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Fiddle tune backup: how to find chords?

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Mark Cohen 08 Jan 02 - 11:20 PM
wysiwyg 08 Jan 02 - 11:49 PM
Les B 08 Jan 02 - 11:57 PM
Louie Roy 09 Jan 02 - 12:05 AM
Mark Cohen 09 Jan 02 - 12:55 AM
Rick Fielding 09 Jan 02 - 01:05 AM
GUEST,Cookieless IanB 09 Jan 02 - 03:27 AM
Skipjack K8 09 Jan 02 - 04:41 AM
M.Ted 09 Jan 02 - 09:29 AM
wysiwyg 09 Jan 02 - 10:31 AM
John Hardly 09 Jan 02 - 11:40 AM
English Jon 09 Jan 02 - 12:03 PM
Mark Cohen 09 Jan 02 - 01:02 PM
wysiwyg 09 Jan 02 - 01:17 PM
M.Ted 09 Jan 02 - 03:17 PM
Steve in Idaho 09 Jan 02 - 03:37 PM
wysiwyg 09 Jan 02 - 03:52 PM
GUEST,Jim Clemons 09 Jan 02 - 04:08 PM
M.Ted 09 Jan 02 - 04:50 PM
Helen 09 Jan 02 - 05:41 PM
Helen 09 Jan 02 - 05:46 PM
wysiwyg 09 Jan 02 - 06:37 PM
harpgirl 09 Jan 02 - 11:18 PM
harpgirl 09 Jan 02 - 11:35 PM
Mark Cohen 09 Jan 02 - 11:36 PM
wysiwyg 10 Jan 02 - 12:21 AM
Kaleea 10 Jan 02 - 01:04 AM
Mark Cohen 10 Jan 02 - 02:07 AM
Skipjack K8 10 Jan 02 - 05:03 AM
Helen 10 Jan 02 - 06:26 AM
wysiwyg 10 Jan 02 - 11:01 AM
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Subject: Fiddle tune backup: how to find chords?
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 08 Jan 02 - 11:20 PM

This is sort of complementary to the "watching fingers" thread. I've just begun playing backup guitar for fiddle tunes again, after not doing it for about ten years...and I was just a beginner when I stopped. My ear seems to have improved in the interim, so I guess I'm kind of an advanced beginner, and trying to improve. I'm interested to know what kind of hints and suggestions other people have found useful in improving the ability to find and follow chord changes, mostly in the kind of tunes that would be played at a contradance--old-time (southern and New England) and Irish, with the odd rag and waltz thrown in.

I'll tell you what I've learned so far...

1. Listen.
2. Listen.
3. Listen.
4. I know the I, IV, V chords in the common keys, and can pretty quickly figure out ii and vi.
5. I can usually hear where the I, IV and V come in a "straight-ahead" 2- or 3-chord major tune; or else I can tell when I guessed wrong. I can't always hear when the accompaniment should go to a minor--or to the VII, like in "Red-Haired Boy" ("Little Beggarman"), where I kept wanting to play E instead of G.
6. Somebody told me recently that for Irish tunes in a minor key, the accompaniment usually switches between that minor and the major one step below (I figured out that this is because the "one step below" is the dominant of the relative major--in other words, you're playing vi and V.) But that doesn't always work (surprise, surprise!)
7. The "modal" tunes (I know, I know, every scale is a mode, but you know what I mean) have me completely flummoxed.
8. I do have "The Fiddler's Fakebook", which helps, but only when I'm reading it!

So, short of moving to Toronto, can anybody give me some tips?

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: Fiddle tune backup: how to find chords?
From: wysiwyg
Date: 08 Jan 02 - 11:49 PM

Ed Hetzler has a site where you can practice along with them done up nicely as MIDI's.

Old Time Music MIDI Archive. Most of the arrangements are from the Fakebook, he has said, so they should match up well. I think doing a whole bunch of listening, there, could help. Also he has some cool software downloads there as well as slower versions of some tunes-- it's a good idea to plumb the site thoroughly because it has goodies here and there that are not so obvious on first glance.

Good luck!

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Fiddle tune backup: how to find chords?
From: Les B
Date: 08 Jan 02 - 11:57 PM

Mark - I've been playing with various old time fiddlers in our district off and on for about 20 years, and it doesn't get any easier!

