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Discovering chords

Phil Edwards 14 Jan 12 - 08:24 AM
Will Fly 14 Jan 12 - 08:39 AM
Phil Edwards 14 Jan 12 - 11:50 AM
Will Fly 14 Jan 12 - 12:23 PM
Leadfingers 14 Jan 12 - 12:31 PM
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Subject: Discovering chords
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 14 Jan 12 - 08:24 AM

I've recently started playing a keyboard instrument (a melodica), which is the first polyphonic instrument I've ever played (unless you count writing chords in Noteworthy and playing them back).

I've just made two discoveries which I'd like to share with someone. One is that, with a couple of inversions, doing the 1-5-4 trick on a keyboard is incredibly easy - literally, I can't believe how easy it is. I initially thought I was going to have to stretch up and down a lot to make it work, but no.

The other is that being able to go from, say, Fmaj to (counts on fingers) Cmaj to Fmaj to Bbmaj and back to Fmaj doesn't actually get you all that far. Apart from anything else, those chords just seem to sound more cheerful than anything I hear people playing most of the time. The chords Jon Boden's playing here, for example,
In the Month of January
don't sound all that elaborate, but when I try to work out what he's doing I get lost in seconds. (There's a bit where he augments an Fmaj with a flattened seventh, I think, probably.)

Still, practice makes perfect - & at least it looks as if getting those chord shapes isn't going to require Paderewskian levels of dexterity (always wanted to say that).


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Subject: RE: Discovering chords
From: Will Fly
Date: 14 Jan 12 - 08:39 AM

You can get an interesting sound on the keyboard by going, for example, from a C major (C+E+G) to a Dm (D+F+A) by holding the fingers in the same position and moving up one on the white notes. This can be a substitute for an F major (being the relative minor) or as a lead into a G or G7 chord. The - if you're so inclined - move up one more white note to Em (E+G+B) which can act as a substitute for G major...

Not rocket science, but adds a little variety here and there.


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Subject: RE: Discovering chords
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 14 Jan 12 - 11:50 AM

Interesting stuff! I think "relative minor" is going to be a phrase to remember, as I set about eradicating that major-chord brightness from my chord progressions.


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Subject: RE: Discovering chords
From: Will Fly
Date: 14 Jan 12 - 12:23 PM

Good luck, Pip. "Relative minor" being different from "tonic minor", of course. The tonic minor of C major is C minor (C+Eb+G), and the relative minor is Am (A+C+E) - as above.

If you take the notes that make up C6 (C+E+G+A) and take away the G from that - leaving C+E+A - you have the chords of Am in a different inversion (order). So, depending on how you play chords, there are all kinds of interesting substitutions and harmonic options open to you...


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Subject: RE: Discovering chords
From: Leadfingers
Date: 14 Jan 12 - 12:31 PM

MY 'Road to Damascus' moment with regard to chords was when I was in a Multi Instrument Three part vocal harmony group.
I was a Self Taught , NON reading jazzer before I discovered Folk , and always wondered what was the background to the comments I kept hearing after the death of some old Jazzman - " I will always be grateful to him because he taught me the chords to some tune" And I thought " Hang on , he's a Reed man and reeds DONT play Chords " as at that point I had not made the connection between Melody line and Chord Structure ! IF you know the notes that make up a chord , it si SO much easier to sing a Harmony , or to play a basic Improvisation !


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