Some notes on chord substitutions in accompanying fiddle tunes. Know chords by number is very useful because if you think in numbers, and know how the numbers relate to each key, then what you learn in one key is instantly applicable to other keys. In Nashville, this was adopted as an easy way to deal with accompaniments and called the "Nashville number system". But since long before that, if you take Music Theory classes, the first thing you do master numbers, and then refer to a chord by letter only if you're explaining how the chord works in a specific key. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 I II III IV V VI VII C Major: C Dm Em F G Am Bdim G Major: G Am Bm C D Em F#dim D Major: D Em F#m G A Bm C#dim A Major: A Bm C#m D E F#m G#dim E Major: E F#m G#m A B C#m D#dim The "theory" of what chords may follow a chord: Here are chord sequences that cover typical harmonizations. Note that the final judge is yourself: if it sounds good to you, it's right, if it sounds bad, it's not. Using these sequences (and having them ingrained in your head) can help you predict what might sound good to you. Typical traditional chord sequences: One-to-five Numbers: I V In G: G D Five-to-one Numbers: V I In G: D G (This is termed a cadence, and is the chord sequence that suggests the end of a piece or the end of a section of a piece. Ending with V "leaves you hanging") Four-to-one Numbers: IV I In G: C G Down a fifth: Numbers: V I -or- VI II -or- III VI etc. In G: D G Em Am Bm Em Down a third: Numbers: I VI -or- VI IV -or- IV II etc. In G: G Em Em C C Am Up a second: Numbers: IV V -or- V VI etc. In G C D D Em Modern/popular chord sequences: Blues: Numbers: V IV I In G: D C G One-to-three: (first two chords of Puff The Magic Dragon) Numbers: I III In G: G Bm Descending chords in minor keys: Numbers: I VII VI V In A minor: Am G F Em -or- Am G F E Chord substitutions: Most common is down a third or up a third, i.e. Use VI instead of I (for example, in G major, using Em instead of G) Others: Down a fifth (e.g. IV instead of I) Up a third (e.g. III instead of I) Up a fifth (e.g. V instead of I) Other: Using Vsus4 chord instead of I or V Using V instead of I at the end of a part (When you use V or Vsus4 instead of I at the end of a part, and then the next part starts with I, then you have rearranged the cadence so that the chords "flow" (resolve) into the next part. This is very commonly used in contradance accompaniment, making each part lead into the next) Some of the easiest tunes to modify the chords on are the tunes that have a chord that lasts for lots of beats, i.e. the chord stays the same. For example, if the tune stays on I for a long time, moving down a third or down a fifth can give it some variety. There are some longer chord sequences, that fit with a whole part (16 beats) or half a part (8 beats) are very commonly used. Our ear is used to these sequences, so even if they don't quite "fit" with the melody notes, your mind senses the familiarity of chord sequence and "makes" them fit. This is especially true of notey tunes like fiddle tunes: there's probably some notes going on in the tune that fit the chords. (This latter is a reason so many different chord sequences fit the same tune.) If the sequence doesn't quite fit a melody, it can often be tweaked to do so, with chord substitutions (e.g. Vsus4 for V) or by changing the rhythm. Accompanists who vary the chords typically think in terms of sequences of four or eight beats, and to some extent, can hear in their mind if a particular sequence might sound good with a particular part of a tune. This skill comes with practice and repetition as your mind "files away" the sounds of the chord sequences. Common sequences: Ascending chords, four beats per chord: I I I I II II II II III III III III IV IV IV IV A typical continuation: V V V V VI VI VI VI Vsus4 Vsus4 Vsus4 Vsus4 V V V V A variation on ascending chords, to make the sequence lead to V: I I I I II II II II III III III III IV IV V V A typical continuation: VI VI VI VI V V V V IV IV IV IV V V V V Ascending chords, two beats per chord: I I II II III III IV IV "Heart and soul" chords: I I VI VI IV IV V V "Heart and soul" chords, four beats per chord: I I I I VI VI VI VI IV IV IV IV V V V V Up three: I I I I III III III III IV IV IV IV V V V V or ("Puff"): I I I I III III III III IV IV IV IV I I I I "Universal" accompaniment: (over 7 means low note is 7th note of the scale) I V(over 7) IV(over 6) V IV I(over 3) II V I V(over 7) IV(over 6) V IV II V I Another version: I I(over 7) VI V IV III II V I I(over 7) VI V IV II V I (This 2nd version is like the first, but with some rather typical chord substitutions)
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To be held at Canaan Road Wed Oct 1st 2008 7:00 - 9:30 pm
Instructors: John Wobus on guitar and piano with guest fiddler Brenna O’Toole from Rochester — this will be in place of the regular Wednesday jam session from 7:00-9:30 pm — all instruments welcome. John is an expert on music theory and will cover the theory behind what works and what doesn’t for alternate fun chords! Sheet music and other instructional aids provided. $10- suggested donation.
Email for directions - RSVP’s are greatly appreciated firstname.lastname@example.org