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dmksails

English Concertina Chords

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I'm a beginner English concertina player with a few questions about chords.  Since most songs that I'm interested in only have 3-4 simple chords, I could jump start my ability to play by learning these chords.  Similar to a guitar where you learn to play chords before you learn to fingerpick.

 

First, the music I'm interested in playing shows guitar chords.  I'm assuming I could play these same chords on the concertina?

 

Second - how do I know which version of the chord to play?  I found chord charts online.  If I read it right, a C chord is formed by the C-E-G keys.  On the concertina there are 3 different combination of these keys, starting at low C, middle C and high C.  Which would be the correct one for any given situation, or do I need to figure this out via trial and error (which I'm trying to do now)

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It may be more than you want, but I got some good ideas about this from a basic jazz piano technique book. Summarized, it's not necessary to play a whole chord--just the notes that indicate what's going on, musically. And initially, anyway, the correct note is determined by experimentation, choosing from the several notes that are in the chord to find the note that sounds the best, and then maybe another one or two to add in. In jazz the fifth (G in a C chord) is often considered unnecessary because it's in virtually every chord, anyway, so you only need to play it when it is sharpened or flattened, The next general rule is to not double the note that is the melody. Then you're not left with too much to choose from 🙂

 

I'm using these general ideas to find harmonies, and it's working well. Obviously, rules are made to be broken, but the jazz idea does provide a basic structure.

 

I'm not sure you want to be playing a full chord under a melody--it can get pretty heavy, and bury the tune if you're not careful. If you want to accompany something else, that's different. Which are you aiming at doing?

 

If you are just starting, I'd concentrate on just learning tune melody lines for a while.

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52 minutes ago, dmksails said:

 

Second - how do I know which version of the chord to play?  I found chord charts online.  If I read it right, a C chord is formed by the C-E-G keys.  On the concertina there are 3 different combination of these keys, starting at low C, middle C and high C.  Which would be the correct one for any given situation, or do I need to figure this out via trial and error (which I'm trying to do now)

 

Let your ear be the judge of that; thought generally lower ones will sound better. The higher ones can sound quite harsh. Besides the basic C-E-G triad, you can also "spread" this by playing C-G-E which can sound gentler. Also very useful is the first inversion E-G-C. Both of these require two hands at once, which might seem difficult at first but which can make life easier in the long run.

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Posted (edited)

Welcome to concertina.net! Good to learn about someone else‘s idea of adding harmony to playing a tune - and should you be capable of that now, you wouldn’t have to wait until later IMO (I didn’t). 

 

I agree as to omit parts of a given „chord“ - however in folk music the fifth is a very common and powerful feature whereas the third is often left out making for some abiguity.

 

Suggestion: Start with an open fifth, you may love it...

 

My main advice would be not to rely that much on chords (even when including their inversions) but rather harmony.

 

First thing to pay attention to would be the current melody note. Can it be regarded as a third in one of the six parallel „chords“, try the open fifth an the resp. root note.

 

Apply an isolated low third on the move when the tonic appears to be appropriate and the third is not yet in the melody.

 

Just a few suggestions - feel free to ask, and if you like listen to tracks on my soundcloud page for getting an idea what following them might sound...

 

Best wishes - Wolf

Edited by Wolf Molkentin

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9 minutes ago, Little John said:

Besides the basic C-E-G triad, you can also "spread" this by playing C-G-E which can sound gentler.

 

That‘s true - and a good advice also should you just want to play chords, without including the melody. Harmonizing below the melody  means spreading anway (which is why a TT may become inevitable at some point).

 

The notorious „triad“ is a thing rather to avoid IMO - I‘m now applying them only as a very special feature from time to time and thus still quite rarely.

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Posted (edited)

Something several people have alluded to that might be good to emphasize: because of the way concertinas are tuned, as opposed to pianos, close notes often sound terrible because the harmonics of the notes are out of tune with each other. That's why the several recommendations to spread the notes apart in some way rather than playing a tight triad.

 

When I started playing multiple notes, I was happy to discover at the same time about metal ends vs wood, and the advantages of baffles. Adding baffles to my metal end EC subdued the nasty harmonics and made harmonies much more tolerable! I don't know if that would be overkill on wood ends or not.

Edited by mdarnton

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Posted (edited)

depends on your „ears“, tolerance and preferences I guess - I love the brilliant sounds a good ME produces, and would in any event rather search after more pleasant ways of playing multiple notes at a time (which might include shortening some of them as well)

 

Edited by Wolf Molkentin

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6 hours ago, Little John said:

 

Let your ear be the judge of that; thought generally lower ones will sound better. The higher ones can sound quite harsh. Besides the basic C-E-G triad, you can also "spread" this by playing C-G-E which can sound gentler. Also very useful is the first inversion E-G-C. Both of these require two hands at once, which might seem difficult at first but which can make life easier in the long run.

Sorry, but I don't understand - what is the difference between C-E-G and C-G-E?

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CEG is usually the tight triangle in one hand.  CGE might be, the lower CG on the left, and then the E on the right above that.

 

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10 hours ago, Wolf Molkentin said:

First thing to pay attention to would be the current melody note. Can it be regarded as a third in one of the six parallel „chords“, try the open fifth an the resp. root note.

Wolf:

What do you mean by "the six parallel chords"?

 

Don.

 

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8 hours ago, dmksails said:

Sorry, but I don't understand - what is the difference between C-E-G and C-G-E?

 

It's the order of notes, lowest to highest, as DaveM describes. Harmonically the same chord - C major - but musically different. Likewise E-G-C, the first inversion of C major.

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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, Don Taylor said:

Wolf:

What do you mean by "the six parallel chords"?

 

Don.

 

 

Hi Don, I apologize for using a lax term here - what I refer to (rather by way of illustration than in a strict sense) are the six modes (disregarding the Locrian mode here and still being lax re the full "modal" theory), Ionian (major), Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aeolian (natural minor), providing three major chords (i.e. with major third) and three minor chords (with minor third) which can be organized in (major/minor) pairs: I / vi, IV / ii, V / iii. The three major chords represent tonic, subdominant and dominant in a major key, vi is its parallel minor, ii a common replacement for the subdominant (being its own parallel minor chord), whereas iii (parallel minor to the dominant chord) is easily overlooked but very effective (I hesitate to say "forceful" as the appeal is rather delicate) in folk music.

 

Best wishes - Wolf

 

Edited by Wolf Molkentin

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