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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Complex Tonality and the Four Celtic Modes


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Tom Hanway - Posted - 10/27/2015:  11:40:13


Complex Tonality and the Four Celtic Modes



Those who love to play old-time and bluegrass fiddle tunes already use the four Celtic modes (see chart below). Modes are scales, scales are modes.​ Some Celtic modes are used more than others, and four are common in all the Celtic music traditions – that is, in Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, Brittany and the Isle of Man, in the Celtic Diaspora (e.g., Appalachia, Shetland, Cape Breton), and in ex-Celtic lands (all across England).



THE FOUR CELTIC MODES























IONIAN



1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7



MIXOLYDIAN



1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, b7



DORIAN



1, 2, b3, 4, 5, 6, b7



AEOLIAN



1, 2, b3, 4, 5, b6, b7




 



Celtic music typically uses gapped scales of five (pentatonic) or six (hexatonic) tones.  Some tunes use seven (heptatonic) tones or all the notes of a particular mode. The Four Celtic Modes comprise the Ionian (Major), MixolydianDorian and Aeolian (natural minor). These correspond to the scales one would derive by playing only the white notes of a piano, starting on C, G, D and A respectively. 



Brighter Modes: The Ionian mode is the Major mode. Its unique step-pattern of notes fall on the white keys of a piano as:  C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C. 



The Mixolydian mode is major-sounding but differs slightly from the major scale, having a flatted seventh degree.  Its unique step-pattern of notes fall on the white keys of a piano as:  G-A-B-C-D-E-F-G. 



Darker Modes: The Dorian mode is both minor and major sounding – the mode that traditional musicians often mean when they say a tune is “modal.”  Its unique step-pattern of notes fall on the white keys of a piano as: D-E-F-G-A-B-C-D. It has a flatted seventh degree like the Mixolydian mode, and also a flatted third, which gives it a “minor” or “bluesy” sound. It has a major sixth, distinguishing it from the Aeolian mode, which has a minor sixth. 



Finally, we have the Aeolian mode, or “natural minor” scale in classical terms. Relative to a major scale, it has flatted third, sixth and seventh degrees. Its unique step-pattern of notes fall on the white keys of a piano as: A-B-C-D-E-F-G-A.



The Aeolian and Phrygian modes are truly minor modes (and these are not the only ones). Interestingly, the exotic-sounding Phrygian mode is not common to the Celtic tradition, but it is common to Spain and other Mediterranean countries.  Relative to a major scale, it has a flatted second, third, sixth and seventh. Its unique step-pattern of notes fall on the white keys of a piano as: E-F-G-A-B-C-D-E. It is sometimes found in Cornish and Breton songs but rarely in Celtic tunes. Some have heard it in certain Scottish music, and it’s associated with Flamenco music. It also has variants found in Middle Eastern music. It is not used in any of the Celtic tunes in this collection, but it gives us a good point of reference. 



Here’s a subjective view of the modes used in Irish and Celtic music, a kind of spectrum of the Four Celtic Modes (Aeolian, Dorian, Mixolydian, Ionian), going from more “minor-sounding” (darker/sadder) to more “major-sounding” (brighter/happier) tone sequences (scales):





SPECTRUM OF THE FOUR CELTIC MODES



 



MINOR < more “minor”  <  “MODAL”  >  more “major” > MAJOR



(PHRYGIAN)     AEOLIAN      DORIAN      MIXOLYDIAN      IONIAN





COMPLEX TONALITY



Some of the most popular Irish and Celtic tunes are said to have “complex tonality” – with different tonal centers, like a double-sun that the other planet-tones revolve around and gravitate towards. At times, two distinct tonics can be heard in the same tune, sometimes even more! 



‘The Blarney Pilgrim’ is probably the most notable example of this phenomenon: Is it in G Major (Ionian), as its key signature would seem to indicate, or, is it in D (something)?



Listen here, it's the second tune of the set: JIGS - (Blarney Pilgrim) Paddy Keenan & Tommy O'Sullivan - Austin Celtic Festival 2010. Notice how O'Sullivan comes in with a D chord in the first part, followed by a very interesting chord; can you identify it? He reserves the G chord for the top of the second part. And what of the third part? (These guys are the real deal, btw, and live the lifestyle.)



To be sure, the key signature typically used (G) contains all its notes, but it sounds at times as if it’s in D “modal” – in this case D Mixolydian mode. It would be foolish to say that the tune is in the key of G because of its key signature (G). Anyone who is familiar with the tune has noticed its “D-ness”, and it often baffles inexperienced tune backers who aren’t sure which chords to play. I put in chords in my arrangement in Easy Irish and Celtic Session Tunes for 5-string Banjo: Best-Loved Jigs and Reels (Book/CD Set or eBook/Online Audio). 



This book, my second Celtic tune collection, was carefully designed for beginning and intermediate players – all the tunes played at slow speed with MIDI-harmonica backing that match the chords in the tablature. It’s not supposed to be a showcase for me: This is to help students build a repertoire of standard tunes and is for learning and practicing purposes. As such, these are play-along tracks to get students inside the tunes until they can play them without the need for backing tracks and tablature. It’s about hearing, memorizing and being able to play the tunes on one’s own, also about combining tunes in medleys once one has a body of tunes to play!



Sometimes a tune uses two different modes from one part to the next, seeming to break the rules of classical harmony, where prefabricated chord progressions clearly do not work. The version of ‘Toss the Feathers,’ moving from D Mixolydian (first part) to D Major (second part) is a perfect example of this. There are at least three tunes called ‘Toss the Feathers’ that use different modes altogether.  I have included two best-loved variants in Best-Loved Jigs and Reels.



Some compositions that go further afield of the typical Celtic modes have found their way into Irish traditional music owing to their rich and complex tonality.  A prize example is 'Music for a Found Harmonium', which has several tone center shifts. It has become a session standard thanks to Sharon Shannon. (I'll come back to this tune later.)



