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Finding the 'right' chord

Phil Edwards 26 Jun 12 - 03:28 AM
greg stephens 26 Jun 12 - 07:02 AM
Phil Edwards 26 Jun 12 - 08:35 AM
GUEST,999 26 Jun 12 - 11:24 AM
Mr Happy 26 Jun 12 - 12:26 PM
GUEST,Grishka 26 Jun 12 - 12:39 PM
Phil Edwards 26 Jun 12 - 03:07 PM
Nick 26 Jun 12 - 07:31 PM
GUEST,Grishka 27 Jun 12 - 06:19 AM
GUEST,leeneia 27 Jun 12 - 09:48 AM
Peter C 27 Jun 12 - 11:51 AM
Stringsinger 27 Jun 12 - 12:53 PM
GUEST,Grishka 27 Jun 12 - 01:02 PM
Chris Partington 27 Jun 12 - 02:03 PM
Phil Edwards 27 Jun 12 - 02:05 PM
Phil Edwards 27 Jun 12 - 04:00 PM
GUEST,leeneia 27 Jun 12 - 04:42 PM
Phil Edwards 27 Jun 12 - 06:28 PM
GUEST,Grishka 28 Jun 12 - 09:06 AM
Phil Edwards 28 Jun 12 - 10:37 AM
GUEST,leeneia 28 Jun 12 - 10:39 AM
GUEST,leeneia 28 Jun 12 - 12:05 PM
Tootler 28 Jun 12 - 02:16 PM
s&r 28 Jun 12 - 03:08 PM
GUEST,leeneia 28 Jun 12 - 04:47 PM
GUEST,Stim 28 Jun 12 - 04:59 PM
Phil Edwards 28 Jun 12 - 05:39 PM
GUEST,Grishka 28 Jun 12 - 05:43 PM
s&r 28 Jun 12 - 06:23 PM
GUEST,Grishka 28 Jun 12 - 06:33 PM
Phil Edwards 28 Jun 12 - 06:41 PM
Tootler 29 Jun 12 - 06:37 AM
GUEST,Grishka 29 Jun 12 - 01:33 PM
pavane 29 Jun 12 - 02:19 PM
GUEST,Grishka 29 Jun 12 - 03:09 PM
Tootler 29 Jun 12 - 08:05 PM
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Subject: Finding the 'right' chord
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 26 Jun 12 - 03:28 AM

I'm teaching myself concertina and feeling my way into chord accompaniment at the same time. I've just uploaded two songs with chordal backing. In both cases I worked out the chords by humming the notes that seemed to go under each line (a basic bass line), then fitting chords around those notes.

On Roll down to Rio I think this worked well; the chords all sound pretty much 'right'. I'm less pleased with 'Rounding the Horn' (although, annoyingly, the chords sounded fine all the way through recording it). They're not discordant, just not necessarily the most appropriate chords.

The bass line I could 'hear' went
G-A-G-D (lines 1 and 4)
D-A-G (lines 2 and 3)
and the song was in G, so I used the chords of G, A minor and D. Some of the time those chords sound fine, but at other points the song seems to need something else. I'm now wondering if I should have used
E minor, F and B minor
or
C, D and G
or
G, A minor and B minor
G, A minor and high G
G, F and D
G, D and high D
G, F and B minor
G, F and high G
G, D and B minor
G, D and high G
E minor, A minor and B minor
E minor, A minor and G
E minor, F and D
E minor, D and high D
E minor, F and B minor
E minor, F and G
E minor, D and B minor
E minor, D and G
C, A minor and B minor
C, A minor and G
C, F and D
C, D and high D
C, F and B minor
C, F and G
C, D and B minor
C, D and G

...or some combination of the above!

When you listen to that link, do the chords sound 'wrong' to you? Which would you replace, and what with? And when you're chording a song, how do you avoid getting lost among all the possibilities? It looks as if there are (at least) three possibilities every time you change chords - and I'm not even getting into four-note chords...