You seem to have the basics well in hand. I tend to try to identify common patterns, and if you can quickly hear the similarity in structure and say to yourself "well that's like Soldier's Joy, except in C," you can squeak by. A lot of the old time waltzs use the circle of fifths, or "five-chord turn around," or "Sears Roebuck turn" as one old guy called them - (G,E,A,D,G)

Many of the older reels can be played with only two chords in the A part, and then they add the third chord in the B part. Some of the southern tunes may sound like they require a minor, but a dyed-in-the-wool "old timey" fiddler prefers a major chord! "Waiting for the Federals" aka "Seneca Square Dance" in key of G is one of those. My ear hears an Em in there, but fiddlers (like Bruce Molesky) would rather you play a C.

Some fiddlers play real clean and you can hear their "changes" easily. Others can be pretty broad in both their intonation and tempo, and you can just barely keep it between the ditches. A fiddler who plays with a lot of double stops can also make you wonder which key they're in at times. Probably one way to know you're playing the right chords is when the fiddler quits rolling his/her eyes and grimacing! :}

One trick I learned from another guitarist is how to play with a fiddler who can't hold tempo. We had a nice old guy, now deceased, who had beautiful tone, but thought "Time" was a magazine and he'd forgotten to renew the subscription! My guitarist friend abandoned the standard "boom-chuck"(bass note-chord strum)style and went to a windshield wiper pattern of strumming up and down (sort of like Celtic guitarists) with no perceived pulse or beat, just a wall of sound coming out of the guitar. When the fiddler's tune required a chord change the guitarist would finger the new chord, meter be damned. It worked, and he could get through a set of tunes with this fiddler.


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Subject: RE: Fiddle tune backup: how to find chords?
From: Louie Roy
Date: 09 Jan 02 - 12:05 AM

Mark, what Susan suggests is one of the better site anywhere to learn to play Old Time Fiddle Music.What is so neat about this site you can play for hours and if your instrument is in tune it tells you what chord the tune is being played in.Another thing if you find a song that you are having difficulty with jot it down and then have the fiddle player you play with play the tune in the chord that is on this site and that way if you are missing a chord change it can be worked out.Presto you are ready for some more challenges.You'll be surprised how quickly your ears will pick up the chord changes. Louie Roy


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Subject: RE: Fiddle tune backup: how to find chords?
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 09 Jan 02 - 12:55 AM

WOW!!! As we say in Hawaii, "Mahalo a nui loa!" (Big long thank you!) That site is EXACTLY what I needed. Now I can play while I Listen, Listen, Listen. It's fun to try to figure out the chords first, then go to the Fakebook and see how close I came. And thanks, Les and Louie, those were good suggestions. I'm off and running, folks! Now if I can just find a time to get together with some of the other musicians I played with last week...

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: Fiddle tune backup: how to find chords?
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 09 Jan 02 - 01:05 AM

Oh poop! I thought maybe you WOULD move to Toronto Mark! I went to an Ontario Fiddlers Association evening once, and I found out first hand what a lot of older ONTARIO fiddlers want in the way of accompaniment. They want you to put your guitar in it's case and keep it there! They're definitely partial to piano!

Rick


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Subject: RE: Fiddle tune backup: how to find chords?
From: GUEST,Cookieless IanB
Date: 09 Jan 02 - 03:27 AM

What a brilliant site that is! Thanks, Susan.

- Ian B


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Subject: RE: Fiddle tune backup: how to find chords?
From: Skipjack K8
Date: 09 Jan 02 - 04:41 AM

I was led to Ed's site by Sorcha (I think?) and it has helped me enormously with my learning the fiddle. The forum is a bit thin, though, despite many thousands of hits on the main site. The tunes are all three times through, which lets one get into the tune a bit more each time.

We need to jam, Mark!

Skipjack


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Subject: RE: Fiddle tune backup: how to find chords?
From: M.Ted
Date: 09 Jan 02 - 09:29 AM

Don't forget that you can download the MIDI files and play them back on your own--and if you are so inclined, you can open the files in a sequencer program and change both tempo and key--

another tip is, when you can't tell whether to play major or minor, to play "power chords" (chords that are really just the fundamental and the fifth, like the heavy metal guitar players use)--


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Subject: RE: Fiddle tune backup: how to find chords?
From: wysiwyg
Date: 09 Jan 02 - 10:31 AM

Ya gotta love an Episcopal priest whomping away on "Breaking Up Christmas." Last night, Ed's site let me preview what I'm in gonna be in for-- Hardi has promised the Sat. nite congregation he will have it ready in time for next year, to end the season at Epiphany.

