Discussion:
accompaniment of vocal melody
(too old to reply)
t***@aol.com
2005-07-10 19:33:38 UTC
Permalink
Hi,

Before I begin any further, I'd like to thank those from this group who
replied to the last message I posted in the topic "in over my head",
and made me see things more realistically.

OK, I'd like to ask a question about playing piano accompaniment to a
vocalized melody. I was wondering, how many players here actually pay
attention or think it's important to see that the chord pattern you are
playing is below the melody played by the singer? I know that when we
play solo piano type stuff, we should usually make sure that the melody
notes are on top of the chords(or top note of chords), but how much
attention to this is given to accompaniment to a vocalized melody?

Let me give you an example. I've been working out an arrangement of
the Beatles' song "Yesterday" on the piano, and the first chord is "F".
The song is in the key of F.

I play my chords above middle C, and this first chord of "F" is played
in root position as a block chord, and I play a pattern where I vamp
the F chord repeatedly (F-A-C) in root position in the first measure.

The melody in the first measure of course starts with the sung word
"Yesterday", and the vocalized melody is

<pre>
Yes-ter-day
G -f -f
</pre>

The problem is that, unlike how I'd approach a solo piano tune, the
melody is not exactly on top of the chord. I'm vamping an F block
chord in root position over this, and the notes of A-C of that chord
are higher than the melody notes by a couple of intervals or so. So
what I'm saying is, the block chord I'm playing against the melody I'm
singing is slightly higher (at least the 3rd and 5th) than the melody.
They are both playing in the same octave range though.

So I'm just curious if this is something that a lot of pianists and
keyboard players here pay a lot of attention or detail to when
accompanying singers? I could invert the F chord, playing an
inversion where the middle C would be the bottom note so that it
doesn't sound as high in relation to the melody, but really, is it
important to pay that much attention to making sure that what the
vocalist is singing is the top note? I may have to relearn the song,
using different inversions to ensure that what I sing is the top note.
So what I'd like to know is, how exact are you when playing
accompaniment to a vocalist or to yourself singing? Do you always
make to invert all the chords to make sure that the melody note is
always higher than the notes in the chord, or just as long as the chord
accompaniment and the melody are playing somewhere in the same range or
octave, that is good enough for you?

thank you
Joe
2005-07-10 21:02:27 UTC
Permalink
It's not necessary or even desireable for the vocal note to allays be
the highest note. The main thing to consider when inventing your
accompaniment is: Does it blend with and support the vocal part.

I do that song myself in the key of C and use block chords on the
downbeats and improvisional fills at the end of each vocal phrase.

Let your ear be the judge; if it sounds good, do it.
Greg G
2005-07-11 03:12:37 UTC
Permalink
Post by t***@aol.com
Hi,
Before I begin any further, I'd like to thank those from this group who
replied to the last message I posted in the topic "in over my head",
and made me see things more realistically.
OK, I'd like to ask a question about playing piano accompaniment to a
vocalized melody. I was wondering, how many players here actually pay
attention or think it's important to see that the chord pattern you are
playing is below the melody played by the singer? I know that when we
play solo piano type stuff, we should usually make sure that the melody
notes are on top of the chords(or top note of chords), but how much
attention to this is given to accompaniment to a vocalized melody?
I have two contradictory answers for you.

1. Try it both ways and find out for yourself. If you are to learn to
play the things you want to play, you will have to get to know how
things sound. It is not enough for someone to tell you what things
allegedly "work" and "don't work", you have to be able to hear it for
yourself. This comes from experimenting.

2. No, you don't have to play the accompaniemt parts in a lower pitch
than the vocal. Listen to the Beatles' record. Don't some of the
string parts play higher notes than Paul's vocal?

In fact, if you sing at all, find your vocal range on the piano,
meaning the lowest and highest notes you can sing. I can comfortably
(although inartfully) sing from the second G below Middle C to the
first G above. I think that that is reasonably common for male
singers. Some with higher voices can up to the C an octave above
Middle C. Female singers are probably a fifth or so higher on average.