The Celtic fingerstyle method uses standard G tuning and all five strings. It is designed to handle tunes in different keys without re-tuning.  It combines tunes in sets or medleys. For some tunes a capo may be used in order to make life easier, particularly for tunes in A Major. For example, here's the popular Irish reel, 'The Mason's Apron', which can be played on top of the similar Scottish reel, 'Devil's Dream' as Bill Keith would have played it in his related melodic style.



Celtic fingerstyle and melodic style bluegrass differ in their use of phrasing and ornamentation. Celtic fingerstyle uses ornamental devices (variations) that are foreign to melodic and single-string bluegrass picking. Improvising Irish traditional music (ITM) in Celtic fingerstyle is first and foremost about sticking close to the actual notes and melodic contours of a tune, avoiding jazzy and altered scales, picking patterns licks that are found in traditional and progressive bluegrass banjo playing.  



Enjoy! ~ Tom  



Edited by - Tom Hanway on 05/31/2016 19:39:14

mmuussiiccaall - Posted - 10/27/2015:  14:49:19


Wow I get the modes as listed above by staying in the parent key and shifting my focus to the other tonics as needed,any thoughts Tom?


mmuussiiccaall - Posted - 10/27/2015:  16:31:12


All 28 of those notes in the 4 scales mentioned are still the same notes in G Ionian so it is just a matter focusing on a different pitch.


Tom Hanway - Posted - 10/27/2015:  16:56:36


I understand your point, and that's one way of looking at them, but not the only way. I've seen one thread locked by people arguing about how to understand the modes.  (I couldn't be bothered, so no argument here, whatever works for you conceptually is your business.)



Also, I wasn't referring to all the modes, just the four ones used in Celtic tradition. People understand and use the modes in different ways.  For the purposes of Irish and Celtic music, I think of them as descriptive terms for the scale (mode) or scales (modes) used in a particular tune or in a tune medley. 



Many Irish tune medleys go to different keys and tonics; whereas, Cape Breton (traditional Scottish) medleys could use the same tonic, but move around between different modes using the same tonic. Some Cape Breton fiddle tune books use natural symbols where one might expect to find sharp symbols in order to indicate a tonal center while also indicating a mode, e.g., Mixolydian mode.



I use the model of the white keys of a piano, starting on different pitches, so that people can sit down with a piano, play the note sequences and hear the modes as they occur on the white keys of the piano, which is child's play.



Tonics are important, and tunes that are said to have "complex tonality" if they have more than one tonic. One Irish music scholar, Tomás Ó Canainn (1930 - 15 September 2013) discussed note frequency analysis in his book Traditional Music in Ireland, which analyzes tonality and complex tonality in a very precise manner. It's a fascinating read, and I may pick up that topic later in a music theory thread, but not here.



I think of modes (and scales) differently when I'm thinking in jazz or classical terms, and there are many good models for understanding them and putting them to good use. 



Best ~ Tom



Edited by - Tom Hanway on 10/27/2015 17:11:36

mmuussiiccaall - Posted - 10/27/2015:  18:15:20


My usual method is to think in scale numbers so I know where I'm at with the chord tones and passing tones. Say I'm in G major and they are on the G chord, 1 3 5 are my home base 2 4 6 7 are my dissonants and b3 b5 b7 are my blue notes (only intervals not represented are the b2 and b6) and when they go to a D7 now  2 4 5 7 is my home base 1 3 6 are my dissonants and b2 4 b7 are my blue notes etc. etc.This sounds overwhelming but a lot of the time I just see the chord shape as if I am playing it and improvise over that visual and I'm seeing those numbers of the parent key laid out under those spots. I've been using this system for about 30 years, regards Rick


Tom Hanway - Posted - 10/27/2015:  23:33:27


That makes perfect sense Rick, nice one, and that works for me! Thank you for sharing, it’s much appreciated!



Many years ago I put together a cross-referenced glossary to have as a future resource for aficionados of Celtic fingerstyle banjo. That Glossary is in the back of Complete Book of Irish and Celtic 5-String Banjo (first published in 1998). 



Here is a handy Google extract of it that can be easily navigated online. (I was delighted to find this myself and it's easier to scroll through than to flip pages in the original hard copy.) 



I couldn’t possibly quote all the germane definitions for this thread, but I suggest serious students review the following terms, scrolling with their mouse: Aeolian, air, blue tonality, bluegrass, Celtic, chord, complex tonality, diatonic, Dorian, fiddle tunes, Gaelic tunes, gapped scales, intervallic variation, Ionian, living tradition, Lydian, major scale, melismatic variation, minor scale, Mixolydian, modality, mode, note frequency analysis, old-time, pitch, Phrygian, rhythmic variation, root, sean-nós, tonal center, tonality, tone, tonic, tree-tune, tune, tune family, tune setting, and variation. 



Take it handy and enjoy!  



All the best ~ Tom



Edited by - Tom Hanway on 10/27/2015 23:49:12

mmuussiiccaall - Posted - 10/28/2015:  04:29:44


Tom, your books look great and thanks for sharing on this site. BTW, you would appreciate this, 30 years ago my uncle moved to Florida from Ohio and said " Do you want this I'm not going to take it". the pic is one like it. , Slan tamall, Rick




Button Accordion

   

Tom Hanway - Posted - 10/28/2015:  08:00:26


Ah, cool! Thanks, Rick, thank you! Hey, You might expand on your mode system in a BHO Music Theory thread because you have a nifty conceptual model that could really help a lot of people make sense and quick use of the modes.



Beir bua agus beannacht ~ Tom



wink


Tom Hanway - Posted - 10/28/2015:  09:00:46


Thanks to Rick for some insightful thinking about the modal system. It was an unexpected and welcome diversion, but I need to focus again on the charts given earlier, which I might have made too large for some folks' browsers. Here they are again, below, scaled down slightly.



It's the sequences of the tones that give each mode its unique sound (think: "mood"). "Modality" refers to the specific tone series of a single mode and is synonymous with scale; in other words, modality refers to the choice of the tones (major, minor, chromatic, modes, etc.) upon which tonality can function. Tonality is synonymous with key.  



In their book The Natural Way to Music, Bill Keith and Jim D'Ville offer this, "Don't let the word 'mode' bother you. It just means a style of doing something. The French phrase 'a la mode' means 'in fashion'."