One of the things I love about the site-- and maybe it was Sorcha who found it, I can't remember so I didn't credit her-- is that people who live way far apart can still choose and work up tunes to play when they DO get together. In our case, this means an awful lot.

Ed knows about Mudcat but I think part of the hosting deal he has includes having his own forum so that the ads it carries will stay in front of his people. But I think it is fair to mention Mudcat in threads there, and I would love to see his site here someday under the Onstage umbrella.

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Fiddle tune backup: how to find chords?
From: John Hardly
Date: 09 Jan 02 - 11:40 AM

I find myself in the same dillema --made especially bad by my admiration for those guys who seem to always have an interesting bass line to carpet the bottom. Toward that end, I am taking the longer road and just learning the tunes, though I do wish I could "fake it" a bit more ---thanks for the link Susan!

I've played with a guy that does that "windshield-wiper" strum and, though it works (rhythmically) it sounds so "un-right"

I do normally fake it like M Ted suggests(amazing how often that guy's advice is so dead-on) with the 5chords (yeah, I know they ain't really 5ths). The neutered, not major/minors. Here's a few ways to play 'em
G = 3X0033 or 355033
C = 33X013
D = X00235 or X00588
F = 133011
heck, with those 4 all you need is a capo
A = 002255 (remember the C-A-G-E-D discussion? this is the "G" form of "A"

...oh, and I didn't write these out for your edification, Mark -- you probably already know these -- I'm just always thinkin' there's other folks who read the music threads here, who may be too shy to ask what the "power chord" reference meant.


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Subject: RE: Fiddle tune backup: how to find chords?
From: English Jon
Date: 09 Jan 02 - 12:03 PM

Easiest way to play power chords is to tune bass E down to D and fret thickest two strings of guitar together, then slide the whole thing up and down. EJ


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Subject: RE: Fiddle tune backup: how to find chords?
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 09 Jan 02 - 01:02 PM

Thanks, John....I didn't know them. But I'm sure going to learn! Actually, on many of the older tunes, when played in an authentic style, the third is something "other" than a major or minor third. So a chord without the third isn't faking it--it's right. When I was in a class with Jere Canote and he showed us how to play an A that way, somebody said, "Oh, I call that A-neutral!"

And, M.Ted, Ed's site includes a link to a freeware program called Van Basco's Karaoke player, which will load automatically when you click on a tune. So you can change the key, or the tempo, as easy as pie. (Actually, I tried to bake a pie once, and it was definitely NOT easy...)

The only problem I've found with the site is that about a third of the tunes (the ones in the right-hand column, including all the neat C tunes) are inaccessible--the cursor does not change to a pointer when you hover over the tune name, and right-clicking doesn't do anything. I don't know anything about source code and HTML, but maybe somebody who does can check and tell me if it's my problem or the site's problem.

Skipjack, (or anyone else) just let me know when you'll be in Hawaii, and I'd love to jam!

This is exactly what I hoped for when starting this thread. Makes me feel very good that I just sent a check to the Mudcat! (Hint, hint...)

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: Fiddle tune backup: how to find chords?
From: wysiwyg
Date: 09 Jan 02 - 01:17 PM

Mark, I am not having any trouble at the site. I am in IE5 and Netscape 4.7.

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Fiddle tune backup: how to find chords?
From: M.Ted
Date: 09 Jan 02 - 03:17 PM

Thanks for your kind words, John Hardly, and and thanks for posting some fingerings--don't forget that you can play E:
O-5-7-x-x-x
A:
O-O-5-7-x-x
D:
x-O-O-2-x-x

You only need two notes, and, since the fiddler will be busy bouncing around in the higher registers, you can get by without any notes at all on those high strings--incidentally, for those who need to know everything, the bottom in early classical music was played this way, on a kind of bass lute, called the theorbo--

Mark,if you want to bake an easy pie, start with one of those pre-made Pillsbury crusts;-)


