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Three-chord songs

Peter T. 07 Oct 99 - 08:45 AM
Neil Lowe 07 Oct 99 - 08:31 AM
Little Neophyte 07 Oct 99 - 07:31 AM
M. Ted (inactive) 07 Oct 99 - 12:36 AM
bseed(charleskratz) 07 Oct 99 - 12:23 AM
WyoWoman 06 Oct 99 - 11:34 PM
catspaw49 06 Oct 99 - 11:08 PM
Alice 06 Oct 99 - 08:35 PM
_gargoyle 06 Oct 99 - 08:26 PM
Jon Freeman 06 Oct 99 - 06:48 PM
Peter T. 06 Oct 99 - 05:07 PM
--seed 06 Oct 99 - 04:49 PM
annamill 06 Oct 99 - 12:35 PM
M. Ted (inactive) 06 Oct 99 - 12:17 PM
Rick Fielding 06 Oct 99 - 11:59 AM
Roger the skiffler 06 Oct 99 - 11:52 AM
MMario 06 Oct 99 - 11:43 AM
Rick Fielding 06 Oct 99 - 11:39 AM
Neil Lowe 06 Oct 99 - 10:41 AM
catspaw49 06 Oct 99 - 10:12 AM
Pete Peterson 06 Oct 99 - 09:39 AM
Neil Lowe 06 Oct 99 - 09:07 AM
alison 06 Oct 99 - 04:51 AM
CarlZen 06 Oct 99 - 02:37 AM
bseed(charleskratz) 06 Oct 99 - 02:20 AM
M. Ted (inactive) 06 Oct 99 - 12:18 AM
_gargoyle 05 Oct 99 - 11:24 PM
Jeri 05 Oct 99 - 11:15 PM
wildlone 05 Oct 99 - 11:02 PM
WyoWoman 05 Oct 99 - 10:54 PM
sophocleese 05 Oct 99 - 10:44 PM
Jeri 05 Oct 99 - 10:39 PM
Neil Lowe 05 Oct 99 - 10:37 PM
_gargoyle 05 Oct 99 - 09:53 PM
sophocleese 05 Oct 99 - 09:49 PM
Roger in Baltimore 05 Oct 99 - 09:46 PM
Hummingbird 05 Oct 99 - 09:39 PM
folk1234 05 Oct 99 - 09:33 PM
sophocleese 05 Oct 99 - 09:30 PM
catspaw49 05 Oct 99 - 09:30 PM
Little Neophyte 05 Oct 99 - 09:19 PM
Hummingbird 05 Oct 99 - 09:13 PM
Little Neophyte 05 Oct 99 - 09:01 PM
Joe Offer 05 Oct 99 - 08:48 PM
_gargoyle 05 Oct 99 - 08:08 PM
Rick Fielding 05 Oct 99 - 04:18 PM
Pete Peterson 05 Oct 99 - 04:14 PM
Mbo 05 Oct 99 - 03:54 PM
M. Ted (inactive) 05 Oct 99 - 03:31 PM
Pete Peterson 05 Oct 99 - 10:53 AM
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Subject: RE: Three-chord songs
From: Peter T.
Date: 07 Oct 99 - 08:45 AM

M. Ted, you are right, I was talking sloppily about the historical process to get the point across. Always dangerous. yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Three-chord songs
From: Neil Lowe
Date: 07 Oct 99 - 08:31 AM

WW, you raise an interesting question. I don't recollect in my childhood ever being exposed to Celtic music, but when I first heard it I knew there was something there for me. Maybe the fact that there is in me some Irish blood mixed in with the other Heinz 57 varieties predisposes me to that kind of music....a "music" gene, maybe?

Regards, Neil


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Subject: RE: Three-chord songs
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 07 Oct 99 - 07:31 AM

Catspaw, Paul Desmond sounds like a musician who feels his way through his music requiring little theory or concrete parameters to guide him. I find that quite inspiring. M Ted, Thanks for your answers on "bad" and "good" chord progressions, I understand better. Roger the skiffler darling are you making racial remarks about us vegetarian? Little Neo


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Subject: RE: Three-chord songs
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 07 Oct 99 - 12:36 AM

Seed--I was looking for something that goes through from B7 in the "A" part of the song--I think I found something--which I believe is the "Carousel Waltx" only thing is that it seems to work better with the substitute chords--

Pete--You give the impression that the scales were developed in the time period that you mention--they were much older--even diatonic music, using scales instead of modes, was much earlier--the music of the time preceding the development of "even temperament" wasn't microtonal, the difference was that the scales had perfect intervals in them--and you had to re-tune the instruments in order to change keys--

My recollection is that the kind of diatonic melodies that we commonly find in British Isles and American folk music tended to show up in composed music around this time--


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Subject: RE: Three-chord songs
From: bseed(charleskratz)
Date: 07 Oct 99 - 12:23 AM

For those who would like a clear overview of music theory, harmonica teacher David Harp has an excellent book, the size and shape of a guitar case book. A tape is also available to accompany the book and helps to make the abstract concrete.