They add, "The Greek Modes are a family of seven scales. They sound similar to Major and minor scales, however, each has a certain quality that evokes a different emotional feeling. What we know as the Major scale is also called the Ionian mode. The Ionian mode is the 'parent' scale from which the other modal scales are derived." 



We can learn to distinguish between the Four Celtic Modes, the same modes used in Bluegrass and Old-Time music, simply by playing tunes that use them. Folks who know a lot of American fiddle tunes are already moving in the realm of the Four Celtic Modes, what Bill Monroe reverently dubbed 'the ancient tones'!



 



THE FOUR CELTIC MODES 























IONIAN



1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7



MIXOLYDIAN



1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, b7



DORIAN



1, 2, b3, 4, 5, 6, b7



AEOLIAN



1, 2, b3, 4, 5, b6, b7




 



 



Here’s a subjective view of the modes used in Irish and Celtic music, a kind of spectrum of the Four Celtic Modes (Aeolian, Dorian, Mixolydian, Ionian), going from more “minor-sounding” (darker/sadder) to more “major-sounding” (brighter/happier) tone sequences (scales): 



 




SPECTRUM OF THE FOUR CELTIC MODES



 



MINOR < more “minor”  <  “MODAL”  >  more “major” > MAJOR



(PHRYGIAN)     AEOLIAN      DORIAN      MIXOLYDIAN      IONIAN



 



Beir bua agus beannacht ~ Tom



wink


prooftheory - Posted - 10/28/2015:  09:11:45


A lot of Irish players find it useful for getting a tune by ear to also be aware of pentatonic and hexatonic scales. There is no sense in hunting around for a note amongst options that aren't even available. As you note above, this applies, not only to whole tunes but sections of tunes. Though I guess that the pentatonics and hexatonics that get used are subsets of the scales above, I haven't ever seen anyone break down which ones actually get used in a formal way.

Tom Hanway - Posted - 10/28/2015:  12:55:03


Excellent points, Frank, I hear you. I'm all for oral tradition and learning tunes aurally, learning the ones I really like, though I must say, I do hunt around for notes and variations, always trying to keep inside the scale tones – not jazzing up the tunes – except when I do.



I've read several Irish scholar-musicians who focus on breaking down certain tunes in order to understand them in relation to classical musical, distinguishing Irish traditional music from other Western musics. At times, it's simply a formal exercise in identifying tonics and modes, or, shifting tonal centers and modes in order to be able to back tunes without stepping on their melodic contours. 



Tomás O'Canainn (RIP), Sarah McQuaid (author of The Irish DADGAD Guitar Book), and Chris Smith (Celtic Back-Up) immediately come to mind, the former (a prolific writer, composer and uilleann piper) engaging in note frequency analysis, the latter two (guitar backers) looking to play chords and substitutions that do justice to the tunes, never clashing with them harmonically.



As tune backers, Smith (more “progressive” sounding) and McQuaid (more “traditional”) would not want to be confused with the legions of bludgeon-strummers who plunk themselves down at sessions and proceed to ruin them by pounding out unimaginative chord patterns – usually three chords – without knowing, having listened to, or simply listening to the tunes that are before them.



At the session, if a backer has to ask what "key" a tune is in, it's probably doomed. Of course, there are those rare talented players who have great ears for chords, can distinguish almost immediately between keys and modes, and know which chords will work in the moment. They can even substitute chords on the fly, sometimes all over the neck. With so many tunes in circulation, even the best players find themselves making educated guesses at times, but it’s better to listen first. When in doubt, lay out.



Now, honestly, it's a daunting, tedious task to do note frequency analysis in order to understand the complex tonality of certain tuneswhich is like having an accountant's approach to music – nothing wrong with accountants, Mirek.



Having said that, I may do it here for one or two tunes, just to show (with raw data) how a tune can have competing tonal centers and/or shift between modes, e.g., 'The Blarney Pilgrim' and 'Connaughtman’s Rambles'.



With experience and good ear training, one can hear the shifts in tone centers and Celtic modality without having to chart it out in abstract numbers. Tune medleys often shift between keys and modes, and this creates interest in the performance of the tunes.



I much prefer the organic aural approach. At the end of the day, I'm a tune junky – a reluctant tune backer – so I mainly pay attention to this stuff so I can back the tunes if and when I’m needed, e.g., if somebody needs a guitar player at a session because nobody else is around. I prefer to play the tunes and variations on them rather than to discuss abstract topics such as tonality, complex tonality, modes, chords, and the like.



Alas, somebody has to teach this stuff to beginners and folks who are new to it, and I know a few things from my days in the auld pubs, so that’s why I write about it today. (It beats polishing a bar stool or getting into drunken brawls, haha.)



All the best ~Tom



big



Edited by - Tom Hanway on 10/28/2015 13:00:45

Mirek Patek - Posted - 10/28/2015:  16:02:50


quote:

Originally posted by Tom Hanway


Now, honestly, it's a daunting, tedious task to do note frequency analysis in order to understand the complex tonality of certain tuneswhich is like having an accountant's approach to music – nothing wrong with accountants, Mirek.




With an accountant's (or rather controller's) approach I would be more interested in the note direction analysis, i.e. not only how frequently certain note (certain degree in the mode) appears in the tunes, but which notes most frequently precede that degree and which ones succeed it.


Tom Hanway - Posted - 10/28/2015:  16:27:19


Fascinating. How would you organize such an analysis and how many notes would you include, two, three, four, or even more?



Best ~Tom



question


Tom Hanway - Posted - 10/28/2015:  17:00:26


quote:

Originally posted by Mirek Patek

... I would be more interested in the note direction analysis, i.e. not only how frequently certain note (certain degree in the mode) appears in the tunes, but which notes most frequently precede that degree and which ones succeed it.






Okay, Mirek, you got me thinking: why don't you work out a method for your note direction analysis, if you don't have one already, and explain its purpose and methodology in Celtic music? (You could be onto something great!)



Meanwhile, I'll do a simple note frequency analysis of 'The Blarney Pilgrim' and explain its purpose and what it's all about when I'm done gathering the data.



