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Author Topic: Chord progressions and bass lines  (Read 3127 times)

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Dick Rees

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Re: Chord progressions and bass lines
« Reply #20 on: April 04, 2019, 02:56:46 AM »

You can think melody/chords or you can think lead voice/other voice.  The other voice can be whatever you want:  bass line, harmony, counterpoint or chords.  I'm always pleased and often surprised when the Music and the instrument reveal yet another set of possibilities.  It truly seems there's no end.
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Anahata

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Re: Chord progressions and bass lines
« Reply #21 on: April 04, 2019, 08:40:41 AM »

OK, I've had a chance to find the quote in question and I'll copy the relevant bits here. It is from John Kirkpatrick's "Jump at the Sun" tunebook of his own tunes (and Anahata, it is definitely worth picking up
Thanks for that, Jesse. I've clearly received that opinion somewhere and I'm sure I've seen the book, and don't know why I haven't a copy myself.

I've certainly been persuaded that printed chord symbols are an annoyance and tend to avoid them in my own ABC transcriptions. And all the rest of it...
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Thrupenny Bit

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Re: Chord progressions and bass lines
« Reply #22 on: April 04, 2019, 08:49:42 AM »

JK's comment has always rung true with me.
Reading it again now I'm reminded of a track on a CD of the Morris dance tune Cuckoo's Nest by a much respected box player that I normally love listening to. The version is best described as 'lush' to use John's words. I usually skip that track as the 'lushness' in my opinion removes the drive and power from the tune.
I think JK makes valid points - in my opinion!
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Howard Jones

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Re: Chord progressions and bass lines
« Reply #23 on: April 04, 2019, 09:04:14 AM »

One of the fascinating things about melodeon is that the fairly limited range of chords forces you into making choices which you might not do on a more chromatic instrument.  It can lead to some interesting harmonies.  One of these choices is the substitution of minor chords for major, which JK apparently deplores but which I feel can add a bit of variety and interest.

Theo

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Re: Chord progressions and bass lines
« Reply #24 on: April 04, 2019, 09:13:59 AM »

If you want to explore more chordal playing, and with great rhythm here is a master demonstrating.  The box is in AD
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Jesse Smith

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Re: Chord progressions and bass lines
« Reply #25 on: April 04, 2019, 01:55:57 PM »

I've certainly been persuaded that printed chord symbols are an annoyance and tend to avoid them in my own ABC transcriptions. And all the rest of it...

The irony is that JK does go on to include chord symbols in his tunebook, going on to say:

Quote
So, after listening to other musicians playing chords which I would consider to be wrong, or at least inappropriate, I realise that in fact a suggestion of the chords does firm up the character of each piece. And when they are my pieces, then I would hope that anyone playing these would honour the way I'd intend them to be played. And, of course, we all have to start somewhere, and an understanding of chords and harmonies, and how they affect your music, has to be learned, just as tunes have to learned. So I have provided chords with each tune, not necessarily because that's exactly what I would play myself, but more in the hope of indicating what I would not play!

I think JK tends to be very "forward" in his opinions for teaching purposes, and I'm sure one can find any number of "lush" arrangements full of technical wizardry in his discography that belie his statements on this matter. But in general I am very much biased to agree with him, because the entire reason I fell in love with the melodeon and English dance tunes was not any intellectual harmonic complexity, but the sheer foot-stomping *exuberance* of the music. The first English trad albums that I obtained were "Son of Morris On" (with John Tams and John Watcham, mainly on concertina), "Morris On the Road" (with Simon Care on melodeon), and John Kirkpatrick's "Plain Capers" (whereupon I embarked on a yearlong quest to obtain just about every album John has recorded!). And his comments about simple, straightforward tunes played with gusto and enthusiasm ring very true to what fundamentally draws me to the music and his playing of it in particular.
« Last Edit: April 04, 2019, 02:07:59 PM by Jesse Smith »
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Thrupenny Bit

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Re: Chord progressions and bass lines
« Reply #26 on: April 04, 2019, 02:26:38 PM »

I think dance has been a theme throughout John's career.
He started playing and dancing with Hammersmith when a young person, then moved to Shropshire and started Shropshire Bedlams ( and kick started the Border dancing through that creation )
He still dances with Bedlams, so dance has been a constant companion throughout his squeezing career.
It puts his forthright comments into perspective for me.
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Anahata

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Re: Chord progressions and bass lines
« Reply #27 on: April 04, 2019, 02:31:06 PM »

Quote
So, after listening to other musicians playing chords which I would consider to be wrong, or at least inappropriate, I realise that in fact a suggestion of the chords does firm up the character of each piece. And when they are my pieces, then I would hope that anyone playing these would honour the way I'd intend them to be played.
etc.

