AM

Thanks to all of you for trying to help me with such a generous response.For the last few months i have taken the advice to learn about 20 chords which i can play along with folk music.I've also understood a fair bit of the music theory you have responded with.I'm currently trying to work out the chords to Sleepy John Estes song "Lawyer Clark' blues and "Someday baby"blues.A lot of blues muscicians seem to use different tunings rather than eadgbe so i'm not sure how this works.Any advise would be helpfull on these 2 specific songs so i can learn the specifics.I know not everyone knows these songs.I've looked everywhere on the net and have almost given up.They are great songs.Could try "Soul of man " by blind Willie Dixon if that is more popular.
       Anyway i love the folk and blues and am learning lots and am gratefull for your help.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Mavis Enderby
Date: 05 May 10 - 08:27 AM

Coupla Youtube links of these great songs to help:

Lawyer Clark Blues

Someday Baby Blues

Lawyer Clark Blues is a fairly standard 12 bar blues progression

Someday Baby Blues is a bit more unusual, being a 16 bar progression

Any blues pickers out there that can help Dilly Daly?

Pete


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: The Sandman
Date: 05 May 10 - 12:47 PM

blues tunings that are commonly used are dadf#ad and dgdgbd,so they are open chord tunings


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 05 May 10 - 01:00 PM

I might be wrong, my ear's not very good (yet, hopefully) but to me it sounds as if Sleepy John has his guitar tuned down a semi-tone from standard on Lawyer Clark Blues.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: The Sandman
Date: 05 May 10 - 01:56 PM

100


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: TonyA
Date: 05 May 10 - 04:11 PM

I use a simple visual aid (on a 3 x 5 file card) showing 6 basic chords for each key (7 for blues):

A ... F#m ... D ... Bm . B ... E ... C#m ... A
C ... Am ... F ... Dm . D ... G ... Em ... C
D ... Bm ... G ... Em . E ... A ... F#m ... D
E ... C#m ... A ... F#m . F# ... B ... G#m ... E
F ... Dm ... Bb ... Gm . G ... C ... Am ... F
G ... Em ... C ... Am . A ... D ... Bm ... G

With that on the table beside my song book, I find it pretty easy to work out a rough system of chords without any analytical thinking. Then I tweak it by experimenting with variations on the 6 basic chords:
- playing the chord higher on the fingerboard;
- omitting the high E and sometimes the B string;
- changing one note in the chord by adding, removing, or moving a finger, usually on the G, B, or E string.

Changing a note makes it a different chord, but I don't know the names of all those other chords. So I just write the variant note as a lower-case letter after the name of the basic chord. Except that if the changed note makes it into a 7th chord, sometimes I'll write 7 instead.

Extremely rarely, I find that none of these variations works and I have to try every possible combination of notes to find a chord that works. The result is usually a chord I can't find in any chord book anyway, so I just diagram it at the bottom of the page and refer to it as X.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 05 May 10 - 06:54 PM

I'm feeling grumpy (and a little pished) but return after so many years.

The truth about modes is this. If there are no sharps or flats, it's in C. One sharp is G. Two sharps are D - and so on. It matters not where the song starts or finishes. Like all other religious inventions they are nothing but fantasy.


Silkie

An [D]earthly [A]nourris sits and [D]sings
And aye, she [G]sings, "Ba [A]lilly [D]wean;
[G] "Little ken [A]I my bairn's fa-[D]ther.
"Far [A]less the [C]land that he dwells [D]in."


Black Leg Miner

[x]It's (Em)in the evening (D) after dark
The (Em) blackleg miner (Bm) goes to work
With his (Em) moleskin pants and (D) dirty shirt
There (Em) goes the (Bm) blackleg miner

Break - chord round notes G E F# G Repeat


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Don Firth
Date: 05 May 10 - 09:16 PM

Richard, if the tune you are using for "Silkie" is the same one that Joan Baez sang on her record, I think you'll find that the A chord you recommend is going to "clank" pretty badly, because on the first change, the note being sung is C, which is not in the A chord (A-C#-E). In the Mixolydian mode in which the melody is set, if you're singing it based on D as the tonic, there is no C# in the key.