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Subject: RE: Finding the 'right' chord
From: greg stephens
Date: 26 Jun 12 - 07:02 AM

Didn't you mean D G A for lines 2 and 3? Chords sound OK to me but then it's all personal taste isnt it? If you're not happy, tweak it till you are!
What they call "modal" tunes like this(tunes that aren't in normal major or minor scales) often present dificulties: there is no commonly established centuries old harmonic culture surrounding these tunes that we are all familiar with, so everybody approaches them sort of fresh. You can hear all those Vaughan Williamses and Graingers and Deliuses and Brittens and Butterworths bashing away as they grapple with orchestrating tunes of this nature. One thing worth saying is, as you've noticed, you don't have to play chords all the time(as in"three notes or more that sound well together"). A one or two note backing is often just what you need, and leave things harmonically ambiguous. There are no rules that say every note has to have a chord with it, a la English hymn practice in 1800.


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Subject: RE: Finding the 'right' chord
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 26 Jun 12 - 08:35 AM

Thanks, Greg - I really appreciate that.

I wasn't entirely sure what key/mode it was in - I'm guessing D mix. The chords are sort of 1/4/5 ish, but whether they're D/G/A (minor) or G/A-minor-instead-of-C/D I'm not at all sure.

As you say, I went for two-finger chords for most of the song. The problem I often have with full triads is that the major sounds too cheerful and the minor too depressing. Sevenths help cheer up minor chords, but I'm still working out how to mute the exuberance of a major.


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Subject: RE: Finding the 'right' chord
From: GUEST,999
Date: 26 Jun 12 - 11:24 AM

Phil, Greg has much more knowledge about music than I do. However, one thing I've found that 'mutes' the perkiness of major chords is the use of a modal: leave out the third note.


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Subject: RE: Finding the 'right' chord
From: Mr Happy
Date: 26 Jun 12 - 12:26 PM

Loads o' tina experts here http://www.concertina.net/forums/


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Subject: RE: Finding the 'right' chord
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 26 Jun 12 - 12:39 PM

Excellent advice from my distant namesake Greg. In fact, Phil, you seem to know enough by yourself. Of course there must be no A major chord in a Dmix tune, not even if you are one of the VonWilliemses.

One thing: characteristic "hooks" in the tune require some reaction from the accompaniment, unless it is a pure drone. Long chords have the effect of ironing.


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Subject: RE: Finding the 'right' chord
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 26 Jun 12 - 03:07 PM

In fact, Phil, you seem to know enough by yourself

I've got the knowledge (well, *some* knowledge) - I just don't know what to do with it!

I can just see myself getting lost in a garden of forking paths, or chords - G or Emin or C, followed by Amin or F or D, back to G or Emin or C... that's three bars, and already there are 27 possible permutations. I guess it's easier to do than talk about, though.

And, in all seriousness, if anyone listens to that tune and thinks "I wouldn't put *that* chord *there*", I'd love to know about it (the last verse in particular - it's two-finger I/V 'chords' up to then).


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Subject: RE: Finding the 'right' chord
From: Nick
Date: 26 Jun 12 - 07:31 PM

The second one sounds to me like a D C G accompaniment with a choice on the A as to do it minor or major.

Most of the melody seems to suggest that you dive for the C anytime you want because it yearns to come back to the D (or not) or go to the A with or without a third of any flavour you choose.

Somebody who knows about this stuff will go mixolydian or something.

So it's a great fun song to play and you could do most of the things above and play with the harmony anyway you want.

The first tune would also play with a G drone across everything. (And a D drone in another verse to give it a different flavour)

Not playing a concertina I don't know but sense it's a bit like a piano or a guitar or singing.

Others will know better than me


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Subject: RE: Finding the 'right' chord
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 27 Jun 12 - 06:19 AM

From the MIDI file of "Rounding the Horn" in the DT, I just wrote the following little sketch of an accompaniment. I tried to keep it folkloristic, sticking to my idea of mixolydian mode, resisting all Graingerisms and most Grishkisms (that I would add if I were to publish an arrangement). Also, I mostly used full triad chords, in order not to dodge the original question; 999's empty fifths and similar devices can be preferable in some cases. Add harmonic, rhythmic and contrapuntal spices to taste.

