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Jim Besser

Tune Of The Month For October, 2013: Xotis Romanes

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I think if anyone were trying to learn how to harmonise a melody line ( on any of the concertina systems) and had no real idea of how to do it(..............I wonder if would not encompass many of us here.....)I think starting with Geoff's excellent suggestion is a great way to start. It is a reasonably simple way forward and gives great satisfaction and does sound great. You can learn how to do this yourself without instruction.

However there does come a time when the randomness wears off as ones ability develops.

This is where Dave's perfect little exposition, summed up in one paragraph, tells you all you need to know for a very musical sounding accompaniment.

Really, there's little left to add to what he says .

If you become comfortable doing what Geoff recommends, Dave takes you to the next level.

There are of course a stages beyond this where you are in the seriously good/professional area..........example of this in Tona's playing of Xotis earlier in this thread. His left hand work is so interesting.

Well done these people......

Robin

Edited by Robin Harrison

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This is where Dave's perfect little exposition, summed up in one paragraph, tells you all you need to know for a very musical sounding accompaniment.

Really, there's little left to add to what he says .

 

Since you contradict yourself just two sentences later, I think I don't need to point out that this is an invalid oversimplification.

 

Seriously, there's never an "all you need to know." While I don't disagree with anything Geoff or David sketched out, it's far from the "whole picture" (certainly wasn't ever meant to be near in the first place). For example, you have to match the accompaniment with the melody. It's tempting to overdouse a simple melody with a complex counter pointed bass line; that's only fun to listen to for a little while, but after that it becomes cumbersome. For simple melodies, it's fine to break the oom-pah rules every once in a while (for example, a rule is "don't use thirds in the bass." True, but every once in a while it doesn't hurt to accompany a transition dominant-tonic at the end of a phrase with the third of the dominant which leads nicely into the root note of the tonic), but it's almost more important to keep the listening experience as a whole in mind, keeping an appropriate balance between the different voices. My suspicion is that most listeners (including myself) are much more confortable with a solidly played tune in which the melody leads and the accompaniment serves than with a complex polyphonic arrangement. But this again is only a crude rule of thumb; there are plenty of examples of very well done complex variations of "simple" melodies.

 

On complex melodies, on the other hand, you have many more colors and options at your disposition in the first place, so there's many more options to decorate the accompaniment without sacrificing the melody.

 

Also, bass lines can be employed to add rhythmic variations and emphases to a piece; for example, a piece that has a strong off beat feeling may very well benefit form a pah-OOM type of bass line (or even one that leaves out the basses on 1 and 3 altogether). Another simple way to add an interesting groove could be, for example, to defer the pah by half a beat (of course, this should only be employed for certain tunes; don't try this on reels I would assume?)

 

These are only two of many points that defy your statement that "all one needs to know" has been written by Geoff and David. It hasn't, and I don't think they ever intended to. Lots can be added, although for a first approximation, they certainly did very good ground work.

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What needs to be remembered is that Geoff was directing his answer at those of us who are relatively new to trying to add chords/harmonies on the EC specifically and/or who have little or no grounding in music theory and in that respect, his answer was very helpful.

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Dean,

I'm very happy that you found my suggestion helpfull. As we do not live that far apart,perhaps it would be possible to meet sometime to discuss playing ideas.

 

Robin,

again thanks for your kind comments.

 

Ruediger,

your book suggestion sounds very interesting. I would love to learn more . I wonder if Lennon and MacCartney had access to such a tome or if their créations were just made with raw talent.

 

I tend to let my ear tell me when things sound 'right'... perhaps because we have all done a huge amount listening to the types of music we like, we have absorbed good ways, or Rules, from clever composers/arrangers, and we should trust our ears more than we do.

 

My current personal musical journey is one where I am moving from many years of total absorption in complex single line melody playing (Irish Trad) to French Dance band playing involving second and third voices with EC on the one hand and getting to grips with Duet Concertina and its possibilities....

 

So I am relatively new to the idea of self accompaniment too.

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I tend to let my ear tell me when things sound 'right'... perhaps because we have all done a huge amount listening to the types of music we like, we have absorbed good ways, or Rules, from clever composers/arrangers, and we should trust our ears more than we do.

