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Author Topic: Accompanying a different lead instrument  (Read 1983 times)

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James Fitton

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Accompanying a different lead instrument
« on: March 13, 2015, 02:25:58 PM »

I thought it might be interesting to start a topic which (from an attempt to search) doesn't seem to have been discussed much. Apologies in advance if I've missed earlier threads. Anyway, this isn't about playing the melodeon as lead instrument, or to accompany singing (which I suspect are our two commonest jobs). It's about accompanying someone else playing the melody as lead, perhaps on a fiddle, or a whistle, or who knows what else. If I'm asked to do that, I tend to fall back on chord sequences, drones, or just basses for a bit, but I'd welcome some inspiration as to other possibilities. What do others do in this situation? Are there any good videos/recordings out there of box-players doing stuff which supports the lead interestingly, without taking over?
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Baron Collins-Hill

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Re: Accompanying a different lead instrument
« Reply #1 on: March 13, 2015, 02:30:17 PM »

I am looking forward to following this thread! I think it is a great idea to gather in one place a bunch of different tune backing styles. I will add my favorite videos as I dig them up.

Thanks
Baron
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Re: Accompanying a different lead instrument
« Reply #2 on: March 13, 2015, 02:36:15 PM »

Well, I don't know if I understood completely what did you want to say. But about lead instrument and accompanying instrument well, some people consider the melodeon talking about play together, with another instruments, some people consider the melodeon more appropriate as a SOLO instrument inside a set of instruments playing.

For example, in Brazil, a set very common that we have here is, use the melodeon (8 or 12bass) to do solos and phrases following that bigger bigger accordion (80 or 120bass). Like in this video here as an example: www.youtube.com/watch?v=bAHF1GEjvrc

Melodeon many times so known as its limitation, but always with its particular tone, so it can't give "the way" cause its limitation in form chords in all the possibilities, but yes very able to "talk" inside an arrangement with more instruments playing.
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Re: Accompanying a different lead instrument
« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2015, 05:58:38 PM »

Dunno about the rest of us on here, but to me "accompanying someone playing the melody as lead" sounds like bluegrass  ;D

I'm sure that's not what you meant and either way I don't do that sort of stuff. But whenever I'm playing a tune with another melody player whose playing I respect I focus very hard on what they are doing, try to merge totally or maybe tuck in just behind them, and either adapt the way I am playing the tune to the way they are playing it or add micro-harmonies or variations that will fit. It works best with fiddles. And if the other player is listening to you the same way some magical moments can happen.

In most sessions it's nothing like that though  ;)

TomB-R

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Re: Accompanying a different lead instrument
« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2015, 06:18:31 PM »

It's an interesting topic. Box and fiddle is a wonderful combination, as shown by a number of noted duos, but taking the one I've listened to most, Wood/Cutting, my feeling is that a lot of the time Andy was "leading," (ie stating the tune, beautifully,) and Chris was decorating and enhancing. Not always of course, what's coming to mind from "Knock John" is simply long chords on melodeon against a filigree of fiddle notes. But then Andy picks up the tune.......
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Re: Accompanying a different lead instrument
« Reply #5 on: March 13, 2015, 06:46:15 PM »

It can be a lot of fun when you aren't encumbered by having to play all the notes of the tune. There are so many possibilities: Basses alone, left hand chords (with or without basses), RH harmony, with or without basses. And all sorts of rythmic patterns if you want.

One of my favourites is the three part harmony trick: other instrument plays the tune, melodeon plays middle harmony part and bass line. For example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cN7ijEf97Dw&t=90 starting at 1:30. This a horribly complex example, but simpler version of that idea are perfectly possible.

Or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9hp4s3eUOpo&t=215 (that 2:17 in, last time) This one has a harmony line that is part of the original composition.

Or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AywRb3l-mkI&t=76 - and if you go on to the second tune in that set, 2nd time though I'm playing a harmony without the basses, and the third time with basses added too.

There several other videos of me and Mary playing tunes in similar arrangements. In many of them we swap tune and harmony around between us. You'll find them on my YouTube channel if you're interested.
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Re: Accompanying a different lead instrument
« Reply #6 on: March 13, 2015, 06:54:30 PM »

For example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?