Perhaps the two can be combined to tell us something about melodic contours that show up in a lot of tunes, also in tune families, Also, we might learn something about tension and resolution in Celtic music, not that the tunes always resolve. Some tunes seem to end without resolution (going back to the tonic), leaving certain pitches hanging in the air.  Which pitches are these in relation to the tonic?  Also, tunes that don't resolve are great for setting up other tunes in different keys and modes, leading to interesting tune medleys, especially in Irish traditional music.



I had wanted to go in the direction of tune medleys in Irish traditional music, and what it is about them that creates interest in the overall performances. I'll still do that, and you work on your analysis, and get back to me, please, okay?



All the Best ~ Tom



wink



Edited by - Tom Hanway on 10/28/2015 17:01:29

Tom Hanway - Posted - 10/28/2015:  19:09:02


Hey, Mirek, I think you'll enjoy this thread, and your note direction analysis is worth talking about over there. (And get back to me, please.)



Ear Training for 5 String



Best ~ Tom 



wink


mmuussiiccaall - Posted - 10/28/2015:  19:26:19


quote:

Originally posted by Tom Hanway

 

Excellent points, Frank, I hear you. I'm all for oral tradition and learning tunes aurally, learning the ones I really like, though I must say, I do hunt around for notes and variations, always trying to keep inside the scale tones – not jazzing up the tunes – except when I do.




I've read several Irish scholar-musicians who focus on breaking down certain tunes in order to understand them in relation to classical musical, distinguishing Irish traditional music from other Western musics. At times, it's simply a formal exercise in identifying tonics and modes, or, shifting tonal centers and modes in order to be able to back tunes without stepping on their melodic contours. 




Tomás O'Canainn (RIP), Sarah McQuaid (author of The Irish DADGAD Guitar Book), and Chris Smith (Celtic Back-Up) immediately come to mind, the former (a prolific writer, composer and uilleann piper) engaging in note frequency analysis, the latter two (guitar backers) looking to play chords and substitutions that do justice to the tunes, never clashing with them harmonically.




As tune backers, Smith (more “progressive” sounding) and McQuaid (more “traditional”) would not want to be confused with the legions of bludgeon-strummers who plunk themselves down at sessions and proceed to ruin them by pounding out unimaginative chord patterns – usually three chords – without knowing, having listened to, or simply listening to the tunes that are before them.




At the session, if a backer has to ask what "key" a tune is in, it's probably doomed. Of course, there are those rare talented players who have great ears for chords, can distinguish almost immediately between keys and modes, and know which chords will work in the moment. They can even substitute chords on the fly, sometimes all over the neck. With so many tunes in circulation, even the best players find themselves making educated guesses at times, but it’s better to listen first. When in doubt, lay out.




Now, honestly, it's a daunting, tedious task to do note frequency analysis in order to understand the complex tonality of certain tuneswhich is like having an accountant's approach to music – nothing wrong with accountants, Mirek.




Having said that, I may do it here for one or two tunes, just to show (with raw data) how a tune can have competing tonal centers and/or shift between modes, e.g., 'The Blarney Pilgrim' and 'Connaughtman’s Rambles'.




With experience and good ear training, one can hear the shifts in tone centers and Celtic modality without having to chart it out in abstract numbers. Tune medleys often shift between keys and modes, and this creates interest in the performance of the tunes.




I much prefer the organic aural approach. At the end of the day, I'm a tune junky – a reluctant tune backer – so I mainly pay attention to this stuff so I can back the tunes if and when I’m needed, e.g., if somebody needs a guitar player at a session because nobody else is around. I prefer to play the tunes and variations on them rather than to discuss abstract topics such as tonality, complex tonality, modes, chords, and the like.




Alas, somebody has to teach this stuff to beginners and folks who are new to it, and I know a few things from my days in the auld pubs, so that’s why I write about it today. (It beats polishing a bar stool or getting into drunken brawls, haha.)




All the best ~Tom




big







try this chart wink




Chords In Scale Harmony

   

Tom Hanway - Posted - 10/28/2015:  19:55:11


I have a sick husky ... in the morning with a cuppa, and thanks!  I need to attend to Mr. Hunter, poor fella. Yes, I see them, good stuff!



Best ~ Tom



wink


Tom Hanway - Posted - 10/29/2015:  04:33:03


Rick, wow, you do good work, unbelievable! My hat's off to you, well done, sir. I find this chart extremely useful in identifying the full range of chords which fit the peculiar requirements of Celtic modal harmony. The chart makes good sense for those using standard tuning on a guitar or 5-string banjo, and all those who can find these chords on their backing instruments.



On the other hand, for those who use exotic if “traditional” tunings, lots of dyads (or power chords), drones and countermelody, e.g., on bouzouki and DADGAD guitar, this chart might be an unfathomable sea of grey.



It’s my experience that one can always tell a traditional tune backer who employs subtle Celtic harmony from one who comes at with overt jazz harmony and rhythm changes. Now, in some Celtic traditions, e.g., the Shetland (Peerie Willie style), Cape Breton, and to a much lesser extent, the Irish tradition, jazz, ‘I Got Rhythm’ “changes” and sock rhythms are heard at sessions. On those rare occasions when I do pick up a guitar, I like to use “Rhythm changes” and sock rhythms for Irish and Scottish reels, particularly when people want to cut a rug. As a backer, with so many approaches and Celtic modal harmonies available, one cannot please everyone, or go in a curmudgeonly purist direction, so I put my head down and play for the dancers, hopefully making it fun for them. After all, this is dance music!



I’ll be candid: Sometimes other tune backers get exasperated or upset with me – not my fault – typically the ones who are pounding out folk chords, usually the same progressions, then playing quietly when things get weird, generally listening only to themselves (as they fudge through the tunes), more often than not missing the subtle shifts in modality and tonal center within parts of the tunes and between tunes.



I try not to criticize or embarrass others in public. It’s not nice. I always try to be nothing but helpful to struggling tune backers at sessions, preferring to busy myself with playing the tunes on the 5-string. (I’ve helped a lot of guitarists learn how to play power chords or dyads, leaving out major and minor thirds.)



