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Author Topic: Playing melodies on the basses  (Read 1975 times)

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Jesse Smith

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Playing melodies on the basses
« on: February 15, 2018, 04:54:18 AM »

On John Kirkpatrick's melodeon instruction DVDs, he points out that you have all but one of the notes in the G major scale on the basses of a D/G melodeon and proceeds to demonstrate playing Shepherd's Hey and Cock of the North on the basses. This seems like a fun "party piece" or crowd pleaser akin to the doppler effect trick with the concertina being swung in circles, but has anyone used this to good effect in the course of a regular tune?

I do quite like the sound of a concertina being played in octaves, and I suppose something similar could be done on the melodeon - playing in unison on the left and right hands. Although the basses are so loud and fuzzy it seems it would be more effective to just learn to play in octaves on the treble side.

But anyway, has anyone done much with melodic basses beyond simple bass runs?
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Steve_freereeder

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Re: Playing melodies on the basses
« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2018, 07:21:27 AM »

I think it was Tim van Eyken one year at 'Melodeons at Witney' who taught a workshop on using basses and chords imaginatively. One of his demonstrations was playing the children's round 'Frere Jacques' in 2 parts, with the 2nd part on the LH basses 2 bars behind the treble. I never mastered this, but haven't attempted to do so for a few years. Perhaps I should try again.

Another year at 'Melodeons at Witney' the great Dutch player Geert oude Weerninck got four of us playing a Pavane: 'Mille Regretz' by Tielman Susato in a 4-part ensemble. The bass (4th) line was played entirely on the bass buttons. See attachment for the dots and a (not entirely successful) multi-tracked version which I made some time afterwards is here:
https://soundcloud.com/steve_freereeder/pavane-mille-regretz-tielman-susato-1551
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Winston Smith

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Re: Playing melodies on the basses
« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2018, 07:52:54 AM »

"(not entirely successful)"

To my untrained ear, it sounded lovely; somewhat like a church organ. How many tracks are there?
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Martin P

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Re: Playing melodies on the basses
« Reply #3 on: February 15, 2018, 08:20:17 AM »

On my Salterelle Connemara II I have the luxury of additional F and F# bass notes, so I could do that party trick in two keys, but I don’t. But I can do intro to “Smoke on the Water”.
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Re: Playing melodies on the basses
« Reply #4 on: February 15, 2018, 08:42:14 AM »

I've an 8 bass standard 2 row. I don't play complete tunes on it, which is what I think you're asking, but I do use the basses to emphasise part of a tune.
If a tune runs down - say - C,B,A or any little chromatic run of notes then I might play those basses to emphasise that part, so long as they fall on my 8 basses.
We all play differently and like different things, I enjoy using the basses or perhaps bass + chord in little runs when the tune allows it. I'm definitely not an up- pah only player.
Q
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I think I'm starting to get most of the notes in roughly the right order...... sometimes!

Lester

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Re: Playing melodies on the basses
« Reply #5 on: February 15, 2018, 08:43:01 AM »

You can play Donkey Riding on the basses of a normal D/G, in fact on my 4th button start I can play it on the basses and in three different octaves of G on the treble.

Anahata

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Re: Playing melodies on the basses
« Reply #6 on: February 15, 2018, 09:02:52 AM »

I think it was Tim van Eyken one year at 'Melodeons at Witney' who taught a workshop on using basses and chords imaginatively. One of his demonstrations was playing the children's round 'Frere Jacques' in 2 parts, with the 2nd part on the LH basses 2 bars behind the treble.

I did a workshop on melodic basses at Whitby a couple of years ago, and also demonstrated exactly that!

And see the first part of this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cN7ijEf97Dw - in which the bass line is almost exactly the one in the book I got it from (originally Thomas Bray in 1699, reproduced in Chris Green's 'The Musick Meeting')

The Dino Baffetti I'm playing there has very fast basses, which makes this kind of music easier to play.
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Re: Playing melodies on the basses
« Reply #7 on: February 15, 2018, 09:07:44 AM »

"(not entirely successful)"

To my untrained ear, it sounded lovely; somewhat like a church organ. How many tracks are there?
Thanks Edward. The church organ sound was what we were aiming for. There are 4 tracks - one for each line in the music.
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Re: Playing melodies on the basses
« Reply #8 on: February 15, 2018, 09:14:50 AM »

I think it was Tim van Eyken one year at 'Melodeons at Witney' who taught a workshop on using basses and chords imaginatively. One of his demonstrations was playing the children's round 'Frere Jacques' in 2 parts, with the 2nd part on the LH basses 2 bars behind the treble.

