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Help: Ascribing guitar chords to music

20 Nov 00 - 05:38 AM (#343828)
Subject: Ascribing guitar chords to music
From: GUEST,Sean MacRuaraidh

Hi,

If I know what key a piece of music is in how can I work out which chords go with which bar of music ?

Given a Key I can work out the notes in the key,

e.g. Key is D Major(tone tone semi tone tone tone semi) Notes are D E F# G a B C# D

Also I can work out most of the set of chords that need to be used in the music.

e.g. Key is D Major chords are D Em F#m G A Bm C#dim D

Given a chord name I can work out what notes should be in the basic chord

e.g. chord is C notes are C, E, G ( first, third and fifth )

But I still can't work out out which chords go with which notes in the music ?

Is there a way of working this out - its driving me mad.

Sean.


20 Nov 00 - 05:48 AM (#343833)
Subject: RE: Help: Ascribing guitar chords to music
From: Bagpuss

There is never just one chord that can go with a particular phrase of music. If there was some standard way of working it out, then I think we would end up with a lot of very boring music. Personally, I just mess around with a few of the most obvious chords (and a few less obvious ones) till I hit the sound I want. I like to sing harmany with songs, so that often makes it easier, as you have 2 notes to work with instead of one.

Bagpuss


20 Nov 00 - 06:33 AM (#343845)
Subject: RE: Help: Ascribing guitar chords to music
From: GUEST,Brian

You seem to know enough about the basis of music to be able to work it through. If you didn't know as much as you do, this would be impossible to answer. As it is, this question is both easy to answer and nearly impossible. So I'll do my best to explain how I do it as simply as possible, and then how to add a bit of 'flavour'.

First the simple explanation. When you sing or play through any phrase of a song or tune, you should become aware of which notes have a dominant effect in each bar. Choose chords that use and those notes. That's making the explanation as simple as possible, perhaps someone else will say it better.

Essentially, it's a matter of using your ear, if it fits, you can play it, and sounds right, it is. The more you do it the easier it gets.

Next the near impossible bit to explain. Don't be afraid to experiment with your use of chords. Sometimes 'strains' (a chord that strains against the tune) sound wonderful.

Some people will 'back' tunes with the simplest chords. There is nothing wrong in that other than it can sound a bit dull and lifeless. Others spice things up with some interesting chord patterns. A good chord progression can really lift a song or tune. But that is the bit thats impossible to explain, it becomes a matter of personal taste as to how far you take this one, but even just the occassional minor chord (in the right place - your own ear and 'feel of the tune' will tell you) helps a great deal.

You didn't mention what instrument you play, so I can't advise on chord books, but a book of advanced chords (6th, 7th, 9th, dim, aug, etc) is invaluable. With what you know already, and a good book you should be able to work out how these chords are put together.

Some tunes chord quite easily, others not. Sorry, I can't think of a good example straight off the top of my head. Start with the easy bit, gain a bit of experience, and go from there.

I hope that helps a bit.

Good luck,

Brian.


20 Nov 00 - 08:52 AM (#343893)
Subject: RE: Help: Ascribing guitar chords to music
From: GUEST

Thank you ,

this is invaluable advice, but I have a few questions for clarification,

"which notes have a dominant effect in each bar."

Are you in anyway referring to Dominant fifths or do you mean the notes which are emphasised or in some other way give character to the bar.

"Essentially, it's a matter of using your ear, if it fits, you can play it, and sounds right, it is. The more you do it the easier it gets."

Does this mean that there are various combinations of the same chords that will work with music ?

Cheers,

Sean


20 Nov 00 - 08:52 AM (#343894)
Subject: RE: Help: Ascribing guitar chords to music
From: GUEST

Thank you ,

this is invaluable advice, but I have a few questions for clarification,

"which notes have a dominant effect in each bar."

Are you in anyway referring to Dominant fifths or do you mean the notes which are emphasised or in some other way give character to the bar.

"Essentially, it's a matter of using your ear, if it fits, you can play it, and sounds right, it is. The more you do it the easier it gets."

Does this mean that there are various combinations of the same chords that will work with music ?

Cheers,

Sean


20 Nov 00 - 08:52 AM (#343895)
Subject: RE: Help: Ascribing guitar chords to music
From: GUEST

Thank you ,

this is invaluable advice, but I have a few questions for clarification,

"which notes have a dominant effect in each bar."

Are you in anyway referring to Dominant fifths or do you mean the notes which are emphasised or in some other way give character to the bar.

"Essentially, it's a matter of using your ear, if it fits, you can play it, and sounds right, it is. The more you do it the easier it gets."

Does this mean that there are various combinations of the same chords that will work with music ?

Cheers,

Sean


20 Nov 00 - 08:53 AM (#343896)
Subject: RE: Help: Ascribing guitar chords to music
From: GUEST

Thank you ,

this is invaluable advice, but I have a few questions for clarification,

"which notes have a dominant effect in each bar."

Are you in anyway referring to Dominant fifths or do you mean the notes which are emphasised or in some other way give character to the bar.

"Essentially, it's a matter of using your ear, if it fits, you can play it, and sounds right, it is. The more you do it the easier it gets."

Does this mean that there are various combinations of the same chords that will work with music ?

Cheers,

Sean


20 Nov 00 - 08:53 AM (#343898)
Subject: RE: Help: Ascribing guitar chords to music
From: GUEST

Thank you ,

this is invaluable advice, but I have a few questions for clarification,

"which notes have a dominant effect in each bar."