Minor chords are not sad per se, but may become dull.

A general recipe? Sorry, in spite of my long studies, I do not know any. Just my mantra: harmonization must include rhythmic and melodic considerations. I am very interested to read about other opinions, tastes, and suggestions here.

Those of you who do not have ABC software can enter the following ABC code at http://www.folkinfo.org/songs/abcconvert.php to obtain sheet music or a MIDI file.

X:1
T:Rounding the Horn
I:abc-version 2.1
I:abc-creator MidiZyx2abc 1.07
I:linebreak $
M:C
%%score Voice {(R1 R2) |L}
C:trad., arr. Grishka
L:1/8
Q:1/4=120
K:Dmix
V:Voice name="Voice"
%%MIDI program 52
A2| G3FDD3| A3Bc2EF| G2AGD2D2| D6A2| d3dcBA2| d2dcA2D2| G2ABc2B2| A6AA| d2d2cBA2| d3cA2D2| % 11
G2ABc2B2| A6A2| G3FD2D2| ABc4EF| G2AGD2D2| D6|] % 17
V:R1 name="Free\nreed"
%%MIDI program 22
z2| A8| c4A4| B4B4| A8| B4A4| A4A2d2| B4A2G2| G2FGA4| B4G2A2| B4c2d2| e4e2d2| d3cA4| A8| % 14
c3d[ce]4| [Be]4[Bd]4| [Ad]6|] % 17
V:R2
%%MIDI program 22
x2| D4F4| E8| G4G4| G3FD4| F4E4| F4A2A2| G4E2D2| D3EF4| F4E4| F4A2A2| B2G2G4| A4D4| D4F4| E4A4| % 15
G4G4| G3FD2|] % 17
V:L clef=bass
%%MIDI program 22
z2| D,8| A,,8| E,4G,4| D,8| B,,4C,4| D,4A,2F,2| E,4C,2G,2| D,8| B,,4C,4| D,4E,2F,2| E,4C,2G,2| % 12
G,4F,4| D,8| A,,8| E,4G,4| D,6|] % 17


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Subject: RE: Finding the 'right' chord
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 27 Jun 12 - 09:48 AM

Thanks, Grishka. My band will love your arrangement!


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Subject: RE: Finding the 'right' chord
From: Peter C
Date: 27 Jun 12 - 11:51 AM

IMHO there is no 'single' or 'right' set of chords to fit a tune, you can play what sounds fine to you, and not necessarily the same chords each time! Unless of course there are several people playing chords together, then you really do have to agree a chord sequence!


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Subject: RE: Finding the 'right' chord
From: Stringsinger
Date: 27 Jun 12 - 12:53 PM

Often, the best in accompaniment for tradition folk songs is achieved by keeping it simple.
I, IV and V7 a much as possible.

Jazz tunes are a different story and require stylistic harmonies that are more involved.

Remember that most folkie audiences are more concerned with the singing of the song
than they are the accompaniment which should be supportive and not obtrusive.


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Subject: RE: Finding the 'right' chord
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 27 Jun 12 - 01:02 PM

Peter, certainly there is more than one solution and a wide range of tastes, as we observed before, but some are worse than others. Phil tells us he is "less pleased" with his ideas, so we are discussing how to become more pleased. A public performer should also try to please and impress the audience. (BTW note that in my above proposal harmonies slightly differ in the repeated parts.)

Leeneia, you're welcome; of course everything I post here is donated to the public domain. This piece I would qualify as a study rather than a finished arrangement, but I allow anyone including Phil to make whatever use of it as they wish, at their own risk.

I am looking forward to further comments, as specific as possible. After all, most of us including myself are here to learn, not only to teach.


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Subject: RE: Finding the 'right' chord
From: Chris Partington
Date: 27 Jun 12 - 02:03 PM

What breed of concertina are you using and doesn't that affect your choice of chord?


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Subject: RE: Finding the 'right' chord
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 27 Jun 12 - 02:05 PM

Often, the best in accompaniment for tradition folk songs is achieved by keeping it simple.
I, IV and V7 a much as possible.