This Friday, like almost every Friday, I play at the Cryan’s Bluegrass Session in Carrick-on-Shannon, Co. Leitrim, the longest-running pickers’ jam in Ireland. It’s still got other forms of traditional music, and there’s a monster button accordion player, James Wyckham, who plays Bluegrass, Old-Time and Trad tunes. I sometimes put down my 5-string and pick up the Martin to back him on reels, and he puts down his box to back me on hornpipes, so, it’s a win-win! And I have a lot of hornpipes ... here's Horizon Hornpipe, an original. 





Last, your exhaustive chart vaguely reminds of Peter Pardee’s Scales and Arpeggios for Five String Banjo, which is a mammoth achievement and worth having in one’s collection. Tony Trischka lent me his copy back in the mid-’80s, and I dutifully gawked at it for about a month before returning it to him. The book did inspire me to go above the 12th fret and play single-string and melodic phrases, so it was invaluable in that regard. (I just couldn’t practice much of it without wanting to play a fiddle tune.) I was interested in learning melodies, not scales, because I enjoy playing them. 



I’m still the same way – no changetongue



Rick, I think your chart is invaluable, the perfect companion to Chris Smith’s exercise book, Celtic Back-Up for All Instrumentalists, which stresses variations and individual interpretations, as Chris observes, “Please note that the chords given, and their frequency, are suggestions only; many other harmonizations are harmonic densities are possible. However, the chords given will provide some ideas about the range of harmonic choices available.”



All the best ~ Tom



wink



Edited by - Tom Hanway on 10/29/2015 04:49:23

Tom Hanway - Posted - 10/29/2015:  10:00:33


As Chris Smith observes (typo in last post), "Please note that the chords given, and their frequency, are suggestions only; many other harmonizations and harmonic densities are possible. However, the chords given will provide some ideas about the range of harmonic choices available."



Chris also notes that a "momentary shift in tonal center provides enormous harmonic interest," and this is true for a lot of tunes in Irish traditional and Celtic music. 'The Blarney Pilgrim' comes to mind, and I will get to it very soon.



Best ~Tom


Tom Hanway - Posted - 10/29/2015:  16:50:26


Okay, I did it: ‘The Blarney Pilgrim’ is clearly hexatonic (six notes), and if we look to the key signature that it’s written in, G, then the F# note, the seventh degree of the scale, is the tone that is never played.



According to a simple note frequency analysis (NFA), the tune has more than one tonal center, with G (36 points) and A (36 points) getting the most emphasis, then D (33 points). That's for the tune in its entirety.



Breaking it down further, in the A and B-Parts the tune has a basis in G Ionian (Major), but the melodic contour at the beginning of the C-Part begs for a D-G-D chord sequence (I IV I in D Major or D Mixolydian), while the section as a whole retains C naturals (second and sixth measures).



It’s in the C-Part that the tonal center shifts momentarily from G (9 points) to D (11 points), from G Ionian (A-Part and B-Part) to D Mixolydian, and then back again to G Ionian when the tune goes back to the A-Part on the repeat.



Now, while it’s true that G Ionian and D Mixolydian use the same exact notes, one might say that the tune is, simply, in G Ionian or G Major, and this is correct. However, it doesn’t explain the strong D Mixolydian tonality in the C-Part, so what's happening here?



Okay, by definition, tonality is synonymous with key, and it refers to a tonal center of a scale (= mode). It doesn’t have to mean Major (Ionian) mode. It can be one of the other modes!



Many of us have been trained to think and hear things in a major-minor system, and it may take being exposed to the Four Celtic Modes through listening to a lot of Celtic modal tunes that we may begin to hear such things as shifting tonal centers and modalities within in a tune.



In any case, Tomás Ó Canainn’s note frequency analysis reveals that in The Blarney Pilgrim's C-Part, the note A (14 points) gets the most emphasis, followed by D (11 points), then by G (9 points), with the last and longest-held note of the C-Part being a D note, which seems to resolve. It’s this new and passing tonal center, D (not G), which all the other tones support and are tending towards, it being the central tone of the C-Part, not G.



But what about the A note? It got the most points, more than the G and more than D. How come it isn’t the central organizing tone? Well, I suppose, one could give it even more emphasis if he were to use a different set of chords based on A Dorian chordal harmony.



In fact, this tune can be harmonized and re-harmonized until the cows come home! So, I've already put usable chords to it, and these aren't the only ones that work! Many chord substitutions are possible, so please don't feel that you have to commit to these chords. (Sometimes I don't even like them, haha.)



Remember: G Ionian = D Mixolydian = A Dorian (for starters).



Please, have you thoughts on this? Why did I do this? Penance, sheer boredom, or because it’s more fun than a stick in the eye: I think it’s the latter, maybe?



I’m new at NFA myself and you're welcome to check the data. Now, to say it’s tedious to dissect a tune in this way is an understatement. Yet I learned a few things, and I peeled back the layers of the onion in a different way. I'm always looking for ways of getting inside the tunes, and this is one of them (if not my favourite).



(I have to walk the dog, Mr. Hunter. I have to do this before the monsters start setting off fireworks here in Ireland, which they do around Halloween, totally freaks out all the poor dogs who have to sleep outside. We keep Hunter in the house!)  Take it handy and don't let this stuff wreck your head. It's not that hard, just geeky!



All the best ~ Tom



cool



'The Blarney Pilgrim' in standard notation:



banjohangout.org/photo/203505



Note Frequency Analysis of 'The Blarney Pilgrim':



banjohangout.org/photo/203506



Edited by - Tom Hanway on 10/29/2015 17:00:17

prooftheory - Posted - 10/30/2015:  07:20:33


It always seems to me that part of the source of ambivalence that ITM soloists have toward backup players is that it removes some of the ambiguity and freedom that the music has. A soloist might play the C-part of Blarney Pilgrim through once, emphasizing the As and making the section more or less Dorian once and then decide to do it the second time as Mixolydian. If someone is hammering away on D chords behind you, you don't have any choice in the matter. I actually suspect that most of the griping about guitarists is more because the players have a different modal flavoring in mind than what ends up coming out and then they want to claim that the guitarist "didn't know the tune" when in fact the tune itself is ambiguous. This is even more important for fiddlers because they can take advantage of the microtonal distinctions between the various modes that aren't available to a box player for instance. Banjo is kind of in between if you have a particularly bendy player.

