Tunes written in harmony

Tunes written in harmony

I wonder if there are any tunes written for harmony here and how can I search for them please and thank you kindly🙂

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Re: Tunes written in harmony

You won’t find many post-1800 collections of tunes with harmony written in them.

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It just isn’t done. The reasons are both vexing and sad. Talking about why this is so just angers some people with political axes to grind. It would be best if you want to play traditional tunes with harmonies that maybe you learn some harmonic theory plus arrangement and composition skills and strike out on your own.

Some older, Pre-Famine tune collections will have harmony parts for some, but not all of their tunes.

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Have a look around the Petrucci site - certainly some tunes to be found with bass lines at least …
http://imslp.org/

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Yes. Joyce for example, or Bunting.

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There is an American collection of fife and contra dance tunes by Ralph Sweet called “The Fifer’s Delight.” It has a sister collection of harmonies to all the tunes called “The Fifer’s Delightful Companion.” Many of the tunes used in the fife and contra dance community come from the Irish and Scots traditions, so there are a lot of Irish tunes in there. And the harmony parts are pretty good. It’s not available on line, but it is about the only collection I know of that includes harmonies.
But you also have to recognize that in the Irish tradition, harmony is very rarely heard. This collection is an example of a cousin of Irish music, not a representation of something done at the heart of that tradition.

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…as I said, thank-you kindly…*backs out, facing the crowd.*

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Re: Tunes written in harmony

Suew, there is a notion among some players of trad Irish tunes that they should be played in unison. This is because these people see any sweetening of the tunes with accompaniment as an attack on a perceived purity of the culture.

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“This is because these people see any sweetening of the tunes with accompaniment as an attack on a perceived purity of the culture.”

Perhaps there is a certain ‘political’ aspect to harmony in traditional music. But surely the range of ornaments and articulations characteristic of traditional music has come about because of its purely melodic nature. The more harmony you add to the tunes, the less impact the ornamentation has, until the focus shifts entirely to the harmonisation and the ornamentation becomes redundant altogether.

So, yes, certain people may fight to the death for a rigid notion of what traditional music is. But, to use a gastronomic analogy, do you really want mustard on your popcorn?

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…. mustard on your pop-corn? no thanks. I don’t much like the sound of mandolin chords.

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Nothing wrong with mandolin chords. It just depends what you do with them. But playing backing chords isn’t quite the same thing as playing melodic harmony. I asked this same question a few weeks back but soon became convinced by the response that it’s just mostly not applicable to this kind of music. Best just drop the idea (well at least that’s what I decided)..

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Yes! I understand what you’re saying CreadurMawnOrganig but surely of more than one person is playing and ornamentating (?!), the unison is shot and an implied harmony is happening. And a melody played against a static drone implies dyads which may easily be heard as triads or higher extentions the more players playing. And no one ever considers what box players do with their basses as a vile foreign mutilation of the culture!
And as to the ‘political’ stance flavouring some people’s attitudes towards this music. I find it tedious and somewhat xenophobic.

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Suew – I don’t agree with yhaalhouse. Just for the record.

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Re: Tunes written in harmony

Gam, which bit do you disagree with? Or do you generally disagree with all I utter!?

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yhaalhouse – on the rare occasions that you talk sense, I usually agree. Here, however, I disagree that:
1) there is a notion
2) the notion is a) among some players of trad Irish tunes, and b) that anything should be played in unison.
3) this is because of anything
4) these people see any sweetening of the tunes with accompaniment
5) accompanying can be described as ‘sweetening’
6) these people see anything as an attack
7) even if they did, it would be anything to do with a perceived purity of the culture.
8) culture has purity, perceived or otherwise.
– Just about everything, in fact.

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What definition of harmony is meant here, chord/bass accompaniment or a counter melody either following the main melody but a fourth/fifth apart or a melody that is entirely different but harmonic?

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The occasional written out harmony parts in those older collections are rather simple, usually mere arpeggios. They could as well just have notated the chord names, or some basso continuo for that matter. I guess it was intended mainly for sight-reading piano players.

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My old fiddle teacher (that’s old as in ex rather than ancient) writes his own harmonies and gets his students to play them at concerts. He’s just published a book of them at: http://www.ebay.com/itm/191010689950 if you’re interested.

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Irish traditional music is about the melody line. Sure anyone can make up harmony parts, or play arpeggios behind the melody, or make up a descant or counterpoint, or add a bass instrument playing a bass line, or add a guitar or keyboard playing chords, but none of these things are indigenous to the music.

Now here in what I would call Mountain Music, old traditional fiddlers would oftentimes practice the art of playing ‘second fiddle’. Second fiddle parts are sort of a rhythmic drone which does however usually change with the perceived chord-changes in the melody.