And Patsclaw, who is ghostwriting that for you? One of your friends asked me to forward this message:

You cain't rite lyk thayut. You gettin' all snewty and me and the Reguz ar gunna kik yore but (Pawz jus gunna wach cuz he aint feelin' to friskie). CLETUS


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Subject: RE: Three-chord songs
From: WyoWoman
Date: 06 Oct 99 - 11:34 PM

I've done a couple of memorable jams that turned into something much akin to jazz, in which I was singing without words and playing off the other instrumentalists' riffs. Got completely lost, all of us, dancing around each other, but then found our ways back home again. Simply scrumptious stuff.

And 30 years ago I studied all this music theory back when I was a music major. But it has receded into some dark shelf in the basement of my cerebelum, gathering dust and ossifying. Perhaps this thread will pull it out into the light again and I'll have that knowledge up where I can use it.

I've been thinking of what Gargoyle said some time back about the role of culture in the music we're able to tolerate and/or love. My mother, who was a music teacher for years and just loves regular ol' classical music (of the European tradition) simply cannot abide blues or jazz or anything that "bends" the notes. They don't sound like music to her, and it offends her ear. On the other hand, as soon as I heard someone singing blues or a blue note here and there, I instantly responded to it -- and that's always sounded like music to me. Same with sitar music and Middle Eastern music. I have my preferences, of course, but I have no requirement that music fit in the definitions I was born into, i.e., my mother's idea of music (not to dis' my mother, by the way. She's the reason I know much of anything about singing and about reading music, etc.)

But it makes me wonder: Why is it that some of us instantly bypass our family's sense of music and embrace other musical forms and genres, in a sense becoming part of a meta-culture, that of "musicians" -- way back before we're old enough or experienced enough even to articulate those feelings?

Did that make any sense?

WW


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Subject: RE: Three-chord songs
From: catspaw49
Date: 06 Oct 99 - 11:08 PM

I don't know what was meant by "secret" Alice, but professional jazz players probably play more on a daily basis than musicians in any other form of music. They also have phenomenal chops (technical abilities annap) and these two things alone (but they are a LOT) gives them a comfort level with an instrument that is beyond the imagination of most. Most of the greats are also less than communicative about the how of "takin' it out" and "bringin' it back." Some do this better than others and if you want to hear someone who may be the greatest master of this, listen to Paul Desmond. His solo work is like a circle....starts simply, often very slowly, and ends the same way. In between there are long and increasingly complex and interesting flights of whimsy...each new sentence building on the last and leading to the next. Then it begins to return in the same manner and as he finishes, the last sentences are much like the first and with a period...not an exclamation point. You're left in awe, or at least my simple ass is. A totally self deprecating man, he described himself once as the "slowest, quietest, Alto player of all time" and onetime someone asked what he was "thinking" during one of his typically great, but long, solo breaks. He said, "I was thinking the other guys were getting bored."

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Three-chord songs
From: Alice
Date: 06 Oct 99 - 08:35 PM

hey, I already printed out this thread, and now it keeps going with even more good stuff. I added it to the Memorable Mudcat Threads list this morning. The violinist/pianist that I work with as an accompanist is also a piano tuner. I was singing those two verses of Lagan Love that were revealed on the forum during session last Sunday, and a guitarist who had never heard it before wanted to know if he could play along. I said, this one has notes 'between the cracks' of the keys, so let me do it solo. The piano tuner then mentioned all the frequencies between notes on a piano when tuning. -gar, any more details on that secret of the jazz trip around to get to the "resolution chord"?

alice


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Subject: RE: Three-chord songs
From: _gargoyle
Date: 06 Oct 99 - 08:26 PM

To the girl from a Northern State....THANX....this is "classic" in the style of the old DT stuff.

PP - WOW!!!

You took me back to a Freshmen course....the Physics 101 instructor played violin.....to demonstrate "wave theory" he used an overhead projector, with a large glass dish, filled with colored water....on top of a variable vibrator..... the projection produced a widely controlable pattern of moving waves....(we students adopted his methods to some "psychadelic-light-shows" at some band performances at the university.) An additional facination came with the addition of blocks (fretting) and the visual rendering of harmonics. The entire week's lesson ranged from ocean tsunamis to Baetovian finalies....and a solo performance on the violin with the strings portrayed in silloete upon the ceiling......Univerity was new, and classes were below 20 in each room....At the time I didn't have a clue what being given to me.

BTW....Jazz REALLY isn't difficult....it's just taking the long way around to get to the "resolution chord," and having fun doing it. don't mention this outloud....it is another "secret."


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Subject: RE: Three-chord songs
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 06 Oct 99 - 06:48 PM

Seeing some of the chord progressions here has reminded me A Windmill in Amsterdam. In the verses, to my primitive way of thinking, you just keep going to the next flatter key so if you started in E, you would have:

A (E) mouse lived in a (A) windmill in (D)old Amster(G)dam
A (C)windmill with a (F)mouse in and (B??)he wasn't (E)grousin'...