Never thought of using A7 instead of Amin - I might give that a bash, as well as dropping in an occasional C.

Grishka - your arrangement looks great, but at the moment I'm thinking very much in terms of chord names rather than tadpoles. I've only had the concertina since April, and I'm concentrating on playing by ear to start with.


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Subject: RE: Finding the 'right' chord
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 27 Jun 12 - 04:00 PM

What breed of concertina are you using and doesn't that affect your choice of chord?

English; it's chromatic, and lends itself very well to chording. Inversions can get tricky and some four- and five-note chords are awkward, but triads & 7s are ridiculously easy.


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Subject: RE: Finding the 'right' chord
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 27 Jun 12 - 04:42 PM

Phil, I think that you are dreaming bigger dreams now, and trying to do more sophisticated things - i.e., play chromatic concertina and produce both melody and harmony.

It's time for you to graduate from playing by ear. Learn to read music (if you don't already) and learn some music theory. If you have a music store nearby, drop in and talk to the staff about some good books.

(I looked online a little, but was not impressed.)

'Music theory' sounds daunting, but it's way easier than algebra, say, or even long division. I have a friend (a former school music teacher) who says she can teach the reading of music in two hours. I believe it would be two hours well spent.

For example, I went to JC Tune Finder and printed out 'Rounding the Horn.' I sat down at the piano and worked out some lovely chords in ten minutes. That was ten minutes, max.


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Subject: RE: Finding the 'right' chord
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 27 Jun 12 - 06:28 PM

I can read music, thanks! (Some of my three-part harmony arrangements on the white album were taken from sheet music, others I wrote myself with Noteworthy.) I'm not a complete novice on the theory front, either - hence my references above to inversions and I/IV/V progressions and stuff.

Some day I will fill in the gaps in my theoretical knowledge, but I want to take it relatively slowly so as to make sure that I'm always able to hear what I'm doing - in the same way that I can hear the flattened seventh in a mixolydian tune. Although I am learning the concertina by ear, I'm learning tunes that I've already learnt from the dots (on whistle). I think it's a good combination, because it means I'm building muscle memory (which note comes next) and auditory memory (what an F# sounds like) at the same time.

I sat down at the piano and worked out some lovely chords in ten minutes.

Would you happen to remember what they were - and, more importantly, how you settled on one chord rather than another? See original question!

The English concertina is fantastic for dabbling around with chords - they're all in triangles (see diagrams on this page). I just get a bit intimidated by all the possibilities, & dispirited when they keep sounding nearly but not quite right.


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Subject: RE: Finding the 'right' chord
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 28 Jun 12 - 09:06 AM

Phil, I was not suggesting that you play my arrangement as-is on your concertina; it may not even be possible. I rather wanted to illustrate my "mantra" that part of the sense any harmonization makes depends on its melodic interpretation, aka "voicing". Thus, if I only listed the chord names, my point would be missed.

The most ticklish part seems to be the beginning. Since you asked: In my ears, your "G | Am" progression does not reflect the intention of the melody. Also, I feel that D should be established as the central note right in the beginning, so that the mode does not come as a surprise at the end. My sketch therefore features "Dsus4 D | Am"; there may be better solutions.

Greg, you are of course right that 19th century harmony theory cannot be applied to modal tunes without undue violence. But there is a large historical corpus of genuine multi-voiced modal music. 16th century English madrigals may come closest to what we are looking for here. Nowadays the study of that style is called "counterpoint", and if in the corresponding exercises we wrote an "unprepared" Dsus4, the professor would mark it as an error. No problem for those Graingers, of course. Folkies may justify it by imagining D and A as drones.


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Subject: RE: Finding the 'right' chord
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 28 Jun 12 - 10:37 AM

Never used a sus4 chord before, but I love the way it sounds - the way the Dsus4 resolves to the D is beautiful. And it brings in the G I could 'hear' in my imaginary bassline, while staying centred on the D - very nice. (It was a lot simpler to play, once I'd looked it up, than the name implied - suspended fourth?)


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Subject: RE: Finding the 'right' chord
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 28 Jun 12 - 10:39 AM

Hi, Phil. I can't find my copy of 'Rounding the Horn.' Give me a while to get back to you on the chords.