 

Absolutely. There is little left to add to THAT insight... ^_^ It's just that music is one of those weird languages that are natural and easy to grasp and comprehend passively but very hard to use actively. To let the listening experience guide the learning process imho is one of the fundamental truths of music (which is why recording oneself and listening to the recording is one of the basic techniques one should cultivate in the learning process).

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Ruediger,

your book suggestion sounds very interesting. I would love to learn more . I wonder if Lennon and MacCartney had access to such a tome or if their créations were just made with raw talent.

The book answers this question almost on page 1, and the answer is neither of the above.

 

I tend to let my ear tell me when things sound 'right'... perhaps because we have all done a huge amount listening to the types of music we like, we have absorbed good ways, or Rules, from clever composers/arrangers, and we should trust our ears more than we do.

and this is the answer to your question!

 

(It also explains to me, at least, why so many singer-songwriters write such boring stuff. They have not played enough good stuff first that were written by, or received from, others).

 

Based upon Ruediger's recommendation (and many glowing reviews) I have started to read this 900(!) page book. The first six chapters are available online and I intend to plough through them before deciding if I want to buy the physical book.

 

http://www.howmusicreallyworks.com/

 

To tell the truth, the first chapter is rambling to say the least. Lots of interesting stuff about evolution, language, genetic codes, Chomsky grammars, etc ... which he occasionally ties back into music. A lot of dissonance, perhaps, with occasional consonance. I am hoping that he establishes his theme a little better further into the book.

 

Don.

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To tell the truth, the first chapter is rambling to say the least. Lots of interesting stuff about evolution, language, genetic codes, Chomsky grammars, etc ... which he occasionally ties back into music. A lot of dissonance, perhaps, with occasional consonance. I am hoping that he establishes his theme a little better further into the book.

 

Don.

 

True. In the first chapter, he sketches the framework for his further elaborations, and that goes pretty far. One may or may not like his approach, but as the book moves on, it becomes really meaningful. You may want to jump to the section on scales (I did because that was mostly interesting to me in the free section). Based upon the argument that humans sense harmony in sound via even mathemical fractions between frequencies, he derives scales first mathematically, then elaborates on the darn phytagorean second and explains on the fly why different cultures build music on different kinds of scales and where the smallest common denominator ist (the "unversal harmonic reception.") It doesn't get more down to the point than that. But anyways, everything I sum up can only be a poor attempt to explain what he explains best.

 

I do hope that what wayne Chase writes makes sense to you as well.

 

All the best!

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What needs to be remembered is that Geoff was directing his answer at those of us who are relatively new to trying to add chords/harmonies on the EC specifically and/or who have little or no grounding in music theory and in that respect, his answer was very helpful.

 

Exactly, hence my post.............it was clearly an over-simplification but in the context of how this thread arose perhaps more helpful than this........

 

 

but every once in a while it doesn't hurt to accompany a transition dominant-tonic at the end of a phrase with the third of the dominant which leads nicely into the root note of the tonic),

 

 

 

Robin

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What needs to be remembered is that Geoff was directing his answer at those of us who are relatively new to trying to add chords/harmonies on the EC specifically and/or who have little or no grounding in music theory and in that respect, his answer was very helpful.

 

Exactly, hence my post.............it was clearly an over-simplification but in the context of how this thread arose perhaps more helpful than this........

 

 

but every once in a while it doesn't hurt to accompany a transition dominant-tonic at the end of a phrase with the third of the dominant which leads nicely into the root note of the tonic),

 

 

 

Robin

 

certainly. Wasn't meant to be helpful in the first place, just illustrative.

 

Have a nice day! :)

Edited by Ruediger R. Asche

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Hey folks, all this about harmonizing, chords, etc. is very interesting, and I hope to add some of my own comments once I overcome some current obstacles to my having time to pen more than a few lines. But instead of further hijacking the Xotis Romanes thread, I really think this discussion should have its own thread, probably in the Teaching and Learning section, with a subject/title suggestive of its content.

 

Edited to add: Well, now I've gone and done it. I've created such a new Topic, and it can be found here.

Edited by JimLucas

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