Irish guitar chord progressions

Irish guitar chord progressions

I have been playing guitar for about a year, and I know all my basic chords, plus a few more. However, when I look at some ITM guitarists, they seem to be doing chords up and down the neck of the guitar. Does anyone have some good suggestions for a chord progression for, say, the Congress reel?

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There are two or three different questions here really.
One is; is a guitar essential in ITM ? No is the answer, ITM is an essentially melodic tradition.
Another is; what are all these guys doing up and down the neck ? Hopefully, just playing inversions of the same chords that you know already.
And the third is; can you give me the chord progressions for all the tunes ? No, you’ll have to work them out for yourself, like the rest of us. Why don’t you just learn a melody instrument instead ?

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I would guess that JohntheFiddler already does that.

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They play up and down the neck because that’s where the chord they want is. 🙂
An open Em sounds a lot different than an Em barred at the 7th fret. Same chord, different sound.
Also many ITMers use DADGAD, Dropped D, or other tunings that may require moving around a little more than open chords in standard tuning.

Member AlBrown has an excellent intro to sessions and backing guide in his profile. It should give you some basic rules for figuring out chords.

I don’t know the Congress reel, but it’s in Ador, so probably a bunch of Am and some G.

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"I don’t know the Congress reel, but it’s in Ador, so probably a bunch of Am and some G."

Best advice so far.

JohntheFiddler - a lot of tunes are pretty predictable in the way you almost instantly know which chords you can use even for tunes you haven’t heard before. The trick is knowing when to change chords - something which (if you’re a good accompanyist) will be crystal clear after one round, maximum two. For a tune like Congress reel, there really shouldn’t be a problem at all (it’s one of those tunes you’ll conquer with just two chords), but this being said, I’ve heard a lot of attempts at such tunes and people still either change to early or too late. I don’t get it.

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Well, shades of Llig….ask a question and get your leg bit off…

John, I suppose some would tell you that by giving you a straight-forward answer to the question you really asked, I’m a) guilty of encouraging you to pursue a worthless pastime (or at least one that is a long way from being essential—always keep in mind you will never be essential to this music, and if you ever forget, just ask here, and several people will be glad to remind you…) and b) dooming you to abject failure by trying to render assistance instead of telling you to just learn it yourself and stop asking questions.

But since some very nice and talented people showed me some chords along the way (lessons, I think they called it), it seems reasonable to pass this on to you. ( I don’t claim a lot of talent in this area, mind you.)

Compared to some guitarists I have seen, this is pretty basic and straight-forward, but gives a little variety. As I said, I’ve seem much more complex back-up, but I’m not a fan of a too-busy string of guitar chords (distracting, to me).

One chord per beat:
A part:
AmAmAmAm\GGGG\FFFF\EmEmGG#\
AmAmC(high)D\GGEmG\AmAmAmAm\FFGAm\

B Part- same general idea.

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While you can stay pretty much in first position all the time, there are lots of nice chords up and down the neck in standard tuning, and those tuned in DADGAD are often moving up and down the neck. It all depends on how you want to sound.
But far important than those fancy voicing of the chords, and creating moving notes and patterns in the accompaniment, is the need to keep a good steady beat, and complement the melody without detracting from it or overpowering it.
In accompanying this music, simplicity is a virtue, not a vice.

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Thanks for your input everyone, I learned some dadgad chords and found exactly what I’m looking for.

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ITM is as noted above essentially a melodic tradition, but I believe guitar certainly has a place. Each tune has its own rhythm and it is encoded in the melody itself. The guitar can support that intrinsic rhythm or detract from it, depending on how you play. If you learned guitar as many of us did through chordal accompaniment of popular, folk, and rock music, you may find it hard to accept that you must forget a lot of what you learned in order to contribute to ITM. Listening to Donal Lunny, I have always been most impressed more by what he doesnt play than what he does. One of the advantages of bouzouki is the fifth tuning, which provides for a good rhythmic underpinning without too much clustering of harmonic information. With six string guitars, even with open tuning, there is a much denser complex of harmonics, and they can detract from the expression of the tune’s intrinsic rhythm.