You might be able to get away with an Am (A-C-E), but not an A major, especially at the points where you'd be singing a C and playing a C# in the accompaniment!

The otherwise major scale with the flatted 7th is what defines it as Mixolydian mode.

I'm not making this up. It's not just my opinion. Some five years of formal study of music theory and music history.

Don Firth

P. S. And modes are not just a "religious invention."


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: pavane
Date: 06 May 10 - 04:08 AM

I stick the tune, in abc format (or from a MIDI if it is just the melody), into my program HARMONY and it does the rest for me. That's the reason I wrote it in the first place.

And it will play you the result, to check.

Get it from my site to try for free


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: pavane
Date: 06 May 10 - 04:16 AM

Richard, the modes ARE different. If you play only the white notes, C major scale, you are probably in the the mode you are in depends on the start note (D=Dorian, A=Aeolian), and a choice of 5 others).
The major key is just one of the seven possible scales/modes.

As a general rule, in neither case should you use a G7 chord, but a G instead, because the G7 contains notes which the ear expects to resolve to a C chord at the end of a phrase. Dominant 7th chords are suited to major and(harmonic) minor modes only, for which they were invented.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Sugwash
Date: 06 May 10 - 04:31 AM

To paraphrase a quote in Pete Seeger's 5 String Banjo tutor:

"I know about modes, but not enough to hurt my playing"


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 06 May 10 - 04:39 AM

Silkie - Opening notes DDF#E. Chord sequence D going to A on the E note. Might or might not be the Baez tune, but it's the same as other singers use around here and the one my late wife used.

Modes - (I'm still in grumpy mode) all the white notes is C major or A minor scale. It can't matter which order they come in.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: buddhuu
Date: 06 May 10 - 05:14 AM

Modes are certainly more than fantasy. I'd say they are of particular importance when trying to come up with appropriate back up to traditional session tunes.

I have a fair knowledge of music theory, including modes, but I still don't trust myself to play guitar in an ITM session. If, for example, the 'A' part of a tune is in a plain major key but the 'B' part is modal I can easily get caught out.

For most songs the basic chords are pretty simple, and it probably is true to say that the majority of songs in a major key can be covered by a common progression, so that's a good place to start your trial-and-error.

I, IV, V7 is probably most used - certainly it'll get you through the bulk of blues songs. *

I, vi, IV, V runs a close second and will cover most 50s rock and roll that doesn't fall under the I, IV, V7 umbrella. Certainly works for most doo-wop stuff! *

Any other chords will probably also be from the set included in that key, or there may be the odd passing chord - sometimes used to remove a clash between a melody note and the chord that would otherwise be held over that note. This can be a consequence of the kind of modal situation described earlier in the thread.

EZfolk.com has a great, simple chart showing the chords that occur in each key.

Chords will sometimes not sound quite as played on recordings because many artists will use inversions, substitutions and extended chords. Also, they may play in unusual open tunings that can make chord voicings sound pretty different. But the basic underlying progression, with all frills and affectations removed, is likely to be a standard progression built on the chords shown in that chart.

A friend of mine who gave me my early guitar lessons about 35 years ago used to say "Don't worry about anything that's not plain major or minor. The rest of it is just jazz."

Looking back he was dumbing it down for me with tongue in cheek (he's a good jazz player!), but it's pretty good advice when it comes to working out the basic chords by ear. At heart they will be simple.

A basic version of a song will usually work just fine with a major or dom7 chord, even if the actual chord played in the record that you can't figure out is a 13th chord.

Get the meat right. The exact seasoning will vary.

And for heaven's sake, don't accept chords taken from Chordie etc as gospel. The majority are innacurate - in some cases just plain wrong - although they can be a helpful place to start if you're really stuck.


(* In examples above, upper case = major chords, lower case = minor)

[/ £0.02]


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: GUEST,JonR
Date: 06 May 10 - 05:29 AM

In answer to Richard, who said:

"all the white notes is C major or A minor scale. It can't matter which order they come in"

- Then how do you know whether it's C major or A minor? ;-)

Answer that, and you'll have an idea of why modes matter (or, OTOH, don't).

