Learning Brazilian Guitar Forums Theory Chord voicings in accompaniment [great discussion to join]

  • Author
    Posts
  • AvatarBelacqua
    Participant
    Post count: 29

    Hi Renato I notice that you frequently will avoid putting the melody note of a song in the voicing of the
    accompaniment. I know that an accompanist should not step on the singer’s right to the melody note, but sometimes it just feels right to include the melody note in the chord. Can you expand on this aspect of the art of accompaniment?

    Thanks

    Damian

  • RenatoRenato
    Keymaster
    Post count: 136

    Hi Damian,
    are you talking about solo arrangements or accompaniment?

  • AvatarBelacqua
    Participant
    Post count: 29

    Accompaniment

  • RenatoRenato
    Keymaster
    Post count: 136

    Well, this is a sensitive subject. The only thing I really avoid doing is adding unecessary dissonances in the chords. I classify unnecessary dissonances as those which are used in a given chord just because they are possible according to musical theory, and not because you are trying to tell a story with them.

    Before going any further I’d like to leave an open question. Which of these two chords is richer in terms of sound, a Cmaj or a Cmaj9?

    When you begin to learn counterpoint, one of the first rules says that every dissonance should be prepared and resolved. It means that a given dissonance should appears as consonance in the previous chord, next, it becomes a dissonance during a while, and then, it should be resolved as a consonance in the final chord. Take the following melody as an example:
    c, f, f, e

    A good chord progresion for this situation would be:

    Cmaj, Dm (where the f note is a consonance), G7 (where the f note is a dissonance) and Cmaj, where the dissonance f resolves on the e note, a consonance.

    Obviously, this kind of rule doesn’t have to be truly taken into account when we talk about “modern music”. Even so, it points to something important that the great composers were aware of, and something that, thanks to Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683 – 1764), is being forgotten over time. Dissonances are what bring movement to music. Mainly the friction, the dispute, between the notes of the melody and the notes of the chords.

    I’ll wait for your considerations before we develop this topic.

    Best

  • AvatarBelacqua
    Participant
    Post count: 29

    Good to have you frame your concept of voice leading in accompaniment. But let me give you an example in Caminhos Cruzados in bar 17. You’ve held the pedal of the e’ note through the A maj7 and G#7-13 chords, but then instead of holding onto the e’ and playing an em6 chord with the third in the bass and containing the melody note of e’ in the chord, you play the C#dim chord, and the melody note sung becomes part of a dissonance which does little for the word painting of the lyric. And though I like the way the C#dim chord resolves to the F#7+5, I think I like holding the pedal into an Em6 chord.

    It just seems to me that you avoid having the melody note in the accompanying chord in many instances, and I was just seeking an explanation from you as to whether or not this in itself is a kind of rule.

    Thanks
    Damian

  • RenatoRenato
    Keymaster
    Post count: 136

    Hi Damian,
    let’s take a look at what is happening in this part of the song:

    caminhos_cruzados_bar_17

    We can see that the main notes of the melody are part of each chord. “g#” as maj7 of Amaj7, g# as octave of G#7(b13), and “e” as m3 of C#m7(b5). In addition to this, I’ve got 6th intervals between the notes of the melody and the top notes of the chords. Also, a descendent melody in the 4th string: g#, f#, and e.

    But I have to be honest, I hadn’t planned this in advance. I just used my ears.

    If I had kept the “e” note on the top of C#m7(b5) (what actually is the way I see the Em6), I’d have had two 6th interval and a octave between the melody and the top notes of the chords.

    What do you think about it?

  • AvatarBelacqua
    Participant
    Post count: 29

    Well returning to your original point about the shifting roles of consonance and dissonance, you have two dissonant chords, the G#7-13 and the C# half diminished and then another dissonant chord in the F#7-13. Whereas with an Em6 chord with the 3rd in the bass you have an alternation of consonance and dissonance that carries over into the following measures where I would alternate between em6 and F#7-13. Also I take issue with your E7-9 chord which I hear as an Fdim with the F in the bass. Then to prepare for the Amaj7 in the B section I would play an E13-9. But that’s just the way I hear it.

