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Help with the bass side of these songs.


Active member
Feb 14, 2023
Reaction score
USA, Ilinois
Hello there,
recently, I've been trying to learn the following songs: Drunken sailor and Sloborkaia march.

While I got the melody right, I'm still doubtful for the bass side.

For Sloborkaia march, I had to arrange the previous sheet from piano to stradella. Here is a picture of the music sheet I wrote.

Sloborkai march.jpg

It follows a waltz rhythm, mostly alternating on Dm, GM but it has some weird phrases around 25-26 where I'm not sure if is EbM and then Em?

For drunken sailor, I think I got the right chords but I'm not sure about the rhythm...

Drunken sailor.jpg

I read that it should be 2/4 for accordion solo, but I'm not sure which bass technique to use to fit the melody.

I would appreciate advice here.

First song:

  • The bass notes in measures 10, 18, and 22 should all be B flat.
  • Chords in measures 11 and 12 should be A major (and bass note in meas. 12 is C#)
  • Bass note in measure 17 is G (you've got 17 and 18 flipped around)
  • Not sure if you're putting a capital or lowercase "m" next to those G chords, but it should be "m". That is, they should all be G minor chords.
  • LH in measures 19 and 20 is identical to 11 and 12: A major, then A major over C# bass.
  • The chords in measures 25 and 26 are all Eb major. When a flat (or sharp, or natural) is written in inside a measure, it stays in effect for the rest of the measure. So that second chord still has an Eb. Since the G in the chord is not flat, it's Eb major rather than Eb minor. (And the bass in meas. 26 is a B flat.)
  • Chord in m. 27 is... you guessed it!... A major. :) Note that the E in the chord would be natural anyway, due to the above-mentioned rule (the flattened E from the previous measure does not carry over), but they put in a "courtesy" natural on it just to remind you.
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Second song:

Yes, a tune like that would be "felt" in 2/4, but it's often more convenient to write it in 4/4 anyway, essentially "doubling" all the note values, for ease of reading.

So, to do the typical alternating bass pattern on this, you'd play the root bass note of the chord on beat 1 (along with the first B quarter note of the melody), the chord on beat 2 (with the first B eighth-note), the alternate bass on beat 3, then another chord on beat 4. Repeat that same idea for subsequent measures.

Oh, and the music you have is in the key of Em*, not Dm. So you'll want to move all those chords up by a whole step. Where you have Dm, play Em instead, D major instead of C major, and G major instead of F major. (Or you could keep the chords you have and instead transpose the melody down a whole step.)

* Okay, it's technically in E dorian mode, but that's not really something you have to worry about right now. :)
Here, I finally finished a version for the accordion after several months of delay.

Thanks @JeffJetton for the advice. It was very valuable!

Behold! My first song arranged for accordion.

Let me know what you think and how could we improve it. I feel the outro could be a bit better.


  • Sloborkaia March.zip
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  • Sloborkaia March.pdf
    55.4 KB · Views: 10
Behold! My first song arranged for accordion.

Let me know what you think and how could we improve it. I feel the outro could be a bit better.

Nice job, Jamie! Fun, isn't it? :)

Here are a few things I noticed, notation-wise:
  • Check out the AAA "rules" for bass notation, which covers a lot of the following.
  • You'll usually want to avoid using the D that's in the middle of the bass clef. That's right on the dividing line between bass notes and chords and can seem ambiguous. I'd suggest notating all those Dm chord notes one octave higher (MuseScore shortcut: Select the note and press Cmd+Up Arrow on a Mac, or I think Ctrl+Up Arrow for PCs). Leave the non-chord bass notes where they are though--they're good!
  • When the chord does not change from measure to measure, you can leave out the chord marking. So measures 2-8 don't need the "m" on there. Nor do measures 10 or 12, etc. (That said, sometimes I will reiterate it if there's a line break, or a repeat bar or other section break, just as a courtesy.)
  • Looks like you're using the Chord Symbol feature to place those chord markings. In MuseScore, I find that using the "Text" feature instead looks a little better (Shortcut: Cmd or Ctrl + T) and appears closer to the note head by default. I do use Chord Symbols on the treble clef when I want to include the chord name ("Dm", "A/C#", etc.) over the staff though.
  • Bass notes that are to be played using a counterbass button, such as in measures 12 and 20, should have a line under them. In MuseScore, I use the Tenuto marking for this, which is found in the Articulations palette.
  • I think your RH notes in measures 25 & 26 are off by one.
  • This is a mistake (arguably) in your source arrangement, so not your fault: In cases where there is a rest for the entire measure, common practice is to use a whole-note rest, even in 3/4, rather than three quarter-note rests. You have this correct in the RH at the very beginning, but not in measures 24 and 29. If you just select those rests (Shortcut: Shift-click somewhere in the measure that's not on a note) and hit the Delete key, MuseScore should fix everything for you.
Keep up the awesome work! 🎉
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