Accompaniment for the Butterfly

Accompaniment for the Butterfly

Jeff suggested the slip jig The Butterfly in Em, so lets talk about chords for this tune.

I basically would use Em, D and Bm in 1st part
Em, Bm, G 2nd part
Em/G, C 3rd part

And you? I’ve heard people talking about using Bbm instead of Em or something called alternative chords? What is that all about then?

Re: Accompaniment for the Butterfly

BbM for Em? That would sound strange indeed.

If you’re one of those who plays a C natural instead of a D as the 2nd note of the 2nd section, the matter of which chord to play there becomes interesting. I tend to use C Maj 7, but that’s a bit jazzy for some. Then again, so is the choice of that note! In general, here’s how I accompany that one (each chord for a dotted eighth):

1st part:
Em Em D - all measures (a little dull, but I like to let the melody carry it)

2nd part:
CMaj7 Em G | CMaj7 Em Bm | CMaj7 Em G | CMaj7 G Bm |

3rd part:
Em Em D | Em Em D/F# | G G D | G G D/F# |

Next?

Jeff

Re: Accompaniment for the Butterfly

What? D as the second note of the second section? That seems almost sacriligeous. That C nat gives the second section that lifting, suspended feeling. It should be B2=c e2^f g3 etc. (I have written the accidentals in, although you wouldn’t if it is just written in e-minor = one sharp). I know the tune was written by Sean Potts, but I have never heard a recording by him/the Chieftains. I know it best from the Bothy Band’s 1975 album. They definitely use c natural. They also seem to vary the chording a little, especially in the third part. I am not very good at hearing chords, but I wouldn’t be suprised if they played bm instead of em at the beginning of the third part. Have you tried that Jeff?

Re: Accompaniment for the Butterfly

I would agree with the choice of C7 with the Bb - amazing chordal variation - but not to be overused!

Many we should let others discuss this before we move onto another tune? (Although if you post a suggestion I’ll pffer a response).

Re: Accompaniment for the Butterfly

C7 with the Bb where? I’m not getting it …

I’ve heard, on the 2nd section, an Am (or Am7) to Bm(7) being used, sometimes then going to Cma7. Something like this: Am7 Am7 Bm7 | Cmaj7 Cmaj7 Bm7| …etc. (This is for the part where the melody goes B2 c e2 f| ~g3). I haven’t heard the Bothy Band version, but I heard somewhere that they use something like that.

I also can’t see how you could substitute a Bbm for an Em. A Bm over an E pedal is nice, but jazzy - it makes a pretty Em9 voicing. In fact, that’s a trick for complex-but pretty chords: given a minor 7th chord, substitute the minor triad (not 7th!) a fifth above, over the original root. Also works for major 7th chords, using the major chord a fifth above. So Em7 becomes Bm/E, Cma7 becomes G/C, etc.

ARRGH! You had to get me started! I LOVE chordal theory. One of the reasons I switched from bass to Chapman Stick.

A caution/opinion here, though: I love the melody of the Butterfly, and I’d hate to overburden it with overly creative chord changes. If I were going to accompany it on Stick, or guitar, one thing I might try would be to get a quarter - eight pulse going on a pedal E, quietly, and then overlay the chords mentioned in the above posts, played up on the neck, with as few changes as possible, trying to get an sparce, airy sort of feeling anchored rhythmically by the pedal pulse.

But I think I’d rather play the melody on my low whistle. I LOVE that tune!


Joe (who gets butterflies in the stomach anytime he has to actually show what he’s talking about!)

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Re: Accompaniment for the Butterfly

I don’t think there’s a Bb anywhere in The Butterfly if you’re playing it in e minor. I meant to use a C Major 7 chord in the 2nd section.

Bloomfield, there are indeed versions out there with a B instead of the c-natural. I agree, it’s much better with the c! I haven’t tried a b minor for the first chord of part 3 - but I will!

Jeff

Re: Accompaniment for the Butterfly

Wow! I’ve been told that accompaniment for trad. music was rather dull! There seems to be as much variation possible as there is in the tunes.

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Irina: This is true. It actually can be a problem: these tunes don’t come with chords. So you gotta make them up. That’s where all this variation comes from. It’s also problematic when you have 2 accompaniment instruments in a band or session; they have to agree on the arrangement. (And in a session, nobody’s going to give them time to discuss it, so they gotta do it on the fly.)

So accompaniment is sort of an as-yet uncodified part of the tradition; it hasn’t had time to set, the way most of the tunes have. So there’s room for experimentation, and the experimentation comes with the usual exciting innovations and excesses.