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Subject: RE: Fiddle tune backup: how to find chords?
From: Steve in Idaho
Date: 09 Jan 02 - 03:37 PM

All great ideas! I learned the hard way - like Rick said "They like guitars in their cases." Most of the Old Time Fiddlers I've known are a pain in the butt to say the least. I had one who decided in mid song to change key from G to F. And he does it just to confuse everyone. He was asked to play a funeral last week and kept doing songs that weren't requested by the family, would do them in a different key than previously rehearsed, and at the end Marilyn was ready to choke him! I've only known a few that could actually keep time and make a sound that was really clean and crisp. But that's Old Time Fiddle. Gonna play with them accept it.

My personal little revenge was to learn how to flat pick the songs as well as the "proper" (they are really into the proper way to play songs)way to chord the tunes. I figured if I knew it better than they did I could at least know when the changes were coming and not make as much noise during that period!! I spent a while up in Lewiston, Idaho playing backup for some of the newer fiddlers in competition and it was a lot of fun.

Old Time Fiddler joke

Know how to get rid of the fiddlers? Start singing a C&W tune. - - - It really isn't a joke - it's what we do.

But if you find some fiddlers that are good at it and willing to play with you - man you can learn some fine old tunes!!

Steve


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Subject: RE: Fiddle tune backup: how to find chords?
From: wysiwyg
Date: 09 Jan 02 - 03:52 PM

The dozen or so fiddlers I met at a recent OT music houseparty appreciated their guitar players-- they were excellent fiddlers and knew hundred of tunes cold. Straight, crooked, pretty, and maddening. (The tunes.) But they said repeatedly that they needed and appreciated the rhythm of the guitars, and they liked best the take-no-prisoners player who could keep time without any help and who played straight, kept old-timey patterns, and stayed out of the way of the ornamentation.

So I would suspect that the most appreciated ones are the ones who set the rhythm, instead of trying to keep up. Be strong! Be bold! But be old-timey! *G* Or they will say bad things about you as soon as you leave the room! *G*

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Fiddle tune backup: how to find chords?
From: GUEST,Jim Clemons
Date: 09 Jan 02 - 04:08 PM

Another good resource I've used in a book/CD set called "Celtic Back-Up for All Instrumentalists" by Chris Smith. It includes charts of common chord progressions for the most common folk music modes in various keys, and he has a comprehensive set of tools (bass drone, bass runs, countermelodies, etc.) to vary backup, and all sorts of good suggestions. I think Smith has his own website (don't know the address). The set is available at elderly.com and elsewhere.


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Subject: RE: Fiddle tune backup: how to find chords?
From: M.Ted
Date: 09 Jan 02 - 04:50 PM

Then there is the question, why do you want to back up these fiddlers? In general, they have little use for the guitar, unless you are playing for dancing(and they will "allow" you to play as long as it is understood who is in charge)--you are never going to get to do anything except play chords behind them, and if you try, God help you!

If you want to play old timey stuff, you'll do better working with a different instrument where you can stand on a more equal footing-- best to find a mandolinist, who will know the same tunes, but won't be able to get by without a strong rhythm player,and will probably want to sing--also, you can play solo bass runs behind those plinky mando chords and feel somewhat important(of course, the mando will play most of the melody and leads)--

A banjo player isn't bad to work with, either--they can keep the beat and solo at the same time, and don't really need you, but they tend to be a lot more sociable--

A steel guitar player would be good, too, though it will be hard to find one in the Islands who doesn't want to just play Hawaiian style(not a bad thing)--

Nothing against them as musicians, but for fiddlers, music is about the fiddle, and guitars are more or less the fifth wheel--


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Subject: RE: Fiddle tune backup: how to find chords?
From: Helen
Date: 09 Jan 02 - 05:41 PM

Susan,

I found the Old Timey fiddle site when I was looking for a particular tune. I actually haven't been back for another look because I don't play fiddle and haven't played any Old Timey stuff, but I knew it was a good site to tell Mudcat about. Glad you all liked it.

When I started the thread about the site Ed Hetzler dropped in to it to say Hi. What a nice surprise.