IOW, what about a tune that uses all the white notes, but starts and ends on Dm? Is it "in C major", or "in A minor"? Or is it "in D minor"?
Or is it - as us overeducated folk might say - "in D dorian mode"? ;-)
(NB: you don't have to care. It's only words...:-))


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 May 10 - 08:01 AM

Pavane,how about the mixolydian mode,this mode is built round the dominant seventh chord.
you said,"Dominant 7th chords are suited to major and(harmonic) minor modes only, for which they were invented."
I think you should add to that comment the Mixolydian mode,this is the major scale with a flattened seventh.
to answer the original question here is alitle about chord substitution dominant seventh chords can be substituted sometimes by minor chords based on the fifth note of the dominant seventh chord,they can also be substituted sometimes by dominant 11 chords,it depends to some extent on the melody note,the best way to decide if it is right is your ear.http://www.dickmiles.com


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 May 10 - 08:03 AM

don firth is correct,another alternative is to play an A power chord[AE]


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: pavane
Date: 06 May 10 - 10:22 AM

I did say GENERAL rule. And I don't think a mode can be built around a chord.

What would you call the "dominant 7th" if you are using pure mixolydian (White notes, scale starting on G). If the "dominant" is D, i.e. the fifth note of the scale, you surely don't want a D7 chord, which has a sharp in it (a note not in the scale), and neither do you want a G7 instead of a G?

There is also a mode based on the scale and start note of C which is NOT the same as the Major key, though it might look like it. Ionian, I think from memory.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 May 10 - 10:36 AM

pavane; if youwanted to improvise around a dominant chord
Improvising on Dominant Chords

Improvisation on dominant chords is maybe the first to be learn by improvising musicians. Dominant chords are frequently embellished by all kinds of extensions so any musician must be familiar to the modes he/she would play on them.

• The blues scale may be played on chords that include the 9th and the 11th and on the 7#9 chord.

• The most popular mode on 7,9,(11, 13) is the mixolydian mode . For instance, on a C9 chord you may play C mixolydian (the 5th mode of the F major scale).

• The half - whole tone scale may be played on 7b9 and 7#9 chords with a major 6th. On C7b9 and C7#9, try C 1/2, 1.

• Whole tones scales may be played on 7#11 chords like C whole tone on a C7#11 chord.

• Phrygian major can be played on 7b9 chords with a minor sixth. On a C7b9b13 chord, you can try C phrygian major (the 5th mode of F harmonic-minor).

• Mixolydian b6 also works on 9b13 chords. Try on C9b13 C mixolydian b6 (the 5th mode of F melodic-minor).

• Superlocrian works on 7#9 and 7#9b13 (altered chords). On C7#9(b13), you can try C superlocrian (the 7th mode of C# melodic-minor).

• Lydian b7 may be played on 7,9#11 (or b5) chords. On C7,9#11, you can play C lydian b7 (the 4th mode of G melodic-minor).

In conclusion, we've got the blues scale, a diatonic mode, the two symmetrical scales, a harmonic-minor mode and three melodic-minor modes. Musicians play so much on dominant chords so they get used fast to all their extensions.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 May 10 - 10:48 AM

so if you are in the key of c the dominant 7,is g7,if you want to improvise around this chord the g mixolydian mode is an option,the g mix mode is gabcdefg,the chord of g7 is gbdf,the chord of g9,is gbda,the chord of g6 is gbde.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: pavane
Date: 06 May 10 - 11:28 AM

But g7 isn't the "dominant 7th" of the mixolydian mode, it is a 7th chord based on the "tonic".` No problem with calling it G7, but the dominant (Note) would be D.

If you are modulating from one key to another key or mode, then you need to update the terminology accordingly. The point is that your chords should contain notes contained within the scale you are currently using. (Note that there are always exceptions!).

