Posting tunes with chords

Posting tunes with chords

Hi all

I am a novice flute player based in Pisa, Italy, who joined TheSession a couple of months ago and found it a very nice community with lots of useful contents. In my daily practice, I am now tackling musical breathing and I find that a good alternative to the metronome is to play along with midi files generated from abc transcriptions that also include chords, thus giving a feeling of the rythm by emphasizing the relevant beats. I do this quite easily thanks to the Tunebook app by JH LABS (http://www.jhlabs.com/tunebook/), which is able to play the tune on-the-fly from an abc file, allowing me to choose the melody instrument, the bass & the treble accompaniment, and most usefully to vary the tempo.

I see that most of the tune settings posted on TheSession do not show chords in their transcriptions. I searched through previous discussions and I understand that the reason for this is that tunes do not traditionally come with chords, that chords are something that one adds on top of the tune, and that the choice of the chords is definitely not unique. Typically, I would transcribe the tune myself or grab it from TheSession, learn it, personally work out a set of chords for that tune, and include these in the abc file. The resulting abc file will include the melody and a suggestion of chords which will, in principle, be harmless to those looking simply for the tune and probably useful to those (if there is any besides me) practising through midi files or those practising with backing the tunes.

In short, is it ok posting tune settings with chords? Would this be welcome by (at least some of) the other members? Any comment on this (and actually also on best practices for training in musical breathing) is welcome.

Thanks
Sergio

Re: Posting tunes with chords

Well some people do put in chords, but as you say, they are not prescriptive and can be changed according (no pun intended!) to the chord player’s preference or to fit any harmonies that might be used. What is important is that all chord players play the same set of chords, which often doesn’t happen in a session where people are interpreting (in different ways) what should be there on the hop.
In short, I would have no objection to your posting tunes with chords included.

Re: Posting tunes with chords

Go for it .

Re: Posting tunes with chords

I would avoid cluttering tune postings here with chords

Re: Posting tunes with chords

I would firmly (but politely) suggest: do not try to learn a tune or its feel via ABC midi files. Instead, listen to actual playing, over and over, until you know the melody on your head. Then, if there is no other way to do it, you can work through written notation to improve your understanding.

ITM is an aural tradition: No shortcuts. Learning the old-fashioned way will make you a much better player.

Re: Posting tunes with chords

The chords are easy enough to ignore if playing a melody instrument, or to strip out of the ABC. If people included the chords that they think work then it may shed a bit of light on the different ideas.

Descriptive of the transcribers feel for the tune, not prescriptive. And if it generates discussion then so much the better I think.

Re: Posting tunes with chords

I read ABC directly like staff notation . I hate it when chords are included. It makes it much harder to read for me.
So I have to go through and delete the chords for readability.

Posted by .

Re: Posting tunes with chords

I agree with David. If chords are given they are easily ignored by those not requiring them.
It’s also the case that some newer tunes, especially from outwith Ireland, are associated with specific chord sequences. So, for example, a lot of Phil Cunningham slow airs might sound odd without his original harmonic ideas.

Re: Posting tunes with chords

Chords can be easily ignored by those not requiring them, which means melody players and accompanists who know what they’re doing. If I can ignore the clutter of articulations on some Scottish piping tunes to find the note skeleton within, I can ignore anything! But what about those who do "require" them, like newbie guitar players? If there is only one setting that has chords in the database, that could be seen as the definitive version by default. I can imagine the following scenario in a session:

Me, to newbie guitar player: "You know, it might be better not to shift into a strong major chord feel for the last section of The Butterfly, it might sound better left ambiguous."

Newbie guitar player: "But it says to play that chord on thesession.org so it must be right!"

And then the fur starts to fly. 🙂

If every setting included someone’s idea of harmonization, you’d see the different potential in each tune. But that’s not likely to happen. As someone who entered ITM from the guitar accompaniment side and gradually moved into melody instruments, I think it’s better to force accompanists to figure out how this works by listening to good players, and working it out on their own. Just one person’s opinion. The fact that the database includes this ability means anyone can do it if they feel like it.

Re: Posting tunes with chords

Most tunes have lots of settings so the odd one with chords should be no problem surely? As regards if its on ‘the session.org’ it must be right….. ahh well that woukd also apply to all tune settings….
I think its quite a good idea to include some chords along with the melody. Most guitar players seem to have little clue as to how to back trad both rhythmically and melodically so a few suggestions couldn’t go amiss and im sure the tune section police will pounce on those submitting ridiculous chord settings just as we do for the tune settings !! 😎

Re: Posting tunes with chords

I don’t think there is a lot of value added by novice players submitting their chords to tunes already in the data base. Please don’t. Maybe add suggestions as part of a comment, i.e. D / / / | / / / / | G / D / | / / / / :|

Re: Posting tunes with chords

"I think it’s better to force accompanists to figure out how this works by listening to good players, and working it out on their own. " Or to force melody players to listen to good players and work it out on their own - and not use the tunes section at all? 😉

"You know, it might be better not to shift into a strong major chord feel for the last section of The Butterfly, it might sound better left ambiguous." What note do you end The Butterfly on and have you heard other people end it differently? That’s just the situation where, for me, seeing some chords for the final few bars from experienced players would be interesting.

