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Author Topic: Rakes of Mallow and accidentals  (Read 784 times)

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Rags

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Rakes of Mallow and accidentals
« on: April 22, 2019, 07:14:20 PM »

Hello, the other week at morris practice we were playing around with a new dance, and the tune to go with it was Rakes of Mallow. Initially we were playing it in G, but then one of the other musicians (a PA player) suggested moving it to an Am version. At the time, as a DG person this threw me a bit, but once I got home, I worked out that what we were playing was this:

M:4/4
L:1/8
K:C
|:A2c2 A2c2|A2c2 dcBA|^G2B2 G2B2|^G2B2 edcB|
|A2c2 A2c2|A2c2 e4|dcBA ^GABd|c2A2 A4:|
|:a2gf e2d2|cBcd e4|a2gf e2d2|cBcd B4|
a2gf e2d2|cBcd e4|dcBA ^GABd|c2A2 A4:|

So the notes I thought I was missing were a G# and Fnat, and that by coincidence, I had these as accidentals. .. but is this coincidence. I assume that there is some musical logic as to why we have the accidentals that we do, and why they sound OK in this tune. Can anybody enlighten me?

thanks
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Stiamh

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Re: Rakes of Mallow and accidentals
« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2019, 09:05:23 PM »

So the notes I thought I was missing were a G# and Fnat, and that by coincidence, I had these as accidentals. .. but is this coincidence. I assume that there is some musical logic as to why we have the accidentals that we do, and why they sound OK in this tune. Can anybody enlighten me?

Undoubtedly there is musical logic in the choice of accidentals you have (I don't know what they are besides the two you have specified). The logic ought to be the notes that would be most useful!

The word "accidental" means a note that is not part of the key of the tune being played, of course. So the most useful "accidentals" would be notes that occasionally pop up in tunes that you play in your usual keys of D and G and related modes.

Here you are talking about playing a tune in a different key altogether, so your "accidentals" are in fact not longer "accidents" but essentials.

Since the home keys of a D/G box have two sharps (F# C#) and one sharp (F#) respectively, G# and F-nat make sense.

G# is the third sharp in the progression of sharps (FCGDAEB - or "French cats grumble dreadfully and eat birds" if you like) and when added to F# and C# makes the key of A major possible, G# being the only note in the key of A major you don't have. It is in fact the "leading seventh" of the key of A, a semitone below the tonic of A, and performing the same function as C# does in the key of D or F# does in the key of G.

As for F-natural, go in the other direction as it were: instead of adding sharps, take them away. F-natural takes away the one sharp you have in G. This enables you to play in C major and related modes.

As to why these two notes sound "OK in this tune" - well whether the tune as you have written it sounds OK at all is a matter of opinion  ;)  But they are the two notes you need to play a standard western scale of A minor (the "harmonic minor" scale, I suppose you would have to say), which has a sharpened leading seventh (G# in this case).

(Many of the modes used in the traditional music of Britain and Ireland do not have a sharpened seventh by the way, and many of the tunes referred to as being in "A minor" by folkies would have neither an F-natural nor a G#.)

BTW if you take your transcription above and change the key signature to "A" or "Amaj", making all the Fs and Gs sharp, you will get the tune transposed exactly one tone up from the usual G major. So provided you had G# in both octaves, you'd be able to play the tune in A major.

But I suspect you don't have them in both octaves. A C# row would be handy for that - and give you all the other notes (accidentals, if you like) that you don't have while you were at it.

Edited to correct typos
« Last Edit: April 22, 2019, 09:08:46 PM by Stiamh »
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Jesse Smith

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Re: Rakes of Mallow and accidentals
« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2019, 02:30:52 AM »

The other standard accidentals on a D/G box are Eb and Bb. Along with the F natural and G# they give you a chromatic lower half of the keyboard.

I think the F and G# are indeed primarily chosen so that you can play in C major and A major. There are also a whole bunch of common tunes in G that dip over to the D row to grab a C#, often at the end of the A part, and having the G# allows you to play those tunes in D.

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Thrupenny Bit

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Re: Rakes of Mallow and accidentals
« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2019, 07:58:44 AM »

For me, Eb (D#) is my most used accidental.
My Castagnari has it as a push button thus allowing me to use it with a B chord, or as a chromatic run in a tune.
Some have it on the pull, which I've never quite understood why...
For me a push Eb/D# is indispensable.
Q
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I think I'm starting to get most of the notes in roughly the right order...... sometimes!

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Re: Rakes of Mallow and accidentals
« Reply #4 on: April 23, 2019, 08:13:18 AM »

For me, Eb (D#) is my most used accidental.
My Castagnari has it as a push button thus allowing me to use it with a B chord, or as a chromatic run in a tune.
Some have it on the pull, which I've never quite understood why...
For me a push Eb/D# is indispensable.
Q

Yes - what he said!  (:)
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Re: Rakes of Mallow and accidentals
« Reply #5 on: April 23, 2019, 08:24:45 AM »

You were playing in A Dorian mode, which is a perfectly respectable type of minor scale. It's also common in folk music, (What Shall We Do With The Drunken Sailor is a very well known example) so would not not have sounded particularly strange.