Jon


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Subject: RE: Three-chord songs
From: Peter T.
Date: 06 Oct 99 - 05:07 PM

M. Ted alludes to the historical artefact (created between 1650-1750), which is that modern Western music belongs to the "Well Tempered" System, which took what had been a range of microtones around a note (like D) and fixed on a particular version of that note, and all notes, and then took the whole steps and half steps associated with those notes, and made them into scales, and keys, and worked it out so you could change keys by flipping for example the dominant of one key into the tonic of another, and various other progressions, including the circle of fifths and fourths. These tie it all together into a pretty good network, mostly associated with harpsichord and later piano playing (because of their uniformity of tone all the way up and down their range). This was extremely convenient, and powerful, but all musicologists know that one of the things you lose is the intermediate tones (which reappear when you "Blue" notes or smear them, or whatever). Most classical Western music after Wagner tries to reintroduce some variation on the mainline structure (modal music which has different spacings between notes, Asian microtones, serial music with no tonality, and so on, which is why lots of Western trained people don't like that kind of music. But they listen to blues, so there you are.
yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Three-chord songs
From: --seed
Date: 06 Oct 99 - 04:49 PM

MTed, the bridge of the song I posted goes from B7 to D7, then jumps to C when it gets back to the standard pattern.

And Roger, when did you stop zimming? I miss the sweet, mournful sound of your mountain zim. --seed


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Subject: RE: Three-chord songs
From: annamill
Date: 06 Oct 99 - 12:35 PM

Wow! I'm consumed with humility! I cannot wait to get home to print this out and try to play. Gargoyle, how do you feel about vocal jazz groups like Lambert, Hendrics, and Ross? Is their scatting the type of thing you were talking about? or am I way off base? If these are not what you are referring to, can you give me some examples, please?

Overwhelmed, love, annap


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Subject: RE: Three-chord songs
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 06 Oct 99 - 12:17 PM

Pete--you're not supposed to tell them about the ratios!!The ratios scare everyone!

There is a reason that these notes sound "bad", that is to say, not really bad but *different*(we have to be politically correct here, because it turns out that there are scale systems where these notes are OK, and in fact, occassionally, regarded as being better than the notes that sound good to Western ears)--

These notes are weaker harmonics-- they occur only in the farther reaches--which is to say, the highest octaves, of the overtone series--and, technically, they don't even quite occur in the scale, or at least in our "Tempered" scale, because the pitch that they correspond to has been adjusted so that it harmonizes better--

Neil Lowe--the transition would be an A7 chord, which is the dominant chord in the key of D--The A chord by itself won't sound quite right--

Spaw--You are right about the instrument, but let's call it by a cool name. like the Hungarian name for it "Cimbalom", or the more Middle Eastern "Santour"!!

BSeed--Straight from the "Guitar Teacher's Circle of Fifths songbook"!! Let me ask you this--do you know of any songs that work back to C from the B7? And are you going to tell them about chord substitutions?


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Subject: RE: Three-chord songs
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 06 Oct 99 - 11:59 AM

Ha, Ha, Thanks Mario (and Roger). I know what you mean. Ten years ago when all my friends started talking "computereze" I was completely in the dark. I still am for the most part today, cause I've chosen not to learn "the chat". Just enough knowledge to let me enjoy Mudcat and get my e-mail suits me fine. It's why I'd never be critical about folks who don't feel they have the time or inclination to dive into the depths of the various musical sub-cultures. Sing and play enough to enjoy yourself..that's all that's needed.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Three-chord songs
From: Roger the skiffler
Date: 06 Oct 99 - 11:52 AM

Like MMario, I don't understand any of this but, Rick, re: band signals ("One more, Steph, One more"): Jazz trumpeter, Humphrey Lyttleton, tells of his early days with the Owen Bryce Band (a 2-trumpet lead a la Oliver band just after WW2). Bryce, a skinny vegetarian with bony elbows used to dig him in the ribs, if he got out of line. He claims that's why he left to form his own band! Bryce was still running bands and teaching trumpet & piano when I lived in S. London in the 1970s and Humph is still going strong, and plays locally (near his old school) a couple of times a year which I try not to miss. End of thread creep, carry on with the technical discussion, guys!


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Subject: RE: Three-chord songs
From: MMario
Date: 06 Oct 99 - 11:43 AM

I haven't the foggiest idea what anything above means, but gawd I love to hear people talk about it.


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Subject: RE: Three-chord songs
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 06 Oct 99 - 11:39 AM

Alison, I've often found that musical "terms" can be construed in different ways. There are many colloquial ways of expressing the same thing. Sometimes it's difficult to keep up. You almost have to learn each music style's "slang". Sometimes without thinking I'll ask someone (on stage) to "vamp on the one" (keep playing the first chord of the song, until I start to sing a verse) and I realize they have no idea what I mean. Other (instant rehearsal) instructions might be "1,4,5, and look for a 2. When playing one of the many "Salty Dog" type songs, often the person starting it will just say "circle of fifths in "G". "Take it out!" often means play a solo and end the song. "Tag it!" means play the last four bars over again and end the song. "Cut!" means everyone comes to a sharp stop in the music, while one person solos for (usually) two bars.

On the other hand, Earl Scruggs, when he thought the tempo was rushing, used to tromp down hard on the foot of Paul Warren the fiddler in the Flatt and Scruggs band. Now that's a signal that anyone could understand!

