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What do the 6's mean?

knobby

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I was looking at a couple of pieces of music this morning, and noticed some 6's in the notation for the chords.
Screen Shot 2020-07-24 at 11.11.31.jpg
What do they mean?
 

Glug

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Yep, confused me for a while. I don't have quite enough music theory to fully understand chord naming.
But the interweb can help:


And "The might Accordion" by David DiGiuseppe has a whole chapter on playing 6th chords :)
 

debra

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Cm7 means C minor plus seventh, so C-Es-G-Bes, which is formed by using the C minor chord together with the Es major.
Cm6 means C minor plus sixth, so C-Es-G-A, which is formed by using C minor plus C dim together.
There are many more chords that can be formed by combining two bass chord buttone.
 

Glenn

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The 6 indicates a 6th being played with the minor triad. In the case of Cm6 this means C-Eb-G-A. The A is the 6th of C. As the Stradella does not have a 6th chord the A needs to be played as the counter bass along with the Cm chord. Try the Cm and press the A above the F at the same time and see how it sounds. Quite nice actually. as I have no Dim row I am pretty used to this.

just had a play though and I think it most comfortable to play as C bass and Fm chord. This allows you to move comfortable between m7 and m6. The piece uses this motife throughout and is thus a repeatable pattern and a great one to learn.
 
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Glenn

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The Cm7 is also a really nice chord. You can replace it with a regular Cm but you lose a bit of the melancholy of this piece. I play the Cm7 as a C bass with Eb Major chord. Index finger on the C bass note and ring finger of the Eb major chord. Takes a bit of practice rotating the hand but after a while it gets to be a natural position when playing bass notes with the index finger.
 

Chrisrayner

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As a guitarist largely specialising in rhythmic strumming of chords I am pretty familiar with this notation. I find it interesting that the sixth of a major triad is the same notes as the seventh of the corresponding minor triad. E.g. C6th = Amin7th. Which can be handy,
 

fjsys

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The Cm7 is also a really nice chord. You can replace it with a regular Cm but you lose a bit of the melancholy of this piece. I play the Cm7 as a C bass with Eb Major chord. Index finger on the C bass note and ring finger of the Eb major chord. Takes a bit of practice rotating the hand but after a while it gets to be a natural position when playing bass notes with the index finger.
Why not use the C in the counterbass with the 4th and the 2nd on the Eb major? That is my most common way of playing the Cm7 (or any m7) but I guess a lot depends on where you are coming from and what is next in the music...
 

Glenn

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Why not use the C in the counterbass with the 4th and the 2nd on the Eb major? That is my most common way of playing the Cm7 (or any m7) but I guess a lot depends on where you are coming from and what is next in the music
Works too but then you are having more movement in the hand rather than rotating about the C bass. As you say, depends what is coming next. In Knobby’s case it repeats around C then walks down through F to Eb
 

Frank Fusari

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Another way of dealing with playing chords that lie outside of M m 7 or dim is to just add the extra note(s) with the right hand. In the first bar of your example you could play a straight up Cm in the bass, and in the right hand play a Bb with your thumb for Cm7, then slide down to an A for Cm6. You'll have the other 4 fingers of your right hand to play the melody notes. Just another way of doing it!
 

losthobos

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Continuing to elaborate on Franks idea often for a fill vamp on the right hand if holding say a Cm for a couple of bars i may play
C note with both the thumb and higher C with the pinkie or ring finger.. Index and middle fingers on Eb and G..
You can then pulse a classic little vamp/run by keeping the middle fingers on notes but slip the both of the outside fingers down from C to B to A and back up to B...
Classic vamp over a static chord... In a major key (ie E and G centre notes) you'll be playing C major, Cmajor7, Cmajor6, Cmajor7
You should here instantly as either Can't Smile without yoh, don't it make my brown eyes blue, the last waltz and countless other tunes
Hope thats helpful
 

knobby

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Well most of that went straight over my head - too complicated for me at my lowly level.

So the next question is... what would be a suitable substitute for these chords, without losing too much of what was intended for the piece of music (if there is a suitable substitute)?
 

losthobos

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Well most of that went straight over my head - too complicated for me at my lowly level.

So the next question is... what would be a suitable substitute for these chords, without losing too much of what was intended for the piece of music (if there is a suitable substitute)?

I think its possible you could play Cm with the Bb root note using your pinkie perhaps would make Cmin7, and if your playing standard stradella the diminished row should have the 5th of the chord missing so Cdim also doubled as Cmin6...
 

debra

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Well most of that went straight over my head - too complicated for me at my lowly level.

