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Music theory for Stradella bass

dan

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BobM had an interesting idea that might benefit from a new thread and a visual aid.
As a conceptual teaching idea, I had an idea of using a little masking tape to delineate an area in the LH, to develop the idea of a Key Cluster; that is to say, the root bass/chord and the 2 rows either side of it to explore the myriad possibilities of just this one small segment of the Stradella system. As its all easily transposable a lot of this only needs to be learnt once. And heres a thought, just by using the 7 notes in a Major scale its possible, using equal note values to have 48 variations (?) a lot anyway, that are all under the fingers and in one place.

So heres that 5 row chunk of a bass-button chart, centered on C:
<PRE>[pre]Counter-bass D A E B G♭
Fundamental bass B♭ F C G D
Major (M) B♭M FM CM GM DM
Minor (m) B♭m Fm Cm Gm Dm
Seventh (7) B♭7 F7 C7 G7 D7
Diminished (dim) B♭d Fd Cd Gd Dd[/pre]</PRE>

Heres the degrees of the major scale:
<PRE>[pre]Counter-bass 2 6 3 7 -
Fundamental Bass - 4 1 5 2[/pre]</PRE>

And heres some chords built on only those notes:
<PRE>[pre]Major (M) - IV I V -
Minor (m) - - - - ii
Seventh (7) - - - V7 -
Diminished (dim) - - - - vii(d)[/pre]</PRE>


(You can use pre /pre tags in brackets to retain tabbed formatting)
 

BobM

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Working with the key cluster idea, a helpful exercise is to play a Maj scale but with thee primary chords on the LH.

Which looks like, C/C, G/D, C/E, F/F, C/G, F/A , G/B, C/C. Then repeat but change the G to a G7. Start with the root and chord at the same time and then create your own variations.

This is a great aid to creating richer bass lines IMO.

Try Frère Jacques, melody first than add the chords.

BobM.
 

BobM

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BobM said:
Working with the key cluster idea, a helpful exercise is to play a Maj scale but with thee primary chords on the LH.

Which looks like, C/C, G/D, C/E, F/F, C/G, F/A , G/B, C/C. Then repeat but change the G to a G7. Start with the root and chord at the same time and then create your own variations.

This is a great aid to creating richer bass lines IMO.

Try Frère Jacques, melody first than add the chords.

BobM.

No takers on this? I wonder whether theres some confusion of this / symbol.
 

artelagro

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Hi Bob
Re confusion, there doesn't seem to be a definitive way to write the basses
i.e.
C/C could be written as C/CM
or in this case CM/C
Most of the music I follow would be the former.

Garth
 

BobM

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artelagro said:
Hi Bob
Re confusion, there doesnt seem to be a definitive way to write the basses
i.e.
C/C could be written as C/CM
or in this case CM/C
Most of the music I follow would be the former.

Garth

Just trying to keep it simple, but I was wondering whether some people see / as a division within a bar, its come up before..
 

BobM

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artelagro said:
Hi Bob
Re confusion, there doesnt seem to be a definitive way to write the basses
i.e.
C/C could be written as C/CM
or in this case CM/C
Most of the music I follow would be the former.

Garth

Just trying to keep it simple, but I was wondering whether some people see / as a division within a bar, its come up before..
 

dan

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I'd suggest the following notation, since I've seen it on some Stradella system reference charts.
CM Cm C7 Cd (or C°) for major, minor, and diminished chord buttons. Capitol letters for the bass buttons.
Chord before the slash, bass after.
For bar lines, use the | symbol.
Underline optional to indicate if the note is played in the counterbass row.
Fingering optional. thumb 1 index 2 middle 3 ring 4 pinkie 5

For example, to play a B half-diminished chord (notated as Bm7♭5 or BØ7 on a lead sheet)
I'd play B with my index finger and the D-minor chord button with my index finger. Could write this as
Dm/B
4/2
An alternate fingering is to play the B with ring finger in the counterbass row (next to G) and D minor chord button with index finger
Dm/B
2/4

The goal being to translate between "what's going on musically" and "how do I play this on my accordion?"
Feel free to suggest alternate conventions.
 

dan

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Thanks Bob, this exercise opens up a lot of possibilities! I'm now managing a slow and halting Frere Jaques on left hand with harmonies.

I found it helpful to warm up with some left hand arpeggios.
C E G CM/C!
Is a common flourish for the end of a waltz
C E G E CM/C!
At the end of a polka. Several possible fingerings, but this one is comfortable and frees up the middle finger for the major chord button. If you needed to play legato, you could use pinkie on the counterbass row.
C E G E CM/C!
4 4 2 4 3+4
Then a basic three chord progression with broken chords. Same fingering on each.
C E G, F A C, G B C, C
Then alternate the bass notes with a chord button.
C CM E CM G CM, F FM A FM C FM, G GM B GM D GM, CM/C
Then hold each chord button with the middle finger while playing the arpeggio with the other fingers.
CM/C, CM/E, CM/G, FM/F, FM/A, FM/C, GM/G, GM/B, GM/D, CM/C
Bob's exercise is the same thing (inversions of major triads) just in a different order to fit the scale or tune.
 

BobM

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dan said:
Id suggest the following notation, since Ive seen it on some Stradella system reference charts.
CM Cm C7 Cd (or C°) for major, minor, and diminished chord buttons. Capitol letters for the bass buttons.
Chord before the slash, bass after.
For bar lines, use the | symbol.
Underline optional to indicate if the note is played in the counterbass row.
Fingering optional. thumb 1 index 2 middle 3 ring 4 pinkie 5

For example, to play a B half-diminished chord (notated as Bm7♭5 or BØ7 on a lead sheet)
Id play B with my index finger and the D-minor chord button with my index finger. Could write this as
Dm/B
4/2
An alternate fingering is to play the B with ring finger in the counterbass row (next to G) and D minor chord button with index finger
Dm/B
2/4

The goal being to translate between whats going on musically and how do I play this on my accordion?