Rick


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Subject: RE: Three-chord songs
From: Neil Lowe
Date: 06 Oct 99 - 10:41 AM

hmmmm...so if I were playing in the key of C and I wanted to change to the key of D I would play an A as a "transition" chord....thanks Alison. Neat device. I have heard songs that employ your theory rule but didn't know that was how it was done. Someday I may be able to fool (not you guys) someone into believing that I actually know something about music! *BG*

Regards, Neil (who's never too old to learn)


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Subject: RE: Three-chord songs
From: catspaw49
Date: 06 Oct 99 - 10:12 AM

Feynman fan here too Pete....For my bucks, one of the most overall brilliant people of this (or any other) century.

The scale length and ratio you describe is obviously essential to fretting an instrument. Guitars have pretty well settles in on 3 basic scale lengths and another couple used less frequently. Appalachian dulcimers are a great example of using the ratio to build whatever you like. I built a couple of "hand size" Apps a few years ago just for fun...but it was really a challenge to accurately fret them....and before anyone asks, paper clips made excellent fret wire.

If you want an excellent example of fifths and fourths and the sheer brilliance of an instruments design, look at Hammered Dulcimers. Sometimes we tend to think that theories and technologies are recent discoveries. I am humbled at the "genius of simplicity" possessed by the person who originally came up with the rail/course pattern of a HD....about 1500+ years ago. And interestingly, it wasn't one person. The instrument popped up at about the same time in different parts of the world and the oriental versions reflected the tonalities of their music with the same simple yet complex beauty. Fascinating instruments...beautiful too.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Three-chord songs
From: Pete Peterson
Date: 06 Oct 99 - 09:39 AM

Can't resist jumping in again. Richard Feynman used to say that you can't really answer a "why" question because it leads to another "why" question. So I'll try to answer the first level question: why do some combinations of notes sound GOOD and some sound dissonant? the answer goes back to Pythagoras( yes, the triangle man) in about 600 BC: the intervals that sound "good" to the ear are ones in which the ratios of the length of the string that makes that note are SMALL WHOLE NUMBERS. Wyo, take your guitar and measure the length of the string, nut to bridge. You will probably get somewhere around 24 inches. (I'm going to use 24 ' for the examples; I have a very old small-scale Martin) Play a note, any note. That is the full length of the string, all 24 inches. Measure off exactly HALF that length and play that note. You should get the same note as before, an octave higher. (That should sound GOOD to your ear) If you go 1/3 the length down, you will get a fifth above (if on 1st string, you will get E, E octave, B) if you go 1/4 the length down you should get A. . . but if you go 13/32 of the way down you will get a note that sounds dissonant ("not as good") when played with the original note. If the ratio of the lengths is a "small" number, it will sound good, if higher, it will sound dissonant. (Hey, this would make a great science project, keep making the ratio a little bigger and see where it starts to sound 'bad". To me 4:3 sounds good and 5:4 sounds less so and by 6:5 it's a definite dissonance.) And you will notice that all we have done is make the "why" one step down-- why do the small whole numbers sound good and larger ratios sound bad? I don't think anybody knows except to say that God must be a mathematician. Was this sufficiently confusing? PETE


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Subject: RE: Three-chord songs
From: Neil Lowe
Date: 06 Oct 99 - 09:07 AM

BTW to answer your question WyoWoman....one of my favorites is "Carmelita" by Warren Zevon...he plays it in the key of E, but Linda Rondstadt(sp?) recorded it in the key of C to better fit her vocal range, I assume..either way the chords are E, A and B7 in the key of E....C, F and G7 in the key of C (that good ole' I, IV, V pattern).....

What else? "Blowin' In The Wind" by Bob Dylan. In the key of A the chords are A, D, and E...again I, IV, V.


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Subject: RE: Three-chord songs
From: alison
Date: 06 Oct 99 - 04:51 AM

Well there you go.. grade 8 theory and I'd never ever heard it described as a circle of fifths (well not done on a clock face anyway.. is this an American thing?)...... we used a sentence ..

for order in which flats appear

Battle Ends And Down Goes Charles' Father

and for sharps

Father Charles Goes Down And Ends Battle

basically you just take that one sentence and start with whatever letter is appropriate...

Basic rule of theory to change key to any other key.... stick in the 5th of the key you want to change to before you change key and your key changes will sound smoother.

slainte

alison


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Subject: RE: Three-chord songs
From: CarlZen
Date: 06 Oct 99 - 02:37 AM

For an interresting read on this same general subject matter, I would reccommend "Music, the Brain and Ecstacy". I can't find my copy right now, so I don't have the author name, but the book is only a few years old and should be easily available. It takes all of the "Why do some chords sound good together while others create havoc in the ears?" questions, throws a bit of science into the mix and ends up stimulating and fascinating.


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Subject: RE: Three-chord songs
From: bseed(charleskratz)
Date: 06 Oct 99 - 02:20 AM

MTed is right: The effect of the circle of fifths is to use a series of seventh chords each of which anticipates (but doesn't resolve itself in) the next, until reaching the tonic, which is a triad, and the resolution for the series. Sounds technical, but play it and see how easy it is: Two step circle of fifths progression C, D7, G7, C

3 step, C, A7, D7, G7, C.