If you're writing three-part harmonies, you must know your chords. Let me pass on a couple of thoughts.

When selecting chords, pay attention to the difference between mere dissoance and true discordance. Suppose we have a song in the key of G. Suppose a measure has these notes:

G B D E.

A G chord might do, even though the E is not in it. You might consider the E a passing note.

But if the measure has an C in it, watch out. The C is going to clash badly with the B in the G chord. (discord) It will also clash somewhat with the D (dissonance.) I believe that in folk music, you can get away with dissonance, but people will not accept discord. To me, discord sounds like jazz and smells like booze.

To deal with the note C, you might play a C chord, a D chord (producing a D7) or an Am. These are all chords that have a C in them. All you can do is try them and see what you like. And as somebody observed already, you are free to use one chord one time and a different chord another time.

Another approach is to re-write (gasp!) the timing and make the C note so short that it doesn't get on people's nerves.
=======
When a melody is moving up or down the scale, no chords are going to go with it. I often play just the tonic or the tonic plus the fifth of some chord when that happens. It doesn't have to be the root chord, it could be some other chord.

I don't believe the common saying that folk music uses I IV and V chords. The old-timers knew that the scale went "do re me fa so la ti do." Knowing that, how hard is it to ask yourself what chord is based on each of thdse? Answer: not hard at all. So in the key of D, I might use:

D
Em
F#m
G
A
Bm

I gotta admit that I rarely use the chord based on the seventh note, the C#m. Maybe I ought to.


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Subject: RE: Finding the 'right' chord
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 28 Jun 12 - 12:05 PM

Found it! Hope the lines stay the same.

What does > mean? It means the word that follows is merely a pickup note to the next line. It might be dissonant. You can take a breather and let the accompaniment die away.

> The
G gallant frigate
D or Am Amphitrite
> she
G lay in
D Plymouth
G Sound,
> Blue
G Peter
Am at her
G foremast
D head, for
G she was
C out-
G ward
D bound;
> we were
G waiting
Am there for
G or-
D ders to
G send us
Am far
G from
D home;
> Our
G orders came for
Am Rio,
>and
G then a-
D round Cape
G Horn.


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Subject: RE: Finding the 'right' chord
From: Tootler
Date: 28 Jun 12 - 02:16 PM

I had a go at harmonising this a few years ago using an anglo concertina without ever coming to a satisfactory result so I forgot it and sang it unaccompanied which actually is fine.

Going through this thread I thought I might try again. My earlier results were unsuccessful for two reasons, I think. First I made the mistake of thinking "one sharp, it's in G (doesn't end on E so not Em). Then I realised it ends in D and it's not it's a mixolydian mode tune with a D final. So I tried on that basis and peppered it with D, G and Am, but the Am just did not seem right - like Phil said at the beginning, it's not that it doesn't harmonise with the melody, it just doesn't feel right.

In fact, mixolydian is a major mode so you need major chords and these fall on I, IV and VII rather than the I, IV and V of a major key. The other thing I have found from some reading is that with modal tunes where the chord on the 5th degree is minor, the equivalent to a major V7-I progression is VII-I and I've tried it regularly in other tunes and it works.

So based on that I came up with this:

[D]The [Dsus4] gal[D]lant frigate, Amphi[C]trite, she lay in [D] Plymouth Sound,
Blue Peter at the foremast head for [G] she was [C] out[G]ward [D] bound;
We were waiting there for orders to [G] send us [C] far [G] from [D] home;
Our [Dsus4] ord[D]ers came for Ri[C]o, and thence a[D]round Cape Horn.

I've used Grishka's Dsus4, though my first thought at that point was G and it will work.

I'll try and put a recording on soundcloud sometime but I'm off to see Martin Carthy at the Welly just now (weather permitting)


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Subject: RE: Finding the 'right' chord
From: s&r
Date: 28 Jun 12 - 03:08 PM

C#dim is the triad based on C# in the key of D

Stu


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Subject: RE: Finding the 'right' chord
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 28 Jun 12 - 04:47 PM

So that's it!