That same range is just about exactly where we tend to play chords on
piano, the octave from Middle C to the next one up, plus a sixth or so
above and below. The same goes for guitar. This may not even be a
coincidence. Voices were probably the first music, especially the
first pitched music. Perhaps that is why a great deal of what we play
instumentally is in the same range.

So why do we tend to play the melody on top when we do a piano solo?
In that case, the melody has the same instrumental timbre as the
accompaniment, so we need some other means to set them apart. Keeping
the melodyt higher is one such way. We could also play it more loudly,
or separate it in time from the accompaniment. When the melody is a
different timbre, like a sax, or vocal, we can distinguish it even if
it's in the same pitch range.
Post by t***@aol.com
Let me give you an example. I've been working out an arrangement of
the Beatles' song "Yesterday" on the piano, and the first chord is "F".
The song is in the key of F.
I play my chords above middle C, and this first chord of "F" is played
in root position as a block chord, and I play a pattern where I vamp
the F chord repeatedly (F-A-C) in root position in the first measure.
The melody in the first measure of course starts with the sung word
"Yesterday", and the vocalized melody is
<pre>
Yes-ter-day
G -f -f
</pre>
The problem is that, unlike how I'd approach a solo piano tune, the
melody is not exactly on top of the chord. I'm vamping an F block
chord in root position over this, and the notes of A-C of that chord
are higher than the melody notes by a couple of intervals or so. So
what I'm saying is, the block chord I'm playing against the melody I'm
singing is slightly higher (at least the 3rd and 5th) than the melody.
They are both playing in the same octave range though.
So I'm just curious if this is something that a lot of pianists and
keyboard players here pay a lot of attention or detail to when
accompanying singers? I could invert the F chord, playing an
inversion where the middle C would be the bottom note so that it
doesn't sound as high in relation to the melody, but really, is it
important to pay that much attention to making sure that what the
vocalist is singing is the top note? I may have to relearn the song,
using different inversions to ensure that what I sing is the top note.
So what I'd like to know is, how exact are you when playing
accompaniment to a vocalist or to yourself singing? Do you always
make to invert all the chords to make sure that the melody note is
always higher than the notes in the chord, or just as long as the chord
accompaniment and the melody are playing somewhere in the same range or
octave, that is good enough for you?
thank you
t***@aol.com
2005-07-12 04:06:12 UTC
Permalink
Thank you both for the replies to this. Very much appreciated.
Mark from Ark
2005-07-13 05:59:17 UTC
Permalink
Post by t***@aol.com
Hi,
OK, I'd like to ask a question about playing piano accompaniment to a
vocalized melody. I was wondering, how many players here actually pay
attention or think it's important to see that the chord pattern you are
playing is below the melody played by the singer? I
Melody is only one aspect of the chord voice. There are bass notes,
dissonant notes, and passing notes. Add to that broken chords and arpeggios
and you see why all of that is considered an art. However voicing is
IMPORTANT especially if there is more than one singer or if there is a bass
player. It also depends on what kind of music it is and how it is being
performed. So to answer your question here, I dont make it a rule to always
be "below" the melody but it is good that you consider this question.