4 step, C, E7, A7, D7, G7, C

Before my hard drive crashed I had a chart of the circle of fifths I made for my students. I still have it, but it's in a floppy at school. I'll bring it home and save it as a GIF file and e-mail anyone who would like to have it. Of course, you can find such a circle in many instrumental instruction books.

By the way, here's a song that you can practice that features a four-step circle of fifths progression:

(C)Five foot two, (E7)eyes of blue,
(A7)Oh what those five feet can do,
Has (D7)anybody [G7]seen my (C)gal?(G7)

(C)Turned up nose, (E7)turned down hose,
(A7)Flapper? yes sir, one of those,
Has (D7)anybody [G7]seen my (C)gal?

If you should (B7)run into a five-foot-two
All(E7)Covered with furs,
(A7)Diamond rings, all those things,
You can (D7)bet your life hat it isn't her,

But (C)could she love, (E7)could she woo,
(A7)Could she cootchie-cootchie coo,
Has (D7)anybody [G7]seen my (C)gal?

Note--Bracketed chords occur at the half measure. Others receive a full measure except all the A7 chords plus the D7 in the bridge receive two full measures.

Work this one out and you will find one important use for the circle of fifths. Another, of course, is for transposing songs to other keys, but more on that when I have the chart to send you.

--seed


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Subject: RE: Three-chord songs
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 06 Oct 99 - 12:18 AM

The circle of fifths or circle of fourths, depending which way you want to go around the circle, is not just a mnemonic device--it is a rather peculiar phenomena having to do with the relationship of the keys to one another--

The most reasonable way to think about it is like this-- In every key, there is a tonic chord say "C", and a Dominant chord, say "G7"--(in fact, many songs just whack back and forth between tonic and dominant chords til the cows come home0

Now, if you take the Tonic chord, C and make it a C7, it become the dominant chord in for the key of F--F7 is the dominant in Bb--Bb7 in Eb until you have gone all the way around through all 12 keys--

There is a real, scientific reason that there is such a strong relationship between the tonic and the dominant, and that they sound right, alternating like they do in our western (diatonic) music, but I am to tired to explain it, and when you hear the ezplanation, you will understand what makes me so tired--

There are cultures where they don't bounce back and forth between Tonic and Dominant harmonies and stay on one chord, and that music is called monophony or sometimes *monotony*, which should give you a clue as to why we in the west have traditionally preferred to bounce a round a little--

The thing to remember is that when you move through the circle of 4th/5th, you are changing keys, and the reason is to avoid monotony--


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Subject: RE: Three-chord songs
From: _gargoyle
Date: 05 Oct 99 - 11:24 PM

mea culpa - my base of referral above should be reversed...(in music in MUST think in multiple directions)

Neil is right on target for a mnemonic for remembering # and b's....another is ..."in the key signiture.... take the last added sharp # and go one step higher (for the key it is written in) or take the second to last flat (b) and that IS the key."

In Western Music Culture the cycle of fifths is the most natural progression of tone from one to another. ie. from the note of C....the most natural next tone is F.....(a perfect fifth BELOW or a fourth above.) It is the note that the chord wants to be drawn towards.....the progression is always "moving towards" a tone one fifth below (there may be a by-ways along the path...but they add interest and a sense of anticipation as the listener waits for full fuitiion of the tone. ie: C,F,Bb,Eb,Ab,Db,Gb,B,E,A,D,G,and back to C

I would guess that 70% of all "modern" songs use this cycle.


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Subject: RE: Three-chord songs
From: Jeri
Date: 05 Oct 99 - 11:15 PM

The notes in Bonnie Light Horseman are DEGAB, if you sing it in G. Amazing Grace (although neither Iris nor traditional) is also pentatonic and uses the same notes in G. I'm too tired right now to figure it out past this point. I'm reading the newsgroup discussion, but I haven't had any real music education, so it's been difficult for me to understand.


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Subject: RE: Three-chord songs
From: wildlone
Date: 05 Oct 99 - 11:02 PM

But surely jazz uses a lot of improvisation around a theme.
I like music to be "musical" in my record collectionI have early europian, renaissance,folk,eastern,blues,pop,and rock but what you wont find is the sort that sounds like an car crash in a music store ie progresive jazz.
sorry about thread creep folks. Many thanks for all those new chords at the moment guitar tuned to A and using a 1 finger barre.**BG**


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Subject: RE: Three-chord songs
From: WyoWoman
Date: 05 Oct 99 - 10:54 PM

This is great! Thank you all so much. I'll print this out so I can study it -- plainly will take much more of my time than I can give it tonight.

And yes, Gargoyle, jazz is something I admire, but to which I don't aspire. I only have so many years left of this earthly veil and I don't think they're enough to even begin to consider learning to *play* jazz. But to appreciate? Yes.

I've known about the circle of fifths, or cycle of fifths, but haven't had it explained to me. So I will print this out and work at learning it so I can pass Neil's pop quiz.

Gratefully, WW


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Subject: RE: Three-chord songs
From: sophocleese
Date: 05 Oct 99 - 10:44 PM

Jeri, what are the intervals in the Irish Gapped Scale? Its a term I haven't heard before.


