Fiddle chord confusion :(

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This topic contains 63 replies, has 8 voices, and was last updated by cricket cricket 3 days ago.

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  • #64995
    Great Scott
    Great Scott
    Moderator

    Okay, maybe a similar question has been asked before; and maybe I was the one who asked it, but I have something else to ask:

    I know that a chord on the violin is the playing of two notes a the same time.  Example; I would play a note on the E string and maybe an open A note together.  But, here is where I am stumped:

    Question:  Is it usual for violin / fiddle players to change it around a bit and actually play, say, a C note on the A string while playing an open E string?

    Question:  Can a violin chord comprise of THREE notes that incorporate either one or two open strings and an actual depressed note on the string in between, OR (for example) open D with open E with the note E depressed on the A string?  I am just completely confused when it comes to violin / fiddle chords.  Piano chords appear to be much easier.

    #64998
    cricket
    cricket
    Participant

    Great Scott…the way I think of it is that you have drones…which is where you bow an open string and at the same time play something on the adjacent string.  For example, you are playing in the 1, 2, 3, 4, or open fingerings on your A string while also bowing your open E string at the same time…thus, you are playing the A string while droning on the E string. You can drone on a string above or below the string you’re playing on, but seems to me it usually works out that you do most of the droning on the string higher…not always, though.  If you stop both strings, like let’s say you hold down the third finger on the A string and also the first finger on the E string…you’re not droning anymore, but playing a double stop…double stops are like chords, except minus one note, having only two. Chords have to be at least three notes, and I think some fiddlers can manage three notes at once (they must have really flat cut bridges), but mostly if you did that you’d have to do something fancy with your bow to catch all three strings, in my opinion…like hokum bowing or something.  Then there’s bow rocking…but that’s usually done with drones, although sometimes also with double stops.

    #65001
    fiddlewood
    fiddlewood
    Participant

    A chord by definition is at least three notes.

    Your’re talking about double stops

    DS can be used to mimic chords…

    if you can build chords on a piano, its a good start

    basic G chord = root (G), third (B), and fifth (D)

    Double stops come in different flavors…thirds, fifths, sixths, etc

    Fifths:  the fiddle is tuned in fifths…two adjoining string played together at the same place on the fingerboard (or both open) is a fifth DS.

    thirds:  I’d guess the most often used for “chording” …they are usually the first learned, and contain a root and a third on the string above.

    for a G you would have G as the root note, and you’d use a B for the third…this would be played with the G on the third string and the B on the second string.

    if you move this position:

    (first & ring fingers)

    C on the fourth string & E on  the third string  you have a “C”

    D on the second string & F# on the first string  = E

    If you move the same finger position up a whole-step you get the following

    (i’d use the second finger and pincky for this one)

    (D) note on fourth string & (F#) on third  string = D

    (A) on third string & (C#) second string = A

    (E) on second string & (F#) on first string  = E

    notice that if you go up a G major scale B is the third note…hence “third” for the name of the DS

    Fifths and sixths are used more in melody playing at the level I’m at so far, but are built the same way using a root note and counting up the scale to chosen number on the next string above.

    Hope this helps some…if not let me know and I’ll have another go at it…

     

     

    • This reply was modified 1 week ago by fiddlewood fiddlewood.
    #65003
    Great Scott
    Great Scott
    Moderator

    Thanks, Cricket.  Okay, I get the droning bit… kinda.  I know what a double stop is, but let me ask you this:  Is it usual for players to do a double stop (for example, in Ist position) by fingering the C note on the A string while playing the Open E string.  Same goes for playing an open A string while fingering a B flat on the G string?

    I know it is easy to play the F note on the E string while playing an open A string, which appears to be the usual procedure, i.e; first string depressed while second string is open, whether it be a note on the E string being fingered with the A string open; OR a note on the A string being fingered with the D open string; but my question addresses the reverse of this, i.e; where the E string is open and a note is fingered on the A string (for example).

    I think we need to have a comprehensive video made regarding double stops and how to form them.  I have seen a number of videos on UT about double stops but none of them address my particular question.

    #65005
    fiddlewood
    fiddlewood
    Participant

    your first example with the E over C is a common “third” DS for a C chord…it can also be done  in a lower position described in my previous post.