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I took a great workshop last week at the Saltwater Fest in Portland Maine. The instructor was from The Acadia Trad School from Bar Harbor Maine. He uses drop d tuning and showed me many great chords to accompany trad tunes.
I had the pleasure of meeting Jim Malcolm (formerly with The Old Blind Dogs) at the New Hampshire Highland Games several weeks ago. He likes DADGAD. He has a song book out that has an instructional DVD on DADGAD.
Last but not least I belong to JamPlay.com for on-line lessons. There is an entire section taught by Steve Eulberg on Celtic guitar. He has a section on open g tuning which is very good. He teaches a bunch of tunes and teaches both rhythm and melody. They are video based lessons.
Hope this helps!

Cheers!

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I have to second CleverName and recommend (as I have a few times before) to read AlBrown’s guide (in his profile). I am a long time but now ex-guitarist (too busy fiddlin) but I couldn’t easily adapt from rock to Irish stuff. But I know enough to see that AlBrown hits all the nails on the head.

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DO NOT PLAY ANY Fmajor CHORDS in this tune!

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Completely agree, yhaalhouse.

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Looking through the comments there seems to be a general attitude that the guitar can only be used rhythmically to accompany the melody but you have to remember that the guitar can play the melody as well. Indeed the whole thing about guitars is that they can play the melody and chords together.

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[*Looking through the comments there seems to be a general attitude that the guitar can only be used rhythmically to accompany the melody but you have to remember that the guitar can play the melody as well. Indeed the whole thing about guitars is that they can play the melody and chords together.*]

Good post, khasab! I agree entirely 🙂

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Yes, ayedbl, whilst the F# notes in the tune are in fairly inconsequential places so that your F chords don’t really clash, I would have to say that that Am - G - F progression is, in the opinion of this member and many others on this forum, really naff and should only be used when absolutely unavoidable (like when a tune is in Am and there are F notes on the beat).
Stick with Am and G with maybe an Em here and there and concentrate on the rhythm (or pick out bits of melody as suggested above). Personally, sometimes I like to play over an A drone and use x079xx and x057xx in place of Am and G with the occasional x047xx (D/A) thrown in before the G.

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DonaldK I’m not suggesting that guitarists " pick out bits of melody ", although , of course, you could. I’m saying guitars are capable of playing the entire melody and chords.

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Apologies, khasab, for misquoting you. I think, though that in a session setting I would either play back up (chords and rhythm) or melody, but not both at the same time. I’m not good enough to do that and be heard above the other melody instruments.

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I would recommend concentrating on playing bass lines that support the melody and move the chords along. This is possible playing largely in open position, but knowing a bunch of inversion voicings would be very helpful.

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Just….

1) Realize that less is more, so don’t think you’ve got to catch every "correct" chord change as it goes by, plus you don’t have to always hit triads — diads are OK too, especially since melody players will sometimes differ on whether the third should be flatted or not.

2) And getting the rhythm down and groove-like is way more important than covering all the chords. What melody players don’t want is a guitarist who’s thinking about the chords all night, to the detriment of the groove.

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When in Ador the F# notes are not ‘inconsequential’. They are one of the notes in the mode. And employing a chord choice such as F natural major is WRONG! The appropriate harmony choices are constructed out of the notes of the mode. Using a chord spelt F A C (F major triad) is never appropriate. It’s like trying to make a Bb chord work in (e.g. Paul McCartney’s Let it Be (in diatonic Cmajor)!!! This particular error always indicates those that reallyprefer Led Zep to the Old Copperplate.

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No apologies needed 🙂 . You’re right. It would depend on the arrangement and which other instruments were playing etc as the guitar is a lot quieter than many other instruments especially in an ‘unplugged’ pub session. And of course sometimes providing the rhythm is what the guitarist should be doing.
I was just pointing out that it is possible for the guitar to play both melody and chords, but I would imagine doing that only occasionally, not on every tune. Guitarists could switch from one to the other depending on the situation. And if you were a working band, using mics would help to bring out the quieter guitar.
By chance I was just looking at a video of Lúnasa where they’re using an acoustic guitar with a pick up fitted. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xPjWeZx5XRI

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I would go as far to say the an F major chord is wrong in every A dorian tune. which means basically almost every Irish tune in Am, bar the odd exception tile Tamlin and the occasional jig . The tune is where its at and the chords are merely there to back up the melody , to support the tune. Any other Am tune suggestions where an F is appropriate ?