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Subject: RE: Three-chord songs
From: Jeri
Date: 05 Oct 99 - 10:39 PM

There's a current discussion of the pentatonic scale called "Irish gapped scale" in rec.music.folk. The first song mentioned in that thread to use that scale was "My Bonnie Light Horseman." Does the Asian scale use a different five notes (different intervals) than this?


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Subject: RE: Three-chord songs
From: Neil Lowe
Date: 05 Oct 99 - 10:37 PM

Joe, I'll give you a layman's perspective on the questions you raise. First, I am not a professional musician or theorist, but I have studied a little. So caveat emptor: a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.

From what I remember of my music theory, the circle of fifths is a visual representation, a mnemonic device to help musicians remember how many sharps a certain key has. For example, at the top of the circle is the key of C. The key of C has no sharps, so when you play a C scale you play the notes: C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C. Pretty straightforward. Now you count five (hence the name circle of "fifths") notes starting from C in a clockwise fashion around the circle: C(1), D(2), E(3), F(4), G(5). The key of G has one sharp, F#. So when you play a G scale you play the notes: G, A, B, C, D, E, F#, G. Now repeat the sequence. Count around the circle clockwise from G to get the next key that has two sharps: G(1), A(2), B(3), C(4), D(5). The key of D has two sharps: F# and C#. Playing a D scale yields: D, E, F#, G, A, B, C#, D. Repeat. Count five from D and you get the Key of A. The key of A has three sharps: F#, C#, and G#. The A scale = A, B, C#, D, E, F#, G#, A. Count five starting from A. You land on the key of E. The key of E has four sharps: F#, C#, G#, D#. If you notice, as you count by five to get the next scale, the sharps you are collecting along the way are also being added by counting by five from the last sharp to get the next sharp. For example, counting five starting from E you get the key of B. The key of B has five sharps: all the sharps in the key of E plus A#, which you could've gotten by counting five from the D# note in the key of E. By the way, to figure out the notes in a scale all you have to remember is that there is a full "step" (on a guitar that means you move two frets from the first note to the second note) between every note in the scale except between the third and fourth notes and the seventh and eighth notes. So for the key of C, the notes are: C[1](full step to) D[2](full step to) E[3](half step: move down only one fret this time to) F[4] (full step to) G[5] (full step to) A[6] (full step to) B[7] (half step this time to) C[8]. There you have it. There is a similar circle for the flat keys (for example, the keys of Bb, Eb, Ab) that helps you to remember how many flats a certain key has, but I never learned it too well, so someone else will have to explain how it works. All the sharps and flats in a key tell you which notes you can play in the scale of that key.

To your other questions regarding why certain notes and chords sound "right" together while others do not, there is no right answer. My personal opinion, I think it depends in large part on what we're accustomed to listening to. Mostly I think it has to do with the interval between the notes. For example, in the key of C it sounds right to go from C to F, and then to G. This is the age old I,IV,V pattern that so many songs are based on(I, IV, V refers to the notes in the scale on which the chords are built. In our example we started from C in the key of C, went to the fourth note in the scale which is F, and played an F chord, then went to the fifth note in the scale and played a G chord built on the G note). Blues, Country, Bluegrass, Folk, Rock, Pop - all have used this simple chord pattern a countless number of times. So this is what our ear becomes accustomed to. When we hear a song that plays a different pattern, say I, VII, II (C, B, D in our example of the key of C), the progression doesn't sound "right" to us. Good musicians (creative jazz musicians come readily to mind) and songwriters can be inventive and impose melodic patterns that veer from the norm - sometimes it works and then those patterns become acceptable to our ear, and also make those writers a ton of money in the process, because they've created something that sounds "fresh."

In the final analysis, I suppose, it all boils down to personal preference. I like the sound of discord, the sound of two notes a half step apart played simultaneously. I don't know why I like that sound, most people don't. I think it has something to do with the wavelengths of the notes being out of phase and the resultant vibrations that "being out of phase" causes, that causes me to like it, I don't know. But now that is delving into the realm of physics, and the science of accoustics. Anyone care to expound on those subjects?

Homework assignment: finish the circle of fifths and solve world hunger problem. Study your notes - there may be a pop quiz next class. Have a good night.

Regards, Neil


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Subject: RE: Three-chord songs
From: _gargoyle
Date: 05 Oct 99 - 09:53 PM

Joe....it is cultural background....

Unless it is a "Charlie Chan" or a "Bruce Lee" film...the pentatonic scale of the Asian cultures is "alien" to the "western folk - ear"

To the Mexican....the three tone vocalrange of the Hispanic culture's speaking is a beauty in-toned from infancy....when the little Spanish child encounters the fourth tone in his Anglo teacher's voice it is frightening.....when the teacher gets angry and raises the tone to the Anglo's fifth-tone-level....the small child reports that "when maestra gets angry she goes crazy" this is because the student has NEVER had experiences within this tonal range. (Olguin - 1973)

Back to MUSIC
To repeat a previous thread's admonition....JAZZ...transcends cultures....its "structure within non-structure" is a REAL challenge. It's tonal ranges break the boundries of tradition.


