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7Th Chords Just Don't Sound Very Nice


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I am using Bertram Levy's "Anglo Concertina Demystified" book and while I like the book very much I am struggling to like his use of the G7 chords on the Anglo.

 

Is it just me, or my box (although it is in pretty good tune), or do 7th chords sound harsh on a concertina? The second interval in the chord seems to dominate the result - and not in a good way.

 

I think that I read somewhere on these fora that there is no place for 7th chords in Folk music, so I am very tempted to use the major version of the 7th chord whenever I see it in the book...

 

Don.

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I think that I read somewhere on these fora that there is no place for 7th chords in Folk music, so I am very tempted to use the major version of the 7th chord whenever I see it in the book...

 

 

 

I've heard it said in the UK that 7th chords should never be used in Morris music, or even in English folk music in general.

 

I totally reject that argument. I learned how cool 7th chords can sound in Morris music from a true master - the late Big Nick Robertshaw, who used them with abandon on his wonderful Jeffries duet. And Nick was an Englishman.

 

Obviously, I don't think 7th chords sound harsh on an Anglo.

 

Are you playing a C/G or G/D?

 

I haven't seen Bertram's book for years. Can you give an example of a tune in which you would like to abandon a 7th chord?

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Is it just me, or my box (although it is in pretty good tune), or do 7th chords sound harsh on a concertina? The second interval in the chord seems to dominate the result - and not in a good way.

Why does your 7th chord have a second interval in it? Play the root at the bottom, not the top. For that matter, you can leave out the fifth if you like. The important interval is that diminished fifth between the major 3 and the minor 7.

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I am using Bertram Levy's "Anglo Concertina Demystified" book and while I like the book very much I am struggling to like his use of the G7 chords on the Anglo.

 

Is it just me, or my box (although it is in pretty good tune), or do 7th chords sound harsh on a concertina?

 

A few thoughts:

 

Different folks have different tastes, and my own tastes even vary from moment to moment. If you don't like the 7th chord, you don't have to use it.

 

There is indeed a place for 7th chords in folk music, but there are many differences of opinion as to when and where to use them. In fact, chords more complex (or "dissonant") have become common in the accompaniment of Irish traditional tunes.

 

When I look at music where others have indicated chords, I often find that the 5-chord (e.g., D in the key of G) in a given transcription either always or never includes the 7th, while I often use each version at different places in the tune. I also often use simply an open 5th (e.g., D and A) without the 3rd (F#). As I've said before, to me that 's not a major or minor chord "missing" the 3rd, but a distinct "chord" in its own right. After all, we don't normally think of a simple major chord as a dominant 7th chord "missing" its 7th.

 

In fact, when I write out tunes (especially my own) I prefer to not include chords, since there are usually several different chord sequences which will fit, each with its own "flavor". (I also love melody by itself, with no accompaniment at all, or maybe with a harmony line or two but no chords, per se.)

 

On a separate note (pun acknowledged), I find it interesting that there are still some folks (myself included) who are concerned with "harsh" in music, considering the toneless percussion and "wild" sounds that have become so common in popular music.

Edited by JimLucas
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When I look at music where others have indicated chords, I often find that the 5-chord (e.g., D in the key of G) in a given transcription either always or never includes the 7th, while I often use each version at different places in the tune. I also often use simply an open 5th (e.g., D and A) without the 3rd (F#). As I've said before, to me that 's not a major or minor chord "missing" the 3rd, but a distinct "chord" in its own right. After all, we don't normally think of a simple major chord as a dominant 7th chord "missing" its 7th.

 

That's true for me as well - another commonness that adds to the picture... ;):

 

I often choose the open fifth to add some ambiguity (opening the - tonic - major "world" for some Mixolydian reminiscences, particularly once the melody doesn't prominently feature the leading tone).

 

Besides, I seem to recall that in Jazz theory we would in fact have to think of a simple major triad as a major seventh chord missing its (major) 7th (which - though making up the leading tone in a given melody - in contrast doesn't tend or pull anywhere once counterbalancing a major triad ). But however, this can obviously not apply to the minor seventh chord as discussed here (which is strongly demanding for the - tonic - third).

 

And I'd second Ransom's advice to possibly omitting the (major) third and leaning just on the most significant diminished fifth - the "diabolic" tritone...

 

As to my treble EC I often use the E7 chord as secondary dominant when playing in Dmaj or even tertiary dominant for tunes in Gmaj...

Edited by blue eyed sailor
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G7 usually resolves to C. Adding the 7 to the G makes the resolution stronger -- more like you really landed. If you want the G to pull harder to C, add the 7.

This is how I see it, too. sometimes a dominant 7th is right, sometimes just a dominant major.

One case in which the dominant 7th is definitely not necessary is when you have its 7th note in the melody at that point.

 

E.g., playing G-B-D with the left hand and F with the right hand feels to me like underlaying the melody with a G major chord - but what the listener hears is G-B-D-F, which is G7!

 

Cheers,

John

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Ok, I am working on pages 25-28 of Bertram Levy's book, and the tune is "Tommy Don't Go".

 

The fingering pattern recommended results in D-F-G, in ascending order and no B note.

 

It is that F-G that seems to dominate, especially as Bertram uses the D as the bass and the F-G's as the chord in an oom-pa accompaniment. He does want me to sustain the D while playing the chords, but even so I only really hear that jarring second.

 

I think now that it is this particular inversion that is ugly (to me anyway) because G-D-F sounds OK, I mean it still sounds/feels like the same chord, but not jarring. G-B-D-F sounds fuller.