know that when we
Post by t***@aol.com
play solo piano type stuff, we should usually make sure that the melody
notes are on top of the chords(or top note of chords), but how much
attention to this is given to accompaniment to a vocalized melody?
Let me give you an example. I've been working out an arrangement of
the Beatles' song "Yesterday" on the piano, and the first chord is "F".
The song is in the key of F.
I play my chords above middle C, and this first chord of "F" is played
in root position as a block chord, and I play a pattern where I vamp
the F chord repeatedly (F-A-C) in root position in the first measure.
The melody of this particular song has a bit of range which might make the
piano sound
much different if you try to voice the piano "Below" the melody . It might
even sound clunky and choppy
as opposed to smooth transitions based on fingering.
Post by t***@aol.com
The melody in the first measure of course starts with the sung word
"Yesterday", and the vocalized melody is
<pre>
Yes-ter-day
G -f -f
</pre>
The problem is that, unlike how I'd approach a solo piano tune, the
melody is not exactly on top of the chord. I'm vamping an F block
chord in root position over this, and the notes of A-C of that chord
are higher than the melody notes by a couple of intervals or so. So
Then again, if you play that F "below" the G note where the G note is
hanging by itself
you might have a noticeable dissonance which may change that opening line.
Not necessraily bad, it is part of the art
Post by t***@aol.com
what I'm saying is, the block chord I'm playing against the melody I'm
singing is slightly higher (at least the 3rd and 5th) than the melody.
They are both playing in the same octave range though.
So I'm just curious if this is something that a lot of pianists and
keyboard players here pay a lot of attention or detail to when
accompanying singers? I could invert the F chord, playing an
inversion where the middle C would be the bottom note so that it
doesn't sound as high in relation to the melody, but really, is it
important to pay that much attention to making sure that what the
vocalist is singing is the top note? I may have to relearn the song,
using different inversions to ensure that what I sing is the top note.
So what I'd like to know is, how exact are you when playing
accompaniment to a vocalist or to yourself singing? Do you always
Well I sing like doo-doo so chord voicing makes absolutely no difference if
I am singing.
But when I play out in bands that have real singers, I am very consious of
the voicing but more in the sense
of how it sounds overall rather than if I was below the melody.
Post by t***@aol.com
make to invert all the chords to make sure that the melody note is
always higher than the notes in the chord, or just as long as the chord
accompaniment and the melody are playing somewhere in the same range or
octave, that is good enough for you?
Very good questions.
Post by t***@aol.com
thank you
t***@aol.com
2005-07-13 18:11:22 UTC
Permalink
On this topic of accompaniment, I'd like to ask a question on how to
approach an particular arrangement that is based more on riffs, as
opposed to chords.

The other day I was listening to the radio, and heard a song called
"don't bring me down" by the Electric Light Orchestra. The song is
strongly based on repeating riff throughout.

A lot of people have told me on this group that when attempting
playing these songs by ear, you should come up with your own
arrangement. Of course, you must figure out the chords of the song
throughout.

So if I were to play a song like this on piano or keyboard, a song like
'don't bring me down" based more on riffs than chords, how would it be
best to play this if I were to accompany myself singing such a tune?

Should I play the melody line riffs with the right hand, and play bass
notes (such as alternating root, fifth, 3rds) outlining what chord
which seemed to be indicated by the original recording as was deduced
from the sum total of the riff and bass lines? Or should I, in a
situation like this, simply forget about playing the riffs, and instead
play right hand chord patterns? What would be the best way to
approach this, in your opinion? But from what I've understood from
what many have told me here already, it would seem that it would
probably be best to improvise a chord arrangement and not bother with
getting the riff down note for note.

In a band, of course all the parts can be covered, with one instrument
playing chord patterns, and guitars playing riffs over it, but it is
more difficult to pull all of that off (at least for me) on a piano or
keyboard.

if anyone can share insight, would be much appreciated.
Marc Sabatella
2005-07-14 06:37:05 UTC
Permalink
Post by t***@aol.com
A lot of people have told me on this group that when attempting
playing these songs by ear, you should come up with your own
arrangement.
Unless it's a solo piano piece you can copy note for note, you pretty
much *have* to come up with our arrangement. It's generally impossible
to literally play the original vocal, guitar, bass, drum, and others
parts simultaneously on piano. If you're playing anything at all, it's
going to be an arrangement where you are appoximating the combined sound
of the other instruments to some degree.
Post by t***@aol.com
So if I were to play a song like this on piano or keyboard, a song like
'don't bring me down" based more on riffs than chords
Unless they are atonal riffs, then chords are involved at some level.
How important this is is another matter - I don't know the song in
question. But given that you have stated you have difficulty
recognizing chords, I would speculate that chords are more relevant to
this song than you are realizing.
Post by t***@aol.com
Should I play the melody line riffs with the right hand, and play bass
notes (such as alternating root, fifth, 3rds) outlining what chord
which seemed to be indicated by the original recording as was deduced
from the sum total of the riff and bass lines?
If the song consisted of nothing but bass and riff, then no reason you
can't copy that pretty much exactly. Is that really all there is to
this song?
Post by t***@aol.com
Or should I, in a
situation like this, simply forget about playing the riffs, and instead
play right hand chord patterns?
That would definitely be creating your own arrangement. Whether I chose
to do this or not would depend on how much I liked those original riffs.