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Subject: RE: Three-chord songs
From: sophocleese
Date: 05 Oct 99 - 09:49 PM

Circle of fifths. Picture a clock. At 12 put the note C go round the clock putting the note that is a perfect fifth in the next spot. So; C, G, D, A, E, B, F#. Now of course the problem becomes do we call the next note C# or Db? And I can't remember where the shift hits the clock. Its a memory aid (when you can remember it) for some useful progressions. With the circle of fifths firmly locked in your consciousness you can look at it and know that the three basic chords for the key of G are: G and the ones on either side of it, C and D. There's more about it that's useful for people who know more about music than I do.


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Subject: RE: Three-chord songs
From: Roger in Baltimore
Date: 05 Oct 99 - 09:46 PM

Joe,

Part of it is "what you are used to." If you listen to music from other cultures, the "harmonies" (i.e. the chords) they use vary significantly from Anglo-Saxon ones to which we are accustomed.

Any group of notes can be a chord. My ex-wife's uncle is a musical prodigy (he formerly taught organ at some university). One of his parlor tricks was to ask three people their favorite note. He would then improvise a tune on the piano based on those three notes. It really did not matter to him what the three notes were as long as they were from the intervals on the scale.

Move into jazz and many chords sound dissonant to the ear, but their dissonance is used to make music.

Roger in Baltimore (and headed for the Getaway)


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Subject: RE: Three-chord songs
From: Hummingbird
Date: 05 Oct 99 - 09:39 PM


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Subject: RE: Three-chord songs
From: folk1234
Date: 05 Oct 99 - 09:33 PM

Great thread - No time to participate now, but keep it goin'.


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Subject: RE: Three-chord songs
From: sophocleese
Date: 05 Oct 99 - 09:30 PM

I think one of the reasons has to do with what you're used to hearing. I have noticed in attempting to sing harmonies in a group that I come up with some intervals that make others wince. Mostly that is when I do something other than staying a third away from the melody. I like harmonies that shift away from and then back to a resolution. My first experience of singing harmonies was singing madrigals where the various parts do not stay at discreet distances from one another but bash into each other, elbow neighbours off of their notes and generally behave rowdily until it all comes together at the end. Barbershop harmonies on the other hand tend to like to to stay close to each other and not go wandering off all over the place. growing up listening to one style would make a person uneasy if they then suddenly ran into the other style.


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Subject: RE: Three-chord songs
From: catspaw49
Date: 05 Oct 99 - 09:30 PM

Ah phyte.....Thanks so much for reminding most of us how old we are!!!..LOL........Glad you're around!

Spaw - Who could have suggested JD leave on a jet plane to avoid crashing in a prop job.


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Subject: RE: Three-chord songs
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 05 Oct 99 - 09:19 PM

Seriously though, I think Joe Offer has an excellent question. Why do some chords sound horrific to the ear while others resonate so beautifully. It must be physics, or is it a personal/subjective experience? I would also love to hear some answers. Neo


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Subject: RE: Three-chord songs
From: Hummingbird
Date: 05 Oct 99 - 09:13 PM

John Denver has some great 3 or 4 chord songs. Sunshine on My Shoulders, Back Home Again,Leaving on Jet Plane and lots of others. If you need them, I'll be glad to give you a site where you can get a ton of them. They were realy good songs for me to start with because I was familiar with them as a child. GOod luck. hummer.


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Subject: RE: Three-chord songs
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 05 Oct 99 - 09:01 PM

I think Big Mick has the right idea. My approach is to keep it even simpler, I just socialize with folk musicians and snuggle up to their image. Little Neo


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Subject: RE: Three-chord songs
From: Joe Offer
Date: 05 Oct 99 - 08:48 PM

I think it was Gargoyle who mentioned the "circle of fifths." That's a concept I haven't been quite able to understand. What's the value/significance of this circle? For years, I've wondered why certain chord and note progressions sound "right" or "wrong," and why notes played together sound either right or wrong. Is it just something that we're used to, or is there a mathematical or physical reason behind the relationships of these various sounds? Can somebody explain further?
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Three-chord songs
From: _gargoyle
Date: 05 Oct 99 - 08:08 PM

Well, Ol' Gal.....that's about it....(you now know the "inside secrets of the musical society.)

Once its discovered the "mystery" is gone.... you have the "truths" of BeBop, and the classical masters of the ages. (BTW the Western World's 1,4,5 has its roots in Christian hymns.....it is the olden day's"Amen" progression.)

Trace back to the "Blues" threads and you have the basic elements of that wonderfully simple style.

It is a little like discovering that the great Wizard of OZ .... is not much more.... than a simple, insecure, creep, that hides behind a big mask.

Now, if you want something that will take a lifetime to master ...... and the richness is always new.... move on into the world of JAZZ where "all the rules are broken." according to a plan.

Work Hard, Have Fun, Be Safe!!!!


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Subject: RE: Three-chord songs
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 05 Oct 99 - 04:18 PM

Ahh, the good ol' number system. I love it. A number of years ago I played a fair bit in and about Nashville. One of the tricks that the session players used (that I consider invaluable) was a kind of numerical shorthand. Now these good old boys wouldn't be caught dead using I, IV, V, but what they scribbled on their little matchbooks before fecording a take was the same thing. It's just Do Re Mi by the numbers so don't be intimidated.