What you actually call them may depend on the mode or key - there are many instances where the same notes make a chord which is called different names depending on the key. Counting from C, 7, 9, 11 and 13 are NOT 7, 9, 11 and 13 in the myxolydian mode. You can call a chord C7#9(b13) for ease of reference to a guitarist, perhaps, but that may not be its correct name within the mode.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 May 10 - 12:39 PM

stop talking bollocks


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: GUEST,JonR
Date: 06 May 10 - 01:25 PM

Pavane is quite right, "dominant" means "5th note of the scale" (like "tonic" means 1st and "subdominant" means 4th).
The well-known "dominant 7th" chord type is simply the type of chord you get by adding a 7th to the dominant (V) chord of a MAJOR scale (or V of harmonic minor).

In G mixolydian mode, however, the true "dominant 7th" chord is Dm7 - because Dm is the dominant chord. But that's gonna confuse a whole lot of people! Best just call it the "v" ("five") chord, or even "minor five" to be clear.

IOW, the phrase "dominant 7th" is ambiguous, and depends on context.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Don Firth
Date: 06 May 10 - 03:51 PM

Richard, in the first line of "Silkie," on the word "nourris," the syllable "nour-" occurs on an E, immediately followed by "-ris" on a C. So unless you want to change chords very fast (and at an awkward point in the line), the best chord to use is the C because it harmonizes with both the E and the C. Otherwise, you do wind up singing a C against the C# in the A chord.

At least in the melody I'm talking about. Your mileage may vary.

In the mixolydian mode base on D as the Tonic note, there is no C# in the scale.

And the choice of the C chord over the A major at that point in the melody (and at a couple of other points) is dictated not by some arbitrary rule hatched up by a hard-nosed, humorless music professor, it's because it sounds right, whereas the A does not.

As I said, I'm not making this up.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 May 10 - 04:34 PM

none of which alters the fact that if you want to improvise againgst a dominant 7 chord[eg g7] one option is to use the mixolydian scale based on the root note of that dominant 7 chord.,so to improvise around a g7,one option is to take the notes of the g mixolydian scale.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 06 May 10 - 04:39 PM

What a load of pompous claptrap?????


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 06 May 10 - 05:38 PM

..."What a load of pompous claptrap?????

I couldn't agree more, absolute bollocks imo.

Any musician who knows his instrument just goes for it when improvising, he doesn't give a shit about modes or mixolydian scales, his ear and his natural talent tells him what to play, and he knows instinctively where the notes are on his instrument.

This is possibly the worst Mudcat thread ever ...


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Don Firth
Date: 06 May 10 - 05:44 PM

Not improvising, Murray. Arranging.

A somewhat different ballgame.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 May 10 - 05:48 PM

Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Murray MacLeod - PM
Date: 06 May 10 - 05:38 PM

..."What a load of pompous claptrap?????

I couldn't agree more, absolute bollocks imo.

Any musician who knows his instrument just goes for it when improvising, he doesn't give a shit about modes or mixolydian scales, his ear and his natural talent tells him what to play, and he knows instinctively where the notes are on his instrument.

This is possibly the worst Mudcat thread ever
ha ha ha ha, so when you improvise you pay no attention to the melody or the chord structure you just play anything,now that really is bollocks


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Don Firth
Date: 06 May 10 - 06:09 PM

Way back when, I had all sorts of people ("folkies") telling me that if I wasted my time trying to learn a bit of music theory, which, they told me, was a bunch of "pompous claptrap," I would be bound by a lot of arbitrary rules and never be able to play folk music.

Turned out I was not "bound by a bunch of arbitrary rules" at all. I learned that a whole lot more things were possible than I thought. Things that had never occurred to these folks. And a funny thing started happening:   not long after I began applying some of what I was learning, they were sitting there, watching me carefully, and trying to copy my accompaniments.

I can improvise. No sweat. But I like to think a bit about my guitar accompaniments and work out something that is appropriate to the particular song, not just sit there and hack away at chords.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 06 May 10 - 06:23 PM

Dick, the point is that it's all instinctive (or should be)

You can't explain how to improvise, either you can do it or you can't.