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yhaalhouse -while I generally agree with you about not using an F chord in A dorian tunes, I must point out that Let It Be does in fact have a Bb Major chord in it.

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@Will Evans:
"I would go as far to say the an F major chord is wrong in every A dorian tune. which means basically almost every Irish tune in Am, bar the odd exception tile Tamlin and the occasional jig ."

I’m not defending anyone’s right to play an F major chord at will in tunes with A as the tonal center, but somehow 51 pages with tunes in Am gives me a hint that it’s OK. (compared to 78 pages with tunes in Ador)

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F major chords should be used very sparingly, if at all, in A dorian tunes. They were once quite popular. Then for a time, some accompanists felt that an F major 7 chord was a quite trendy thing to throw into A dorian tunes. But where F#s are present, the F major chords clash, and even where there is no F# to clash with, F major chords tend to take the nice ambiguity of the tune’s chord structure, and press it into a classical minor feel.
Jeff, where to those page counts come from? This site? If so, I would be willing to bet that many of those A minor tunes, if you look at them closely, are actually A dorian, or perhaps A ‘ambiguously minor,’ lacking either an F or F# to put them clearly into one mode or another.

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yhaalhouse, I meant the F#s in The Congress. They’re never on the beat and are always followed by G. In wasn’t saying that I would play an F chord - I probably wouldn’t even play one in an Am tune unless unavoidable. Having said that, I’ve heard plenty of professional trad musicians playing F naturals in A dorian tunes. On Transatlantic Sessions when they played Dolina Mackay they started the fourth part with an Fmaj7 chord. It worked, to a certain extent, even though it feels like an A dorian tune. But least they didn’t go Am - G - F.
And, as 5stringfool said above (beat me to it - I’m just back from a gig), Let It Be has a Bb chord in that F - C/E -Dm7- C - Bb - F/A - G - F - C progression just before the instrumental break.

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Of course there’s a chance that some the pure Am tunes are dorian (or something else), but there are tunes in Am whether you like it or not. And that F chord (C in Eminorish tunes, Bb in Dminorish tunes and so on) has been around for ages.

I wonder if people have an issue with the possible clash or the function of the chord in relation to a tonic minor. If the latter, we should ban everybody from playing a G in Bminorish tunes. As simple as that.

Have a listen to this (a recording from 1931!) - especially the second tune. The backing on Templehouse is really centered on C with occasional excursions into D land. And I kind of like it.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6qjFuDIgDc4

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Id be interested jeff if you could link a few of these tunes ? i cant think of many Am tunes with an F nat in them .. Like Al says, i think they will actually be A dor tunes in the Am section. The classical Am has 2 types of Am scale Harmonic and melodic if my rudimentary classical music education taught me anything! 🙂 , none of which are relevant to Irish tunes IMO bar the odd exception as I mentioned. In fact I asked earlier if anyone could suggest tunes that DO have the F nat, so …… go for it , give us a few of these suggestions you reckon are in Am not A dor.

Ive heard it done , fair enough, but not by trad musicians , rather by revivalists coming from other genres who bring those influences with them . Where would they even get the idea of going out of key with the ‘backing’ chords? Its very strange to my mind, throws me off as a tune player every time, FFs its not jazz we’re playing! or a ‘jam’ free form inprov, its a traditional form with structure , basic concepts history, do’s and dont’s etc etc etc .

If anything comes from this thread it would be great if even one backing guitar player swore off this kind of thing and decided to actually use chords that contain the same notes as the tune!
I will note however that a number of trad songs use the Am Melodic scale , as do many songs from other genres, but the F is completely inappropriate in Am dor tunes and the more guitarists who realise this the better.

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I think there are a few, Will. The Coleraine is the most obvious that springs to mind. I’ll look for some more …

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Con Casey’s. Not strictly in classical Amin, but is in a minor mode based on A with F naturals, and on the strong beat at that.

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Yes Coleraine and the gallowglass were 2 that had come to my mind. But after that ….. Im sure there are more, but the simple fact is that diatonic instruments based in the key of D such as pipes , flutes whistle dont have this note unless keyed or half holed so by the very nature of the music its going to be rare. Which is actually partly why i really like Am tunes with an Fnat 🙂 like Tamlin, your favourite tune Ben 😉

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Yep! There is that flat VII in the Let it Be bridge!
Speaking of which…
The triads raised from the Ador mode (=Gmaj) are
i: A, C, E (Am)
ii: B, D, F# (Bm)
III: C, E, G (C)
IV: D, F#, A (D)
v: E, G, B (Em)
vi: F#, A, C (F#m b5)
VII: G, B, D (G)

NO F NAT!