On the matter of statistical analysis, there is actually a fare amount of computational work that has been done on ITM. The ABCs on thesession.org for example have been a rich source of n-gram/HMM types of machine learning applications:
computationalcreativity.net/ho...-2006.pdf
mit.edu/~mstaib/research/Staib...Tunes.pdf
arrow.dit.ie/scschcomcon/29/
It might be a useful project to apply some of the "human readable" kinds of models to this stuff so that we could actually have some understanding of what the models are saying, though I haven't seen anybody do that yet.

Tom Hanway - Posted - 10/30/2015:  09:33:17


Interesting points, Frank, much appreciated! Okay, note frequency analysis is a "human readable" model using standard notation that anyone can do for any Celtic tune. It can help one learn how to read the G-Clef in standard notation. (There's no shame in learning how to sight-read either, and that can come later.)



It was devised and taught by a legendary Irish composer, scholar, author and multi-instrumentalist, Tomás Ó Canainn, RIP, news article here



Tomás didn't get his stuff from The Session (a great place) or from on-line or second-hand sources: He lived and breathed the music in his homeland, thought about it deeply, and he wrote many definitive publications. (It's always a good idea to get it from the source.)



Note frequency analysis (NFA) is new to most folks, but it comes out of Irish trad (from Ireland), so it has a basis in Celtic traditional music. It's a simple method of statistical analysis that even a child can perform.



How does it work? Simple: it assigns "points" or "weight" to all the notes in a tune, and it can be used for all Celtic music, not just Irish traditional music (ITM). I suggest folks try it out on tunes that seem (to the ears) to have more than one tonality (or key shift), a simple reel or jig, e.g., 'Connaughtman's Rambles'.



Also, one often finds either a hidden or overt bias in many discussions about Irish and Celtic music, and I admit to having it myself at times, as if it's mainly about (or has to conform to) Irish traditional music standards and practices. It doesn't, ask any Shetland fiddler!



A word to the wise: All Irish trad fits under Celtic music, but not all Celtic music is Irish trad. (One wouldn't expect a traditional Welsh speaker to speak only Gaeilge (Irish Gaelic), or a Welsh Triple Harpist to play only Irish harp tunes.)



Here's how the NFA point system works: Points are given to notes and tallied up later, quantifying them for later analysis. It's very simple, and I suggest folks stick with standard notation, which is visual, unmistakable (assuming there are no engraving errors), and provides clear lines and spaces that reveal where notes fall exactly. Just read it from left to right with the point system in mind, and add up the points, one criterion at a time.



What's more, it's a great way to memorize where the notes fall on the treble or G-clef, one step closer to being able to sight-read music.



NOTE FREQUENCY ANALYSIS POINT SYSTEM



1. For each APPEARANCE of a note = 1 POINT



2. For a note on a DOWNBEAT = 1 POINT



3. For an ACCENTED note = 1 POINT



4. For the HIGHEST note = 1 POINT



5. For the LOWEST note = 1 POINT



6. For a note proceeded to by a LEAP GREATER THAN A FIFTH = 1 POINT



7. For the FIRST STRESSED note = 1 POINT



8. For a LONG note, e.g., quarter or dotted note = 1 POINT 



*        *        *        *        *



Last, folks, please don't look at standard notation as something alien or unwelcome. Also, don't be quick to dismiss note frequency analysis, a simple tool, before trying it out. (I look forward to testing other tunes with it.) Take it handy!



Beir bua agus beannacht ~ Tom


Tom Hanway - Posted - 10/31/2015:  17:33:29


Trick or treat! For Halloween, here's the first tune (with a witchy title) that I wrote on the banjo (1985) while looking out on the ocean on a hot sunny afternoon. (It took me months to be able to play it.) I didn't realize it at the time, but it came out as a bouncy hornpipe, recorded in 1990 for Bucket of Bees, featuring Kenny Kosek on piano and fiddle. It finds the ubiquitous Kosek drifting, in his words, "somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean," or the Celtic Diaspora.



MORGAINE'S HORNPIPE



Personnel: Patricia Bradaigh, bodhrán; Todd Collins, mandolin; TH, Stelling Whitestar banjo; Kenny Kosek, piano/fiddle; Walt Michael, hammered dulcimer; William Garrett, engineer.



I'll come back tomorrow with the correlated data from the note frequency analysis to 'The Blarney Pilgrim', and I'm pondering which tunes to examine next for tone densities, complex tonality, and the like.



Enjoy!



Beir bua agus beannacht (Best wishes) ~ Tom



Edited by - Tom Hanway on 10/31/2015 17:40:44

The Thinker - Posted - 10/31/2015:  20:43:42


Went to listen to this in googleland,kinda reminds me of the way ,Banjolina,Daybreak in Dixie etc.goes into a d part .
The trouble i had for years,was thinking to get a good resolve in a tune it always took the fifth chord or the fifth dominant 7( g7 in key of C).
Then i started seeing old timey,using the sixth instead of the usual ''Earl" major 7th note.Then i ran into things like the C minor in All Of ME,or Lady Madonna,key of G,resolving ,with half measures of D sharp and F.
Anyway a large amount of tunes lead one to see the Earl way,but as you folks are showing here it ain't necessarily so.I must confess some Celtic tunes in my books, just do not seem to resolve very well though.
Thanks for putting forth these ideas and sources

Tom Hanway - Posted - 11/01/2015:  11:17:09


In The Natural Way to Music, Bill Keith and Jim D’ville recommend “Four Great Reasons to Know the Modes”: (1) Understand Major/minor relationships. (2) Starting point for study outside the Major Scale. (3) Speak Greek! (4) Ascend the diatonic chords and play ‘Lean on Me’ at the same time!



(Okay, remember to breathe and have a laugh! It’s not all about tawdry tales and personal vendettas on the Banjo Hangout, haha!)



