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Songs with lots of chords

wirralaccordion

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Sometime ago I started a thread asking for songs that could be played with two chords. I think La Paloma was one such song. In this thread I am asking for songs that use many chords. These songs would make an interesting proposition for accordion practice with a longer learning curve.
I would expect the jazz genre would present more examples than folk tunes. A typical song with quite a range of chords would be All of Me sung by Frank Sinatra.
 

JeffJetton

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How about "Never Gonna Let You Go"? It sounds like a simple pop tune at first, but those chords go all over the place...


 

losthobos

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I wouldn't worry about the amount of chords... Generally the cycle of 5ths on the stradella lead the way anyway...
My greatest concern when looking at a head sheet is the distance of the leaps...
Ie J'attendrai starts with a C straight big jump to B7....
C to Db ain't a lot of fun either.... 😉
 

Tom

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I saw mommy kissing the old beardy guy - F, B7, C,A7. Omg
 

Sean

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Billy Strayhorn's "Lush Life" comes to mind. The ballad has a handful of chords and more -- chromaticism, big leaps, shifting tonal centers, etc. I believe Strayhorn composed it while still a teenager 🤯 🙇‍♂️ . I found a lovely rendition performed by an accordionist:


A bandoneon player had a go at it:

Johnny Hartman's version (with John Coltrane) is my fave:

Tunes like this are aspirational for me. I'm still practicing big showstoppers like "Hopping Around" by the Gallianos and "Exercises for Both Hands" by L.O. Anzaghi 😅🤣
 

debra

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Sometime ago I started a thread asking for songs that could be played with two chords. I think La Paloma was one such song. In this thread I am asking for songs that use many chords. These songs would make an interesting proposition for accordion practice with a longer learning curve.
I would expect the jazz genre would present more examples than folk tunes. A typical song with quite a range of chords would be All of Me sung by Frank Sinatra.

If you want something with lots of chords, take something that contains chromatic progression, like for instance Melody in F by Anton Rubinstein.
 

JeffJetton

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Here's another one that is deceptively rich in chord variation: ABBA's new single, Don't Shut Me Down.

There are a couple of measures at every verse-to-chorus transition point that very cleverly modulate up a whole step each time. So the song winds up going through three different keys* without being super-obvious about it. There's just this tremendous sense of uplift every time the chorus comes up, like clouds parting, mirroring the lyric's themes of rebirth/renewal.

Really astounding songcraft on display here (not surprising coming from these guys, of course).



* Actually, it could be argued that the entire pre-chorus temporarily modulates up a 4th, making it a total of five keys used for the song.
 
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rob3rto

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Swing Valse moves through several chords, although most transcriptions that I've seen leave some of them out.

Gus Viseur's version:

I find the passing chords easier to pick out and the tempo easier to consume in this Ferret recording:
 

96Bass

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For really big jumps I’ll often play just the bass note which is often near to where I am and augment that with additional notes in the right hand.
The most difficult jumps on bass buttons are typically a half-step apart. If the bass button you are jumping to is marked, or above or below a marked button, it is a bit easier - such as A to Bb. I made an arrangement of Le Chemins de L'Amour by Francis Poulenc. The form is, intro-A-B-C. I could never figure out chords for the "C" part so I changed the form to AA BB. There is a difficult bass jump from F to F#dim which happens four times in my arrangement. I can now get it about 90% of the time. I also transposed the piece to Am.

 

JeffJetton

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The most difficult jumps on bass buttons are typically a half-step apart.

Agreed. The ease with which the Stradella bass system make the common harmonic movements (4ths and 5th) is at the cost of making half-steps harder. This makes seemingly simple songs like "Un Homme et une Femme" a big pain in the tuchus! 🤯

One trick that you can sometimes get away with (particularly with "jazzier" songs): If you're moving a half-step down to a dominant 7th chord, try substituting a 7(b9) chord and playing it as the counter-bass "one floor up" combined with the diminished button of the floor you were on.

For example: Dm / Db7 / C can be made easier by playing the Db7 as C# (counterbass of A) plus Ddim, which "adds up" to a Db7(b9) chord on most accordions. No big leap required!
 

Alan Sharkis

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There’s a Curiosity Stream video, available on Youtube, about The Girl From Ipanema. The video is very long, so I didn’t post it here, but please try to watch it, because it contains a lot of material that’s related to this thread.
 

wirralaccordion

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Agreed. The ease with which the Stradella bass system make the common harmonic movements (4ths and 5th) is at the cost of making half-steps harder. This makes seemingly simple songs like "Un Homme et une Femme" a big pain in the tuchus! 🤯

One trick that you can sometimes get away with (particularly with "jazzier" songs): If you're moving a half-step down to a dominant 7th chord, try substituting a 7(b9) chord and playing it as the counter-bass "one floor up" combined with the diminished button of the floor you were on.

For example: Dm / Db7 / C can be made easier by playing the Db7 as C# (counterbass of A) plus Ddim, which "adds up" to a Db7(b9) chord on most accordions. No big leap required!
Agreed ( first paragraph above ). The song "Dem bones" would be a good example as from 45 sec in in the attached link
 

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