Are you in anyway referring to Dominant fifths or do you mean the notes which are emphasised or in some other way give character to the bar.

"Essentially, it's a matter of using your ear, if it fits, you can play it, and sounds right, it is. The more you do it the easier it gets."

Does this mean that there are various combinations of the same chords that will work with music ?

Cheers,

Sean


20 Nov 00 - 08:53 AM (#343899)
Subject: RE: Help: Ascribing guitar chords to music
From: GUEST,Brian

Well, who's a silly ****** then. It said in the title whan instrument you play. Obviously, not awake this morning. I'll check out the titles of some chord books for you. Or someone else may be able to come up with a title.

Cheers

Brian


20 Nov 00 - 08:55 AM (#343901)
Subject: RE: Help: Ascribing guitar chords to music
From: GUEST,Sean MacRuaraidh

oooops,

hmmm - an unusual effect caused by clicking on stop and then submit. I had no idea the messages were still being sent !!!


20 Nov 00 - 09:42 AM (#343920)
Subject: RE: Help: Ascribing guitar chords to music
From: Gary T

I'm no expert on this, but I think Brian has summed it up pretty well. In answer to the second follow-up question, I would say yes, there may well be more than one chord sequence which will work with a given song. Some may find a simpler sequence sparse and a bit boring, others may find a more involved sequence overly busy and distracting, hence the mention of individual taste and ear.

I don't know of any reliable formulas to work out chording. One thing that I think has been helpful to me is learning a fair number of songs, from the sheet music or a book, where there are some less common chords that did not fall handily to my ear. Increasing one's exposure to this can help train the ear to the chord's individual sound and to its possible place in a particular song's arrangement.

One detail to be aware of--changing a melody note can often mean using a different chord (and vice versa). This is something that I, and I believe many others, do occasionally without necessarily realizing it, perhaps on a song that we're somewhat familiar with but don't know exactly as written (or performed, if that's our source). While I don't object to tweaking the melody, I have more respect for doing it intentionally than for doing it out of ignorance. Sometimes having the "right" chord sequence (e.g. as written in the sheet music) can help one faithfully reproduce the melody as written.


20 Nov 00 - 09:48 AM (#343923)
Subject: RE: Help: Ascribing guitar chords to music
From: GUEST,Brian

Sorry, the internet seems to be slow updating today. I sent the last message before your new questions came through. The word dominant was perhaps a bad one for me to use. I tried to put this in general terms, without thinking of any particular tune. Substitute the word influential for dominant. The notes that fall on the beat tend to drive the tune more than those around the beat. The beat notes therefore become more influencial to the tune.

By 'use your ear, if it fits, you can play it, and sounds right, it is'. I mean listen to the chord you are playing in relation the tune. Do they sound good together? If they do it's ok if not, it's wrong. Also, I was trying to take individual ability into account. There's no point in coming up with a stunning chord sequence, if you can't get your fingers to play it - play within your ability for now, and work on the harder stuff over time.

The more you do it the easier it gets. Means exactly that. The more you work at putting chords to tunes, the easier it becomes.

Does this mean that there are various combinations of the same chords that will work with music ? Oh dear. this is where this could get difficult to explain, and I don't want to confuse you any more than at present. Not everyone would chord a piece of music the same way. Most of the chords would be the same , but it's the refinements that introduce the variations. That is where the more complex chord patterns start to emerge, and it becomes a matter of personal taste as to what feel you want from a tune (hard, lilting, happy, sad, driving, blues or jazz etc.)

I would suggest that you pick up some music that is already chorded and study it. Look at what notes are played in each bar, and what chord is being played against those notes. You will see that the majority of the time the notes that make up the chord, are (the majority of) the notes used in that particular bar of the tune. So the tune is telling you what chord to play. If it could one of a number of chords, then go for the one that sounds best to you.

I hope that helps.

Brian


21 Nov 00 - 08:40 AM (#344421)
Subject: RE: Help: Ascribing guitar chords to music
From: GUEST,John in Brisbane

Sean, I'll need to be brief before I get thrown off (the Web is in diabolical strife here at the moment). All very good advice above. Apart from protracted theory lessons there are some software solutions which will give answers that range from excellent to absurd, and you can tweak the parameters till the cows come home. At the end of the day the final decision requires your ear as judge. Send me a PM if you want more on the software - it is not that easy.

The other factor which influences my decisions about chords is the vocal harmonies. If I'm playing with other singers who have chosen a particular vocal harmony line, are happy with it and won't budge from that line, then the chords need to be shoe horned to fit the harmonies. Under those circumstances you can eitheruse your ear or you can examine the harmony note and whether it can be incorporated in your chosen chord. In my experience this occurs most easily with the choice between Major chords and the associated Relative Minor chord, that is D versus Bm.

Regards, John


21 Nov 00 - 09:20 PM (#344876)
Subject: RE: Help: Ascribing guitar chords to music
From: GUEST,Marion

A subject dear to my heart! I wonder why some songs I can find chords to basically spontaneously, and others I try and try and can't find a satisfying progression for.

For more input, here's a thread I started with basically the same question:

Working out chords through theory?

Marion


22 Nov 00 - 12:02 PM (#345162)
Subject: RE: Help: Ascribing guitar chords to music
From: GUEST,Sean Mac Ruaraidh

Thanks Marion,

it'll take me a while to go through the thread,

Sean