I saw one of the most amazing impromptu musical gatherings ever in a small cafe in Miami about 12 years ago, when Melanie (yes, that Melanie)was joined on stage by Martin Simpson for a couple of songs.

Martin didn't have a clue what the songs were, he had never heard them before, but he played an accompaniment which was absolutely sensational.

Did he stop to think about modes and mixolydian scales ?

Did he f**k


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 May 10 - 06:42 PM

yes you are right,but there is no harm in understanding,what you are doing,it cetainly helps if you are teaching


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Don Firth
Date: 06 May 10 - 07:00 PM

". . . there is no harm in understanding,what you are doing"

Exactly!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 06 May 10 - 07:56 PM

No, I don't sing that C there.   If I did I'd probably use a pull-off to go down from the major to the minor.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 06 May 10 - 10:06 PM

"Did he stop to think about modes and mixolydian scales ? "

No - because as the oriental martial artists say - he had forgotten everything he knew.

In order to understand that, you need to understand why - in some disciplines - after going thru all the ranks and elevating thru the black belts, the master wears a white belt - same as the beginner.

The idea is that, the master 'forgets all he has learned' and attempts to think with the open uncluttered mind of 'the beginner' - only then can the master really be creative, for his mind is clear, not cluttered with lots of conflicting 'rules'.

As the film character said when asked 'what colour is your belt' 'colour not matter, just use belt to hold up pants'


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Don Firth
Date: 06 May 10 - 11:55 PM

Okay, Richard. Different tune then.

But in mixolydian mode based on a D tonic, that C# clashing with the sung C would sound really sour.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: pavane
Date: 07 May 10 - 04:05 AM

It is very easy for anyone to say, of something complex that he does not understand, or will not take the time to master, (e.g. Calculus, Relativity) that it is rubbish (or stronger). That does not make his statement true!

Why should improvisation be "instinctive" - are we all born with an instinct for harmony? No, it is learned, either formally (from books etc) or informally (by listening to others).

The 'theory' is there so that we can pass on the acquired knowledge to others.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: GUEST
Date: 07 May 10 - 04:46 AM

There are always people who are afraid of education. Ignorance is strength and all that sh!te.

Just because you don't know something doesn't mean it isn't worth knowing.

The error-ridden chords spewed out by Chordie and all the tab sites are submitted by people who don't understand enough of the theory to see why their transcriptions don't hold water.

The OP asked how people work out the chords to songs. Well, many people do it by applying theory to work out what's going on in a song. Some records are so over-produced, busy and muddy that it can be difficult to hear exactly what's being played.

If one is working out chords based just on top-line melody, well then there are sometimes a range of chord choices that can be made to colour the accompaniment. Theory helps you make choices that will make sense to other musicians with whom you may wish to play.

Personally, I think it's a pretty good thread.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: pavane
Date: 07 May 10 - 05:09 AM

Guest (above), have you tried my program HARMONY? I think it does a reasonable job of adding fairly simple chords (including to modal tunes). But it doesn't attempt the more complex chords with added 7th, 9th, 11th or 13ths - these are usually dependent on the style of the song (Jazz, Folk, Classical etc).

Nor does it attempt harmonisation in the strict technical sense.
I posted a link earlier.

I am not familiar with Chordie.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 07 May 10 - 08:09 AM

"Some records are so over-produced, busy and muddy that it can be difficult to hear exactly what's being played."

... not to mention the words....


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Lox
Date: 07 May 10 - 08:21 AM

Richard

Play a blues A7 D7 and E7

Try and sing the scale of A Major over the first chord.

It won't fit.


Likewise.


Sing "she moved through the fair" in D.

It works over a D major chord yes?

Yes - but theres a problem ...

there is no C# in the tune, but there is C natural ...

So the Key isn't D major ...

So what is it?

Its modal - D Mixolydian to be precise.

The parent scale of which happens to be G Major.

But as the tonal centre of the tune is D, you wouldn't say that its in G Major as that would just be confusing.