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Subject: RE: Finding the 'right' chord
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 28 Jun 12 - 04:59 PM

I've listened to your recording a number of times, then had my 10 year old listen. He said, "It was good when you were just singing it." I think he has a point.

There a bit too much going on, and it gets in the way of the melody and the lyrics themselves. I think a closer unison between the recorder and the voice could simplify things, and I think those fifth on the concertina could be used more sparingly.

Long ago, when I was learning to arrange(actually, I am still learning), it was suggested to me that when harmonizing a melody(which is really what you're doing) a good default was to start with the chord fundamental and to hold onto it as long as possible, and then to move to the closest possible note that sounds good.

Even in composition class, the ear, and not the theory, is what decides.

In theory, we think in terms of dominant and subordinate parts, and we try not to put things in the subordinate part that overshadow the melody. At least not too often....


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Subject: RE: Finding the 'right' chord
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 28 Jun 12 - 05:39 PM

Thanks all - you are absolute stars. Even Stim's son - it's true, it does get a bit busy. (This week's songs are going to be unaccompanied!)

Tootler: mixolydian is a major mode so you need major chords and these fall on I, IV and VII rather than the I, IV and V of a major key.

That's a fascinating thought. Going back to leeneia's comment, in Dmix there are seven obvious triads -

DF#A (D)
EGB (Emin)
F#AC (F#min)
GBD (G)
ACE (Amin)
BDF# (Bmin)
CEG (C)

So the only 1-3-5 triads that don't come out as minor are... D, G and C, alias I, IV and VII. Hmmm!

I'll try both the suggestions posted above.


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Subject: RE: Finding the 'right' chord
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 28 Jun 12 - 05:43 PM

Tootler, our solutions coincide in many places, notably "[G] she was [C] out[G]ward". This is one of the "hook" phrases I was talking about before.

I am using all major and minor triads of the scale for more colour, but that is a matter of taste. However, your "[D] Blue Peter at the" does not sound OK to me, since in the second half with its C note it is too suggestive of D7. Either C or Am are needed there, I use them both.

Diminished chords are usually not associated with modal tunes; in pre-1600 music, they were condemned as devilish. Before 1500, there was not even a seventh note in the scale at all, so that using it amounted to something very close to a change of mode. We are free to abandon such traditions, but it becomes us to know them and to show due respect.

Suspended fourths are very common since 1400 (which means I did not exactly invent them), but they had to be "prepared" in the sense that the respective note had to be a consonant part of the previous chord. This is not the case here, so we must plead for folkloristic licence, as I wrote above. (In order to somewhat camouflage this fact, I used similar progressions later in the song, but prepared properly: "[G] she was [C] out[G]ward [Dsus4] bound [D]")

Preparing and resolving are properties of the voicing, not only of the chords. Therefore, and for other reasons, the tadpoles (resp. the MIDI sound, for those who rather trust their ears) should allow us a better judgement than mere chord symbols.


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Subject: RE: Finding the 'right' chord
From: s&r
Date: 28 Jun 12 - 06:23 PM

F#m is F# A C#

Stu


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Subject: RE: Finding the 'right' chord
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 28 Jun 12 - 06:33 PM

Stim, when I first saw this thread, I immediately thought that someone would shout "sing it unaccompanied". In my opinion, the topic here is not "how should I perform this song", but "is it possible to harmonize this song in a satisfactory manner, and if so, how can I do it and judge the result".

A performance with perfectly "right" chords can nevertheless be quite wrong or of bad taste, but that is another topic.


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Subject: RE: Finding the 'right' chord
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 28 Jun 12 - 06:41 PM

Stu - well spotted. Make that F#dim.

Stim can answer for him/herself, but I don't think s/he was saying "sing it unaccompanied" (there isn't any totally unaccompanied singing in that recording, apart from anything else) - just that it may get a bit too busy towards the end.


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Subject: RE: Finding the 'right' chord
From: Tootler
Date: 29 Jun 12 - 06:37 AM

...sing it unaccompanied

I think I said something to that effect to Phil on his 52 Folk Songs thread. I normally sing it unaccompanied. I realised after my earlier unsuccessful attempts at harmonising the tune with an anglo concertina that that was the best way, though I have occasionally sung it over a D-A drone.

