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Author Topic: Atholl Highlanders ~ Theory stuff  (Read 5921 times)

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baz parkes

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Re: Atholl Highlanders ~ Theory stuff
« Reply #20 on: December 29, 2015, 02:16:20 PM »

I play it in A on an A box... :|glug
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Chris Ryall

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Re: Atholl Highlanders ~ Theory stuff
« Reply #21 on: December 29, 2015, 02:29:59 PM »

Xgx,

Modes are quite an important concept on a diatonic instrument, G scale has GABCDEF#G notes, yes? But you can make any of these your tonic. The note to the tune resolves.

ABCDEF#GA is A "dorian" minor, note the characteristic bright F# note
GABCDEF#G simple G major
DEF#GABCD is Dmix, properly called mixolydian.
                   If you miss out C it's the same as D scale missing C#
CDE#GABC  Is C "Lydian" major, rare in folk, big in jazz
EF#GABCDE is your aolian/natural/church/Neopolitan/natural minor

How to tell the tonic? - "feel" the melody for the note it relaxes to.
In folk music, that is nearly always the final note.

More on http://chrisryall.net/modes/ (examples based on D row)
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KLR

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Re: Atholl Highlanders ~ Theory stuff
« Reply #22 on: December 29, 2015, 02:30:16 PM »

Jimmy Shand played that in A with no G natural notes, curiously enough.  Who's more Scottish, you or Sir Jim?   :||:
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Anahata

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Re: Atholl Highlanders ~ Theory stuff
« Reply #23 on: December 29, 2015, 02:37:06 PM »

On a C box you can play Mairi's wedding in F, C or G. As you can any pentatonic tune.
(or in G, D and A on a D box, etc.)
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xgx

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Re: Atholl Highlanders ~ Theory stuff
« Reply #24 on: December 29, 2015, 04:30:18 PM »

Thanks Chris
...how do I turn off the background n music on the link please?

(It has the same effect on me as white noise in interrogation!)
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Graham

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Jules0654

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Re: Atholl Highlanders ~ Theory stuff
« Reply #25 on: December 29, 2015, 11:47:40 PM »

For information only!  Here's a recording of the tune played in G by our two youngest players.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=dVjyRV0A_Bs

And Belle D'Vain dance to it in this key because....we just do! 

And this again is a video of us dancing - we only play the A & B parts until the very end

https://www.facebook.com/robin.walker.9693001/videos/10156175583010018/

As Lester kindly pointed out the playlist published was indeed only for anyone wanting to play along on the Sunday lunchtime dancing, not a list of tunes for the workshop
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xgx

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Re: Atholl Highlanders ~ Theory stuff
« Reply #26 on: December 29, 2015, 11:55:43 PM »

For information only!  (...)
Good stuff Jules but it would be more at home on the playgroup thread ...this one's about theory, not practice.
(you're not the first to miss the theory bit  ;))
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Graham

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Chris Brimley

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Re: Atholl Highlanders ~ Theory stuff
« Reply #27 on: December 30, 2015, 02:18:10 AM »

In my version of the tune transcribed with an A major key signature the note G occurs only once, in the fourth bar of the fourth section, and G# not at all.  I agree that it would be theoretically possible to consider it as having the notes ABC#DEF#GA, (i.e. A Mixolydian?), but to my ears it sounds like a simple A Ionian tune, with this one bar key-shifting down to G major for effect.  Although in the rest of the melody the G# note happens not to be present, it seems to me implied by the frequently accompanying E7 dominant chord which clearly 'sounds right', and which of course does contain the note G#.

It also seems to me that the great 'whoop factor' effect of the key shift from a previous tune in G, which Theo refers to, is also reflected by this one bar of G major - a nice musical touch.
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playandteach

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Re: Atholl Highlanders ~ Theory stuff
« Reply #28 on: December 30, 2015, 08:35:00 AM »

Chris, I don't know this tune, so excuse me if I'm reading it wrongly. I know exactly what you mean by the momentary modal transition in music and agree that it is strong when used in an otherwise major melody.
Just a question, though. When you have the dominant chords elsewhere in the piece, do you feel the E minor fits, or E major? On my G / C set up often I use the G over E bass to give a minor 7th chord. There are pieces though, where I have to use the bare 5th E chord because of the implication of a major chord in the feel of the bar, even though there is no third of either description in the melody.
Sorry if this is hard to explain - I'll try to find an example if anyone is really bothered.
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Jack Campin

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Re: Atholl Highlanders ~ Theory stuff
« Reply #29 on: December 30, 2015, 08:54:44 AM »

It's an example of a very common procedure in modal music, where you lead up to the statement of a heptatonic mode over the course of a tune, presenting pentatonic or hexatonic subsets of the full mode; resolution by disambiguation.  Thinking of it tonally misses the point.

A more complicated example of the process is in "The Conundrum", where different subsets of the seven-note pitch set are used in successive sections - you only get all 7 near the end.