In the Chiff and Fipple discussion board, there was a tongue-in-cheek discussion on the use of the C#dim7 in accompanying "The Butterfly". I laughed, but when I tried it, it worked in sort of a wierd way! Of course, it sounded like Jazz, not IrTrad.

Hmm, maybe I’ll throw "The Butterfly" into my next jazz set …

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Re: Accompaniment for the Butterfly

That depends on who’s doing the accompaniment, Irina! And even then you won’t get too many people to agree on much of it.

I’m enjoying this. Keep with The Butterfly, you guys, until you see if you can come up with a definitive version for this group — you might try posting chords in ABC to show where you mean to change them, all.

How many "open" chord adherents to we have and how many "fancy" chord types? What sort of strumming patterns do you use?

Zina

Re: Accompaniment for the Butterfly

jomac,
I love the Butterfly on the low D, too. By the way, what kind of a low D do you have? I have a Kerry and am pretty happy with it, great sound, although the windway is very small (clogging…) and it is bloody hard to keep that whistle in tune in the upper register (above the g).

As for the third part, I meant Bm, not Bbm. It should work because the melody basically goes "Bm"B3 B2A "Em"G2A | "Bm"~B3 BAB etc…

Jeff, let me know when you try this. I’m curious and don’t play accompaniment myself. :-)

Re: Accompaniment for the Butterfly

Jeff et al, thought you might enjoy hearing an MP3 copy of a tape that my teachers Matt and Shannon Heaton made for me of The Butterfly. They threw it on in two minutes before they left the apartment to come over to my place one morning, and this was done completely on the fly and in a hurry.

http://www.zinalee.com/sounds/butterfly.mp3

It’s 1120K, mind. But I thought perhaps it might be useful or at least interesting for you to hear Matt’s accompaniment for it.

Zina

Re: Accompaniment for the Butterfly

Great discussion folks. Maybe you could consider doing the next discussion in the ‘Tunes’ section, under the ‘comments’ section for the tune. That way, they are directly connected with the tune…?

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The MP3 is beautiful. The accompanyment sounds very modern to me, with open-e chords, ninth chords, etc. This is probably OK, since the guitar comping is not part of the tradition, right?

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That’s a great arrangement - sorta Jethro Tull does Irtrad. I especially liked the "Stairway to Heaven" chord progression in the last section!

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This has been such a cool thread, and that MP3 was the peak of it. Wow. Why can’t we get stuff like that in all of the threads?

Joe (who forgot what chords he was going to suggest)

PS: For Bloomfield: I have a Howard. I’ve had it for about a month now. I generally love it, but wish the hi B wasn’t quite so sharp.

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Re: Accompaniment for the Butterfly

Before I gave the MP3 a listen I thought I had a great accompaniment for the 3rd part… I

Re: Accompaniment for the Butterfly

Well, keep in mind that Matt would probably tell you to go with whatever sounds great to you. Matt studied guitar at Northwestern and has been playing for a very very long time. He’s a wonderful teacher, and of course a rippin’ guitarist. He played in the Chicago favorite rock band The Flavor Channel, played in a tango band and has played everything from jazz to classical to Irish. He’s pretty amazing, and of course Shannon is a lovely fluter. (She also studied at Northwestern.) Conal O’Grada listened to one of her tracks off the first Siucra album (new one comes out in the spring) and told me that "that girl can sure play, I’ll give her that!"

Next time I talk to Matt, if you like I’ll see if he’ll climb online here and comment, perhaps.

Zina

Re: Accompaniment for the Butterfly

Golden Keyboard, I just noticed that no one answered your original question about alternative chords.

Now, keeping in mind that I’m no accompanist, and certainly no guitar player, but when I hear my husband Pete and Matt talking, alternative chords seem to mean other ways of fingering the "open" chords, the general "big" chords. They’re much like chord inversions on the keyboard. They give a different sound to the chord, of course, a different feel as well. It seems that you can become much more inventive with the "fancy" chords at that point, much like the third part of the Butterfly MP3.

Does one of you actual guitar types have a different take on that?

Zina

Re: Accompaniment for the Butterfly

I’d love for Matt to get involved with this discussion. I can’t get over how gorgeous that MP3 was.

I’ve been doing some experimentation, and I even did a quick and dirty recording using my low-D whistle and my Stick which I’ll post over at the chiff-and-fipple clips’n’snips, as soon I figure how to get it from my Xoom PS02 to my confuser. On the Stick, I sort think pianistically (albeit with a heavy bass orientation as well) then chordally, so I’ll have to leave it to the sound sample to show what I came up with.

I guess that brings up a point of sorts, though: The voicing makes a kind of obligato countermelody on it’s own, intended to complement (but not obscure) the tune. Does anybody like to play with that kind of concept?