    The Bb and A example would have to be done with the pinky playing the A note on the third string. I’m not sure what it would be but it could be done physically…and it would have a quite disturbing sound as the notes are only 1/2 step apart…

    for the second paragraph…it can work both ways and more

    For the F/A you mentioned…if your playing it to an F chord I’d suggest using the third string for the F note…that puts the root note of the chord on the bottom with an open A above it. This usually blends better when you’re in the background.   The position you describe,with the F over the A  would be better used as in a lead break usually.

    • This reply was modified 1 week ago by fiddlewood fiddlewood.
    #65009
    Great Scott
    Great Scott
    Moderator

    Dave, sincere thanks for taking the time to explain all that you did.  You must have posted your first reply at the same time I posted mine to Cricket; hence, your reply got up before mine.  Anyway, you certainly put a lot of thought and effort into answering my question.  I have read both of your replies through and am trying to process all that information.  I just wish I had my fiddle here  with me at the moment so I could try out a lot of what you said.  I will get to trying it out tomorrow.  Thanks again, Dave, for such a great response.

    P.S.  I was getting double stops confused with chords.

     

    #65011
    fiddlewood
    fiddlewood
    Participant

    You’re welcome.

    I hope I made enough sense so you can understand my ramblings.

    Once you get to your fiddle, if something doesn’t make sense or you need clarification, just give a holler…I’ll be around for another day yet…then taking off to play a fest in IN and will return home Sunday.

    Have fun!

    • This reply was modified 1 week ago by fiddlewood fiddlewood.
    #65014
    Nancy Parker
    Nancy Parker
    Participant

    Below are two youtubes byCharlie Walden re: bluegrass fiddle chords Theory.  Check them out.  😊

    Here’s Part 1:

    Here’s Part 2:

     

    #65015
    Nancy Parker
    Nancy Parker
    Participant

    Oops!  The Part 1 Chord Theory Youtube got scrambled with a lesson on the fiddle tune called “Bowing the Strings”   by Charlie Walden.   . . . which I can now play 😑

    Here’s Part 1 on the Chord Theory lesson.

     

     

    #65016
    cricket
    cricket
    Participant

    Dave is giving out the thorough explanations on all of this.  I’m sorry guys, but when people start talking notes, besides just the notes of the open strings, it loses me because i play by ear and i can discuss more by just saying ‘finger one on the D string’ better than naming notes, which totally loses me.  As far as chords…I figure out pattern shapes and how to use those shapes on different strings and see what chords they go with to know how to jam by sort of chording along with double stops…i have no idea what any of the notes i’m playing are.  i know keys, chord progressions, etc., but i’m sorry, i don’t know the actual notes invovled.

    Nancy might have solved the difficult discussion issue with her video link…i’ll watch later…we’ve been kinda busy with working on roofs, gutters and dirt walls and such…rain damage from extremely wet weather and such…but i’ll be back…the video looks interesting.  Charlie Walden is a good fiddler and i’ve seen some of his workshops on youtube…good stuff!

    #65019

    Hakan Lindholm
    Participant

    That was a very good and useful video. Many thanks.

    #65021
    Nancy Parker
    Nancy Parker
    Participant

    Question for Cricket:

    Are you able to play those pattern shapes when your fiddle is cross-tuned?

    Dave, Cricket, John!    Another question:  Charlie mentioned something about playing “a 3-chord on the fiddle   by using a matchstick(?) under the E-string.  Have you ever played a 3-chord this way?

     

    #65022
    fiddlewood
    fiddlewood
    Participant

    I haven’t.   I tend not to play anything I have to retune for…

    • This reply was modified 1 week ago by fiddlewood fiddlewood.
    #65024
    fiddliferous1950
    fiddliferous1950
    Participant

    A couple of tunes that come to mind for me where the C natural is noted on the A string and the E string is used open are in the tunes Denver Belle, Carolina Mountain Rag and even in Billy in the Low Ground.

    The notes C and E are found as the first two notes of a root position C Major triad (CEG) and as the upper two notes of a root position A Minor triad ((A)CE).

    Other tunes where the C and E are used in the above fashion are Boston Boy and Grassy Fiddle Blues.

    Carolina Mountain Rag and Billy in the Low Ground are tunes that actually have the A Minor involved in the melody.

    The C and E notes sounded together can also make a colorful passing accompaniment sounded as a D7 9 where the notes C and E resolve to the B and D notes in the Tonic chord G in the key of G.