So its in D Mixolydian. (D Major scale with a flat 7th)


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 07 May 10 - 09:22 AM

Well, Lox, I'd call it G. Which has a D chord in when you need it. As it happens, if I am going to play that song, I use a D/A diad not a D chord.

There do however seem to be some oddities about what fits to "Famous flower of serving men". If I play that where I usually do (the strings being GDGBCD - it's done with two capos) the melody falls all on white notes but a Gm chord can be played (on a guitar in standard tuning) pretty well throughout the song if I don't play the guitar part but leave it to the fiddle to play the tune.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 07 May 10 - 09:28 AM

I also wouldn't play a blues A7 D7 and E7

I'd play A major (with occasional 6ths and 7ths) D (same) and then either E7 or E (same). I suspect it's because the blues scale is not the same as the normal scale. Certainly a blues harmonica has different notes in from a non-blues harmonica over the same nominal root, and I think the cross is different too isn't it?


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Don Firth
Date: 07 May 10 - 03:05 PM

Well, Richard, let's put it this way:   you can call a D tonic mixolydian scale "G major" if you wish. But if you were to do so in any music school or conservatory, the prof would immediately correct you—or you're paper would be returned with a big, red mark on it.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 07 May 10 - 03:29 PM

Ah, the different types of academia! I teach my law students that so long as they know the facts of the cases, and the legal principles they and statute set out, I am much more interested in their having a logical argument than being "right". In every disputed case there are lawyers on one side saying one thing, and lawyers on the other saying the opposite. "Because" is not a good answer.

Am I not right that in classical music theory it was once taught that ascending parallel fifths were "wrong"?

Do tell me - which notes in "D tonic mixolydian" are not in G major and vice versa?


On the Silkie, if you do want a C note there, I'd play a diad with two C notes and the G, slide the two C notes up to C#, and flip to an A to end the line on the D chord. Even if you sing the C, the C chord just feels wrong. There has to be what is notated as a key achange going on there. At the other end of the tune I do play a C chord as the relative major for the C note.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Don Firth
Date: 07 May 10 - 04:50 PM

Among other things, it's a matter of being able to talk to other musicians without having to make up a whole new language every time you have a conversation. I'm quite sure that same situation pertains in the legal profession as well.

True, the notes in a D tonic Mixolydian mode are the same as a G major scale. But riddle me this:   how would you refer to a Dorian mode, using A as the tonic note?

What defines a mode—or the more commonly used major and minor scales (which are modes, by the way)—is the sequence of steps and half-steps and where they come in the scale. It's not just a matter of terminology, it has to do with the structure of the mode.

An airplane hangar and a church are both buildings, but they differ in structure and in function. It doesn't aid communication to refer to one as the other. And it often indicates that the speaker doesn't really understand the difference.

"Am I not right that in classical music theory it was once taught that ascending parallel fifths were "wrong"?"

Let me put it this way, Richard:   Yes and no.

That is still taught in first year music theory. To learn the structure of harmony, students are given simple melodies which they are to write harmony parts for, usually four-part harmony. One could simply take a note in the melody and write a chord in that key that contains the note. In fact, one could—and beginning students often do—simply write a string of root-position chords, making sure that each chord contains the melody note at that point. Everything is parallel. When you play these exercises on the piano, they sound very "clunky," like nothing more than a series of chords—which is exactly what they are. That does not teach anything about harmony. And when a student turns in a paper like that, it comes back with so many red marks on it, it looks like it's bleeding.

The student has used no creative thought. And that, after all, is what music is all about. So—back to the old drawing board. . . .

The rule against parallel fifths, either up or down, applies to beginning harmony lessons. But like many of the other rules that beginning students of music theory are required to follow, this is loosened later on. As my first music professor put it, "Each one of these rules is derived from the experience of centuries of musicians and have to do with things that either worked or did not work. Once you have learned the rules, you will learn how to break them.   But when you do break them, you will know why you are breaking them."

I could explain this in much greater detail, but I don't have the time to write a textbook on harmony. Besides, there are plenty of good ones already out there.

The idea that music theory is nothing but a bunch of arbitrary rules that are there merely to inhibit the truly creative artist is, first of all, simply not true, and second, it's a convenient excuse for people who want to do something, but don't want to put in the time and effort to learn it.