A “note frequency analysis” of ‘The Blarney Pilgrim’ yielded these results, showing incidences and weight of the various pitches used in the tune, here broken down for each section, what I like to loosely term tone densities (my own term), which alludes to the weight or mass of each pitch. This tune is conventionally transcribed using the key signature of G, so one might think automatically that it’s in G Major (Ionian) mode. Yes, that is true! However, the tune reveals high incidences of two other pitches, D and A, with the D sounding (feeling) like another tonal center at times. This is what is meant by “complex tonality” in Irish traditional music (and in Celtic music). 



Anyone who has ever gotten familiar with this tune as a solo piece, without accompaniment, has almost certainly noticed how it uses has a G Major – wait, no, a peculiar D tonality – not exactly Major (Ionian) but Mixolydian. The note frequency analysis bears out this ambivalence in the tonic. And in the C Part, notice the high incidence of D notes (11) and A notes (14), and the lower incidence of G notes (9). There’s only one C note insinuated into this part, but that’s enough to make is deliciously Mixolydian!



From the analysis, one notices immediately that only six tones are used, and this is true for all three sections, making the tune unmistakably “hexatonic”; moreover, the note least used (though not in the second part) is a C-note, which also happens to be the seventh degree of the D Mixolydian scale. Interesting….



The A-note also happens to be the fifth degree of the D Mixolydian scale, so while one might be tempted to think that A is getting the most weight in the C-part, making it the main tonal center, it also functions to bring the tune back to a D tonic and tonality.



Okay, my head hurts, and it’s not because of last night. Remember what Bill Keith and Jim D’Ville advised, “When thinking about musical ideas becomes too much thinking, always remember, the modal sounds can be easily sorted out by the ear. This goes back to the premise that we already know these sounds instinctively.”



Pitch Densities for ‘The Blarney Pilgrim’:



A Part:



 



G:   13



A:   12



B:   3



C:   3



D:   12



E:    9



F#:  0



 



B Part:



 



G:   14



A:   10



B:   7



C:   0



D:   10



E:    7



F#:  0



 



C Part:



 



G:   9



A:   14



B:   6



C:   1



D:   11



E:   5



F#:  0



 



Here’s what the note frequency analysis reveals about the tone densities in descending order – from greatest to lowest – for all the pitches (tones):



 



G = 36



A = 36



D = 33



E = 21



B = 16



C = 4



F# = 0



 



Finally, the following examples are recordings from Complete Book of Irish & Celtic 5-String Banjo (1998), courtesy of Mel Bay Publications, Inc. 



These are learning tracks for personal study, with the tunes played once through. Set the BHO player to repeat or to play along with the tracks.  Please don’t invest too much rating (or berating) them for their ‘entertainment value’; do familiarize yourself with the tunes, close the door, take your shoes off, and practice along with them if you can. All of these tracks (books and eBooks) are available through Mel Bay Publications, Inc. as online downloads through my Author’s Page.



I hope these mp3s will help inspire folks to pick up the banjo and play, also to hear the difference between the Four Celtic Modes: Ionian (Major), Mixolydian, Dorian, and Aeolian (Minor). 



IONIAN (Major) mode:





MIXOLYDIAN mode:





DORIAN mode:





AEOLIAN (minor) mode:





TWO  (or more) modes:





Enjoy!



All the best ~ Tom



big


Tom Hanway - Posted - 11/19/2015:  05:17:53


The Celtic fingerstyle method is about learning one tune at a time and getting it under one’s fingers, then moving onto another tune, then another, and so on. One can then group tunes together in medleys in order to create musical interest, even shifting between keys and modes. A fringe benefit is that by grouping tunes together, one can remember lots of them, and there are literally thousands of Celtic tunes from which to choose!



Students who attend sessions will discover that a lot of popular tunes are already grouped together, and they can go about learning these standard session medleys, and every session has its own favored tunes. It’s amazing how quickly one’s repertoire will grow with a bit of practice and attention to detail.



I provide guide or learning tracks in all my collections (online audio downloads and/or CDs with the older collections), not as a commercial showcase for me, but to familiarize eager students with the some of the best-loved tunes so they can tackle them by themselves.



It is my hope that students will choose tunes that they like after perusing the tabs and/or listening to the guide tracks. Students need to get away from tab, standard or ABC notation and play the tunes for themselves. One can always add their own variations, even rubato if they are slow airs or Carolan harp tunes.



The goal of the Celtic fingerstyle method is to help students get a handle on a body of tunes so they can play them unaccompanied, without reading the tab, and hopefully, take them to play with others at sessions. That’s where the real fun is!



All the best ~ Tom


Tom Hanway - Posted - 11/28/2015:  19:00:29


In Irish traditional and Celtic music we are dealing with a medieval modal system that predates the major-minor system to which we are accustomed. Of course, we can conceptualize and write down all Celtic music using the major-minor system, but weird things happen when we do. And we still need to use our ears. After all, we’re dealing with an old oral (and aural) tradition that predates standard notation.



In fact, we are dealing with a mode-based melodic tradition that predates Baroque and later Classical tradition, using a single melody line (monody), probably going back to the earliest monastic settlements and early Christian church chants in Ireland, which had even deeper roots in the Middle East and Mediterranean region. (I won’t speculate further about that here.)



I alluded earlier to tunes that have “different tonal centers, like a double-sun that the other planet-tones revolve around and gravitate towards.” The analogy may be captivating, but it’s still abstract, a mere model. Perhaps the best way to understand “complex tonality” is by listening to a tune that exhibits it when interpreted on different instruments.



First, let’s distinguish between “key” and “key signature” when talking about Irish and Celtic traditional music.  Recall that the most commonly used modes in Celtic music are the Ionian, Mixolydian, Dorian, and Aeolian. Many Celtic tunes use “gapped scales” and sometimes leave out one (hexatonic) or two (pentatonic) tones from the scale.



Some tunes don’t exhibit anything like the tonality that would seem to be indicated by their key signature in the staff. For example, an ancient “air” might be written down today in the key signature of G, yet not exhibit a G major tonality, or, for that matter, its relative minor (E minor).