    #65028
    cricket
    cricket
    Participant

    Nancy…I remember seeing fiddlers play three strings at once, but I didn’t know how they accomplished it.  As to cross tuning and double stops…yes…you can do it.  Some of the shapes are the same as in standard tuning, some change.  Sometimes I forget for a second which tuning I’m in and I start to go to the wrong shapes for double stops for that tuning…lol…but, amazingly, you do get used to that situation and your fingers realize your error and get where they should be pretty fast.

    #65031
    rodger
    rodger
    Participant

    I was always kind of confused by how the older classical players and articles, even in publications like Strings would refer to a double stop as a chord, because I always thought that technically a chord had to be at least a triad.  So I thought it was accepted because of common usage,  much like polecat.  (A polecat isn’t really a polecat unless you’re back home, and then it most certainly is.)  When this came up I looked it up in Wikipedia, and technically a chord only has to have two tones.  So the classical world is correct after all, and we are technically correct to call two tones together on a fiddle a chord, as long as they are two of the notes that comprise a triad.  Of course on a fiddle you always have overtones which blend in from the open strings and these can be significant as well.

    Since an open string is not a stop, then it would seem like technically a drone could not be called a double stop, but since it so often is called that, an isolated drone is very often referred to as a double stop.  To be a ‘stop’ requires the finger to be on the string.  The only time I can recall (I think) the term drone being used is usually in connection with a long series of droning, not just a single beat or two.  So when you hear an instruction using the term drone it (seems to me) it will involve a series of often several measures, or playing a whole section with an open string along side the melody.  In fiddling it’s common to have a single drone or two, and it’s also common for them to be referred to as double stops in those cases.  I guess it’s mostly a matter of usage that determines definitions, and usage does vary from place to place.  Just be sure if you’re back home to keep your distance from a polecat though…don’t argue with that one.

     

     

    #65039
    Great Scott
    Great Scott
    Moderator

    Dave, thank you.  I will be processing all of this and hopefully I will be able to have a go at making (attempting) to make a few nice sounds.

    Nancy, thank you for the great videos.  Started watching first video but will need more free time today to watch all vidz all the way through.

    Rodger, thank you for posting that information.  I guess it’s the nomenclature that can confuse things, both a little and a lot.  It seems the violin world has different nomenclature to the fiddle world.

    #65041
    fiddliferous1950
    fiddliferous1950
    Participant

    I’ve always held that two or more tones when sounded together made a chord. It doesn’t matter whether the tones are those found in a triad or elsewhere. Chords can be consonant or dissonant. For example, an A and a B Flat note sounded together would produce a dissonance but still be a chord.

    An open string is also a “stop”. A finger is a “movable violin nut”. An open E and a C note on the A string would still be called a double stop since two strings are being stopped; one by the nut and the other by a finger.

    When one fully plugs his/her nose at the smell of a “polecat” or “skunk”, this is called a double stop nose plug because both nostrils are stopped. lol.

    #65046
    Great Scott
    Great Scott
    Moderator

    PS~ Fred, many thanks too for your input.  I am going to have to try and learn those tunes you posted.  I too always thought two notes sounded simultaneously could be referred to as a ‘Chord”; but then someone told me years ago that THREE notes make a chord.  It really gets confusing sometimes.  I wonder what Mozart would make of this.

    #65047
    cricket
    cricket
    Participant

    Fred…lol…good info…especially useful for the polecat scenario!  Rodger, you make a good point about a drone functioning as a double stop when it’s not function as a drone…lol…I didn’t mean to say it so confusingly, but I think it’s clear enough, I guess.  I’ve always heard a chord has to have three notes, but either way…we can think of fiddle double stops as chords because they function like chords, or at least harmonies that go with the chord progression.  I guess it is all just what ya call stuff, ain’t it?

    #65058
    fiddliferous1950
    fiddliferous1950
    Participant

    Great Scott: I’ll bet Mozart would have called two notes sounded together a “chord” and three notes a “triad” chord and more than three notes sounded together a “chord”. I expect he would have called two or more “A” notes an octave apart “octaves” because even though they produced two distinct sounds they shared the same nomenclature. An “A” note on the D String sounded with an open “A” string would be called a “unison”.