  • AvatarBelacqua
    Participant
    Post count: 29

    But I can appreciate the elegance of your counterpoint. I quite often prefer to take the .pdf and make my own arrangement, taking cues from what you have laid down. I mean what’s the use of playing music if you can’t feel free to be creative with the material you’re given. But then I go back and see the virtue of your
    arrangement and end up with a combination of both. i still don’t like your voicing for the D#m7-5 chord in measure 45. I prefer D#/A/C#/F# resolving to a dm6 chord voiced D/B/F/A. I just think it fits the melody better and is easier to sing. It’s a really beautiful song that for some reason I had never bothered to learn.

    Cheers,

    Damian

  • RenatoRenato
    Keymaster
    Post count: 136

    Well returning to your original point about the shifting roles of consonance and dissonance, you have two dissonant chords, the G#7-13 and the C# half diminished and then another dissonant chord in the F#7-13. Whereas with an Em6 chord with the 3rd in the bass you have an alternation of consonance and dissonance that carries over into the following measures where I would alternate between em6 and F#7-13.

    In my view, Em6/G is a C#m7(b5)/G. Because Em6 is the first inversion of C#m7(b5) and this is the way it sounds for me. And, in my view, it doesn’t matter what inversion you use for this chord, it is always a dissonant chord. The rules about consonance and dissonance, which sometimes have to be taken into consideration and other times not, refer to the relationship between melody and harmony and not between chords only. Changing the chord’s name doesn’t changes the sound of it.

    For me, there are three types of situation that we can describe as consonant or dissonant:
    1. If a note of the melody belongs to the chord it is a conssonance, and vice versa.
    2. The chord itself. Does the chord sound as a resting point or it asks for something else like a resolution?
    3. An excerpt of the song. Do you feel it as a path for something, like a dominant function, or the point of arrival after the trip.

    Also I take issue with your E7-9 chord which I hear as an Fdim with the F in the bass. Then to prepare for the Amaj7 in the B section I would play an E13-9. But that’s just the way I hear it.

    I didn’t get it. The chord I used is a E7b9(13), without 7th actually. Doesn’t it the chord you said you’d use? Anyway, I don’t think it is a good idea to analyse a song based on the names of the chords. It’s better if we take a look at the notes of the chords and what is happening with them.

  • RenatoRenato
    Keymaster
    Post count: 136

    But I can appreciate the elegance of your counterpoint. I quite often prefer to take the .pdf and make my own arrangement, taking cues from what you have laid down. I mean what’s the use of playing music if you can’t feel free to be creative with the material you’re given. But then I go back and see the virtue of your arrangement and end up with a combination of both.

    I completely agree with you. The only way to learn to make choices is by making choices and in Art nothing is absolute. There are some arrangements I made in the past that I don’t like anymore. But I will not cry over spilled milk. Those were the best choices I was able to make at that time.

    i still don’t like your voicing for the D#m7-5 chord in measure 45. I prefer D#/A/C#/F# resolving to a dm6 chord voiced D/B/F/A. I just think it fits the melody better and is easier to sing. It’s a really beautiful song that for some reason I had never bothered to learn.

    I really respect your opinion. But, perhaps, this part is exactly what other people will like most.

    Cheers.

  • AvatarBelacqua
    Participant
    Post count: 29

    That is quite possibly true. The language of chord names is rather limited, isn’t it? Do you ever think of chord structure in terms of figured bass? That would be where the bass note is stated in the staff, usually in bass clef, and the figure would represent the intervals. For example a chord with the third in the bass would be represented 6/3. Do you think the system of figured bass can be useful in modern styles of music like Bossa Nova?

  • RenatoRenato
    Keymaster
    Post count: 136

    Hi Damian,
    first of all I apologize for the late reply. All problems with the website took me a lot of time. Fortunately, the website seems to be working better than ever running on the new servers.

    I think that figured bass and the way we name chords in popular music are very similar. In the C major key, for example, a c note on the staff with a number 6 below it, represents a Am/C. A g note with 6/4 below it, represents a C/G. That’s why I usually see sixth chords as inversions. A C6, for me is a Am/C in principle.

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.