--------------
Marc Sabatella
***@outsideshore.com

The Outside Shore
Music, art, & educational materials:
http://www.outsideshore.com/
Greg G
2005-07-14 14:09:49 UTC
Permalink
Post by Marc Sabatella
Post by t***@aol.com
A lot of people have told me on this group that when attempting
playing these songs by ear, you should come up with your own
arrangement.
Unless it's a solo piano piece you can copy note for note, you pretty
much *have* to come up with our arrangement. It's generally impossible
to literally play the original vocal, guitar, bass, drum, and others
parts simultaneously on piano. If you're playing anything at all, it's
going to be an arrangement where you are appoximating the combined sound
of the other instruments to some degree.
Sure. Some of us end up doing a fair amount of this even *with* a band.
Post by Marc Sabatella
Post by t***@aol.com
So if I were to play a song like this on piano or keyboard, a song
like
Post by t***@aol.com
'don't bring me down" based more on riffs than chords
Unless they are atonal riffs, then chords are involved at some level.
How important this is is another matter - I don't know the song in
question. But given that you have stated you have difficulty
recognizing chords, I would speculate that chords are more relevant to
this song than you are realizing.
I had to tickle a few old brain cells to remember this one. I'm not
sure I have a perfect recollection of it but it definitely has a chord
structure. The riff is loud and noticeable (and annoying, IMO) but it
only comes in in certain places.

If memory serves the verse consists of A, D and G. The vocal melody
suggests that the first and second lines might have the familiar A7 -
D/A - A - D/A (all in root position) pattern in the accompaniment. Each
of those two bar patterns ends in the "riff" that Ty mentions.

The next two bars are D and A, each for a whole measure. Then there is
a measure of G and two beats each of D and A followed by the "riff",
which I remember as E-D-C-A. It's played on guitars and probably bass
as well and is the same as the vocal line there. ("Don't Bring Me
Down")

There's also a chorus of sorts, which I believe just alternates between
F#m and A.
Post by Marc Sabatella
Post by t***@aol.com
Should I play the melody line riffs with the right hand, and play bass
notes (such as alternating root, fifth, 3rds) outlining what chord
which seemed to be indicated by the original recording as was deduced
from the sum total of the riff and bass lines?
If the song consisted of nothing but bass and riff, then no reason you
can't copy that pretty much exactly. Is that really all there is to
this song?
Definitely not among my favorites, but I remember most of this song
being more or less standard guitar chord stuff, with the riff occurring
3 times in each verse. I think the bass line, apart from the "riff",
might only be eighth notes on the roots.
Post by Marc Sabatella
Post by t***@aol.com
Or should I, in a
situation like this, simply forget about playing the riffs, and
instead
Post by t***@aol.com
play right hand chord patterns?
That would definitely be creating your own arrangement. Whether I chose
to do this or not would depend on how much I liked those original riffs.
In this case the riff is really the hook of the song. It would change
the song quite a lot to omit it. This doesn't mean you can't do it, but
it will render the arrangement less recognizable.

Ty:
Try playing the chord pattern I mentioned above:
A7 - D/A - A - A7 - D/A - A followed by the riff. Play a steady A on
the eighth notes in the bass. See if this gets you started in the right
direction. By the way, I haven't heard the song in a long time, so it
might be in a different key. You might want to check that against the
record first.