Re: Posting tunes with chords

I always look for the ‘settings’ that have chords, here, and on ABCnotation. Usually though, I have to add them myself after downloading the tune. I’m not willing to go without chords, in case my guitar playing friends want to play along. Which chords to use though, does take a while to figure out.

Re: Posting tunes with chords

"Or to force melody players to listen to good players and work it out on their own - and not use the tunes section at all?"

That’s different. 🙂 You may have heard the common refrain here and elsewhere: "In this music it’s the melody that’s fixed, and accompaniment is improvised." It’s the opposite of Americana styles where the chords are fixed and there is space made for improvised breaks.

Look at it this way: It’s no problem to have a dozen or more different melody settings of a tune in the database. Sometimes the settings are significantly different. However, the ABC format doesn’t permit showing more than one set of chords for each setting. When someone adds chords to one particular setting of "The Butterfly," that’s it! It locks down just one person’s idea for that particular setting.

There is no room for someone else to come along and add a different harmonization idea. Not unless they overwrite the first person’s chords. Whereas, if you’re posting melody settings, you can post as many as you want and they stand alone, perfectly usable.

Re: Posting tunes with chords

When I began playing piano at the local Sessions in 1995, I was mostly on my own when it came to figuring out the chords I needed to play. Since I knew how to read music, some of the other musicians made copies of the tunes for me which helped. Another thing which helped me was my previous experience sitting in and playing music by ear at a local Blues Jam. In addition, I had taken some music theory classes at a local university. All of this previous experience and training was a lot of help.
The first time I visited the local Session in 1995 and told the musicians which instruments I played, I was asked to bring my electronic keyboard and play it as a piano. Since then, I have been playing piano at the local Sessions off and on more or less irregularly.

Laurence

Re: Posting tunes with chords

"In this music it’s the melody that’s fixed, and accompaniment is improvised."

Leaving aside the fact that for a lot of older tunes the melody is far from fixed, I find that "improvised accompaniment", in the modern style, seems to force on to tunes chords sequences that just don’t fit the notes.

Re: Posting tunes with chords

But I’m a fuddy-duddy.

Re: Posting tunes with chords

It sounds like the settings you’re posting will be similar to settings that are already on the site in chord-free form. So the people who would prefer no chords are already getting what they wanted, right? I’d say post them if you like.

If you’re basing yours off a particular setting above, it would be good form to reference the source in your comments down below.

Re: Posting tunes with chords

All other arguments aside, why not just post the tune with and without chords? If you can only post it once, make the first part the section without chords, label the second section as "Variations:" and then add the chorded version. One way to do that could be like this:

X:109
T:Fair Jenny’s Jig
C:Peter Barnes
R:Jig
M:6/8
L:1/8
K:D
A | f3 fgf | ecA ecA | Bcd ecA | Bcd efg |
f3 fgf | ecA ecA | Bcd e2A | ABc d2 :|
|:A | B3 B=cB | GBB B=cB | ADD dDD | cDD =cDD |
B3 B=cB | GBB B=cB | ABA ABc | dAF D2 :|
%%vskip 15
W:Variations:
%%vskip 15
A | "D"f3 fgf | "A7"ecA ecA | "G"Bcd "A7"ecA | "G"Bcd "A7"efg |
"D"f3 fgf | "A7"ecA ecA | "G"Bcd "A7"e2A | ABc "D"d2 :|
|:A | "G"B3 B=cB | GBB B=cB | "D"ADD dDD | cDD =cDD |
"G"B3 B=cB | GBB B=cB | "A7"ABA ABc | "D"dAF D2 :|

If you want to prevent the chords from playing at all, add %%MIDI gchordoff somewhere before the chords are included.

Re: Posting tunes with chords

Good idea, Callison!
It strikes me that most of those who agree to chords being included are probably chord players who appreciate having at least a starting point to get going, while the melody-only players are agin the idea. I play, in different situations, either piano/keyboard or button accordion, where it is useful to have some chords to work from: on piano, I just have melody line and chords, no left hand written out in full.
BUT, as I said, much higher up the thread, these chords are not prescriptive/ set in tablets of stone (see also what Conical bore -and I - said!)
What I hadn’t perhaps appreciated, being a standard notation reader, is that the chords can get in the way of reading the ABC, as dunnp said tho others don’t seem to find it a problem?), but maybe good reason again for going with Callison’s suggestion.

Re: Posting chords w/tunes

My short answer, Sergio, is do what you think will be the most practical for people using the tunes’ database.

My long(er) answer would be all the reasons why the database does not need chords, yet chords
have been posted in the tunes section, so you might as well post them if you have them.

Ben

Posted by .

Re: Posting tunes with chords

Well, thanks to anyone who participated in the discussion. My overall impression is that tunes with chords would be welcome, provided that the chord setting is not ridiculous and that it is made clear that it is not prescriptive. I also agree that it would be interesting if this will generate discussion on possible ways of backing tunes with feedback from experienced players. I’ll try to post a couple of tunes with chords suggestions and see how it goes.

(Thanks, Barrie, for your firm but polite advice: I’ll try to follow it!).