So the next question is... what would be a suitable substitute for these chords, without losing too much of what was intended for the piece of music (if there is a suitable substitute)?
There were many replies with all kinds of hints, combining chords with additional base notes (not a good idea as the base notes sound deeper) or adding a note from the treble side...
Let me rehash my early reply that applies to most accordions with Stradella bass side:
Cm6 is simply playing the c minor and c dim chords together.
The Cm7 that also appears in the fragment you showed is c minor and es major together.

Now the stuff that may go over your head:
The general scheme is minor-6 is minor + dim and minor-7 is minor + the major of 3 notes (buttons) down.
If you want to practice combined chords and become good at them... try my solo arrangement of two pieces from the movie soundtrack of "Turks Fruit" (or "Turkish Delight"): https://www.de-bra.nl/arrangements/turks-fruit.pdf which contains the scheme of chord combinations at the end so you know which combinations to use. This piece uses more special chords like G9- (G7 plus a diminished 9th), Cm9 (minor plus seventh plus ninth, which is cm and gm together) and also a g- which is a different dim, like b5- is the ddim...
There is only one "classical" chord you cannot play on Stradella and that is the augmented fifth: You cannot create a chord that does c-e-g#. There have been accordions that had augmented fifth instead of the dim basses. (They used C7 as e-g-bes, and thus F7 as a-c-es so F7 could double up as Cdim, and then the fourth row of chords was "free" to use for augmented fifth.)
You see, Stradella bass can be quite complicated, but juse Cm7 and Cm6 are quite simple.
 

fjsys

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Well most of that went straight over my head - too complicated for me at my lowly level.

So the next question is... what would be a suitable substitute for these chords, without losing too much of what was intended for the piece of music (if there is a suitable substitute)?

easiest - Try just playing the Cmin and see how that sounds. (in other words ignore the 6 or 7 after the min). If it sounds fine go with it.
 

dunlustin

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I wish I could get why this is suggested?
Cminor6 is C Eb G A and the last half of the bar has this against the D.
With LMM chosen that's maybe nine reeds playing together (ish) grouped CDEb and GA - try it on a piano?
C minor7 is Bb C Eb G and only one of those notes appears in the melody - and assuming it's 'swung' - only fleetingly.
Perhaps it works for a transposing instrument - Bb sax?
Have I misunderstood completely?
My knowledge of harmony is pretty basic but I'd try Dmin, Gmin, Cmin and 7ths if you're feeling bold.
Any help is appreciated.
 

JeffJetton

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There were many replies with all kinds of hints, combining chords with additional base notes (not a good idea as the base notes sound deeper)

I'm glad you pointed this out, as it's a common mistake. You can't just add the "extra" note by sticking in another bass note. Chords are (typically) named after the lowest, "root", note. So if it's a C-something chord, you have to have C as the bass note and that's pretty much it.

If you tried to, for example, make a C6 chord (which is C, E, G, and A) by playing an A bass with a C chord, you'd technically get the correct four notes, but the wrong note would be the root, and you'd wind up with an Am7. And if you tried to put the C bass in at the same time as the A bass... you'll probably just wind up with a muddy mess. :sick:
 

JeffJetton

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A couple more things to add:

First, when it comes to these jazzy, extended chords that are made up of more than three notes, it's perfectly acceptable (and, in practice, quite common) to simply drop one of the notes, with the 5th usually being the best candidate. After all, that's what the 7th and Dim7 chord buttons do on most accordions.

Which means (among other things) that you can usually get away with simply playing a dim chord in place of a minor 6 chord. No urgent need to add in the minor chord button, since all that would add is the least-useful note of the chord... the 5th. Nice to have? Sure. Necessary? Nope.

Second, there seems to be a tendency among accordionists to think of the RH as "the thing that plays the melody" and the LH as "the thing that fulfills all the harmonic requirements of the piece". This is probably because that's how all the music you learn when you start out is arranged.

But in a lead sheet like the example above, that chord symbol on top of the measure is a indicator of the overall general harmony of the music at that point. How you create that harmony is entirely up to you.
  • Want to play all of it in the LH? Go for it!
  • Want to divvy it up between the left and right? That works too.
  • Want to strip it down and simplify? It's jazz (isn't it?), so why not? Just play regular Cm, Fm, etc. chords. I won't stop you!
  • Want to dress it up even more than notated? Maybe play those Cm7 chords as Cm9? Knock yourself out!
(Heck, I find that I often do all of the above at different points in a song.)
 

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