Greg Guarino
t.racer
2005-07-15 00:25:26 UTC
Permalink
On Thu, 14 Jul 2005 00:37:05 -0600, "Marc Sabatella"
Post by Marc Sabatella
Unless they are atonal riffs, then chords are involved at some level.
As a piano tuner once told me, "IT'S ALL CHORDS." He was a good
player, too.
t***@aol.com
2005-07-15 04:41:02 UTC
Permalink
Post by Marc Sabatella
Post by t***@aol.com
A lot of people have told me on this group that when attempting
playing these songs by ear, you should come up with your own
arrangement.
Unless it's a solo piano piece you can copy note for note, you pretty
much *have* to come up with our arrangement. It's generally impossible
to literally play the original vocal, guitar, bass, drum, and others
parts simultaneously on piano. If you're playing anything at all, it's
going to be an arrangement where you are appoximating the combined sound
of the other instruments to some degree.
Post by t***@aol.com
So if I were to play a song like this on piano or keyboard, a song
like
Post by t***@aol.com
'don't bring me down" based more on riffs than chords
Unless they are atonal riffs, then chords are involved at some level.
How important this is is another matter - I don't know the song in
question. But given that you have stated you have difficulty
recognizing chords, I would speculate that chords are more relevant to
this song than you are realizing.
Post by t***@aol.com
Should I play the melody line riffs with the right hand, and play bass
notes (such as alternating root, fifth, 3rds) outlining what chord
which seemed to be indicated by the original recording as was deduced
from the sum total of the riff and bass lines?
If the song consisted of nothing but bass and riff, then no reason you
can't copy that pretty much exactly. Is that really all there is to
this song?
Thank you Marc and Greg G for your replies on this. I'm sure Greg G is
correct when he pointed out that there is a lot more going in this
particular song than just a riff and bass only, though the riff is very
prominent throughout the song.

I do have one more question on this. In a situation where a song
doesn't have any chords, but is just a series of bass and riff and
maybe vocal melody, how are these kind of songs notated in fake books?
Would they figure out what the sum total of bass & riff and melody
seems to implies and put it under a symbol such as "Em (nc)"? Would
one even bother to figure out a chord chart or the particular chord
progression for such a song as a "guide" if playing it by ear? I
would imagine that there are certain songs of this kind where there is
nothing but bass and riff, and I'm sure that I will come across
figuring them out in the future.


thanks
Post by Marc Sabatella
Post by t***@aol.com
Or should I, in a
situation like this, simply forget about playing the riffs, and
instead
Post by t***@aol.com
play right hand chord patterns?
That would definitely be creating your own arrangement. Whether I chose
to do this or not would depend on how much I liked those original riffs.
--------------
Marc Sabatella
The Outside Shore
http://www.outsideshore.com/
Greg G
2005-07-17 15:35:11 UTC
Permalink
Post by t***@aol.com
I do have one more question on this. In a situation where a song
doesn't have any chords, but is just a series of bass and riff and
maybe vocal melody, how are these kind of songs notated in fake books?
Certain songs by the Police come to mind. In "Every Breath You Take"
there is an eighth note staccato guitar line throughout the verse
played over bass notes. I don't buy sheet music, but I'm sure it
would show chord names in the verse, even though no one is playing
chords per se.

For instance, the first two measures of the verse (usual caveat: I'm
not listening to it right now, the key might be wrong) would show an A
chord. The bass is playing A and the guitar is playing:

E E B A C# B A E

You'll notice that all the notes of an A chord are there, plus an
extra note, the B. So perhaps it might be more accurate to call the
"chord" an A sus2. Some might argue for a, A9 without the 7th.

The next two measures would probably show some sort of F# minor. The
bass plays F# and the guitar plays something like:

C# C# G# C# A G# F# C#

Again, you can see all the notes of the F# minor triad.
Post by t***@aol.com
Would they figure out what the sum total of bass & riff and melody
seems to implies and put it under a symbol such as "Em (nc)"? Would
one even bother to figure out a chord chart or the particular chord
progression for such a song as a "guide" if playing it by ear?
That would depend on the player, I suppose. I can tell you that I have
never played this song, but I think the reason I can remember most of
the actual notes is not because I have memorized them individually. I
hear the notes in the way they relate to the bass note; they way they
suggest a chord. That gives a "meaning" to the notes that makes them
easier to remember as part of a larger picture, rather than just a
bunch of unconnected bits of data.
Post by t***@aol.com
I would imagine that there are certain songs of this kind where there is
nothing but bass and riff, and I'm sure that I will come across
figuring them out in the future.
Sure. If you have an accurate lead sheet it can help you to understand
why the riff notes were chosen, which should make them easier to
figure out and remember.

Greg Guarino
Probably so.
Mr. Rick
2005-07-17 21:07:53 UTC
Permalink
Every Breath You Take is in Ab (without capo on guitar).
t.racer
2005-07-15 00:23:15 UTC
Permalink
Have you ever noticed that there are a lot of "how to" guides on the
internet and in the library, but NOTHING on arranging chords for
vocals? Believe me, I looked. Probably because most people don't know
what they're doing. They experiment and use trial and error. OR, the
people who DO know how to do this are not going to tell because they
can make MONEY and aren't going to share the secrets of their success!
Furthermore, I know a lot of talented musicians who can't even read
music!
Post by t***@aol.com
Hi,
Before I begin any further, I'd like to thank those from this group who
replied to the last message I posted in the topic "in over my head",
and made me see things more realistically.
OK, I'd like to ask a question about playing piano accompaniment to a
vocalized melody. I was wondering, how many players here actually pay
attention or think it's important to see that the chord pattern you are
playing is below the melody played by the singer? I know that when we
play solo piano type stuff, we should usually make sure that the melody
notes are on top of the chords(or top note of chords), but how much
attention to this is given to accompaniment to a vocalized melody?
Let me give you an example. I've been working out an arrangement of
the Beatles' song "Yesterday" on the piano, and the first chord is "F".
The song is in the key of F.
I play my chords above middle C, and this first chord of "F" is played
in root position as a block chord, and I play a pattern where I vamp
the F chord repeatedly (F-A-C) in root position in the first measure.
The melody in the first measure of course starts with the sung word
"Yesterday", and the vocalized melody is
<pre>
Yes-ter-day
G -f -f
</pre>
The problem is that, unlike how I'd approach a solo piano tune, the
melody is not exactly on top of the chord. I'm vamping an F block
chord in root position over this, and the notes of A-C of that chord
are higher than the melody notes by a couple of intervals or so. So
what I'm saying is, the block chord I'm playing against the melody I'm
singing is slightly higher (at least the 3rd and 5th) than the melody.
They are both playing in the same octave range though.
So I'm just curious if this is something that a lot of pianists and
keyboard players here pay a lot of attention or detail to when
accompanying singers? I could invert the F chord, playing an
inversion where the middle C would be the bottom note so that it
doesn't sound as high in relation to the melody, but really, is it
important to pay that much attention to making sure that what the
vocalist is singing is the top note? I may have to relearn the song,
using different inversions to ensure that what I sing is the top note.
So what I'd like to know is, how exact are you when playing
accompaniment to a vocalist or to yourself singing? Do you always
make to invert all the chords to make sure that the melody note is
always higher than the notes in the chord, or just as long as the chord
accompaniment and the melody are playing somewhere in the same range or
octave, that is good enough for you?
thank you
Marc Sabatella
2005-07-15 06:36:17 UTC
Permalink
Post by t.racer
OR, the
people who DO know how to do this are not going to tell because they
can make MONEY and aren't going to share the secrets of their success!
That doesn't seem likely. In vritually every other field of music, you
can make more money by teaching people how to do what you do than by
doing what you do.

