Counter Melody Bouzouki
How do i play melody
is there some kind of technique?
How do i play melody
is there some kind of technique?
Take the notes of the tune. Play them one after the other, sequentially, and in the order they appear in that tune. Also works for mandolin, fiddle, flute, whistle, pipes, banjo….
Ha. "Take the notes of the tune"? Ha. If it was that straight forward we could all get great pleasure in listening to the sh*te midi files here.
If you can get the turntable to go in reverse, in addition to finding that "Paul is dead," you should be able to find some countermelodies. 😉
….get some dvds of Planxty.
That’s a start.
I got a good start on bouzouki by using Zan McCloud’s instructional DVD. Once I got the basics, though, I kind of took off on my own, listening, experimenting.
@ AlBrown 🙂
If you want to play melody on the bouzouki, put the bag[pipes down, and vice versa.
One of the most important techniques I can think of is alternate picking, which may not be news to you. Improves the sound and feel of the tune no end, not to mention the added speed. Apart from that, there is the question of tuning. GDAE makes sense if you are only playing melody, but other tunings such as GDAD can be used for fancy accompaniments. One technique that is worth practicing is alternate picked triplets.
Another piece of advice is to use a thicker pick than you would use for chordal accompaniment - you don’t want the tip of the pick flexing too much around the place. It might also pay to hold it so there is less of the point showing, bringing your fingers a little closer to the strings and thereby giving you a bit more control.
Yea I think to get good at counter melody you probably will be looking at these sort of things..
Listening to what others have done and what you like and try to emulate their sound. You could try to copy not for note one piece that you like, then try transferring that idea to other tunes and develop your own ideas and sound. Listen to people like Andy Irvine, Donal Lunny, (Planxty is full of it and also some Bothy Band as well) Dervish who do a brilliant job of it particular when backing songs and maybe someone like Simon Mayer the mandolinist who has a couple of books out with harmonies written out which may be useful to look at. Also someone like Alex Finn has developed a great style when backing tunes.
Experiment with a tune, play a cd of a tune on a loop and just keep playing over it until you come up with stuff you like and think works, and of course disregard what you think doesn’t work.
Think about why something works is it because the tune is a ascending and the counter melody is descending? Is it because it’s in the same key or a related key? Try playing the chords shapes that fit the tune.
I heard Donal Lunny once say that during the days of Planxty him and Andy Irvine were really just jamming all the time and experimenting and they just started to make discoverires all over the place.
If you wanted to go the ‘extra mile’ you could have a look at studying the basics of harmony and counter melody theory , people like Bach had mastered that in a amazing way, though it may be different with Irish music which is mainly modal music I’m pretty sure a lot of the same principles would apply.
But probably the easiest way is to listen to someone you like and try to figure out what they are doing and then develop your own style from that, don’t be afraid to try things and experiment.
Of course, none of us know what stage you are at with the bouzouki. But, I think, one of the essential things to interesting backing is to free yourself from the shackles of basic chord ‘shapes’. Chord shapes are certainly a useful way to get to a chord quickly - and the more ways of playing each chord you have in your arsenal, the better.
But you should also learn to work from first principles; pay attention to what chords are formed by the notes of the melody, and what notes are in each chord. Think of coutermelody as being a route from one chord to the next, but a slightly different route from the melody itself - sometimes parallel, sometimes converging, sometimes diverging. This may be a rigourous intellectual process for a while, but you’ll soon develop an ‘ear’ for it.
Play with a melody player, in your kitchen. If you can find a willing player, ask them to come over and play tunes for a few hours, and just try to work out what’s right.
Here’s a recipe for experimentation that might be useful:
Pick a tune that you can hear, harmonically - something that tells you the chords before they happen. Get your friend to play that, in as simple a setting as possible while keeping the life in the tune. You don’t want a MIDI file, but you also don’t want their Molloy, fourth-time-through, kitchen sink version.
Now, start by playing the root notes of the chords as you hear them, on the beats. Listen to the way those sound, then try moving instead to the nearest note of the next chord, still on the beats. If the tune starts on a G, then goes to a D, then to C, you’ll just play G, then A, then G again, and so forth. There will always be two options, up or down (or staying put), so just go to the one that makes sense at the moment, but stay on the beat for now, and always go to a nearest note. Next time through, try a different path.
This will sound terrible, but it’s a way to start.
After you’ve played through the tune a few times this way, take a break, pour your friend another beer if they need it, and try again. This time, don’t worry so much about moving to a closest note, but stay on the beat. See what you find playing that way.
After you’ve done this a few times, stop limiting yourself to the downbeats. You always want to know where the beat is, but you don’t want to be hammering away at it all the time. Start trying to hear where the tune wants you to play.
Finally, some things to avoid:
- don’t try to work out the chords from the sheet music. You can maybe get some ideas from the dots, but it’ll suggest all sorts of wrong ideas as well. Your ear needs to be trained, but once trained it’ll be correct. The dots never learn.
- don’t try to break the tune down into bits. The tunes aren’t bits, they’re tunes. They look like a series of static points if you think of them as bar one, bar two, bar three, but they’re not, any more than a mountain is a series of elevations or a river is a series of bends.
- don’t get too wrapped in theory. It’s good to know about that stuff, as a guide, but it’ll lead you astray a lot of the time if you believe in it instead of the tune. Believe in the tune, everything else is a suggestion.
Bach meets the Bouzouki….That could be very interesting stuff!
sorry about the typo i meant "Counter" melody
great advice anyway tho
A nice primer on the subject: