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Thread: Woke with a chord question

  1. #26
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Woke with a chord question

    Quote Originally Posted by John Bertotti View Post
    I posted the same question on a guitar forum and one of the inmates is explaining to me he thinks of everything in the terms of tone centers. I’m still wrapping my head around that. It does however seem useful if I can get to his level of proficiency.
    Let's say that it is always useful to know in which tonal center one is playing. In simpler terms, at any point in the tune, what key am I in?

    Most fiddle tunes have a single tonal center.

    Many (if not most) jazz tunes have more than one tonal center.

    My jazz teachers always taught us to know what key you were in at any particular moment.

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  3. #27
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Woke with a chord question

    Makes sense he is a Jazz Guy as well, the man helping get the tone center thing sorted in my head.
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  5. #28

    Default Re: Woke with a chord question

    Quote Originally Posted by AaronWeinstein View Post
    Try not to confuse voicings with full chords. A chord might contain 4,5 or more specific notes. A voicing is when you grab a few notes from the chord and play em. That's all there is to it.


    Again, a voicing is simply a representation of the chord. BUT...don't underestimate the "Jethro Burns 3-note voicings". (I'm not clear if he "invented" these voicings or was "just" the first person to show everyone how brilliant they were). And omg, they sound great on the instrument and offer unlimited options and variations.
    "Voicing" just means the vertical order of the notes in a chord, and is applied to both complete chords and partial chords. You are describing "partial voicing", which is a great technique, especially for mandolin.

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  7. #29
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    Default Re: Woke with a chord question

    Quote Originally Posted by David L View Post
    "Voicing" just means the vertical order of the notes in a chord, and is applied to both complete chords and partial chords. You are describing "partial voicing", which is a great technique, especially for mandolin.
    Beyond the understanding that a voicing does not need to contain all the notes in the chord, I think it's misleading--or at least confusing, to call a voicing "partial" vs. "complete". For instance, Cm9 voiced (from G string up to A string) Bb, Eb, D--it's missing the root, it's missing the 5th. Or that same voicing as an EbMaj9...its missing the 3rd (ahhhh)...so one could say it is not "complete" or that it's "partial"---but I think that's shortchanging the voicing itself which has everything you need to hear Cm9...or Ebmaj (despite the 3rd having gone MIA). So it's a complete version of itself.

    Every voicing is a special snowflake. Yea, that's right. I went there. Enjoy each voicing for what it is, not...what its not. And again, PSA--please learn Jethro's 3 note forms--they'll tell you everything you need to know about function and the instrument.

    Also, please be on the lookout for my new chord theory book: Snowflake Voicings.

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  9. #30

    Default Re: Woke with a chord question

    Quote Originally Posted by AaronWeinstein View Post
    Also, please be on the lookout for my new chord theory book: Snowflake Voicings.
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  11. #31
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    Default Re: Woke with a chord question

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Martin View Post
    Rootless chords are VERY common in the jazz world. ...
    ... as are string basses. Cause? Effect? Coincidence?

    What I've been thinking thru much of this (great!) discussion is:
    For most roots music, and much western music in general, the chord is implied by the melody. That's because the emphasized notes (those on the main or downbeat "numbers" rather than the in-between "ands") are frequently part of the underlying chord. And our intelligent (if unknowing) brains will still "hear" that chord regardless, even if there's no instrument playing!!

    So a missing root ... in context? Easy to know when you're playing mandolin; tough to know when you're LISTENING TO mandolin, because you're iternally thinking the chord whether you want to or not!
    Last edited by EdHanrahan; Nov-26-2022 at 5:47pm.
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  13. #32
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Woke with a chord question

    In the article that jaycat linked to in post #2, the author states that the root note of a chord is the least important note of the chord, harmonically speaking. That is an interesting observation to me, and I find to be practically self evident in tonal music. The root is strongly implied in context by the flow of the melody.
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  15. #33
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Woke with a chord question

    A decade ago I had a little trouble understanding “rootless chords” … I’d spent 50 years as an amateur blues, folk, rock, country, gospel guitarist and not thinking much about music theory. At that time, I took up a study of Mickey Baker’s jazz chords, and I asked a teacher of the Mickey Baker method about how rootless chords could be identified. 10 years later, presently, I think I understand that context is everything when considering harmony in tonal music.
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  17. #34
    Registered User John Soper's Avatar
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    Default Re: Woke with a chord question

    Because of the ban on political content in this forum, I won't get dragged into a discussion of "Woke" chords!

  18. #35
    Registered User John Bertotti's Avatar
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    Default Re: Woke with a chord question

    I just typed a long post and hit quick reply but it vanished. No idea why other than a refresh of the page didn’t help.
    I meant nothing political by the title it is just how we talk were I grew up and live. I assume the same of the snowflake comparison which I helped me understand a bit more. Even tongue in cheek let’s not derail this thread please it is helping me and hopefully other so much!