    What say you, my fine feathered friend? 🙂

    #65082
    Great Scott
    Great Scott
    Moderator

    This has turned into a fun thread that I have enjoyed: informative AND funny. Lots of great info as well as some good laughs. However, I hate to be a party pooper, but I think we will have to bring this thread back on track to a serious note (pardon the pun) considering that this particular forum is an Educational forum, and thus a Moderated forum.  Sorry guys, and gals; but I am sure you understand.  Oh, great!  Now some of you have struck me off your Christmas list.  But, I’m not crying.  (tears flowing).  Really, I’m not.   🙁

    #65083
    cricket
    cricket
    Participant

    Stop crying…I still say a chord has three notes…but double stops on the fiddle have to suffice as chords by function because you can’t play three notes at once on the fiddle, unless you do strange things like putting the match sticks under the bridge, etc., hoping they don’t ignite, of course.

    #65085
    fiddliferous1950
    fiddliferous1950
    Participant

    http://www.simplifyingtheory.com/definition-of-chord/

    This will be helpful to those who maintain that three notes are required to make a chord. The “triad” adding one more note becomes a “tetrad” but only when it’s the seventh (either major or minor). This brings up the obvious question: what is the 4-note chord CEGA (C Sixth)? Based on the strict definition of Tetrad, I guess it can’t be a tetrad. I don’t agree. I think a tetrad can be any chord consisting of 4 notes.

    #65088
    cricket
    cricket
    Participant

    I guess as said up there somewhere along this thread, it’s all a matter of what to call anything.  I’ve never heard tetrad ever before until just now…lol…so if somebody told me to play a tetrad, I’d stop playing and drop my jaw in utter confusion…lol.  But I guess if there are tetrads, and it doesn’t mean using the octave, and you don’t wanna use a 7th…use whatever, and call it a tetrad.  To me, once the 6th is added in, it needs to be inverted to move it away from the 5th or it’s the Ugly Chord…lol, isn’t it?  I think it’s kinda just a jazzy sound anyway…see?  I can talk intervals…4ths, 6ths, 5ths, whatever, because those are specific sounds, but when everybody starts going to notes, I just get lost.  I realize notes are specific sounds too, but for whatever reason, intervals sound more like sounds than notes do to me…lol.  I’m just nuts.  Comfort with intervals did help me through my daughter’s opera though…you have to do that figured bass stuff…which is sort of a grizzly bear built on intervals…I dont’ think I did it right, but I got it sorta, which had to be good enough, since there wasn’t anybody else around who knew much about how to play it for her.  Anyway, to me, adding that 6th would turn your playing into jazz, just talking off the top of my head here, maybe I’m wrong…would you ever use that much, Fred?

    #65089
    cricket
    cricket
    Participant
    #65093
    fiddliferous1950
    fiddliferous1950
    Participant

    To answer one of your questions, Cricket, I’ll take a circuitous route around it to make a point about passing tones. These passing tones are heard throughout all genres of music and carry the melody nicely from one chord to another.

    Take for example the Bluegrass Classic “Blue Ridge Mountain Home”. It starts out (let’s say we’re in the key of G) with the tonic chord (GBD) and many musicians use a passing chord as the next chord, i.e. they use the passing tone “A” which is found in an A Minor chord (ACE) before arriving at the four chord (CEG). If you were to use the G note in that A Minor chord, it would be an A Minor 7th (tetrad would be ACEG).

    If you decided not to play the A Minor chord after the G chord but instead included the A note when arriving at the four chord (CEG) now (CEGA), this would be a C6. This is a very slight difference in coloration and for those who study theory, it’s a big difference when moving notes around while composing chord passages. (Think for a moment of a low A sounding in the score for the bass viol or in the 2nd example a low C….much different color).

    Hope that’s not too lofty for you Cricket, but I’m trying to make a point that may seem minuscule but really it isn’t. Ah, language. lol.

    #65111

    John Cockman
    Keymaster

    Fantastic thread. We need more lessons on double stops! I am uncomfortable with two notes being called a chord, but I guess it’s correct! However, it would be hard to name those chords. For example, playing a C and an E together might be a C chord, if those are the first two notes of the C major triad. But they also might be the first and third notes of an E augmented traid. Or the second and third notes of and A minor triad. Or a D9. Or an Fmaj7. Two notes is just not enough info!

    #65112
    fiddliferous1950
    fiddliferous1950
    Participant

    John, this is where the importance of “voicing” comes in. When a “C and an E” occur within a piece and are played together, what other instruments are assigned what notes will determine the “flavor”. Is there a G somewhere in the score? Does that “G” make the C and E a C chord? Is the G being used as a passing note? Does the G come from another chord voicing?