Feel free to suggest alternate conventions.

Re alternate convention, In my main musical job I have to read all sorts of chord charts, and the conventions are evolving all the time. As yet I havent had much to do with Accordion charts. But, I think that its more useful to use the standard symbols and terms because its not so limiting. Hence my opinion that the counter bass should be Mediant.

For myself, I want to play what I hear in my head, or from a broad source and not necessarily from an Accordion arrangement per se.

These scale/chord exs are useful in create hymn like arrangements, How great show art being a Good example, and a good introduction to walk down bass lines, not to be confused with, walking bass lines.



BobM.
 

dan

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BobM said:
Re alternate convention, In my main musical job I have to read all sorts of chord charts, and the conventions are evolving all the time. As yet I havent had much to do with Accordion charts. But, I think that its more useful to use the standard symbols and terms because its not so limiting. Hence my opinion that the counter bass should be Mediant.

For myself, I want to play what I hear in my head, or from a broad source and not necessarily from an Accordion arrangement per se.

Just a suggestion in case there was confusion about what was meant by letters and slashes in the teaching and learning forum. Not intended as tablature. It has since occurred to me that many people are posting from mobile devices, so we may be better served by writing prose and muddling it out best we can.

I also find accordion sheet music limiting and would like to be able to play from fakebooks and communicate with bass players. However, I think there may be a place for both kinds of language. You could even say: Play the mediant in the counterbass row. where mediant describes whats going on musically and counterbass describes which button I press on the accordion. Otherwise you risk confusion when playing a supertonic in the mediant row. ;)

Anyway, Ive been posting too much lately, so will sit on my hands and listen for a while. :)
 

BobM

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dan said:
... However, I think there may be a place for both kinds of language. You could even say: Play the mediant in the counterbass row. where mediant describes whats going on musically and counterbass describes which button I press on the accordion. Otherwise you risk confusion when playing a supertonic in the mediant row. ;)

Well.. hmm.. possibly, but the principle bass button is still called the tonic or root. Maybe best for me to let that one go.

BobM. :)
 

artelagro

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Hi Bob
I hope my last post hasn’t put the damper on things. I was pointing out a weakness that less experienced players could struggle with. We usually learn by following the instructions given by one tutor and whenever we move to a tutor book or fake book by someone else then a new bass language must be learned
The same posts are read by beginners who have learned no more than Oom-Pah and more advanced students who are keen to experiment with the unknown.
At this relatively early stage, I feel the ‘lesson’ would be greatly clarified if you can find a volunteer to put it onto Youtube or similar. I appreciate that this is a lot of extra work for a bite-size chunk.
Garth
 

BobM

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artelagro said:
Hi Bob
I hope my last post hasn’t put the damper on things. I was pointing out a weakness that less experienced players could struggle with. We usually learn by following the instructions given by one tutor and whenever we move to a tutor book or fake book by someone else then a new bass language must be learned
The same posts are read by beginners who have learned no more than Oom-Pah and more advanced students who are keen to experiment with the unknown.
At this relatively early stage, I feel the ‘lesson’ would be greatly clarified if you can find a volunteer to put it onto Youtube or similar. I appreciate that this is a lot of extra work for a bite-size chunk.
Garth

No worries, sometimes its good to step back and let things settle a little. Also, I think that its a good idea to check out as many differing ways to do things as possible, most of the time it doesnt cost any more and the cross fertilisation can be very creative.

Did you understand my point about melodies like How great show art, and slow airs being good vehicles for LH development?
 

artelagro

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Hi Bob
in your last post you asked Did you understand my point about melodies like How great show art, and slow airs being good vehicles for LH development?
I trust this is an open question and others will chip in here.
I have been doing minimal practice recently and this has been further reduced by the local builders who decided that now would be a good time to replace my windows and doors. My box in in its dust sealed box until normal service is resumed.
I am keen to get my left hand working because there is a real scarcity of help available in this area.
Thanks again
Garth
 

dan

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artelagro said:
At this relatively early stage, I feel the ‘lesson’ would be greatly clarified if you can find a volunteer to put it onto Youtube or similar. I appreciate that this is a lot of extra work for a bite-size chunk.

Ok... Ill give it a shot.
Heres my attempt at the scale exercise.
Hopefully you get the idea of how this would be applied to a LH melody. At this point, my version of How Great Thou Art wouldnt get me invited back to church. :mrgreen:

Bob, any tips for playing the G7/B chord? With ring finger on the counterbass row, I tend to underestimate the stretch to the 7th row.
 

BobM

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artelagro said:
Ok... Ill give it a shot.
Heres my attempt at the scale exercise.
Hopefully you get the idea of how this would be applied to a LH melody. At this point, my version of How Great Thou Art wouldnt get me invited back to church. :mrgreen:

Bob, any tips for playing the G7/B chord? With ring finger on the counterbass row, I tend to underestimate the stretch to the 7th row.
[/quote]

The second part is what I mean, but the first is useful as well. Its also a good idea to practice or learn/discuss harmony/theory in the key of C to start with.

Re the G7/B use the 4th on the B.

And re HGTA, my advice would be not to get hung up about the melody title but consider the content that could be beneficial. Hymns usually have interesting LH possibilities, and as a brass player the stuff we HAVE to practice is tedious in the extreme, and if you dont do it, is shows PDQ..

And putting the two together, In HGTA in the key of C (again), if you ignore the first 3 lead-in notes, the first chord is C and the second a C7 on the second half of bar 2, make that a C7/E and enjoy the lifting effect that it creates.

Bob.
 

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