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harmonizing


Annelies
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Hello, I have a kind of musical disability - I can't identify the harmony part in a given piece. For example, in this short lovely tune, La Marine, what is the 2nd part in the bars they hum?


I learned to play flute in high school, then taught myself English concertina. Any advice for learning to identify harmony notes? Thanks

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1 hour ago, Annelies said:

For example, in this short lovely tune, La Marine, what is the 2nd part in the bars they hum?

 

It’s simply a third higher than the melody, a very common form of harmonization. They’re playing (and humming) in E minor. The melody goes EF#|G_|EAG|F#_|_GF#|E_D|C_D|E_ (the notes with _ after them are the longer notes, | are bar lines, and the small c is an octave above the large C, all the other notes are in the intervening octave).  The harmony is GA|B_|GcB|A_|_BA|G_F#|EF#|G_.

 

1 hour ago, Annelies said:

Any advice for learning to identify harmony notes?

 

Harmony in thirds or sixths above or below the melody would be the first place to look. It won’t always identify all the harmony notes, but it’s a good place to start.

 

If you’re not familiar with the terminology, the words “thirds” and “sixths” count the notes at both ends of the interval, so a third is an interval two notes away (C and E, say) and a sixth is five notes away (C and A).

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Another approach that, I think, requires less thinking about is chord-based harmony.

 

If you have (or can work out) the chords that go with the melody then try playing one, or more, of the notes in that chord while playing the melody note.  Try sustaining one, or more of the chord notes over a few melody notes.  Try the same chord note in different octaves or try sound two of the same chord note in different octaves.  There is much more that can be done, but this is enough to begin playing harmonically.  Practice playing the whole chords for a while before trying to fit some chord notes to the melody.  

 

As a self-taught very late to the game musical learner, I find that I have to do this one measure at a time, slowly and thoughtfully until I am happy with the sound.  Then I need to write it down (I use Musescore) before moving on.  The next measure often causes me to re-consider the previous measure if I cannot find a comfortable way to finger the transition from one measure to another.  I also find that I need to be able to first play the melody on 'auto-pilot' before trying to fit the chord notes - my brain and my fingers cannot learn both sides simultaniously.

 

Chord shapes are easy and consistent on an EC, but the need to alternate between sides for the melody notes does make finding playable chord notes challenging. You will notice that, in your video, there are two ECs in play, one is playing the melody and the other playing the harmony.  If you are accompanying a singer then you generally only need to play harmony and the EC does that very well.

 

Here are some EC chord charts:

http://www.concertina.net/images/wm_english_chords_left.jpg

and

http://www.concertina.net/images/wm_english_chords_right.jpg

 

I started on an EC but find that I can make more progress with playing in the 'harmonic style' on a duet.  The Hayden and Crane duets in particular have regular, easy to remember shapes on the LHS, the Maccan and Jeffries have more 'interesting' layouts.


 

 

Edited by Don Taylor
Added links to chord charts
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an added advantage of the "chords" approach is that many tunes we all see are written out with a melody line along with a "guitar" chord. So a first approximation can be to play the chord  tonic (i.e. E for Em) as an accompaniment. 

After that, if you are playing an EC in the most common keys that dont have many sharp or flats, and you want to accompany the tune with lower notes (including at the same time you play the tune) ,  one of the low A,G,B, Bb, C#, E or Eb notes are usually in the written chords somewhere (i.e. as a third or a fifth) and you can usually manage to find one  of them that your fingers can drop onto relatively easily . 

 

 

 

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