PS ignore the above. Didn't read the original post carefully enough. Too early in the morning, not enough coffee...
« Last Edit: April 23, 2019, 03:43:24 PM by Anahata »
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Re: Rakes of Mallow and accidentals
« Reply #6 on: April 23, 2019, 11:26:56 AM »

You were playing in A Dorian mode, which is a perfectly respectable type of minor scale.

If you mean the tune Rags transcribed in the OP, no he wasn't. A dorian has F# and G natural. At least the A dorian I know and love...
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Re: Rakes of Mallow and accidentals
« Reply #7 on: April 23, 2019, 03:51:17 PM »

You're quite right, he wasn't. My apologies for totally misunderstanding the question.

As for the original question about the accidental buttons: they provide all the notes missing from the D and G rows, which fortunately happen to be four notes, making it fully chromatic in the middle octave. They are chosen to be in the middle of the instrument's range where they are most likely to be useful, but you aren't always that lucky - there are many tunes that need, for example a G♯ an octave higher, or a F♮ an octave lower, than the ones provided by the accidental buttons.
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Re: Rakes of Mallow and accidentals
« Reply #8 on: April 23, 2019, 06:12:38 PM »

As for the original question about the accidental buttons: they provide all the notes missing from the D and G rows, which fortunately happen to be four notes, making it fully chromatic in the middle octave. They are chosen to be in the middle of the instrument's range where they are most likely to be useful, but you aren't always that lucky - there are many tunes that need, for example a G♯ an octave higher, or a F♮ an octave lower, than the ones provided by the accidental buttons.

You have provided more useful information in two sentences than I managed in about 20.  (:)

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Tone Dumb Greg

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Re: Rakes of Mallow and accidentals
« Reply #9 on: April 23, 2019, 07:46:44 PM »

Just out of interest, is this your PA friend's own arrangement? I have never heard it done like this.
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Re: Rakes of Mallow and accidentals
« Reply #10 on: April 23, 2019, 09:55:10 PM »

Greg, yes. Rakes didn't seem quite "Border" enough, so he was playing around with it in a minor key, and that's what came out
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Tone Dumb Greg

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Re: Rakes of Mallow and accidentals
« Reply #11 on: April 23, 2019, 10:15:50 PM »

Greg, yes. Rakes didn't seem quite "Border" enough, so he was playing around with it in a minor key, and that's what came out

Apart from the fact that PAs never seem quite border enough, I  think he was being slightly mean springing it on you. I do like it though. Worth working on.
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Re: Rakes of Mallow and accidentals
« Reply #12 on: April 23, 2019, 10:23:16 PM »

The best part of this is that in 3 years with the melodeon I've hardly touched the accidentals and now I have two in one tune! The right thumb is no longer just playing a supporting role.
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Tone Dumb Greg

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Re: Rakes of Mallow and accidentals
« Reply #13 on: April 23, 2019, 10:33:17 PM »

The best part of this is that in 3 years with the melodeon I've hardly touched the accidentals and now I have two in one tune! The right thumb is no longer just playing a supporting role.

How do the basses work out?
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Greg Smith
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Re: Rakes of Mallow and accidentals
« Reply #14 on: April 23, 2019, 10:39:39 PM »

At the moment I'm going to leave the bass side to the PAs. Nothing seems to work with the G#. Suggestions?
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Tone Dumb Greg

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Re: Rakes of Mallow and accidentals
« Reply #15 on: April 23, 2019, 10:59:56 PM »

At the moment I'm going to leave the bass side to the PAs. Nothing seems to work with the G#. Suggestions?
Bass E?
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Greg Smith
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Re: Rakes of Mallow and accidentals
« Reply #16 on: April 23, 2019, 11:07:57 PM »

Yes, I think that's what the PAs do, but  my E bass is pull but my G# is  push. Oh well.....
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Tone Dumb Greg

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Re: Rakes of Mallow and accidentals
« Reply #17 on: April 23, 2019, 11:14:31 PM »

Yes, I think that's what the PAs do, but  my E bass is pull but my G# is  push. Oh well.....

Lord forgive PA players, for they know not what they do.
Just leave that note and let the accidental speak for itself.
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Re: Rakes of Mallow and accidentals
« Reply #18 on: April 23, 2019, 11:36:11 PM »

Yes, I think that's what the PAs do, but  my E bass is pull but my G# is  push. Oh well.....

If your B bass is on the push, try using the bass note only. In fact, it would appear to me, looking at the standard D/G keyboard map, that you could make a halfway interesting bass-note-only progression, with rising tension, by playing A for the first two bars, B for the next two, C for the two after that, and then.... if you could get a quick D in (can't work out how that would fit with the r/h notes), you'd amaze the gallery.
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