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Well, Will, I think that was what I was saying. I generally try to avoid using an F chord in A dorian tunes as, to me, it just sounds cheesy.
I don’t have a problem, however, with playing chords that include notes not in the scale of the tune. You hear that all the time in Scotland (and I back Scottish not Irish), especially diminished passing chords (comes from the box tradition). I’m not sure where you get this arbitrary rule that says you can’t play a note that’s not in the scale (but then STM doesn’t have a written constitution). The only place I’ve ever come across that is from there ultra-traditionalists on this forum. And I would say that I’m much more conservative in my chord choices than most professional backers I hear.

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Fair enough Donald, Scottish music is a different stream of the tradition. Irish music does not have a written constitution either 🙂 its just how I was taught as a young pup by the old dogs , and as tune player it makes no sense to me to be going out of key with the backing chords. The melody is the name of the game, the tune, anything that departs from the tune is IMO an imposition and what gets backers such a bad name in this business. It throws me off because its indicating a melodic direction that departs from the tunes direction , Im very aware of the chords and the backing and the chords are their to support the tune within the context of the music. So playing trad I expect and hope for [ and in fact demand 🙂] the chords to reflect, within their rhythm and harmonic movement, the tune!

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Will can speak for himself (as well as other people 🙂 ) but he did say ‘the same notes as the tune’, not that are not in the scale. I must say I agree with him. I’ve played with backing guitarists who choose chords by what they think is a fitting progression, and thereafter only hear what they have in their head, meanwhile crushing the life out of the tune which does not conform to that progression (or even those chords).

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Well, if it’s any consolation, I think you would find my backing chords fairly mundane. I’m one of those who occasionally throws in a relative minor on the fourth part of a major key pipe march but otherwise I try to stick to what I hear.

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To say that you should never play chords outside the key or that contain notes that aren’t in the melody is a bit restrictive. There are plenty of places where a secondary dominant chord can work, and some hornpipes that pretty much require them. Almost always in major keys, though. A better rule of thumb is, don’t play a chord that has a note that clashes with the melody.

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Well I agree with this .>> don’t play a chord that has a note that clashes with the melody.<< but I maintain my position that the chords should stay in key !!
Re Restrictive, yes , exactly, thats the whole idea!! Trad has structure and form, deviate from the structure and form and its not what it was anymore! it becomes trazz or some such thing , which is fair enough if the backer and the tune players are happy to be playing progressive trazz. But if the tune players are playing trad then the chords backing need to stay within the boundaries of traditional form and structure . Yes we all know and have to deal with backers who substitute relative minors , good backers are so rare that we just have to grin and bear it 🙂 or go without a backer , the choice favored by many! why? because the wrong chords grate , annoy, frustrate, limit, throw us off, get in the way , etc etc etc
Backers are regularly told here to learn the tunes , while this is good basic advice , really what we are saying is play the same tune as we are playing!! Realise that backing is just as high an art form as playing tunes, that the backing should compliment the tune not disagree with it!! Understand that the tunes contain many arpeggios and the like which are in fact chords spread out horizontally so if the backing is playing one chord and the tune player is playing another we just have cacophony and its not difficult to figure out who is playing the wrong chord 😉 !!
2 backers often play different chords! one reason why 2 backers is often discouraged , even the backers notice that!! Listen to the tune FFS play along with us, play along with the tune and what is happening in the tune! Dont go off on your own playing wild and wonderful chords with no connection to the melody eh?
Every tune has an implied harmonic movement and regularly an actual chord pattern as being played by the tune player , the art is to catch that, not superimpose your own !
Every backer gets it wrong sometimes with new tunes , acknowledge that fact and work at getting it right! yes there are clear wrongs and rights , its traditional music with structure , form and history ,respect those, dive into it , study learn be humble, play to support the tune players, the tune, nothing more, nothing less.