--------------
Marc Sabatella
***@outsideshore.com

The Outside Shore
Music, art, & educational materials:
http://www.outsideshore.com/
t***@aol.com
2005-07-17 07:13:08 UTC
Permalink
Now that I think about this, it seems that in a case where you have a
song that has a riff (that is prominent and one of the main hooks of
the song) and the riff is played over a chord pattern, which is being
played by another instrument, if I were to juggle this on piano, of
course both can't be done unless if I sacrifice one (the riffs) or the
other (chord patterns).

It seems that with a song like "don't bring me down", I would have to
sacrifice the chord patterns that I'd ordinarily play for the riffs in
certain places, as the riff makes the song what it is. But if I
abandon the right hand chord patterns to play the riff, I don't believe
that I should play the bass the way it is done in the recording, as it
seems that I should add the fifth of the chord to the bass. Usually,
the bass parts I play are simple ......usually the root of the chord
(played in a rhythm sometimes) but if I must abandon the right hand
chord patterns to play the riff, it seems I should add the fifth of the
chord in the bass, and alternate between root and fifth.

Seems that may also be true of cases where a song may consist of just
riffs and bass and vocal, but no instrument actually playing straight
chords. If the sum total of the moving parts seem to vaguely indicate
chord progression, it indicates that I may not want to play the bass
exactly note for note as it is in the recording. If I know that the
first chord is some sort of "C" chord, it seems that I should create a
bass pattern that easily outlines that in some pattern, by maybe just
playing the root and perhaps the fifth in a pattern.
Greg G
2005-07-17 15:43:41 UTC
Permalink
Post by t***@aol.com
It seems that with a song like "don't bring me down", I would have to
sacrifice the chord patterns that I'd ordinarily play for the riffs in
certain places, as the riff makes the song what it is. But if I
abandon the right hand chord patterns to play the riff, I don't believe
that I should play the bass the way it is done in the recording, as it
seems that I should add the fifth of the chord to the bass.
I think that if the riff is in the bass line it would usually be a
good idea to play it in the bass also. A bass line like that is a
large part of the "meat" of the song.

But, as always, TRY it. See which sounds more like the record, or more
like you want it to. There is a great deal to be learned from playing
your way through these questions.

Greg Guarino
Marc Sabatella
2005-07-18 20:40:11 UTC
Permalink
Post by t***@aol.com
It seems that with a song like "don't bring me down", I would have to
sacrifice the chord patterns that I'd ordinarily play for the riffs in
certain places, as the riff makes the song what it is. But if I
abandon the right hand chord patterns to play the riff, I don't believe
that I should play the bass the way it is done in the recording, as it
seems that I should add the fifth of the chord to the bass.
That's definitely a possible way to adapt. Note, though, that playing
the riff doesn't mean you are "abandoning" the chord. The riff itself
probably states the chord reasonably well - that combined with even just
the root in the bass should be more than enough. Playing a chord
doesn't mean hitting all the notes at the same time. It doens't mean it
for the folks making the recording, and it doesn't mean it for you. It
means the parts you play should be consisent with the chord and at least
Post by t***@aol.com
Seems that may also be true of cases where a song may consist of just
riffs and bass and vocal, but no instrument actually playing straight
chords. If the sum total of the moving parts seem to vaguely indicate
chord progression, it indicates that I may not want to play the bass
exactly note for note as it is in the recording.
On the other hand, why not? If this sort of vaguely indicating the
chords was good for the original, why not for you?