Grishka; on relfection, I agree with you that "Blue Peter at the foremast head" all on a D chord was too much. I was vaguely conscious of that C in the melody but I did it in a bit of a hurry and I was trying to avoid minor chords if I could - effectively a variant on the three chord trick. (at least, that's my excuse!)

Looking again, my thoughts are either

[D] Blue Peter [Am] at the [D] foremast head... or
[D] Blue Peter [C] at[D] the foremast head...

the second will keep the all major chords theme but I think I prefer the first. I have been working the chords out using a ukulele and I tend just to play in "first position". There is scope for going up the neck to get alternative voicings but I have not been playing the uke all that long and am not comfortable going up the neck. A concertina, anyway creates a different effect with the harmonies so different chords will work better in some places.

We are free to abandon such traditions, but it becomes us to know them and to show due respect. I agree with that but I think we can also allow choices that would be accepted by modern ears.
For example, modern ears would tolerate an implied D7 because they are used to 7th chords. OTOH, I try to avoid 7th chords if I can when working out chords for traditional tunes. They are generally not necessary.

I had thought about trying out Rounding the Horn with accompaniment but on reflection I think I will continue to sing it unaccompanied. It is better that way. I know sometimes when people with a guitars start to sing some songs my first thought is "Put that bloody guitar away!" This is especially true of many traditional songs with modal tunes. Some songs need accompaniment, though, so being able to play an instrument you can accompany yourself with gives you the choice. As to which songs to accompany that is very definitely a personal choice. Just don't feel you have to accompany everything just because you can, a trap I think some people fall into.


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Subject: RE: Finding the 'right' chord
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 29 Jun 12 - 01:33 PM

Of course, Tootler, you need no excuse whatsoever. I am thrilled to participate in a discussion with "real folkies".

Most of those who posted here, though probably not representative of Mudcat, seem to agree that this tune can be harmonized in a meaningful manner, provided you are using instruments that allow quick changes gracefully. Guitars or ukes or banjos, treated with the usual folk techniques, are slightly disadvantaged in that discipline, hence the reflex "Put that bloody guitar away!" I would like to encourage every serious performer to study the possibilities of melody instruments. For example, listen to my ABC suggestions above and on the recent thread about "Constant Lovers" (where the unaccompanied faction was louder than here but I felt on safer grounds, with an early-19th-century tune).

Aesthetic considerations are a different topic, related only by the fact that a bad harmonization will always produce an ugly result. I was not talking about that yet, but I absolutely agree that less can be more, depending on the context of the performance. Leeneia's existing instrumental circle needs arrangements different from those for a man representing a lonesome sailor in the width of the ocean. Hourses for curses.


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Subject: RE: Finding the 'right' chord
From: pavane
Date: 29 Jun 12 - 02:19 PM

You could try my program "HARMONY" which adds chords to a melody.

Download from
my site


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Subject: RE: Finding the 'right' chord
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 29 Jun 12 - 03:09 PM

Yes, we could, pavane, if we had no other use for our money and time. I challenge you to post the results from your programme for "Rounding the Horn" here as ABC code, and we'll either be amused or very surprised.


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Subject: RE: Finding the 'right' chord
From: Tootler
Date: 29 Jun 12 - 08:05 PM

Guitars or ukes or banjos, treated with the usual folk techniques, are slightly disadvantaged in that discipline, hence the reflex "Put that bloody guitar away!"

There is some truth in that as I am finding out. They tend to push you into a rhythmic mode which is not always appropriate and you lose some of the rhythmic freedom which is needed for interpreting many traditional songs. However the reason for "Put that bloody guitar away" reaction had more to do with inappropriate harmonisation because they do not really understand modal melodies and so try to fit them into a standard I-IV-V7 model and that anyway the particular song is much, much better sung without accompaniment.

On the other hand, picking up the uke has enabled me to add accompaniment to songs which I felt really benefited from it - and I'm enjoying myself.


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