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I get that chord-based backing is not always required for traditional music, especially ITM. However it is not exactly rare to see guitar players backing tunes and doing it very well and it does not surprise me to see requests for chords on this site. What does surprise me is the response these requests get.

in addition to guitarists, I have also seen plenty of melodeon players (and other similar instruments) doing ITM - they seem to be pretty sure which bass notes they are using, i.e. implying that they have in their mind a set of chords that they are aiming to play along with the melody. I have seen other instruments at sessions that provide chord backing and as I said above, it is not that rare - it may not be strictly traditional but it is not unusual in this day and age to see chords played.

And therein lies the big question I have with this site:

- if this site is happy to have so many tunes available for everyone to see and learn then why do so many people respond to requsts for chords with lines like ‘go and work it our for yourself like the rest of us had to do’?

If your attitude is that you should work everything out for yourself, why are you using a site that is built on the premise of sharing thousands of tunes and thousands of variations?

So what if different people play different chords? The tunes on this site often run to over 10 different variations with even more in the comments section at the bottom of each tune - why not have a way of sharing chords too, even if there are different versions?

And as for, ‘why don’t you learn a melody instrument?’ - isn’t that just a bit narrow minded? Maybe they don’t want to, maybe they prefer guitar, maybe the answer to learning chords is to share them, kind of like how the whole site already shares a lot of very useful information?

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Good points, dcef. We sometimes get a bit sharper than we should be in stating our opinions. And we sometimes have an unfortunate tendency to talk down to those who come here to learn. All things we should think about before we hit that ‘post’ button.

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So Will, what should a backer play on tunes like The Wonder or The Golden Eagle? Play chords in the key, or chords that fit the melody? How about the first measure of Moving Hearts or Barre Island? What about Paddy Fahy tunes? Tunes that switch between major and mixolydian?Or a tune like Charle Mulhaire’s Atlantic Waves where in the second half the melody is begging for a G7(V of IV) before the C chord? And although I’m perfectly happy to listen to or play tunes with no backing at all, the notion that an occasional minor substitution constitutes "progressive trazz" is, well, silly.

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Tunes don’t switch between major and mixolydian in Irish trad — that’s what the backers do.

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Alright, then gam, I should have said tunes, for example, in D that alternate between C naturals and C#s

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I was taught in no uncertain terms around 1984 that there is No Substitution in Traditional Irish Music by an old , very experienced Irish fiddler , I didnt argue then and Im not arguing now. If you choose to disagree thats your opinion,Do you play the tunes yourself? Suffice to say that as a fiddler myself 3o yrs on I dont appreciate it at all when it is done to me by a backer and Ive explained why above. If you find players who appreciate it ,well good for you . 😎
Every tune is unique and deserves consideration as an independent unit, Tunes contain accidentals, so a D maj tune can contain C nats as accidentals and a D mix tune can contains C# as accidentals so the chords should contain the notes of the key*s* as of course many tunes contain parts with more than one key .

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I just ran into the strangest tune at the session last night. The A part started out clearly in E minor, but then the rest of the tune was in solid, predictable G major. Wasn’t able to get the name, but tunes often have a way of defeating our attempts to put them in neat boxes.

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Em and G is quite normal, such as the Kid on the mountain and numerous others . An East Clare [i think] tune that I found quite rare was the first part in G, the the second in A … name that tune anyone?, I’ve only heard it twice, both on the same day, different sessions in Feakle…….

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Al - Em into G major - strange? Some even say that the change is a key feature of Em tunes (Drag Her Round the Road, Fermoy Lasses, Alice’s reel, George White’s Favourite spring to mind). The opposite isn’t that rare either, whether from G to Em or from D to Bm (or for that matter, Bm to D). Multi-part tunes typically change keys.

G into A on the other hand, that’s weird.

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Will, just a small point, but your arguments would be much more respected by me and, I suspect, others if you desisted in your rather recent habit of unnecessarily using the acronymic interjection "FFS". If it stands for what I think it means then it really has no place in a reasoned discussion. Fine if you’ve just hit your thumb with a hammer, but here it is just plain crude. Nae need, man.

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If my mystery tune was an E minor part followed by a G major part, that would have been nothing too unusual. But this one was just a bar or two of E minor, and then the rest of the A part in G major. I am probably not describing it well, but it was definitely unique.