--------------
Marc Sabatella
***@outsideshore.com

The Outside Shore
Music, art, & educational materials:
http://www.outsideshore.com/
t***@aol.com
2005-07-19 13:10:12 UTC
Permalink
Post by Greg G
Post by t***@aol.com
It seems that with a song like "don't bring me down", I would have to
sacrifice the chord patterns that I'd ordinarily play for the riffs in
certain places, as the riff makes the song what it is. But if I
abandon the right hand chord patterns to play the riff, I don't
believe
Post by t***@aol.com
that I should play the bass the way it is done in the recording, as it
seems that I should add the fifth of the chord to the bass.
That's definitely a possible way to adapt. Note, though, that playing
the riff doesn't mean you are "abandoning" the chord. The riff itself
probably states the chord reasonably well - that combined with even just
the root in the bass should be more than enough. Playing a chord
doesn't mean hitting all the notes at the same time. It doens't mean it
for the folks making the recording, and it doesn't mean it for you. It
means the parts you play should be consisent with the chord and at least
Post by t***@aol.com
Seems that may also be true of cases where a song may consist of just
riffs and bass and vocal, but no instrument actually playing straight
chords. If the sum total of the moving parts seem to vaguely indicate
chord progression, it indicates that I may not want to play the bass
exactly note for note as it is in the recording.
On the other hand, why not? If this sort of vaguely indicating the
chords was good for the original, why not for you?
Hi Marc,

I could try it, but I don't have perfect pitch or great relative pitch,
so if I were to try to play it note for note (bass line & riff) I would
end up with something that will sound different...maybe too different.
Even if I put it in the right key, it would be likely that if I were
to play it note for note, that what I play would not indicate the same
chords as the original.
Post by Greg G
--------------
Marc Sabatella
The Outside Shore
http://www.outsideshore.com/
Greg G
2005-07-19 13:37:35 UTC
Permalink
Post by t***@aol.com
Post by Marc Sabatella
On the other hand, why not? If this sort of vaguely indicating the
chords was good for the original, why not for you?
Hi Marc,
I could try it, but I don't have perfect pitch or great relative pitch,
so if I were to try to play it note for note (bass line & riff) I would
end up with something that will sound different...maybe too different.
Even if I put it in the right key, it would be likely that if I were
to play it note for note, that what I play would not indicate the same
chords as the original.
If you play the same notes over the same bass line it will suggest the
same chords. In fact, why not try the example I gave (Every Breath You
Take) earlier. Try the notes in the "correct" order over the bass
notes. Then try them in any other order you can think of. They will
still imply the same A and F#m chords.

As for pitch recognition, you will eventually need to develop good
relative pitch. But for now, play along with the record to get the
"riff". Or sing it while you try out the notes on the piano.

Greg Guarino
t***@aol.com
2005-07-19 23:10:28 UTC
Permalink
Thank you, Greg G. I appreciate your advice and insights, as well as
the advice and insights of Marc as well.
Marc Sabatella
2005-07-20 03:23:47 UTC
Permalink
Post by t***@aol.com
I could try it, but I don't have perfect pitch or great relative pitch
Perfect pitch isn't necessary, but some sort of relative pitch sense
most certainly is - it is the fundamental skill in playing by ear.
Trying to play by ear without a good working relative pitch sense is
like trying to swim underwater without being able to hold your breath.
Post by t***@aol.com
so if I were to try to play it note for note (bass line & riff) I would
end up with something that will sound different...maybe too different.
Then that's a skill you should start working on right away, and trying
to get this right for this song is as good a place to start as any.

--------------
Marc Sabatella
***@outsideshore.com

The Outside Shore
Music, art, & educational materials:
http://www.outsideshore.com/
Greg G
2005-07-20 17:10:14 UTC
Permalink
Post by t***@aol.com
I could try it, but I don't have perfect pitch or great relative pitch,
I'd like to focus on the word "have" in your sentence above. Absolute
or "perfect" pitch is commonly believed to be something you have, or
don't have, not something you can acquire.

But relative pitch is something that musicians develop over time.
Listen to music, a lot. Figure out songs from records, even if you
think you're not much good at it to start with. Play and experiment on
your instrument as much as you can. These are some of the things that
will develop good relative pitch.

Above all, don't think that you are stuck with your present skills as
regards relative pitch. It's something you learn, not something you
just "have", so get started!

Greg Guarino

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