Helen


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Subject: RE: Fiddle tune backup: how to find chords?
From: Helen
Date: 09 Jan 02 - 05:46 PM

BTW, I discovered the neutral/power chord trick on the Celtic Harp when trying to accompany sudden shifts in key. If the key goes from, e.g. C major to G major (one extra sharp) then the power chord gets rid of the offending 3rd note if I am tuned to the key of C.

Didn't realise that they had a name, though.

Helen


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Subject: RE: Fiddle tune backup: how to find chords?
From: wysiwyg
Date: 09 Jan 02 - 06:37 PM

Yeah! That's right! It was HELEN!

CRS!

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Fiddle tune backup: how to find chords?
From: harpgirl
Date: 09 Jan 02 - 11:18 PM

Wow, is that site fun to use! I can practice lots of fiddle tunes quickly! But how do you slow down the tunes?

Is there anything like that for irish tunes that you can go through quickly. It takes a while to get tunes on the JC site. This site makes practicing easy! Thanks, Susan....hg


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Subject: RE: Fiddle tune backup: how to find chords?
From: harpgirl
Date: 09 Jan 02 - 11:35 PM

I found an irish tune site that is the next one in the webring on Hetzler's site. Midis play while you look at the music...way cool!


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Subject: RE: Fiddle tune backup: how to find chords?
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 09 Jan 02 - 11:36 PM

harpgirl, go to this page and click on the thing that says Van Basco's Karaoke Player. That will lead you to a place you can download the player. Once you've downloaded and installed it, it will load every time you click on a tune name. One of the windows that pops up has sliders where you can adjust the tempo, and even the key. It's slick! (But I'm still getting a corrupted version of the home page. I'll try to access it another way.)

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: Fiddle tune backup: how to find chords?
From: wysiwyg
Date: 10 Jan 02 - 12:21 AM

Once you have downloaded the MIDI, you can slow it down in Van Basco (I think), but I find it easier to save from Van Basco and then open the MIDI in Noteworthy and make any tempo changes there.

In Noteworthy you can set it to repeat as many tiomes as you like, so you can keep it going automatically till it makes sense. You can change instrumentation in Noteworthy as well, some of which can sound very amusing. We grabbed a couple of them onto a cheap tape recorder and listened to them on a long drive before cracking the Fakebook.

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Fiddle tune backup: how to find chords?
From: Kaleea
Date: 10 Jan 02 - 01:04 AM

People often ask me questions like these. I wonder how I can squeeze years college music theory & decades of playing & listening into one brief paragraph which will explain everything they need to know. I have not yet figured that trick out. I do, however, remind others that good ear training may be found in lessons with a good instructor, and also in many of the guitar method books--choose those which have been around for many years. One must also not overlook the other obvious things such as local jam sessions where we often find experienced players, and, also listening to many of the recordings of old time fiddlers. Irish/Celtic music is often not the same chord structure as Bluegrass, and when we play "Celtic" tunes, we must remember that many of them have been passed down from the early musicians who played the tunes on bagpipes. The pipes are not fully chromatic, and the tunes often sound modal. Tunes such as "Campbell's Farewell to Redgap" have only 2 chords. Yes, 2!! If the tune is played in the key of A (since most folks can't play in Bb, they play in the nearest "Bluegrass" key, which would be A), then the chords are A and G. This is also the old timers way of playing Old Joe Clark. By using this "modal" sounding chord pattern, the fiddler is allowed to have more notes in the scale to choose from! Tunes have been altered over time, but if we listen to the tune carefully, bearing in mind the basic chords in that key, we usually have a fighting chance of hitting them. Fiddlers often wander all around the melody, and we must not mistake some of that wandering as needing chord changes. I came up playing in Ceoli bands, and most often, the fewer chords, the better. That is the traditional way. The old timers did not frequently make use of sevenths, or fancy stuff. they played very basic chord patterns. If traditional music is to be passed on, it's up to us do do it. It's wonderful that you have such an interest in playing with fiddlers, as that is how it was often played in the "olden" days.


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Subject: RE: Fiddle tune backup: how to find chords?
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 10 Jan 02 - 02:07 AM

I understand just what you mean, Kaleea. When I was first learning backup guitar, I asked someone (it might have been Bruce Molsky, as a matter of fact) how I could learn to play all those fancy bass runs, passing chords, etc. The answer was simple: DON'T. As Susan said above, playing appropriate chords with good tone in a steady rhythm has very strong merits. I'll tell you, my internal metronome really got a workout when it was just me trying to hold together four energetic fiddlers playing Soldier's Joy and Liberty for a line of dancers!