I have a bunch of examples of this in my modes tutorial.  It goes way back - a lot of mediaeval tunes are dorian/aeolian hexatonic until near the end, where a sharp 6th asserts the dorian modality.

Players of instruments without the G natural sometimes cover by making a sort of blurry dissonance at the point where it's called for.  I'm not sure they are all doing the same thing.  It leaves space for people who can play that G to add it if they want.
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Chris Ryall

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Re: Atholl Highlanders ~ Theory stuff
« Reply #30 on: December 30, 2015, 09:20:16 AM »

Thanks Chris   ...how do I turn off the background n music on the link please?  (It has the same effect on me as white noise in interrogation!)

Hmmm … there isn't any! I hate it too.

I did include some example midi's of the scales themselves, and Steph Milleret let me embed his phrygian Chambre Bleu. All the code checked  W3C compliant, but was written long before HTML5 matured, and used the usual clunky fixes for sound. I get silence on this iMac as expected. What PC/Browser combo are you on - I'll try and replicate the bug. Doctype in use is http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/loose.dtd, and that might 'permit' your browser to make it's own decisions? … it may be that eg you have some sort of 'autoplay' set on your kit?




[ed] btw - Echo Jack's point about dropping the odd note to go pentatonic at times. Very fluid, and in A: D A and E penta's all can get a go in arrangement. Or just stick to A and  'mode' it.

Yes too, to Anahata. As a subset there are 3 penta's embedded in a diatonic row (and a couple of minors). Not how I use it , but you and others do brilliant stuff on one rows
« Last Edit: December 30, 2015, 09:29:00 AM by Chris Ryall »
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xgx

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Re: Atholl Highlanders ~ Theory stuff
« Reply #31 on: December 30, 2015, 09:27:23 AM »


Hmmm … there isn't any! I hate it too.

Thanks Chris, I solved the problem by taking the liberty of converting it to a pdf  ;)
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Graham

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xgx

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Re: Atholl Highlanders ~ Theory stuff
« Reply #32 on: December 30, 2015, 09:49:17 AM »

Some background:
The tune was written for the Great Highland Bagpipe which, as most contributors on here know, is tuned to just rather than even temperament.  One wonders whether the composer took into consideration modality or simply wrote the tune for the instrument.

Pipe Major Bill Robertson,  formerly 1st Battalion, The Royal Scots (The Royal Regiment has this to say:
The tune is attributed to William Ross that I take as the same William Ross, as below, who had a large collection of pipe music. The title of the tune relates to the Duke of Atholl’s private regiment the Atholl Highlanders.

Ross, William. (1823 - 1891)
Scottish Piper/pipemaker. Replaced Angus MacKay as piper to Queen Victoria from 1854 until his death in 1891. (No relation to Willie Ross.) Hired Henry Starck to make bagpipes, who continued to make pipes after Ross' death. PM of the 42nd Highlanders, retired from active duty in 1883.

In common with so many, the tune has been 'borrowed' for dancing, both social and Morris, and adapted a la mode to suit.  ;D

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Chris Brimley

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Re: Atholl Highlanders ~ Theory stuff
« Reply #33 on: December 30, 2015, 10:03:21 AM »

playandteach, to me the tune sounds very much 'strong' and major, and seems to have a sort of A drone going on in the melody, in keeping with the feel of many other Scottish bagpipe tunes, and an Em7 wouldn't really fit with that. However everyone hears things differently, so I wouldn't want to be prescriptive.  I posted another pipe tune (this one in D) on soundcloud a few years ago - https://soundcloud.com/chrisbrimley/battle-of-the-somme, and I felt it was particularly important to the feel of that to have the E major chord coming in as a double dominant, and not even a thirdless chord would really do.  This LH chord, which I have as well as Em on my box, is seldom of great use, but it certainly came into its own here.
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nigelr

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Re: Atholl Highlanders ~ Theory stuff
« Reply #34 on: December 30, 2015, 10:06:19 AM »

I've been following this thread with interest and increasing confusion! In my simple world, Chris Brimley's description is the best - it's in A with an accidental.  I'm not a fan of looking for modes that might not exist or can be explained in a simpler way.

So, back to xgx's original question about playing it in G?  Again, in my mind, I see 2 main considerations.  When playing it in A on a standard D/G box, you need to be able to have third-less chords to play an E power chord (not major or minor) but it is then simple to play the G chord bit in the last part.  If you transpose it down to G, then you can use thirded chords, which makes it more "Pokerwork friendly" but have a problem with the bar that is now over an F chord.  You could fudge an F chord with F and A on the right hand and C in the left, but on a standard D/G the F accidental is F5 rather than F4 as written in the melody.  Rock and a hard place - the joy of melodeon ... (:)

(I'm sure many other more experienced players will dismiss the above as an over simplification, but it works for me!)
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Jack Campin

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Re: Atholl Highlanders ~ Theory stuff
« Reply #35 on: December 30, 2015, 10:23:21 AM »

Quote
In my simple world, Chris Brimley's description is the best - it's in A with an accidental.  I'm not a fan of looking for modes that might not exist or can be explained in a simpler way.