The chords for something easy like "Twinkle Twinkle.." would go like this

1//4/1/5/1/5/1/
You pick the key. How about C. The above would read C//F/C/G/C/G/C/.

OK, something more difficult:

"Little Rock Gettaway"

1/3/6-/1(7)/4/6/2-/2#d/1/5#/5//1/6/2-/5/

Now I know that just looks like hen scratches (and it's a VERY complicated song) but once you know the code and attach a number to each do, re, mi, etc. it CAN be learned without too much trouble. It will allow you to jot down a chord pattern almost the first time you hear the song. The important thing to know is that you DON'T need to play fancy to "play with the men" (GG how 'bout we change that to "the good players"? I've got enough lumps on my head already) but you must play in tune and in time.

Oh, here's the chords for "Little Rock...." in, say.."F"

F/A/Dm/F7/Bb/D/Gm/G sharp dim./F/C#/C//F/F#dim/Gm/C/

Because it's a jazzy/bluesy tune you can use 7ths wherever you'd like. (or 9ths or whatever)

Rick


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Subject: RE: Three-chord songs
From: Pete Peterson
Date: 05 Oct 99 - 04:14 PM

Funny how we are directing you to old rock and roll songs isn't it! When my youngest daughter said she wanted to play guitar we tried very hard to find songs in common I could start her on & we finally fell back on late 50's rock and roll; her first two songs were Dream and Bye Bye Love. (Well the first is a FOUR chord song) in about 1959 I wrote down every song I could find that had that C/Am/Dm/G progression starting with Heart and Soul and Blue Moon. WW you are getting good advice hope it helps PETE


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Subject: RE: Three-chord songs
From: Mbo
Date: 05 Oct 99 - 03:54 PM

One of my favorite songs, "Trip To Jerusalem" by Christy Moore is only a 2 chord song, but by listening to it, you would never know. Also, almost every early Kinks song (the record producers' fault, not the band's)is built on 2 chords -- the same 2 chords -- songs like: You Really Got Me, Tired of Waiting, All of The Day(And All of The Night), Who'll be The Next in Line, The End of the Day, Set Me Free...Etc. Good Stuff!

--Mbo


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Subject: RE: Three-chord songs
From: M. Ted (inactive)
Date: 05 Oct 99 - 03:31 PM

I used to teach guitar classes for beginners, and one of my classes was called "A hundred Songs in Five Minutes"

Here is the jist of it--About half of all rock songs are really "La Bamba--which is:

||:AA/DD/EE/DD:||

Repeated over and over--That is to say--play two counts for each letter--there is one measure in each set of slashes--

You can do things like "Hang on Sloopy". "Twist and Shout"- "Stand" by REM--these are just examples: listen for it when you listen to the radio--yoou'll be surprised at how often you hear it--

Next chord progression is:

||:CC/AmAm/DmDm/G7G7:||

Which is all or part of every Doo-Wop ballad ever--songs like "Earth Angel" and Hush-A-Bye". and The Every Brother's "Dream, Dream Dream" (except the bridge, which is FF/CC/G7G7/CC/FF/AmAm/ D7D7/G7G7. and is often used as the bridge in many other songs)

It is also used in songs like "Where Have All the Flowers Gone" and is the basis for the Pretender's "Don't Get Me Wrong" which has a bridge very similar to "Dream,Dream,Dream"

Here is a tip---Learn the songs a piece at a time--

songs are made up of one or more melodic phrases--usually four measures (each of 2,3, or 4 counts)each--

learn to play chords to each phrase first--(count them out-- "A'two three four D Two three four, or whatever, til you get the changes where they should be)-

Then the hum the melody while you play through the chords, and,and worry about the lyrics last of all--

Don't try to learn everything at once, you'll never get anywhere--


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Subject: RE: Three-chord songs
From: Pete Peterson
Date: 05 Oct 99 - 10:53 AM

I gotta get that "retrograss" album. THANKS. Any Carter Family song uses only three chords, the I, IV and V chords as Gargoyle has described. Example: Little Darling Pal of Mine (which is the predecessor of This Land), Keep On the Sunny Side, and the other 300 or so. Something that can be hard to do but can sound really good, as CarlZen has described, is to simplify a song so it only uses three chords-- good example is (if you know it) the Carter Fam. Meeting in the Air-- that last couple lines: and God's Own Son will be the leading one at that meeting in the air sounds like it should have the same chords as Bill Bailey (I know I'm to blame, well ain't it a shame, BB won't you please come home) but it DOESNT, they just use IV, I, V, I. If you try to get more complicated it doesnt sound like the Carter Family any more and that's a big reason why they sound so great! WW, HAVE FUN; you can do it all with three chords! PETE PS: A good thing to be able to do is to pitch the song in the right key. Are you an alto? I have a good friend with whom I sing a lot; her range is from A above middle C to the G below (sometimes to the E below) which is NOT that big a range-- but we play most songs together in A, because the highest note of a song is usually the "do" above the starting note. Example: Stephen Foster's Hard Times goes very well in A and the highest note is the high "do" in the chorus: tis the song and the sigh of the weary HARD (that's the highest note) times, hard times, Come again no more. . . And then singing in A, the three chrods are A, D, E7. Hope this helps.


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