Now, I also understand what M.Ted said: why play with someone who just wants you in the background? But frankly, at my level of competence, I'm comfortable in the background. Considering what else is in my life, I don't expect to find enough practice time to become a real "up front" player. So my goal is to create as good a background as I can, and just enjoy sharing the music.

There was a guitarist in Seattle, can't remember her name, her husband was a fiddler. All the fiddlers in camp wanted her playing next to them, because she played the right chords, very simply, nothing flashy, and her tone and timing were perfect. I think I'm going to focus on that.

Thanks to everyone for all these great suggestions.

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: Fiddle tune backup: how to find chords?
From: Skipjack K8
Date: 10 Jan 02 - 05:03 AM

Helen, 'twas you I should've feted. A thousand apologies and even more thank-yous. Super site.

BTW, I use Cakewalk, blagged from Bill Sables, neither of which I understand, but I can just about manage to slow/speed tunes, change key and repeat to the total distraction of other, little people that seem to also live in my house. Having said that, I've only changed Waynesboro from G to A, as that is the key that demon fiddler Oakley foisted that wunnerful tune on our session.

Skipjack


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Subject: RE: Fiddle tune backup: how to find chords?
From: Helen
Date: 10 Jan 02 - 06:26 AM

Aw shucks. 'Tweren't nuttin'.

Helen


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Subject: RE: Fiddle tune backup: how to find chords?
From: wysiwyg
Date: 10 Jan 02 - 11:01 AM

The WHY of playing backup is simple: The music FEELS so good! It's grand when everyone catches the same swing, the same expression, and goes for it... it's grand when people are listening to each other so well that each person gets not a solo on a repeat, but a chance to influence the finer points of rhythm, phrasing...

CUZ IT SO MUCH FUN!

I am sure there is also a neurological explanation, because baroque music with its runs and dotted complexities does the same thing, and so does ragtime, and so does Mississippi John Hurt. I mean-- we NEED music!!!

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Fiddle tune backup: how to find chords?
From: M.Ted
Date: 10 Jan 02 - 12:48 PM

Mark,

I was really being slightly droll--but with a real point underneath--

Something important to understand is that Bluegrass, Old Timey, blues, ragtime, and the wide variety of Celtic genres, or a Swedish Hambopolska. each have their own, distinct, underlying pulse--forget the chords for a minute, in order to play an effective and appropriate accompaniment, whether it is to fiddle, mandolin, clarinet, ocarina, or whatever, you have to be able play this--not to fake it, not to follow, but to really be able to lay it down so that it sounds like the kind of music that it is supposed to be, without the melody player--

When the old timers tell you to knock it off, it is generally because, even if you've got the tune, you don't have the right feel--and don't let the fact that the chords are simple confuse you into thinking that it is easy--


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Subject: RE: Fiddle tune backup: how to find chords?
From: GUEST,Mark Clark (via public proxy)
Date: 10 Jan 02 - 02:33 PM

Mark,

It's great to see someone wanting to take guitar backup seriously. In fact, playing good backup is rather difficult and in my opinion somewhat rare. I come from a bluegrass background where the guitar is not often used as a lead instrument unless the band is carrying two guitars. Even then, the guitar is the weakest of the lead instruments in bluegrass. I love to hear lead guitar when played well but unless a band includes Tony Rice or Dan Crarey or a player of that magnitude, a guitar break in bluegrass often merely serves to boost the ego of the guitarist.

A guitarist laying down a proper backup in bluegrass, old-time or fiddle music will have his hands full.

Check a posting I made in a thread called Bluegrass G run. As I recall, the thread contains a lot of backup guitar information. We've talked about backup quite lot, there should be other threads as well.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Fiddle tune backup: how to find chords?
From: wysiwyg
Date: 10 Jan 02 - 02:44 PM

Oh, I forgot the other reason on WHY for guitar-- because I haven't met any fiddle players yet who can properly appreciate the rhythmic contributions of a well-played (and quietly) washboard.

Except the one I married.