The modal description is the simplest way of describing how the tune makes its effect.  That low G is not just part of some randomly added clever-dick weirdness (like the C in "Ashokan Farewell"), it's a logical climax to the tune, which has been prepared by the gapping used in the first three parts.

Which implies that you don't want to spoil the effect by using chords earlier on that have a G or G# in them.  You're giving away the punchline.

The musical point of gapped modes is immediately obvious when you hear a modal tune played in a resonant acoustic (like a pipe band in a courtyard) or on an instrument with sustain (like a harp).  The tune itself creates the harmony, and when there are gaps, it is clear which chords are being selected.  It's especially obvious when the tune is mostly arpeggios, like Athol Highlanders.
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Chris Brimley

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Re: Atholl Highlanders ~ Theory stuff
« Reply #36 on: December 30, 2015, 10:37:17 AM »

Jack, that's one way of looking at it, but isn't the effect even more dramatic if you do have the G# in there earlier, because then the shift to G natural is more effective?  To most audiences, I bet they will just 'hear' the first part of the tune as being in A major, and that crucial bar as being in the different key, G major.
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george garside

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Re: Atholl Highlanders ~ Theory stuff
« Reply #37 on: December 30, 2015, 11:39:01 AM »

reading all this wonderful theoretical stuff makes me wonder how I have ever managed to play Athol Highlanders  for nigh on 60 years without any of this wonderful knowledge!

So to add a bit of what I consider to be important ''querytheory''  the tempo the tune is played at is far more important than anything else including whether to play  G# or Gnat or for that matter to sling the whole thing into Bb, which incidentally sounds very nice!

The question is , and this applies to any tune that is designed to assist the movement of the human being ( complete not just the bowels!)  It is both practicaly and theoreticaly  vital to give the tune a purpose  , in this case are you playing it for its original purpose as a pipe march (around 85bpm)  as a jig (?126bpm)  or at shit off a shovel speed for rapper!

Rhythm and temp are king  and matters can be actualy rather than theoretically improved by playing to the feet of the best dancers  or marchers

george >:E ;)
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Re: Atholl Highlanders ~ Theory stuff
« Reply #38 on: December 30, 2015, 11:44:18 AM »

Not much to add to that George ...except that, ideally, one should have ones bellows open daily.... ;D
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Mike Hirst

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Re: Atholl Highlanders ~ Theory stuff
« Reply #39 on: December 30, 2015, 12:16:20 PM »

Jack, that's one way of looking at it, but isn't the effect even more dramatic if you do have the G# in there earlier, because then the shift to G natural is more effective?  To most audiences, I bet they will just 'hear' the first part of the tune as being in A major, and that crucial bar as being in the different key, G major.
  Chris,

This would be one possible interpretation. Matt Seattle often uses the term duotonic when describing Lowland Scots and Border Pipe melodies. In this instance we could consider the melody to contain two distinct scales viz A mixolydian and G lydian. This can be a useful starting point for improvisation and development.

With regard to modal harmony I find it useful to identify and emphasise the key notes in any given modal scale. Let us take A major as a starting point. Typical three chord harmony would revolve around A, D and E7. If we flatten the seventh (i.e. switch the G# for G) that would give us an a mixolydian scale. The tone that defines this scale not being A major is the flat seven. To reflect this harmony would should be changed to empahsise this defining character tone. G is good here, but Em7 is equally valid.

If we flatten the third (switch C# for C) we end up with A dorian. The G harmony remains valid; Em7 is good; but the tonic chord (A major) is no longer valid and should be switched to Am (Am7 can also be used.

An important defining characteristic here is the sharp 6th (F#) it is ths tone that defines A dorian as distinct from A Aeolian. In harmonising these modes it is useful to emphasise these notes. Thus for A dorian we might use Am, D and G chords, but for A Aeolian Am, F and G chords would be better.

A further caveat here would be a quick note on Anahata's suggestion that certain melodies can be played in three keys on a one row melodeon. This is indeed true. It is something I frequently use in my playing. However, it is important to note here that this works because the melodies are pentatonic in structure. In a discussion on modality I would suggest that this is something of a red herring.

A final note here would be to highlight the fact that musical analysis of many older traditional melodies reveal the fact that very few use a full modal scale. Pentatonic melodies are not particularly common. The majority use gapped six note scales and whilst these respond to modal harmony, they are better described as hexachords. For anyone wanting to pursue this line of enquiry I would suggest the Jerry Bergonzi book Hexatonics - Inside Improvisation Series Vol.7 as a useful starting point.

« Last Edit: December 30, 2015, 12:19:13 PM by Mike Hirst »
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