Let’s start another thread (keeping this one going if everybody wants) giving the same treatment to a reel! Any suggestions?

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Re: Accompaniment for the Butterfly

The Butterfly, also called The Red Admiral Butterfly, is basically a very old tune called Bob and Joan (Ceol Rince Na hEireann vol. 1, tune #63). Thomas Moore used the tune Bob and Joan for his song "Fill The Bumper Fair". Other songs to the tune are "The Rakes of Stony Batter", and many found in Ireland, England, Scotland, and even America, as "The Patriotic Diggers", 1812.
"Its Scots tune seems to be first found
in book 3 of Walsh’s >, c 1740, as
"The Key of the Cellar." It is also one of the tunes in a
Scottish dance tune MS of 1740, compiled by David Young,
and now in the Bodleian Library, Oxford."
So, the Butterfly is really quite old, predating Potts’ rendition. If you listen to Thomas Moore’s "Fill The Bumper Fair", you’ll see how unchanged it is. Sound clips can be heard on the ‘net; try searching CDNow.

At our session, we play it with the C natural as the second note in part B. The chords I play are:
A part - Em, D, Em D, Em, D, G, D. B part - C, G, C, D, C, Em, D. C part - Em, D, Em, G, D. Maybe that’s a plain vanilla accompaniment, but I like it.

Alice Flynn

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Alice: What an erudite history, thanks! I like your accompaniment as well, though I like to throw more G’s into part 3 to contrast more with part 1.

Joe

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Joe, Andy Irvine was just in town and gave two workshops, one on voice and one for accompanists. Someone asked him about accompanying tunes, and he said that he doesn’t really consider himself an accompanist for tunes. He prefer to "fill in" on the bouzouki, something between the accompaniment and the melody of the tune. And so I think it does become very obligato-ish. I’ll have to go through the tape of the workshop and see if I can find his exact comment.

Zina

Re: Accompaniment for the Butterfly

I think what is meant by "alternative chords" is the same as chord substitution. For instance, Bm7 is basically the same as D6 and the two can be used interchangeably. The same goes for many other chord combinations, some of which are just different names for the same combinations of notes, and some of which are different by a note or two which fancies up the harmony a bit (try using a GMaj7 in place of a Bm sometime). My jazz-playing friends know the theory behind this much better than I do, so if you know any jazz players, ask them!

Jeff

Re: Accompaniment for the Butterfly

Zina: Yes, please let me know if you find the exact comment, I’d be very interested. He seems to be getting away from the "what chords shall I use" method and getting into a more fluid approach.

My approach is not necessarily like his (obviously, since I’m not sure what his approach is) but even when I played guitar, I liked to come up with accompaniment that was more than just strumming chords. To me, it was a more complete package: trying to come up with interesting-but-solid rhythm mixed with chords maybe mixed with hopefully-not-too-intrusive runs mixed with … whatever. In pop music, I’ve always loved good rhythm, or accompaniment guitar, more than I liked lead. People like John Fogarty, Keith Richards, James Taylor — even Eddie Van Halen, who is known as such an awesome lead player, but his rhythm work is very tasty. They’ve all got a flow to their rhythm work.

Changing the subject, Jeff: I think there may be a subtle difference between alternative chords and chord substitution, especially the way jazz players do substitution. (I played a lot of jazz myself.) I guess what I’m saying is that if you try to do chord substitution like the jazzers do it (and I could expound on how to do that in far greater detail >), you’ll end up sounding like hard-core jazz. In Irtrad, we’re in an interesting position, because the tunes weren’t originally written with a specific set of chords in mind, other than those suggested by the melody. So we just play what sounds right, and there are lots of choices. Oh, there is theory that can suggest alternatives, and it is similar to some of the jazz chord substitution techniques: In the Butterfly, for example, we can mix - and -match Em with G, or D with Bm, or C with Am, etc. But you wouldn’t want to do a tritone substitution - a favorite jazz trick - where you’d substitute an Ab7 in place of a D7. Unless you wanted to sound far too hip!

Joe (who’s so hip he has trouble getting through doorways)

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Re: Accompaniment for the Butterfly

I play the butterfly in DADGAD tuning because im only ever playing on my own. Do you think this would work when playing along side a whistle? Or is it better to play as instructed above?

Re: Accompaniment for the Butterfly

I just found this feed and am really interested in your ideas. Unfortunately the mp3 of Matt and Shannon Heaton is not available anymore. I’d be really interested in this accompaniment. As JeffK627 described it as Jethro Tull/Stairway to heaven like I’d really like to listen to it. Can anyone help, please?