~S~


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Subject: RE: Fiddle tune backup: how to find chords?
From: harpgirl
Date: 10 Jan 02 - 11:53 PM

...thanks Dr. Susanna and Dr. Mark......I'm going to mess with that speed thingie this weekend...Dr. Abby


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Subject: RE: Fiddle tune backup: how to find chords?
From: wysiwyg
Date: 11 Jan 02 - 01:35 AM

Hey Dr. Abby, don't you forget now, you can transpose your ass off in Noteworthy... see me for details. Anyway just announce blithely to the fiddle players that they are to accompany you on "Colored Aristocracy" in F. That oughtta get some kinda reaction.

BTW finding the chords is not as important as knowing when to change, and NOT change them... do like I do. Listen to the piece, listening just for the accented beats. See what melody is made JUST by those notes. It will turn out to be a highly simplified but quite lovely (usually) piece. This will get stiuck in your head-- like downloaded software that self-installs. The result will be a new song lying under the fiddlified, ornamented, baroquey-runny piece, where it is very easy to catch the feel of the piece, the flow of the melody through the chord changes, and the place where they change. Experiment, swapping in some of the relative minors chords in place of the more obvious major chords... then you'll be cookin'. Like, play it through all in majors, then on the repeat make your selected ones minor... gives it a nice permutation of expression.

~S~


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Subject: RE: Fiddle tune backup: how to find chords?
From: Marion
Date: 03 Mar 03 - 06:16 PM

Here's a suggestion from the fiddler's (or other lead player's) end of things: make a personal chord book.

I took a small notebook that would fit into my fiddle case and wrote down chord progressions for the tunes that I have memorized. Tunes that I habitually play together are on the same page. This notebook lives in my fiddle case and can be offered to any guitarist who wants to accompany me but would find it hard to do on the fly. It's come in handy a few times already.

Marion


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Subject: RE: Fiddle tune backup: how to find chords?
From: GUEST,sorefingers
Date: 03 Mar 03 - 07:43 PM

So topical these days. Well shucks I play both and tell you the truth I never gave it that much thought.

A good rule of thumb that saves a lot of time and flapping around, find the principal beats and be on the harmonic best BASS note on the Guitar, the strums most of the time are on an Up or Offbeat so they would not matter that much except:

You are playing the modern Celtic wallop chording style which I absolutely despise, too old I guess. Buy a book ...

Other helps, find the predominant note, in Folk Dance D E G F C and rarely Bb, form mediant-less harmonies, nail the strings to it or retune, then all you need is a strong right hand to keep the rhythm going.

Other helps for fanatics, me included, a Gobiron and Harness where you can merrily play both the tune and strum the Guitar at the same time.


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Subject: RE: Fiddle tune backup: how to find chords?
From: Alice
Date: 03 Mar 03 - 08:38 PM

Getting you through many Irish tunes will be (depending on the tune of course)
Em/D

Am/G

Dm/C

You can spice up the "B" part of a tune by substituting a major 7th chord two steps down at the end of the tune (Em/D/Cmaj7/D) but some people like to keep it plain. This advice to add a major 7th was given to me by another guitarist at our session, but I leave that job up to him.


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Subject: RE: Fiddle tune backup: how to find chords?
From: open mike
Date: 03 Mar 03 - 09:42 PM

Watch out because the fiddler's fake book often has the tunes
in keys that are not the usual ones you will find that people
tend to play them in. Soometimes you will have to transpose
on the fly. Elementary music theory says that usually the
first and last note of the song are the same as what key it
is in...sometimes this helps. A good way to learn what chords
to use is to go to a fiddle festival or contest and hang out
and jam with the folks in the parking lot, or camp ground or
where ever they go. There is usually a lot of playing going
on between coontest or performance times. I am not sure if
there are such things in Hawaii, if not there should be!
The mexican vaqueros who influenced hawaiian music might
have added some mariach fiddle tunes to the island's repertoire.


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Subject: RE: Fiddle tune backup: how to find chords?
From: Night Owl
Date: 03 Mar 03 - 09:47 PM

Marion.....THANX for bringing this thread back up!!


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Subject: RE: Fiddle tune backup: how to find chords?
From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 03 Mar 03 - 10:13 PM

Sorefingers - Whassa modern Celtic wallop chording style? Sounds either dreadfully fun or horribly offensive or both. Maybe I'm doing it now. If so, I apoligize.

