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Thread: Strictly Borrowed

  1. #1
    Registered User ashc's Avatar
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    Strictly Borrowed

    When writing in minor keys there are the natural, harmonic and melodic minor scales to harmonise and we have almost more diatonic chord choices then we know what to do with. In major keys our starting point is the harmonisation of just the one major scale - so quite limiting in contrast. The composers of old decided a good place to start spicing things up would be to "borrow" chords from the parallel minor key. Basically any chord but the tonic can be used.

    NB: parallel minor is the one with the same key note e.g. C minor is parallel to C major - don't get this mixed up with the relative minor.

    Normally this borrowing is from the natural minor scale harmonisation and some chords are far more common than others. For classical music, Vol 2 of Prof. Eric Taylor's highly useful AB Guides to Music Theory tells us the most common are IIdim, iv and bVI. In C major that would mean we add Ddim, F minor and Ab major to our pallete. In contempary/rock music that doesn't scan, most of us are already trying to avoid the Bdim - never mind adding another;-) Also, you might have noticied the bVII chord in many major key songs (Bb major in C).

    Fortunately, we have help at hand in an excellent article from Chris Juergensen:

    http://www.ibreathemusic.com/article/126

    I suggest you read that (and all of Chris' other articles while your there). You will also learn, if you don't know already, about other devices like secondary dominants and leading tone chords.

    Here we find that in Rock the most common borrowed chords in major keys are:

    bIII, iv, bVI, bVII

    So on top of the regular C major chords we now have: Eb, Fm, Ab and Bb

    Using these can really spice up a major key progression and it won't sound wrong either. The challenge comes when you want to solo over the top - the dreaded non-diatonic chord!!

    Since I like challenges I came up with something of this kind to test myself out and does make you think a lot more when you can't just wail away in one scale (Strictly Melody already gave us this challenge too).

    So, the track is bit "indie pop" - I can't explain that, it just happened, sorry - it has an A and B part.

    A: C G Ab F : 2 bars each
    B: Am G Am G F Fm C : 2 bars each

    Struture: A A B A A A B

    The challenge is to handle the Ab and the Fm when they crop up. There are many possible approachs and many of you are far more able to both assess and perform those than I. But for starters:

    1) Follow the chords using arpeggios and mix in scale tones.
    2) Follow each chord with an appropriate scale (or mode).
    3) Stick mainly C major and handle the Ab and Fm as they appear. e.g. Anything that works on the G you can slip up a semitone for the Ab.

    Since I'm not the greatest player my solo is an attempt to demonstrate these approaches in a very basic way. The first A A B is approach 1) in almost mechanical way on a clean sound. The second A A A B is a mix of 2) and 3) with a overdriven sound.

    The track might not be at all to your taste but if, like me, your not used to handling non-diatonic chords I think you should give it a go!
    Attached Files Attached Files

  2. #2
    Modbod UKRuss's Avatar
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    WOW! Well done!

    Really cool idea Ashdude! I like your version too, Are you Graham Coxon in disguise?

  3. #3
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    This sounds VERY interesting. I have realized myself that I tend to play too diatonic. It sounds good, but not as spiced-up as it would to mix a little bit more across the 'constitutions'.

    The F and Fm chord played back-to-back in the progression grabbed my attention. Two different chord types based on the same root note. Odd.

    I look forward to checking out this progression further.

  4. #4
    Registered User ashc's Avatar
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    Thanks guys!

    Russ - LOL, yeah I noticied the Blur sound too. I fear the similarity is born out of ability (or lack thereof). I saw him at Reading this year and he went of out of tune, he was really going red in the face trying to sort it out.

    AJ - I was tempted to put some more of the borrowed chords in but then it could get a bit too hard (for me at least) to solo over. The IV, iv, I pops up as a cadence a lot - check out the chorus of Don't look Back in Anger by Oasis (that means there must be a Beatles one as well).

  5. #5
    Modally Challenged!!!! mattblack850's Avatar
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    Superb job Ash!!!!!I agree, very 'Blur-esque'!!! (Sorry about that!!)

    As for Beatles IV, iv, I cadences, where do you want to start!!
    Dear Prudence, Nowhere Man probably the most recognisable 2!!!

  6. #6
    IbreatheMusic Author Bizarro's Avatar
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    Great idea! I like your solos too. Basic like you said, but with melody.
    -Bizarro
    Google is your friend Hidden Content

  7. #7
    Registered User ashc's Avatar
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    Neil - Thanks. Spot on with Beatles numbers - Beatles Complete is a goldmine! (check out the pdf one at Olga). The Oasis one came to mind on the spot - I seem to have Britpop'itis at the moment.

    Biz - Thanks too! With limited chops, trying at least to be melodic sounds like a good plan

  8. #8
    Modally Challenged!!!! mattblack850's Avatar
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    Don't all rush at once then!!!!

    Here's mine. I think it suited a more melodic approach rather than an all out frontal attack!!!!
    Attached Files Attached Files

  9. #9
    Registered User ashc's Avatar
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    I Like it!!! Loads of really nice melody bits in there - I want to hear that at a higher MP3 bit rate. Didn't seem like you had trouble dealing with following the progression.

    There were some good "TV theme" moments in there - I don't know why that came to mind but it did???

  10. #10
    Modbod UKRuss's Avatar
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    Oooooooooo. Nice Neil!!!

    Great playing! Nice Melody

  11. #11
    Modally Challenged!!!! mattblack850's Avatar
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    Thanks guys!!!
    I'm kinda toying with a harmony line idea as well!!!

  12. #12
    Modally Challenged!!!! mattblack850's Avatar
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    Not quite Dave and Ansell Collins, but it's Double Borrowed!!!
    Geddit?? See what I did there??
    Attached Files Attached Files

  13. #13
    Registered User ashc's Avatar
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    Cool! Two takes! and ambitious stuff harmonising for two minutes ! At the beginning theres a bit that reminded me of a specific song - but I can't name it - so thats going to be in my head bugging me and no doubt after a couple of drinks tonight I'm going go "oh yeah"....

    BTW, if someone wants to try out the concept here but doesn't like the backing track name your style / tempo and I just might oblige...

  14. #14
    Modbod UKRuss's Avatar
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    Fear not Ashmeister.

    All duties dutifully dutied I am now in a position to borrow some stuff tonight.

    Although me mam always said never a lender nor a borrower be. But what the hell. I kinda changed that to, if someones willing to lend, I'm willing to borrow.

    I'm thinking of going in a club style, muzak crossover or alternatively some usual widdling.

    Probably the latter.

  15. #15
    Registered User ashc's Avatar
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    Cool! (BTW, wood floor = slippers)

    Since it's major some sliding country sixths widdle is an option too..

    On the Backing Tracks, I've been learning all this VST / Sequencing nonsense (drums and bass at the mo') so I could do with the exercise of doing another one.

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