And sad to say, I find that this is particularly true in the field of folk music. There is a difference between wanting to sing a bit while washing the dishes or swap songs with a few friends, and wanting to get up in front of an audience and perform. Especially for pay.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 07 May 10 - 05:07 PM

I can't help but wonder what Doc Watson's take on Mixolydian modes and parallel fifths would be...


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 07 May 10 - 06:10 PM

I'd refer to the mixolydian with all the white notes as mixolydian of C, the dorian of white notes as the dorian of C, and so on. That way the name does not mislead as to the chords in the most likely chord sequences. All that those names tell you is the identity of the home note - and often that is a matter of opinion.

Surely, though, Don, once upon a time the parallel fifths were taught as simply being wrong. I forget who broke the mould. Could it have been Debussy?

But to come back to the topic - I try to use the chord that sounds best! I don't find that being told that the mode is the mixolydian of which the home note is so-and-so assists in that at all. Indeed I once knew a fiddler who extended that bad premise into telling musicians that things were in the key of ? when what she meant was that the tune started on the note of ?. It was most annoying.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Don Firth
Date: 07 May 10 - 06:59 PM

Doc Watson, eh?

Okay. I'm ready with that one. In 1964, I attended the Berkeley Folk Festival, which was complete with such luminaries as Sam Hinton, Joan Baez, Alice Stuart, Almeda Riddle, Mance Lipscomb, and Marais and Miranda, along with folklorists and ethnomusicologists Archie Green and Charles Seeger (the patriarch of the Seeger family).

And Doc Watson. Along with his late son, Merle.

Doc Watson conducted a workshop on guitar, and the room was packed, as one might expect.

Doc Watson set a lot of folks on their ears that afternoon. One fellow asked him how he could flat-pick fiddle tunes that fast. Doc responded, "Well, I practice scales at least a half an hour every morning."

With all the horrified gasps, the air was practically sucked out of the room.

("If I want to be able to do that, I have to practice scales!!????   Aaaaaugh!!!")

He used a number of fairly technical musical terms during the workshop, indicating that he knew one helluva lot more about music theory than anyone would have guessed (he being a folk musician and all that!). I don't recall his using terms like Dorian or Mixolydian, but he did mention modes, AND pentatonic scales at one point.

When asked about how to do alternating thumb picking patterns, Doc started out by saying, "It's a sort of arpeggio. . . ."

Then he said, with a grin, "Of course, I'm not supposed to know words like that."

####

No, I think abandoning the rather loose taboo (except in harmony classes*) about harmony lines (not just fifths) running parallel occurred much earlier that Debussy. More than likely when polyphonic forms of ensemble music gave way to performance by larger groups (orchestras), where it would not be possible for all of the instruments to be playing different lines. But in a sense, even in this case, rather than the basic work having a lot of parallel lines, the second violins may be "doubling" (paralleling) the oboes, etc.. The harmonies are already there in the basic composition. The doublings of instruments are for the purpose of "orchestral texture."

This is one of the reasons that something orchestrated by, say, Tchaikovsky, tends to be obviously Tchaikovsky. The texture of the sound, achieved through orchestration.

Don Firth

* And in my freshman theory classes, more than three parallel thirds in a row were a "no-no." The point was to teach harmony, not just how to write a whole bunch of block chords in a row.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 07 May 10 - 07:01 PM

parallel fifths - now often called the 'power chord'...

During the common practice (previously referred to as the 'Classical Music') period, the use of consecutive fifths was strongly discouraged. This was primarily due to the notion of voice leading, which stresses the individual identity of the parts. Because of the powerful presence of the fifth above the fundamental in the overtone series, the individuality of two parts is weakened when they move in parallel fifths.

(The term parallel fifths is therefore misleading, because some consecutive fifths occur with contrary motion: from a true uncompounded fifth to a twelfth, for example. If parts move by oblique motion (for example, one part moving from a C to a higher C, and another part repeating a G higher than both of those Cs), the intervals are not considered to differ in the relevant way, so parallel fifths do not occur.)