So, damage limitation!

I think JK tends to be very "forward" in his opinions for teaching purposes, and I'm sure one can find any number of "lush" arrangements full of technical wizardry in his discography that belie his statements on this matter.
He does a nice arrangement of A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square, for example - but we're a long way from traditional English dance music there...

Quote
But in general I am very much biased to agree with him, because the entire reason I fell in love with the melodeon and English dance tunes was not any intellectual harmonic complexity, but the sheer foot-stomping *exuberance* of the music.

We are definitely on the same page there.  :|glug

I think dance has been a theme throughout John's career...
It puts his forthright comments into perspective for me.
Undoubtedly!
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Peadar

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Re: Chord progressions and bass lines
« Reply #28 on: April 04, 2019, 08:21:07 PM »

Quote
dance tunes, played for dancing, don't need anything more than the melody line.  Anahata's right.  If not for dancing anything goes as you're out of the "trad" loop.


Thank you for that. Absolutely true.

I appreciate Anahata isn't quite saying that - but dancers take what we can get.... I can't speak for others but given a choice between a record player and a single fiddler at a small hall country dance I will take the fiddler any day.
« Last Edit: April 04, 2019, 08:30:48 PM by Peadar »
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Re: Chord progressions and bass lines
« Reply #29 on: April 05, 2019, 12:23:42 AM »

thank you Peadar.  I think there's an elegance in dancing to one well-played line of melody that gets diminished when chords (no pun intended)  intrude.  And for me, the jury's out on drones.
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george garside

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Re: Chord progressions and bass lines
« Reply #30 on: April 05, 2019, 10:32:02 AM »

when I used to play regularly for rapper as a  single musician I never used the bass  and my preferred instrument was the single voice castagnari lilly  ? substitute fiddle(ish)

george
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Mark Leue

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Re: Chord progressions and bass lines
« Reply #31 on: April 05, 2019, 11:32:19 AM »

when I used to play regularly for rapper as a  single musician I never used the bass  and my preferred instrument was the single voice castagnari lilly  ? substitute fiddle(ish)

george

Here most of the rapper teams are dancing to Irish jigs on a concertina or fiddle.  No bass lines at all. The melodeon without the basses sounds basically Celtic to me.
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Re: Chord progressions and bass lines
« Reply #32 on: April 05, 2019, 07:18:24 PM »

that's a really nice analogy Gerorge.  I always think of my left arm influencing the stresses of the tune like a fliddler's bowing arm.  I hardly ever play basses, even on my 12 stradella black dot DLX.
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george garside

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Re: Chord progressions and bass lines
« Reply #33 on: April 05, 2019, 07:54:18 PM »

I think those who feel that the melodeon should always be played with some sort of bass accompaniment  are missing out !  Playing treble only opens the way for  great dynamics (volume variation)  including diminuendos and crecendos or whaterver they are called that  are greatly facilitated by using small bellows opening  to facilitate varying the  pressure.   

 it is more ''air economical' and arguably more 'musical' to add right hand chords and or rhythm rather than bass chords and this eg works well  the second or third time through many slow aires.

etc etc etc.

you don't have to use it all the time just because its there!

others may disagree!


george
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Jesse Smith

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Re: Chord progressions and bass lines
« Reply #34 on: April 05, 2019, 09:52:22 PM »

It certainly all depends on context. In a band or session situation there may be no need to add to the din with the left hand noise. And I think dropping out the left hand for part of a tune is a great way to build musical tension that resolves when the accompaniment comes back in. (I like this trick a lot actually.) It's also a bit of a low key way of showing off your technique with dynamics and ornamentation but in some ways is easier because you don't have to worry about messing up the left hand. ;)

All depends on the musical mood you're trying to create!
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Sarah the fiddler

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Re: Chord progressions and bass lines
« Reply #35 on: April 05, 2019, 11:05:21 PM »

An interesting discussion! I'm not a frequent visitor but was directed here by a friend as we've often debated this!
As a child at junior school we did country dancing and one of the things I loved was the straightforwardness of the tunes and relatively simple harmonic progressions & sequences with the driving rhythm and energetic & often joyful melodies. I drove my skipping feet into the tarmac and enjoyed every beat.

