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Harmonizing a ninth


niftyprose
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Hello guys, I'm presently working on my own Anglo arrangement of "The Red Flag" (US readers will know the tune as "Tannenbaum"). It's a simple enough tune, but this is the very first time I've done a concertina arrangement and I'm learning that it's a very different proposition from arranging for guitar, because of having fewer octaves to play with. 

 

The specific problem with which I'm grappling: key of C; a number of bars start hard on D; I can't put C in the bass because it sounds as a second rather than the ninth intended by the tune's composer and the results are unpleasant, to my ears at least. 

 

I've adopted the old jazz trick of playing the third and seventh of the accompanying chord to imply tonality without stating the tonic, thus E and B in the bass. It sounds OK, despite what ought to be another clash between the D and the E.

 

I wondered if anyone has a better suggestion?

 

Best, NP.

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Try by ear and instinctive feel rather than too much worry over theoretical approach; at least I would say. Myself I improvise chords to tunes quite often and find a stock number of useful; chords for keys that seem to sound fine, and I stick with them! Otherwise, I can refer to music books which have all the parts in them and study chords from that. And I admit, half the time, I could not tell you a minor from a major chord or this or that, but I listen to how it feels, and go by that also. I think that sometimes transferring an approach from other instruments which already have a long historical method readily attached to them may not [ in my opinion] always suit the concertina.

 

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On 1/12/2023 at 12:08 PM, niftyprose said:

... a number of bars start hard on D; I can't put C in the bass ...

 

To me the obvious chords to try would be G or Dm. Or a simple countermelody.

 

On 1/12/2023 at 12:08 PM, niftyprose said:

... this is the very first time I've done a concertina arrangement and I'm learning that it's a very different proposition from arranging for guitar ...

 

Yes, it's very different, but not for the reason you suggest. The guitar is strong on percussive sound and (relatively) weak on pitch, so note clashes like C - D can sound OK or even positively effective. The concertina is very much stronger on pitch, and clashes come out as exactly that, unless they are obviously and quickly resolved (as for example in a suspended 4th.)

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I don't play that particular tune so I don't know the context.  However, the two most important lessons I have learned about arranging tunes on Anglo are:

1)  No accompaniment for a beat or even for a bar is often a good option.  If a note is hard to harmonise, then let it sound alone.

2) An octave always works.

 

Before learning these two simple rules, I was often agonising over a moment in the music that is over before the listener even notices.

 

More technically, it is often acceptable to have the accompaniment leading into the next chord.  A moment of dissonance is often OK if it resolves a moment later.

 

One of the many delights of playing the Anglo harmonically is working within its limitations and producing that distinctive Anglo sound.  If we wanted harmonic perfection, we'd probably be playing duets or accordions.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hello guys, thank you all for the thoughtful replies. I'm sorry for this belated ack. (Personal turbulence.)

 

I'm still working on my simple arrangement, which I'll post here in due course. I'm re-tuning my ears in line with the comments above.

 

I fear I will have to compromise a bit on my original objective, which was to capture the sound of the Robert Wyatt version from 'Nothing Can Stop Us'. Oh well. 

 

Best, NP.

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