Alice - I'll second the Cmaj7 in Em Celtic tunes, but I usually only use it if I'm the only guitar in the session. If there are multiple guitars I keep it real straight and simple so everbody's playing the same chords.

Bruce


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Subject: RE: Fiddle tune backup: how to find chords?
From: michaelr
Date: 03 Mar 03 - 10:54 PM

Alice/Bruce -- are you sure about C major seventh? How would you finger it? Or do you mean C7?

Cheers,
Michael


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Subject: RE: Fiddle tune backup: how to find chords?
From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 03 Mar 03 - 11:29 PM

Michael - A very simple Cmaj7 fingered 032000 is the one usually used in Celtic music. It keeps all the notes of the Em except that it changes the B note on the 5th string to a C. The B note on the open 2nd string is still there.

CAUTION: Use this chord sparingly! Occasional use will make people go, "Wow! Cool!". Excessive use will make people wish you would go play somewhere else.

Bruce


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Subject: RE: Fiddle tune backup: how to find chords?
From: Annie
Date: 03 Mar 03 - 11:35 PM

Where could I get in on a fiddle jam in HI? Sounds like a good reason to trek to me. I need 21 days to get a decent airline deal, then I'm there.

A word of caution about the midi web site. I just checked it out for the first time (it's really great to have a quick source like that!), but (there's always a but), the two tunes I picked out, Sally Ann and Waiting for Nancy, had midi and chord oddities that might get you stuck on the wrong track if imprinted into your playing. I disagree with the chords on Sally Ann, and the midi rhythm for Waiting for Nancy will through you off of the real thing. Listening to midis a disproportionate amount and playing along might make you less able to back up the 3D fiddlers.

I'm surprised nobody else had similar caveats. Is it because I'm a fiddle player? Qualification: I'm also a backup guitar player.


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Subject: RE: Fiddle tune backup: how to find chords?
From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 03 Mar 03 - 11:57 PM

Annie - Regarding midi chord oddities, I've notice the same thing with the "chord generator" on the ABC program I have. Often, the chords it "generates" are so far out in left field that they seem more suited to a Thelonius Monk jazz composition than an Irish fiddle tune.   

Bruce


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Subject: RE: Fiddle tune backup: how to find chords?
From: GUEST,sorefingers
Date: 04 Mar 03 - 12:53 AM

Bee-dubya-ell, its like thumping the entire 6 strings every time without any attempt to make the Bass notes, very popular on recordings. But it still sounds to me like some kid walluping a beer
tray with a wooden spoon, and the kid has no idea what the fiddler is
playing, mind you lots of folks these days play on false sounding Guitars which only make it worse that it need be.

My advice get a real Guitar, like a good ole Fylde or a Martin, Gibson, Taylor... I think ya know what I am saying... heck even a nice
..seasoned Everett- though they cost the price of a house these days...oh well. What makes me howl, very common in Celtic, is endlessly thumping on offbeats in the wrong chord for effect; it achieves exactly nuttin, makes my dawg scratch its ears and cover them with her paws, eg amateur fiddling, crap music and celtic Guitar backing (behind a fiddle.)

It sounds like a person thumping a one armed bandit to get their money back.... You never know where they began or worse, when or where they are likely to strike again.


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Subject: RE: Fiddle tune backup: how to find chords?
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 04 Mar 03 - 01:12 AM

Annie, I haven't found any real old-time jams here. There's one that's billed as such, but it's mostly people playing tunes out of the Fiddler's Fakebook. Nice people, but not nearly the same feeling. There are a couple of contradance bands with some good players, and there's a real dearth of fiddlers (does one count as a dearth?) So come on down!

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: Fiddle tune backup: how to find chords?
From: Annie
Date: 04 Mar 03 - 06:09 PM

Which island? Please say Maui. Windsurfing and fiddling in one vacation? I could be culturally confused, but satisfied! Another way to get good input is to offer room and board to volunteers willing to bring a jam to you. You can distribute your wish list of tunes to learn in advance, have your tape recorder ready, and get a year's worth of practice tapes in one week. Or, not. Just dreaming.


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Subject: RE: Fiddle tune backup: how to find chords?
From: wysiwyg
Date: 04 Mar 03 - 06:42 PM

Now I know what to call that whomping I get on my autoharp. I play mean.

~S~


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