Uooow! How nice! I'm always following the videos of this couple. If they inserted new content!  ;D
Is that you? Congratulations. Really nice set the melodeon + concertina.   :||: :|||:
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boxcall

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Re: Accompanying a different lead instrument
« Reply #7 on: March 13, 2015, 09:55:50 PM »

I'm Interested in this thread to as I've been going to a bluegrass session and during the break (when others have it) I sometimes don't know what to do, other than pulling some chords. My inlaws play bluegrass too, so it would help to learn some new moves. I really don't understand the harmony line part. I know that the harmonica plays little riffs is that the same thing?  sorry musical dummy  ???
I mostly played at Irish session where this isn't done.
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Re: Accompanying a different lead instrument
« Reply #8 on: March 13, 2015, 10:33:12 PM »

First a question,...why do you make a difference between accompanying a song and accompanying another lead instrument? To me that is a bit the same?
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Re: Accompanying a different lead instrument
« Reply #9 on: March 13, 2015, 11:39:06 PM »

a difference between accompanying a song and accompanying another lead instrument? To me that is a bit the same?

Well, I believe about accompanying a song is about you can do whatever in the same main tone of the song and it would be something more complex. As accompanying another instrument in a free way, cause this instrument would be sounding alone, so you (playing the melodeon trying to follow it) you would be more free about different possibilities and creation and improvisation.
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boxcall

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Re: Accompanying a different lead instrument
« Reply #10 on: March 14, 2015, 01:37:49 AM »

So I was trying to understand harmony line, so searched a little and found this http://www.how-to-write-music.com/Harmonising.htm
If I'm reading this right and using a tune from another thread Britches full of stitches if someone plays the melody in the key of A and I want to play a harmony to it. Then I could play it in the key of D perfect 4th below the starting pitch as one example. Or F major as another example. not all the notes but some of the tune. I'm sure there's a lot more to it, but I'm just trying to get my head around it. maybe I'll have to play and record the tune and a harmony to it to see how it fits. I assume if true then this could be used when singing?
any advise would be great
I think I might need to read music for dummies :(
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Re: Accompanying a different lead instrument
« Reply #11 on: March 14, 2015, 06:59:17 AM »

Many 'folkies' can make up harmonies while they are singing - I don't know if its a background of singing in school and church choirs, or years of joining in with choruses at folk clubs.

If you can hear a chord that fits under part of a tune, you can try playing any notes that belong to the chord.
Another guideline is that a harmony line should be reasonbly tuneful in itself. It can be a little more monotonous than the main tune but it should not have strange jumpy intervals - in other words, it should be easy to sing.

There are lots of rules to classical harmony. I spent some time learning them when I was at school. It means I am familiar with that territory but I also know that others without that training can be far more adventurous in their musical arrangements than I am, so it's a double edged sword.
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Chris Ryall

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Re: Accompanying a different lead instrument
« Reply #12 on: March 14, 2015, 08:23:34 AM »

My daughter runs the Fire in the Mountain bluegrass festival, and I've also visited the 'real thing' in N. Carolina. Unlike Cajun, it just doesn't work with melodeon, however lightly you try to play. I think … well nearly every banjo note has it's preceeding tension note and tense meodeon notes fight that; chording feels a bit like pouring porridge on it. I've given up

Other instruments - great - ditto song. Again the secret is lightness and chording should be on the right hand. I was taught to chop the chords off briefly, stacato, say 2 chords of 1 note length in a 4 note bar, separated by silence. Don't worry, the other instrument(s) will fill that in, you are giving them space to do that

Broken chords work too, not too loud. Best to keep rhythm unless you have a good understanding about otherwise with the soloist. You can also learn a lot from bass players in terms of "walking" it. The key to that is to play the "colour" notes (3rd and 7th, occasional 9ths) of the present chord and avoid the duller tonic and 5th. Order doesn't much matter, but you want a small movement into the next chord structure.

So eg G7… C played as | F - B -  | B - E - | works, carrying the B through in this case as 3rd and maj7. Had you played B…F the C chord might be 'suggested' better by E…B, or maybe E… C for a last note resolution. Again these can be on right end if preferred.

That's plently of ideas for now, but critically, keep it light.
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Re: Accompanying a different lead instrument
« Reply #13 on: March 16, 2015, 07:55:42 PM »

a difference between accompanying a song and accompanying another lead instrument? To me that is a bit the same?