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Hmm, I still don’t see what’s so strange about a tune that starts with one chord and goes on to another. Do you have any idea of the name of the tune, source etc.?

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Fair enough Al, maybe find out next time , if possible , what the tune was?
@ Donald, fair enough but its a standard expression I use amongst others just as profane! 😎 I guess We come from different cultures, I dont suggest that you follow my cultural norms and if you would be so kind to offer me the same courtesy I would appreciate it. The points I raise are valid despite the odd expletive, which are added to emphasise the point more than an exclamation mark would do. I would find your argument of more value if it had the odd expletive thrown in for good measure 🙂 only kidding ..

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What is a melody instrument? I thought that a guitar with 22 frets and 6 strings might possibly be used to play melodies. I may be mistaken but I think I’ve seen it done and even done it myself.

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I play a rake of tunes on guitar myself and who can doubt the brilliance of Dick Gaughan playing tunes on Coppers and brass. The guitar is both a melody and chordal instrument, possibly why its such a popular instrument. Dont worry about it harmonic minor , the fiddlers are probably just jealous 😉
Saying that though its too quite acoustically as a melody instrument to work in yr average sessions with fiddlers pipes whistles etc etc etc and really comes into its own for backing, IF the player respects the tune and its harmonies and doesnt superimpose rock/jazz/pop ideas and respects the boundaries of tradition…….

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I agree, Will Evans.

Why do I get the feeling that the original post was a wind-up?

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I love the guitar when it’s played well. I don’t mind some mad chords, as long as the rythm is sound.

Boudaries shift, Will, as do different peoples styles of music, as do personalities.

I too play with an old experienced fiddler and he’d never tell anyone what to play. If he did, that person would be a bit bonkers to post that advice 20 years later on a website like some sort of an authority.

I love the music of the 1920’s with the crazy backing and chordal substitutions. What energey and lift it had. It doesn’t always work, but sometimes the risks taken opened up the tunes. There are a couple of people I have played with who put in the odd mad 1920’s-esque chord and that always raises a smile and gives the tune a lift.

Will got the ‘respect’ bit right. But that’s not confined to *his understanding of respecting a tune, or indeed the music.

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What Dunning said.

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Getting back to the original question…..
My chord progression for Congress Reel:
|Am |Am G |Am |G |
|Am |Am G |C |G Am :||
||:Am |Am |G |Em G |
Am |Am |C |G Am :||

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Yeah, that one works. The C is a nice option in those measures. I’d stick to G (instead of Em) for this basic version.

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@ Danny , the old fiddler, 30 yrs ago , , taught me a lesson that I teach to others when given the opportunity. Disregard it as you will, but consider for a moment why is it that guitarists have such a bad name and are actually unwelcome in many sessions, perhaps because they insist on playing the wrong chords?! play the right chords and receive approbation . Rhythm is not enough , its essential to play in the right key , with chords at least resembling the right chords !! But why not play the right chords? ! Its typical for modern guitarists to substitute a relative minor, but that doesnt make it right, ! Jazz players are renowned for this , why not stay within the bounds of traditional music? at least untill you can play a few hundred tunes yourself ! I agree Jeff

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I didn’t disregard anything. Did you read my post? (Actually, did you read your own? ‘Chords’ !)

You are relaying some advice here through a forum as some sort of an authority. It’s dogmatic and you are polarising the discussion to what is acceptable to *you.

Guitarists, bodhrán, banjo, accordeon, Pipes, flute, fiddle, concertina etc. Any and all of these can be unwelcome in sessions depending whose playing them and all can have bad names.

Worst of all is a jack of all trades master of less who exudes knowledge and wisdom, who associates years and time with talent. In my experince, musicians like that have a much worse name than a backer trying to find their way and playing what has been right for them in other genres. Any musician that is trying to develop, and uses their ears and works out what is possible or not and takes risks is always a pleasure to play with - the opposite of one caught in a vicious circle of laborious mediocrity, forever bounded in by their own restrictions.

I agree, the chords are important, and the relative minor thing grates on me too - that’s vicious circle mediocrity too. I like backers who have good rhythm. Playing in the right key and playing chords that follow the tune is kind of obvious and is probably the best advice on this thread.

In the context of Irish music, all guitarists are modern. What guitarists do you like? Have you heard of Whitey Andrews? Comment on his music.