And see the first part of this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cN7ijEf97Dw - in which the bass line is almost exactly the one in the book I got it from (originally Thomas Bray in 1699, reproduced in Chris Green's 'The Musick Meeting')

The Dino Baffetti I'm playing there has very fast basses, which makes this kind of music easier to play.
That was just lovely and superbly played by both of you.  (:)
Just wondering - did you play all that entirely from memory or did you have a crib-sheet of music on the floor out of camera view (you did seem to be looking down a lot ;) )
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Winston Smith

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Re: Playing melodies on the basses
« Reply #9 on: February 15, 2018, 09:47:36 AM »

"one for each line in the music."

A melodeon choir, then? Lovely!
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Anahata

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Re: Playing melodies on the basses
« Reply #10 on: February 15, 2018, 10:50:16 AM »

Just wondering - did you play all that entirely from memory or did you have a crib-sheet of music on the floor out of camera view (you did seem to be looking down a lot ;) )

Thank you and well spotted! Yes, we'd just learned it and were relying on a crib sheet for that video, but since then it's become part of our regular performing set and of course we play it from memory now.

I have to say that both working out the notes and learning to play the middle harmony part that I do the third time round (still with that bass line) was one of the most brain-scramblingly difficult challenges I've sever set myself. But it does show that you don't need chords - three carefully chosen melodic parts gives more than enough richness of harmony for music like that, and played for the dance that goes with it should nicely mirror a dancing style that is more about intricate figures than bouncy steps.
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Jesse Smith

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Re: Playing melodies on the basses
« Reply #11 on: February 15, 2018, 02:18:14 PM »

Ah, I didn't even think of rounds! That seems like a very natural place to use the basses melodically. I suppose with a great deal of practice one could play both parts at the same time with the right hand, but that seems like it would be significantly more difficult!

Anahata's video is great! The bass line on Rosamond's Pond essentially becomes a countermelody at times. And very nice job on the harmonies the third time through, they sound very authentically baroque, at least to my non-specialist ears.
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Martin P

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Re: Playing melodies on the basses
« Reply #12 on: February 15, 2018, 02:23:39 PM »

OP might care to look at Ed Rennie’s Melodeon Basses Tutor Book. He includes some nice 3 part tunes, although with a Xmas theme.
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Jesse Smith

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Re: Playing melodies on the basses
« Reply #13 on: February 15, 2018, 05:02:18 PM »

I've an 8 bass standard 2 row. I don't play complete tunes on it, which is what I think you're asking, but I do use the basses to emphasise part of a tune.
If a tune runs down - say - C,B,A or any little chromatic run of notes then I might play those basses to emphasise that part, so long as they fall on my 8 basses.
We all play differently and like different things, I enjoy using the basses or perhaps bass + chord in little runs when the tune allows it. I'm definitely not an up- pah only player.
Q

I try to do those kinds of bass runs when I can, too. A common one is when the chords go G / G / C / D but you can just play G B C D on the basses to get a nice ascending run.

I just thought of a place where I actually do play the melody on the basses: in Princess Royal in that quarter note run down at the second half of the A music I like to play the bass and treble in unison.

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Re: Playing melodies on the basses
« Reply #14 on: February 15, 2018, 05:05:34 PM »

Yes I think I know where you're at in the tune, and our musicians will play it like that.
I'm normally dancing it!
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Thrupenny Bit

I think I'm starting to get most of the notes in roughly the right order...... sometimes!

Thrupenny Bit

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Re: Playing melodies on the basses
« Reply #15 on: February 15, 2018, 05:45:46 PM »

Now I have electricity ( don't ask! ) and therefore wifi I'm catching up with Steve and Anahata's tunes.
Lovely - most enjoyable in totally different ways.
Thanks both
Q
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I think I'm starting to get most of the notes in roughly the right order...... sometimes!

Mike Hirst

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Re: Playing melodies on the basses
« Reply #16 on: February 15, 2018, 06:42:50 PM »

à chacun son goût
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Re: Playing melodies on the basses
« Reply #17 on: February 15, 2018, 09:26:06 PM »

Another year at 'Melodeons at Witney' the great Dutch player Geert oude Weerninck got four of us playing a Pavane: 'Mille Regretz' by Tielman Susato in a 4-part ensemble. The bass (4th) line was played entirely on the bass buttons. See attachment for the dots and a (not entirely successful) multi-tracked version which I made some time afterwards is here:
https://soundcloud.com/steve_freereeder/pavane-mille-regretz-tielman-susato-1551

Beautiful playing and just the right thing to listen to  before retiring for the night...thanks Steve....I shall sleep well.
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Re: Playing melodies on the basses
« Reply #18 on: March 10, 2018, 12:31:58 PM »

Anahata is brilliant at this
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