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Distinctive Morris Chords


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I'm looking to those of you who actually know music theory to educate me.

 

What is it that gives Morris music played on the ANglo that special chordal quality? Is there a music term for those kinds of chords?

 

In a common tune like Monk's March, would you use "standard" chords -- G/D/C -- or something different? I'm trying to identify what it is that makes such tunes sound so different, chordally, from the way they'd sound on a piano.

 

Thanks.

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Hallo Jim,

After reading your posting out came my concertina to play it.I have not played it for years but what a great tune.

It really lends itself to full chords not low note then chord paticularly how it is danced.

Do you still dance it with a pint pot of ale and finish up by pooring what is left over your head?

We used to dance it in a pub with low beams and have to duck under each beam as it was danced.Your little posting has brought back a lot of memories.

Ta

Al

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Jim,

 

I'm not entirely sure what you mean by "that special chordal quality".

 

In playing for morris and other traditional english music, I add bass notes and chords as appropriate. I don't think the chords are different than you would add on a piano - e.g. when playing in G: G, D(7), C, Am, Em. Perhaps the difference is in the inversions and pitch used and in the rhythm.

 

I would for example used C and E bass notes with a C chord to give a first inversion and also G and B bass notes under a G chord.

 

Similarly the chords themselves often come out in different inversions and in different octaves than you might use on a piano. e.g. a C chord played on the push would be C2, E2, G2 but on the pull would be G2, C3, E3, a second inversion and higher pitch. In the same way a G chord on the push would be G2, B2, D3 and on the pull would be B1, D2, G2, a first inversion and lower pitch (I might also add an F to make it a 7th). All of the above on a 30 button C/G.

 

On the rhythmic side, I tend not to just stick to bass and chord but to put in block chords where they fit or to play parallel parts on right and left hand.

 

In Monks March (I play it in G on a G/D concertina) it would come out something like -

 

D2|G2GB|A2Ac|Bdge|d3c|BdBG|AcAF|G2G2|G3:|:

D |G B |D A |G B |D |G |D |G C |G :|:

D | G G | D D | G G|D |G |D |G C |G :|:

 

Bc|d>edc|B2B2|c>dcB|A2A2|d>edc|B2B2|cdec|A3D|

|G |B |C |D |G |E |A |D |

|G |G |C |D |G |Em |Am |D7 |

 

G2GB|A2Ac|Bdge|d3c|BdBG|AcAF|G2G2|G2:||

G B |D A |G B |D |G |D |G C |G :||

G G | D D| G G|D |G |D |G C |G :||

 

 

The first line is the melody, the second the bass note and the third the chord. As you can see, the second line is all block chords. (This isn't perfect in proportional spaced fonts but I hope you get the picture).

 

Hope this goes some way to answering your question.

 

Howard Mitchell

Derby, UK

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Howard: Thanks, that does help. I've been playing music for 35 years, but only recently have I realized what a disadvantage it is not to know music theory. Maybe it's time for a course at the local college.

 

Alan: Yes, Monks March is one of my favorites to play. I have a C/G, and play it in C, since I play solo and don't have to worry about finicky melodeon players. No, our group (Bluemont Morris) doesn't dance it with a pint pot; I guess they're getting too old for such frolics. They like to dance it with a lot of dramatic flare, playing for laughs, and it usually works.

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And just to show more possibilities, I am mad on bass runs with the chords for morris-style anglo.

 

Bc|d>edc|B2B2|c>dcB|A2A2|d>edc|B2B2|cdec|A3D|

|G |B |C |D |G |E |A |D |

|G |G |C |D |G |Em |Am |D7 |

 

(Ignoring the chords) I would play the B part with basses

 

Bc|d>edc|B2B2|c>dcB|A2A2|d>edc|B2B2|cdec|A3D|

|G|G#|A|D|G|E|C|D| or |G3 F#|E|C|D|

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I'm also a little puzzled by what Jim is getting at, but perhaps it has to do with the fact that on a piano, chords are usually open, meaning that the 1, 3, and 5 are not right next to each other but spaced out over several octaves. There is rarely room to do this on a concertina, so the chords are usually in closed position.

 

Here's an illustration.

post-4-1067369080.jpg

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I played around a bit with chords and melody, and one thing that's bothering me is that I feel that the melody line is drowning.

 

On a piano or a synthesizer, I can adjust the volume of the chords as I see fit, but on the Concertina, the melody reed has to be heard through three (or more) other reeds also playing.

 

Is this just a case of my being used to the fine tuned volume control, or is there a way to control the harmony volume?

 

--Dave

Edited by Dave Weinstein
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On a piano or a synthesizer, I can adjust the volume of the chords as I see fit, but on the Concertina, the melody reed has to be heard through three (or more) other reeds also playing.

A common problem. Some would suggest adding a baffle to the left side. I haven't found that necessary. I just play the notes a little shorter on the left, allowing the right hand notes to ring through.

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There is rarely room to do this on a concertina, so the chords are usually in closed position.

Not only are the chords usually closed, but the constrained choice of notes may also produce inversions that would not be used in a piano arrangement.

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