Taking up Morris, Ceilidh & sword dance musicianship very many years later I still love this. My favorite dance players are definitely those with tremendous rhythm & drive plus some harmonic interest & variation. I think my musical head has different 'rules' for different situations - I feel Morris as far simpler than Ceilidh and would happily listen to players in a non-dance situation playing more 'lush' variations. Though my ears seem to draw the line at Jazz chords with trad tunes! I guess a lot is personal taste and one's musical 'education'?

Incidentally, JK's comment about trying to 'harmonise like Handel' - I wondered if he knows 'Dixit Dominus' - which could be described as 'Handel on acid'!
« Last Edit: April 05, 2019, 11:27:26 PM by Sarah the fiddler »
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Jesse Smith

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Re: Chord progressions and bass lines
« Reply #36 on: April 06, 2019, 06:49:23 AM »

Speaking of JK and left-hand tricks, I think I have finally cracked what he's doing when he really gets going on the dancey numbers. Instead of playing "oom-pah oom-pah" with alternating basses and chords, he very often plays "pah-pah pah-pah" and then throws in "oom" wherever he feels like it. In effect, he is running the oom-pahs with the chord buttons alone and using the bass notes to make a bass line. To use a band analogy, it's like he's playing rhythm guitar and bass guitar at the same time (as well as lead guitar on the right hand, of course (:)).

It only took me a year of listening to work out why my oom-pahs never sound quite the same (I mean, other than the 60 years of practice that he's got on me ::)) Thank goodness for Audacity's "change tempo" feature! :Ph
« Last Edit: April 06, 2019, 10:31:16 PM by Jesse Smith »
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Dick Rees

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Re: Chord progressions and bass lines
« Reply #37 on: April 06, 2019, 02:52:06 PM »

Speaking of JK and left-hand tricks, I think I have finally cracked what he's doing when he really gets going on the dancey numbers. Instead of playing "oom-pah oom-pah" with alternating basses and chords, he very often plays "pah-pah pah-pah" and then throws in "oom" wherever he feels like it. In effect, he is running the oom-pahs with the chord buttons alone and using the bass notes to make a bass line. To use a band analogy, it's like he's playing rhythm guitar and bass guitar at the same time (as well as lead guitar on the right hand, of course (:))).

It only took me a year of listening to work out why my oom-pahs never sound quite the same (I mean, other than the 60 years of practice that he's got on me ::)) Thank goodness for Audacity's "change tempo" feature! :Ph

Congratulations!  Not only have made a leap in understanding, I'll bet your "ear" is much improved from time spent actively listening for specifics.  And to reply to this from your initial post (How does one go about working up such a left hand part?) I'd say equal parts concious effort and incorporation of fortuitous accidents found pleasing.  These are often messages from the subconcious level, more direct ear to hand coordination or a bit of both.

As an old-timer once told me, "Don't worry.  It's just the first 30 years that's the hard part."
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Jesse Smith

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Re: Chord progressions and bass lines
« Reply #38 on: April 06, 2019, 10:39:31 PM »

Congratulations!  Not only have made a leap in understanding, I'll bet your "ear" is much improved from time spent actively listening for specifics.  And to reply to this from your initial post (How does one go about working up such a left hand part?) I'd say equal parts concious effort and incorporation of fortuitous accidents found pleasing.  These are often messages from the subconcious level, more direct ear to hand coordination or a bit of both.

As an old-timer once told me, "Don't worry.  It's just the first 30 years that's the hard part."

Ha ha, yes I was afraid it would be something like that! Ah well, where's the fun in an instrument whose potential can be exhausted within a few years?

I often wonder about how very experienced players are actually mentally engaged during their performances. To what extent are all of the details (ornamentation, dynamics, etc.) thoroughly worked out ahead of time, and to what extent is a great deal of it quite improvisational, based on combining all sorts of bits and bobs from a bag of tricks that are known to work in a given place? From things I've read I suspect it is heavily weighted to the latter; after many years I imagine one builds up a strong intuition about what will work on which tunes and where.
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Tone Dumb Greg

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Re: Chord progressions and bass lines
« Reply #39 on: April 06, 2019, 10:43:35 PM »


I often wonder about how very experienced players are actually mentally engaged during their performances. To what extent are all of the details (ornamentation, dynamics, etc.) thoroughly worked out ahead of time, and to what extent is a great deal of it quite improvisational, based on combining all sorts of bits and bobs from a bag of tricks that are known to work in a given place? From things I've read I suspect it is heavily weighted to the latter; after many years I imagine one builds up a strong intuition about what will work on which tunes and where.

My friend Sally is one of the very best players I know. She says that uses her playing time to plan shopping lists and the like.
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