    There are countless examples that make up the conversations and rules as to how two or more notes played together are named. But, just because these myriad rules and examples exist doesn’t affect the fact that two notes sounded together are a chord. The fun is determining which chord. Thus lies the importance of the “color” tone of a chord.

    I was just thinking of the early recordings of “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” where way back in the mix, the guitar player would use an E chord (which as you know includes the “color tone” G#) while all the other instruments would use the E Minor chord which as you know has a G Natural. Many, many folks I’ve talked to have never even noticed this. To me, it’s obvious that these early musicians were unaware of the clash between the two-note chord G and G# being sounded using different instruments.

    Another early recording of the tune (same notes being used) is “Southern Flavor”. Careful listening will expose this very dissonant chord again. G# and G Natural. Here, in Part B, Bill Monroe uses the G# while others remain in E Minor. Ouch!

    #65116
    cricket
    cricket
    Participant

    We need videos to discuss this stuff…lol.  Talk is not effective enough.

    #65150

    John Cockman
    Keymaster

    I’ve noticed how Lester Flat sometimes plays a major E! I don’t know if it’s intentional or accidental though. It sound cool though.

    Cricket, check out Bill Monroe at 1:20 of this video. The band is playing an Em chord consisting of E-G-B, while Bill plays G# and B. Ouch is right! I think the odd tonality sounds cool though.

    #65154
    cricket
    cricket
    Participant

    Do you mean E chords?  I didn’t listen to much of either, but didn’t hear anything odd…so…not sure what I was listening for.

    • This reply was modified 1 week ago by cricket cricket.
    #65169
    cricket
    cricket
    Participant

    I’m still not sure what it is I’m listening for…lol.  Now i think i plumb forgot what the question was.

    #65204

    John Cockman
    Keymaster

    Cricket, maybe your neighbors need to hear a little fiddle and banjo music at 5:00 AM to help them start their day…

    Typically two notes that are only a half-step apart sound very dissonant (they occupy the same critical band along your  cochlea). So, when the band plays G and Bill plays G#, it creates a very unique sound!

    #65214
    fiddliferous1950
    fiddliferous1950
    Participant

    edit off topic material

    #65219
    fiddlewood
    fiddlewood
    Participant

    http://www.simplifyingtheory.com/definition-of-chord/

    This will be helpful to those who maintain that three notes are required to make a chord. The “triad” adding one more note becomes a “tetrad” but only when it’s the seventh (either major or minor). This brings up the obvious question: what is the 4-note chord CEGA (C Sixth)? Based on the strict definition of Tetrad, I guess it can’t be a tetrad. I don’t agree. I think a tetrad can be any chord consisting of 4 notes. ”  =Fred

    I’m not sure how serious to take this site and it’s definitions…

    “Let’s create now the Fm chord:

    First degree: F
    Minor third degree: G#
    Perfect fifth: C”

    To my mind (and experience) The minor III would be referenced as a b III …not as a # II as they have done….when simple things like that are off I tend to suspect there is more that is actually incorrect…

    they even correctly  call it a minor third, but write it out as a different description…weird when “F” key sig has one flat and “Fm” has four flats…

    https://www.basicmusictheory.com/f-minor-key-signature

    • This reply was modified 6 days ago by fiddlewood fiddlewood.
    #65222
    cricket
    cricket
    Participant

    Oh…I think I get ya now, John…that sound that cuts through like glass…yes, it would normally be a bad sound, but in certain spots it’s just right.  My problem might be doing it where I don’t want it on the fiddle…lol.

    #65224
    fiddliferous1950
    fiddliferous1950
    Participant

    Yes, Dave. I’m used to playing the F Minor Harmonic scale FGAbBbCDbEF and F Minor Melodic scale FGAbBbCDEF. Rarely do I ever play a minor scale having the flatted seventh tone as per the key signature.

    The F Minor triad is F Ab and C. not G# but Ab. I totally agree.

    Just because a note is “enharmonic” with another note, it’s still important to call it by it’s real name, i.e. Ab not G#. Totally agree.

    #65226

    John Cockman
    Keymaster

    Dave, nice observation. If the mediant of the Fm scale is written as G#, then the scale would have two Gs in it, which would be weird. As a natural minor, Fm has the same scale as Ab major (four flats). However, I do like the sound of the F harmonic minor with the natural E!

     

     

    #65234
    rodger
    rodger
    Participant

    So now…as per the title of the thread…are we all enlightened?? or….well, I guess I am, but well,  …sure I must be…huh

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