 

Don.

 

Oh, I don't have a C/G or a G/D Anglo, I have an Ab/Eb, so I am really playing an Eb7 - I just pretend that I am playing in C and finger accordingly.

Edited by sjm
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I think now that it is this particular inversion that is ugly (to me anyway) because G-D-F sounds OK, I mean it still sounds/feels like the same chord, but not jarring. G-B-D-F sounds fuller.

 

Oh, I don't have a C/G or a G/D Anglo, I have an Ab/Eb, so I am really playing an Eb7 - I just pretend that I am playing in C and finger accordingly.

 

Does the same combination of notes -- D-F-G (or really Bb-Db-Eb) -- that you find harsh on your concertina also seem harsh to you when played on another instrument, e.g., a piano, guitar, or synthesizer using some other voice? Also, does the equivalent combination in other keys -- pull G-Bb-c or push B,-D-E or push E-G-A (C/G fingerings in the left hand) -- on your concertina affect you in the same way? If the answers are yes, then I guess you're less tolerant of that combination -- or the major second interval -- than some other folks (e.g., me).

 

But if the answers are no (and I suppose even if the answers are yes) you should verify that your concertina really is in tune with itself. In particular, are all the G's and A's (really Eb's and F's) in tune with each other? That's something your ear should be able to detect even without electronic assistance.

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We all have different levels of tolerance for dissonance. Our harmonic system moves between harmony and discord with our chord changes. When that dominant seventh chord resolves to the tonic, peace and harmony return. It's the changing degrees of tension within tunes that keeps then interesting!

 

The dominant seventh chord includes a tri-tone (the devil's interval!) within it.

 

In a theory class, we were asked to rate the degree of dissonance between all of the possible intervals within an octave. The only unanimous agreement was that the two notes of a minor second (c and c#) when sounded together were the most harsh, even worse than the tri-tone.

Edited by sidesqueeze
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Why does your 7th chord have a second interval in it?

Because that is what the book says to do (D-F-G) and I don't know any better!

 

Play the root at the bottom, not the top. For that matter, you can leave out the fifth if you like. The important interval is that diminished fifth between the major 3 and the minor 7.

Thanks for this, I think that it explains everything. I had to think about what you said before I understood it.

 

I understand that you are saying that the B-F in this chord is the important interval - yet this interval is not in the fingering suggested in the book.

 

Don.

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Why does your 7th chord have a second interval in it?

Because that is what the book says to do (D-F-G) and I don't know any better!

 

Play the root at the bottom, not the top. For that matter, you can leave out the fifth if you like. The important interval is that diminished fifth between the major 3 and the minor 7.

Thanks for this, I think that it explains everything. I had to think about what you said before I understood it.

 

I understand that you are saying that the B-F in this chord is the important interval - yet this interval is not in the fingering suggested in the book.

 

Yeah, D-F-G is a really close voicing. Even playing B-F-G might sound nicer to you. I guess you probably want the G on top for melodic reasons? Otherwise maybe try it at the bottom. Another possibility is to keep all the closeness and dissonance, but play that chord really staccato. Just punch it, then hang for the rest of the note value, then play something nice to resolve.

 

Play around. Find something you like. =)

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Hi Don,

I learned "Tommy Don't Go" from Bertram Levy's manual too a number of years ago. I like the G7 as its played in the tune. I can see (umm, hear, actually) where it could be considered jarring, but it seems to me that it "jars" just enough to make the measure interesting without being dissident; which may just mean we each have our own preferences and tastes . . . some we are born with and some we develop over the years.

 

Cary

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I think that I read somewhere on these fora that there is no place for 7th chords in Folk music.

Everyone knows that is a dastardly lie put about by melodeon players upset because their boxes don't have 7th chords on them. We concertina players know that the whole point of our instruments is that you can choose whatever notes you want.

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There are lots of 7th chords on any melodeon!

I should think so - but not on the LH side, perhaps?

 

A bayan virtuoso and accordion teacher gave me the following rule of thumb:

"If you're following the chord symbls in an accordion score, and you encounter, say, a G7, look and see if there's an F-natural in the melody line at that point. If there is, it's best to press just the G-major button on the LH side. The RH F-natural will blend with it to give the same effect as a full G7 in the bass."

This should work with melodeons, too!

 

On the topic of "dominant 7th or dominant major": For years, I've been playing solo autoharp - i.e. accurate melody picking with harmonies. And I very seldom use the dominant-major chord bar, almost always the dominant-7th chord bar.

 

When I took up the Crane Duet, I was surprised to find that I could play the same tunes on it using only the dominant-major chord!

 

The accordion teacher's tip sprang to mind. On the autoharp, the chord button you press has to free up the melody note as well as the underlying harmony, whereas the bass ("chording") side of the Crane is augmented by the treble ("melody") side, which is very often playing that flatted 7th when the dominant-7th is called for! (Playing a simple tune in C major, for instance, when the note F is encountered, it often calls for a G7 chord. I get that on the autoharp with the G7 chord bar, but on the Crane with a G-B-D in the left hand and an F in the right hand.)

 

When singing to the guitar or autoharp, however, (still in the key of C-major) I'll tend to use the G7 even when I'm singing the F-natural, because the strings don't blend so fully with the voice as with each other, and they sound more satisfactory with the 7th. Singing to a left-hand-only Crane accompaniment, on the other hand, I can get away with a G-major (G-B-D), because the reeds blend more homogeneously with the F in the voice.

 

Cheers,

John

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