Well, I believe about accompanying a song is about you can do whatever in the same main tone of the song and it would be something more complex. As accompanying another instrument in a free way, cause this instrument would be sounding alone, so you (playing the melodeon trying to follow it) you would be more free about different possibilities and creation and improvisation.
I am sorry, could you rephrase? I am not sure i understand what you mean,W
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Re: Accompanying a different lead instrument
« Reply #14 on: March 17, 2015, 02:24:20 AM »

My daughter runs the Fire in the Mountain bluegrass festival, and I've also visited the 'real thing' in N. Carolina. Unlike Cajun, it just doesn't work with melodeon, however lightly you try to play. I think … well nearly every banjo note has it's preceeding tension note and tense meodeon notes fight that; chording feels a bit like pouring porridge on it. I've given up

Other instruments - great - ditto song. Again the secret is lightness and chording should be on the right hand. I was taught to chop the chords off briefly, stacato, say 2 chords of 1 note length in a 4 note bar, separated by silence. Don't worry, the other instrument(s) will fill that in, you are giving them space to do that

Broken chords work too, not too loud. Best to keep rhythm unless you have a good understanding about otherwise with the soloist. You can also learn a lot from bass players in terms of "walking" it. The key to that is to play the "colour" notes (3rd and 7th, occasional 9ths) of the present chord and avoid the duller tonic and 5th. Order doesn't much matter, but you want a small movement into the next chord structure.

So eg G7… C played as | F - B -  | B - E - | works, carrying the B through in this case as 3rd and maj7. Had you played B…F the C chord might be 'suggested' better by E…B, or maybe E… C for a last note resolution. Again these can be on right end if preferred.

That's plently of ideas for now, but critically, keep it light.
Thanks Chris and Anahata,
Good advise!
I know what you mean about playing light, when I do though it's tough to hear what I'm doing.
I'm finding just playing less notes is helping now it's a matter of finding the right ones. A lot of stuff comes up that I really don't know well enough so I end up trying to pick bits out. I find chords move to the next by the time I figure them out. I've been learniing a little about progessions, so maybe that and learning where they are on the box will help.
Well I'm going to keep trying! As for the banjo player maybe he will have car trouble >:E I think the mandolin player will help ;)

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Chris Ryall

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Re: Accompanying a different lead instrument
« Reply #15 on: March 17, 2015, 01:49:04 PM »

Right hand chords are really useful/  Our left end simply isn't subtle enough.  Put your layout into http://chrisryall.net/chords/ - it finds all rt end chords - they may 'voice' better as inversions and you do want to minimise finger travel. Fortunately melodeon design assists that if you keep to 'friendly' keys.

It is also useful to learn all 7 chords for a scale

  Gmaj7 Am7 Bm7 Cmaj7 D7 Em7 F#semidim [G6]

  Dmaj7 Em7 F#m7 Gmaj7 A7 Bm7 C#semidim [D6]

These are nearly all there on a DG 2-row(!) - even the half diminished (grab 4 row notes and pull!). You may not use them in entirity - but you'll often play eg only the F# and C notes of a 'written' D7 for a thinner, quieter effect.

Standard chord sequences are to be found … all over the internet.
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boxcall

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Re: Accompanying a different lead instrument
« Reply #16 on: March 17, 2015, 02:39:05 PM »

Chris,
I don't see my layout is there a way to input?  D/C#
From just looking at a chord chart and mucking about I've found a few, and was surprised at the amount of options. Trouble I see is that most stuff is on the pull, key of E all on the pull ::)
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Chris Ryall

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Re: Accompanying a different lead instrument
« Reply #17 on: March 17, 2015, 02:57:44 PM »

C#D is a preset - second row down to the right. If you are really D row outside you need to use the edit box to swap the rows using cut/paste (do the save it to a text file)!

Half tone boxes are a bit of an art in this but clicking a few random chords in C and others keys … quite a lot of chords are there. Remember you don't need the whole chords and in particular the weaker tonic and 5th can often be omited without anyone noticing.
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Re: Accompanying a different lead instrument
« Reply #18 on: March 17, 2015, 03:19:50 PM »

C#D is a preset

Minor detail but in case you wanted to know, the C#/D preset looks great except its labeled as "C/C♯ halftone melodeon" in the "name" box
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Re: Accompanying a different lead instrument
« Reply #19 on: March 17, 2015, 06:05:01 PM »

If you read music there are lots of publications with harmony lines of (English) traditional tunes  written out:
Some examples:
Joshua Gibbons Lincolnshire Collections
Dave Townsend 's Village Band Book
Derek Hobbs's arrangements for Northumbrian pipes : The Pipers Companion - sev volumes

or  if you have a good ear for picking up tunes just listen to bands you like for their harmonies.
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