    On to business, as mentioned a lot of rootless shores are implied but are the more than implied of the root is picked up by another instrument or vocal is it truly a rootless chord? Another question, let my shift to drums for a minute, when tuning the resonant head and the batter head the over note of the drum is not either but somehow a combination of the two. I started messing around with a drum tuner that measures each head and the interactions are interesting, but that also got me wondering if similar does not happen in an song two note playing off of each other implying the root note? But the root never actually being played or picked up by another instrument of vocal part. Can any one point me to a song where that happens? Root never played anywhere else yet truly implied? Or is the root always picked up somewhere else? A vocal another instrument a tuned percussive instrument, playing that tone?
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  19. #36
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    Default Re: Woke with a chord question

    When I speak of a rootless chord, I’m referring to the chord you’re playing on your own instrument. Yes, the root note may be covered by another instrument in an ensemble, or by a vocal. I mentioned in a previous post that the article jaycat referenced, the author states that harmonically speaking, the root note is often the least necessary note even when playing solo.

    In tonal music, in a chord progression, you can often “hear” an upcoming chord change before it is played! Your brain will then supply the root tonal information even when that note is missing from the chord!
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  21. #37
    Fingertips of leather Bill McCall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Woke with a chord question

    Going back to the OPs original question, the name is typically a function of the context. For example, 223x appears to some folks as A minor, to others as CM6 and to others as F#m7b5, depending on context. Only the F#m7b5 is rootless.

    I would think your other question whether a chord is rootless in context probably happens in minor key ii-V-1 progressions played by solo guitar players or mandolins in chord melody arrangements.

    Chords, being a combination of notes, have multiple names, all correct.
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  23. #38

    Default Re: Woke with a chord question

    I started messing around with a drum tuner that measures each head and the interactions are interesting, but that also got me wondering if similar does not happen in an song two note playing off of each other implying the root note? But the root never actually being played or picked up by another instrument of vocal part. Can any one point me to a song where that happens? Root never played anywhere else yet truly implied? Or is the root always picked up somewhere else? A vocal another instrument a tuned percussive instrument, playing that tone?
    The name is just a name. The root is part of that name. That name may change depending on where the song is going at the moment. As far as the music goes the name is not all that important. How the voices follow one another and how they sound together is really the object.

    There is not one single sequence of chords for a particular melody. There are a lot of options. For example I was messing with Silent Night a couple of days ago. It normally would be accompanied with I, IV and V major chords. After playing around a bit I started putting minor chords in. When I got done almost the whole song was accompanied with minor chords except a couple of brief passages. Same melody throughout in the key of C major but at the end accompanied mostly in Am. It sounded nice that way.

    So what key is it in? What is the root of the main accompanying chord? Consider that the tune is identical in both cases. Theory and names can be useful and interesting but do not let them obscure the object of making interesting and fun music.

    Where it gets interesting is when you start to understand how the melody and chord progressions follow in a logical sequence, the voices leading into one another. Someone like Aaron posting above turns that into an artform. Most of us just tinker with it a bit.

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  25. #39
    Registered User John Soper's Avatar
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    Default Re: Woke with a chord question

    "Going back to the OPs original question, the name is typically a function of the context. For example, 223x appears to some folks as A minor, to others as CM6 and to others as F#m7b5, depending on context. Only the F#m7b5 is rootless."

    That voicing can also be a rootless FM7. All the designations are correct, but context will determine what chord that voicing implies.

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  27. #40
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    Default Re: Woke with a chord question

    This seems like the right place for a side comment:

    Quote Originally Posted by John Soper View Post
    ... For example, 223x appears to some folks as A minor, to others as CM6 ...
    The 6th of any major chord and the 7th of that chord's relative minor always use the same four notes. For example:
    - C6 = CEGA
    - Am7= ACEG

    Just that tidbit occasionally helps resolve fingering or voicing puzzles.
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  29. #41
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Woke with a chord question

    Quote Originally Posted by EdHanrahan View Post
    This seems like the right place for a side comment:


    The 6th of any major chord and the 7th of that chord's relative minor always use the same four notes. For example:
    - C6 = CEGA
    - Am7= ACEG

    Just that tidbit occasionally helps resolve fingering or voicing puzzles.
    Great point, I made note of that on my movable chord shapes page here: https://theamateurmandolinist.com/20...d-shapes/#maj6
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  31. #42
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    Default Re: Woke with a chord question

    Except for practicing at home, I don't play solo much at all. So in an ensemble, like a pick up band for a dance, or a jam, I might play two or three notes together which but for a missing note would be the chord the music needs at that time. My excuse is that I am confident that one of the guitar players will play that note.

    But all of your explanations above make me feel like a music theory genius.
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