Stop going on about the bounds of the music - you obviously didn’t read my comment about that. That’s the stuff those trapped in laborious mediocrity often quote. It’s a straw man. The very fact a guitar is playing the music is proof of this.

And my name is Dunning. You should google me.

Re: Irish guitar chord progressions

Will, a major chord such as G contains the notes g,b,d. The relative Em7 contains the notes e,g,b,d.

They are plenty of suitable places for an Em7 in the b part of The Congress, e.g., the third bar of Jeremy’s transcription of the tune on this site. This bar contains the note e,g,d. Playing a G triad behind this bar, as has been suggested by others, would have the effect of implying G6 briefly when the e notes are played over the G chord in the backing. G6 is really an inversion of Em7. The same notes. This isn’t jazz, this is very basic diatonic harmony.

If you don’t see how one of these chords can be substituted for the other in this particular context then you just don’t know what you are talking about, regardless of what your ‘very experienced irish fiddler’ friend might have said in the last century.

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Re: Irish guitar chord progressions

T In theory you might be correct, in practice if it sounds wrong it is wrong . So then its a matter of the players you are playing with and your own ear and musical education and understanding . What musical stream do you come from will dictate what sounds good to you and the players you are playing with, ask them.
But you still seem to miss my point, substitution itself is a concept that goes outside the form of traditional Irish music , therefor whether a relative minor can be substituted is besides the point , im sure there are plenty of possibilities , but its irrelevant as far as trad goes.
If the fiddler is playing Em then Em is fine in the chords, but if the fiddler is playing G then Em is the wrong chord. Its that simple, nothing complicated , the tune is where its at . I suggest you try it yourself, play the tune and get someone to back it with the right chords and then substitute the relative minor. see how you feel after that is done.

Re: Irish guitar chord progressions

Will. You don’t know what you’re talking about, in practice or theory. The choice of chord is of course subjective, but if an Em7 sounds ‘wrong’ to you behind the 3rd bar in the b part of The Congress then this is likely due to your limitations as a musician.

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Re: Irish guitar chord progressions

Fine T, the specific limitations are that I dont substitute relative minor chords for the major, that’s a self imposed limitation that is fine with me and the people I play with are more than happy as a result, suits me . As a fiddler I object to it because it sounds off . If you think it sounds ‘interesting ’ or ‘good’ then thats up to you , I think it sounds awfull. cheers

Re: Irish guitar chord progressions

"And my name is Dunning. You should google me."

Hehehehe

Re: Irish guitar chord progressions

As I’ve said already Will, a reductionist, rule based, one size fits all approach to backing music that has always been inherently nuanced and open to interpretation betrays your ignorance and limitations as a musician

Playing a G or an Em7 behind the 3rd bar of the b part of The Congress is a matter of choice, either is appropriate given the notes in the melody. To say that these chords can’t be substituted for each other in this example or that one of these options is awful *harmonically* is utter nonsense.

You are attempting to simultaneously argue both for and against the absolute basic principles of diatonic harmony.

Your nameless sage like fiddling acquaintance of yesteryear may have advocated a reductionist approach to backing as a means to achieving greater creativity a lá the De Stijl movement in art. On the other hand, he may just have been a clueless blinkered ignoramus, it’s hard to know.

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Re: Irish guitar chord progressions

The melody its self can be approached in many ways, IF you consider the melody alone, however if its viewed through the prism of a musician who is intimately familiar with the specific tune and genre and considered within the context of Pipe music a very different view is attained. Your words describe yourself far more accurately than they do the object of your derision whom you have never met and you dont know at all. Your adhomini attacks merely show the strength of your argument if all you can do is insult.

Re: Irish guitar chord progressions

Will. You are advocating the principles of diatonic harmony while not understanding them sufficiently to realise that what you are saying is garbage.

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Re: Irish guitar chord progressions

Will, I was looking at your page which reads like an advertisement with all the accolades and then I listened to a couple of the tunes you put up; the whistle tunes ( some don’t play) and that ‘gypsy’ video and I have to say he was right ; you really ought to google Dunning Kruger.

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Re: Irish guitar chord progressions

I think the name Dunning Kruger is on the wrong participant in this conversation! 😉

Re: Irish guitar chord progressions

I googled Dunning Kruger.

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