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 Post subject: descants and harmonies
PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2007 9:35 am 
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Joined: Sun Sep 03, 2006 9:14 pm
Posts: 59
Location: kanawha county, wv
the topic of ornamentation was a whole lot to ponder. our folk group is going along well with our new member who plays the guitar and sings beautifully. he just got an acoustic bass guitar and how this is going to add to the mix is anyone's guess. we're still praying for a cello player and some singers.

we're learning some new Mass parts. (quick little songs from 8 to 24 measures long. these are played at significant points in the Mass like before the gospel reading, communion, and other places.) we have played some of these songs almost continuously for twenty years. on the one hand, they have become an unconscious meditative form of prayer that the congregation automatically responds to and on the other hand, we have played these songs for twenty years. it's time to move on.

some of these new songs have harmonies and descants written into them. i'm giving these a go on the whistle. i've always been a melody person. the harmonies are usually a natural sound but the descants are another thing. some of them sound very pretty on the whistle, some don't. i don't know who or where the idea of descants came from but those folks have their minds someplace that my mind has never been.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2007 12:58 pm 
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Location: Rodhope Mountains, Greece
I also love the sound of whistles and flute playing harmony. Please tell us how this all works out in your group.

Just in case you want some ideas to play with at home:

A simple harmony can be written by shadowing the melody a third or sixth above. Avoid long passages that are ONLY shadowing at a third or sixth above as it can sound monotonous. Here are some other tips if you want to move on from thirds and sixths.

Other notes can be used in your harmony line including notes a fourth or fifth above the melody line but they can sound weaker than the third and sixth intervals. The notes a second or a seventh away from the melody line will give a dissonant sound (one that causes tension) and so be very very careful about using them.

If the note you are harmonising is a chord note then the general rule is to use a chord note in the harmony.

I find a keyboard the most helpful tool for writing harmony as it is easy to experiment with intervals.

I think Connie knows about writing harmony.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2007 1:57 pm 
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Adrian wrote:
If the note you are harmonising is a chord note then the general rule is to use a chord note in the harmony.


I usually use a chord note in the harmony whether the melody note is in the chord or not, but that's just me. ;)

As a rule of thumb, when I'm the only accompanist (such as when I'm playing the organ at church), I play it low and just stay on the root note of the chord, staying out of the pianist's way.

Otherwise, you might want to spell out the chords beforehand and choose notes which are neither the root note nor the melody note. If the chord has more than 3 notes (e.g. a seventh chord), it's often good to play the "extra" note as a harmony note, since the other accompanists may just be playing a straight major or minor chord.

Just my 2c worth. Hopefully this helps.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2007 3:02 pm 
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This all sounds good and right, and is good advice as far as I'm concerned. However, if you don't know what a chord is, just play two notes below the melody line, or above the melody line (for whistle that would be a high tenor). Get a recording of practice. Go home and play along. If it sounds good, remember it. If it doesn't, rewind and try something else. That way you don't have to wait until you know a lot of theory to try harmony. I learned harmony at about 11 or 12, and learned theory starting at 14. By the time I got to theory I could already improvise harmony, which was nice.

Basically, if it sounds good, it's good music. :D

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 Post subject: Harmonies
PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2007 12:18 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 14, 2006 8:36 pm
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Location: Montgomery County, PA
Since I'm a low-whistley kinda guy, with not-so-fast fingering skills, I'm usually playing a baritone or tenor harmony underneath our high D's melody line.

Not very knowledgable about third, fifths etc., so I go out and look for MIDIs that have two-, three-, or four-part harmony already written (for another instrument) that I can isolate with MidiNotate. Sample tunes: Planxty Irwin, Southwind, Parting Glass, Red is the Rose.

Hymns are also a good choice for learning harmonies; many are written for multi-part voice. At a church-picnic gig last Friday, I just ad-libbed (by ear) a tenor harmony to Amazing Grace on my Susato low G.

If anybody wants I can send broken-down MIDIs or point toward link sources.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2007 12:32 pm 
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When I play whistle or sing I can often pick out the harmonies by ear. Ifyou are off a note or two it won;t matter as long as you don't STAY on it. if the note is a passing tone just keep passing till you get to the right one and most folks won't notice.

When I mess with my keyboards however I often have to write out what I want to play. not a good enough keyboard player to do it on the fly hehe


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