In the course of the 19th century consecutive fifths became more common, arising out of new textures and new conceptions of propriety in voice leading generally. They even became a stylistic feature in the work of some composers, notably Chopin; and with the early 20th century and the breakdown of common-practice norms the prohibition became less and less relevant


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Don Firth
Date: 07 May 10 - 07:35 PM

Thanks, Foolestroupe! There is was all the time.

The prohibition of consecutive fifths was more of a didactic thing than something used in actual practice. Once the student gets the hang of writing harmony and polyphony rather than just a string of undulating parallel notes, he or she can pretty much do their own thing--knowing one helluva lot more about how music is put together than if they had just dove in clueless.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Don Firth
Date: 07 May 10 - 07:38 PM

A wise old musician (he happened to be in folk music, as a matter of fact) once told me, "You don't have to play a whole bunch of notes. Just make sure that the ones you do play are important."

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: The Sandman
Date: 08 May 10 - 01:13 PM

"I'd refer to the mixolydian with all the white notes as mixolydian of C, the dorian of white notes as the dorian of C, and so on"
this reminds me of the members of the flat earth society.
C dorian is c d eflat f g a bflat c,it contains two black notes,c mixolydian is c d e f g a bflat c,it contains one black note.
the mixolydian mode that contains all the white notes of the piano,is g mixolydian.
you can refer to it how you want but you are labelling it incorrectly,the rest of the musical world calls it g mixolydian


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 08 May 10 - 07:23 PM

QUOTE
Richard, the modes ARE different. If you play only the white notes, C major scale, you are probably in the the mode you are in depends on the start note (D=Dorian, A=Aeolian), and a choice of 5 others).
The major key is just one of the seven possible scales/modes.

As a general rule, in neither case should you use a G7 chord, but a G instead, because the G7 contains notes which the ear expects to resolve to a C chord at the end of a phrase. Dominant 7th chords are suited to major and(harmonic) minor modes only, for which they were invented.
UNQUOTE

Ha! That's the technical reason that the Stradella bass 'fakes it' so well when you have a 'small bass' box. You can fake it with the Basic chord, and not the 7th version of that chord - the small boxes don't HAVE the 7ths anyway, but if someone somewhere in the group is playing the 7th as part of the melody, you have what the ear needs anyway! What you (the P/A player) are doing is playing the basic 'modal chord' which is the underlying basis of the 'Maj/Min structure' - these are just 'extensions' to word it one way! If the 'resolution' is needed/expected, or not! You're letting the others do the hard work playing the fancy bits!


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Don Firth
Date: 08 May 10 - 08:05 PM

Just for fun.

Here's something else to think about that may cause someone to shriek and stamp on his hat:

Let us say you're playing a "power chord." Open fifth, say G and D. Even doublings of those two notes; every G and D on the fingerboard that your fingers can reach.

Hell, lets go even further. You've re-tuned your guitar so that when you play all six strings simultaneously, between open strings and fretted notes, there are only Gs and Ds. Okay? Got the picture?
A POWER chord!!
Now—suppose, at that point in the song, you happen to be singing—a B.

Between the voice and the guitar, that open fifth power chord is now a G major.   Or—if the sung note is a Bb, it's a G minor.

Let me put it this way:   if all of the instruments in an entire symphony orchestra are playing full blast, with some of the instruments playing Gs and the others playing Ds, one lousy piccolo playing either a B or Bb identifies that chord as either G major or G minor.

As Walter Cronkite used to say at the end of his newscasts, "And that's the way it is."

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Don Firth
Date: 08 May 10 - 08:10 PM

And that's not just "theoretical." That's the way your ear hears it.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 09 May 10 - 08:48 AM

Dick, I think you are forgetting some discussions we had on here some time ago about the difference between the mode that starts on note x and the mode in the key of x. Either that or you are not listening.


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Subject: RE: What is the process you use to work out chords
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 09 May 10 - 07:51 PM

That's exactly what I said in other words Don - pity that so many don't catch on... :-)


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