But shadowing the melody with parallel 3rds or some such? It wouldn’t sound ‘right’ to the old players.

Give a listen to the Paddy Moloney/Sean Potts tinwhistle duet album. There’s loads of harmony-playing there. Is it Paddy doing the harmony playing? It’s brilliant. I don’t know if most Irish traditional musicians would regard it ‘traditional’ though.

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Here they are. You can clearly see Sean playing the melody and Paddy playing harmony.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EBIM4fufoRc


But the tune wasn’t ‘written in harmony’ that is, it’s a traditional tune that’s come down to us as a melody line only, and Paddy is improvising a harmony line. (Or perhaps he’s worked it out in advance; in any case I’m sure he’s the one who created the harmony part.)

Paddy does that all the time with The Chieftans. The fiddles and flute are playing the melody (be it an air, or reel, or whatever) and Paddy improvises behind the melody. Rarely could it be called ‘harmony’ in the pop music sense. More often it amounts to playing ‘licks’ like popping notes, playing trills on F# and E, playing crans on Bottom D, and other standard piping ‘licks’, done on notes other than the notes the melody-players are playing.

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Here you have the sort of thing Paddy does, call it what you will.

The pipes come in at 1:16 playing in unison more or less.

At 1:28 the pipes leave unison playing and Paddy ‘pops’ various 2nd octave notes and plays harmony on certain notes. It’s still not a ‘harmony part’ per se, not in the classical, jazz, or pop sense.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0wZblPr48OE

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I think its more of a case of jamming along and seeing what fits and sounds good than sitting down and writing a harmony based on the 3rd’s and 5ths and that type of thing.

Good luck

K

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I wouldn’t say that “jamming along” in a session context is advisable. Best to do a little analysis offline, figure out what you’re going to play, and rehearse it a few times with a friend or two. If you crash and burn because you didn’t prepare you will look like an eejit.

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No sorry I meant jam along with yourself…… record a tune… play it back …try playing over it everything you can like…bass lines… melodic variations…etc etc until you hit on something then write it down or try it with a friend.

I was thinking in regards to that Flook type stuff its pretty obvious that they must have just jammed together and messed about until they came up with stuff that sounded good. Then put it altogther and practiced it until it sounded good before playing it at a gig. In contrast to sitting down and working out a harmony like someone would do putting together a recorder ensemble or a string quartet.

However this is all a far cry from your average trad session. Again its what you like and what you want to do… one mans flook is another mans nightmare…is it a free for all jam in an informal session or more of a classical type performance were each player is reading a score? As reading is mentioned in the question…

Suew I’d say you’d have a far better chance of finding ‘written’ materials if you look into O’Carolan Tunes/Slow airs than jigs and reels.

Good luck

Good luck.

Back to the

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Sure, I just wanted to spell it out for any neophytes from a jazz/rock/jam band background: use a little planning and good manners or get lost.

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Ha, ha,… “good manners or get lost”… Eulic you have such a good way with words!

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Thanks : )

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I haven’t ever seen a copy of this but Dave Mallinson has several books by a man called Matt Seattle, in a series called tunes for pairs, that include a harmony line and chords. Not in a session, but do what you like at home, you might find them elsewhere, but this link gives you a description: http://www.mally.com/results.asp?CategoryID=39

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Have you heard of this man, Weejie?
The ‘Airs For Pairs’ series has its devotees. It’s not aimed at people whose prime activity is playing in sessions. I regard it as something of a bridge between formal music and traditional music, while recognising the limitations of such labels.

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“Have you heard of this man, Weejie?”

I invoke my right to remain silent.

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People have been talking about him for a long, long time, but I personally don’t think he exists. 😉

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This reminds me of the old question; Which comes first, the chicken or the egg? I’ve never spoken with any of the auld timers like Paddy Malone, but I believe this whole argument is open to interpretation. Having sat in one some sessions where everyone is playing the melody line becomes very boring after a while. Personally, a lot of our arrangements may start out with the main melody line being done by one or two or three different instruments, but then we diverge into harmony that supports the melody for the remainder of the tune. I look at it like this; Most of the tunes were transcribed to preserve the main melody line. The transcriber didn’t feel the need or have the ability to even supply a figured bass line let alone a harmony line or two. I firmly believe (and I’m sure there are purists who would crucify me for saying this), that it’s up to artistic license in how you want the song portrayed.

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Eggs were around millions of years before chickens!

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But something had to lay that egg. Thus we get into the perenial argument of divine creation vs. evolution. You must be a purist. I’ve tried crucifying myself, but I just can’t seem to get that last nail in.