It might instead exhibit a strong A modal or D modal tonality. Further, the way in which a tune or “air” is rendered on a particular instrument (including the human voice) could lead to chord and harmony possibilities that further give the impression of it being played in different keys or modes, even though it’s still in that that single key signature (G).



One such air is ‘Anach Cuain’, which Dolly MacMahon sings sean-nós style as a lament and Peter Browne plays on the pipes as a slow air, both based on sean-nós (literally “old-style”) singing, which is traditionally done in Gaelic (Gaeilge). In other words, the sean-nós style of singing is part and parcel to native Irish language, how it’s spoken and sung, in turn informing how traditional performers might use variation, either vocally or instrumentally. Language lies at the very core of the tradition. (English speakers who only speak English tend to have a blind spot to this way of thinking.)



I touched upon sean-nós singing and complex tonality in a related thread, Celtic Fingerstyle Banjo: Sean Nós, Melody and Variations. I put up two video links, and put up a tab on the Hangout based on Dolly’s sung version, please go here: Anach Cuain (Irish slow air). I also pointed out that Dolly’s version flirts with a C#, and this is an inflection hinting at a more major-modal A tonality, i.e., moving between A Dorian and A something. Yet the key signature is G major. How can this be?



Okay, let’s hear “complex tonality” at work. Here are two traditional versions of ‘Anach Cuain’ in the same key signature (G). The principal melody notes are the same, even if the ornaments differ between the singer and the piper, who are both practicing types of sean-nós variation (melismatic, rhythmic and intervallic).



(1) ‘Anach Cuain’ [A Dorian - key of G] sung by Dolly MacMahon (sean-nós singer)



Sung in virtual Connemara-sean-nós style, except that she sings in English (not Irish), Notice her evenness of volume from beginning to end. Dolly’s version sticks to subtle melismatic variations. The A-note is the most frequently heard pitch in the song, and it occurs in key places, at the beginning of measures, on downbeats, long-held pitches, and the last note of each verse (and the song). Her version has a strong A-Dorian character, yet at the top of each verse she descends downward from E to D to C# (not C), giving the phrase a more major sounding quality, really a bi-modality, between A Dorian (flatted third – C) and, say, A Mixolydian (major third – C#), yet another form of complex tonality.



One could also say, I suppose, that she’s technically moving between G Major (Ionian) and G Lydian mode. Okay, sure, but remember, it’s the A-note that is given the most emphasis and would have the most “gravity” according to a note frequency analysis of the tune. Scroll back a few posts to see how that works.



(2) ‘Anach Cuain’ [D Mixolydian key of G] played by Peter Browne (uilleann piper)



Pipes have their origins in remote antiquity, and the uilleann or “union” pipes have a range of two octaves starting from D (just above middle C). Three drones comprise treble, sounding D above middle C; a tenor-sounding D an octave below; and a bass drone, sounding D another octave lower. It also has keyed pipes known as regulators which supply a limited range of single pitches or chords to accompany the chanter melody. These can produce tonic-dominant harmony in G major, and tonic-subdominant harmony in D major.



So, even using the same principal scale tones that MacMahon uses (key of G), except the C#, the addition of a droning D in different octaves throughout the tune gives it its strong D Mixolydian character. Browne also uses his regulators to good effect to sound a G-chord at times, producing a tonic (D) and subdominant (G) harmony, but quickly following with a D-chord on the regulators, all the while droning on D and ending on D, played in octaves. It would be hard to hear this tune as being in A Dorian or G Major, even knowing that its written key signature is G.



Music is listening, and in order to appreciate Irish and Celtic music, we have to get off the printed page and experience the music for ourselves.



Here are more examples of the tune using different keys, modes, variations and chords. 



(3) ‘Anach Cuan’ [F# Dorian] sung by Liam Clancy (singer/guitarist)



(4) ‘Anach Cuain’ [E Dorian] performed by Therese Honey (with the Houston Baptist University Summer Harp Ensemble)



(5) ‘Anach Cuain’ [E Dorian] played by Daragh, a boy from Clare (tin whistle)



So, what key is ‘Anach Cuain’ in, again? Well, it’s not as simple as that, is it? wink



It’s my humble opinion that in order to appreciate Irish traditional and Celtic music we need to move beyond (or go back to a place before) the dominant major-minor system, a system which may prejudice our hearing and approach to playing Celtic variation. It’s the culturally dominant system in the West, and the European style of notation dominates our thinking about classical and Western music. 



One venerable Irish scholar writes, “…the rich and comparatively untouched pastures of Irish traditional music … and by ‘traditional’ I mean the un-Westernized, orally transmitted music … is still … the most popular music in this country.”



Source: Seán Ó Riada, Our Music Heritage (Mountrath, The Dolmen Press, 1982), p. 19.



Okay, I hope some folks get something from this. I enjoy writing about this stuff for the Hangout, and I only wish I could call up Bill Keith and pick his brain like I used to do.



Enjoy!



Beir bua agus beannacht ~ Tom


chuckv97 - Posted - 12/30/2015:  13:46:16


Nice post, Tom. Lots of good music history. Bill Keith,wherever he is in the cosmos, is likely smiling and nodding knowingly.

Klondike Waldo - Posted - 12/31/2015:  16:53:34


Sorry I'm late to the ceilidh.  My experience with Celtic music is mainly as a bagpiper, so here are some observations for a highland piper's perspective ( though one with a degree in Music).



Many pipe tunes are pentatonic or hexatonic, which allows some ambiguity in  "the key"   As the natural scale of the Scottish System bagpipes is a  Mixolydian mode with a subtonic, (G ABC#DEF# ga) tunes which sound major will omit the seventh step.  Some which sound minor omit the third and sixth, or are built on the nominal second  (B).  Modern Lowland/Border pipes  can play the accidentals to play truly major or minor tunes. Some contemporary Highland pipes also have a choice of major or minor seventh and other accidentals  as well as an extended range of another note or two.   Scottish smallpipes and the ubiquitous practice chanters pipers learn on are capable of playing only the  9 notes  GABC#DEF#ga so that many older books of pipe music don't even bother with key signatures, naming the C# and F# as C and F, and thus some tunes originally meant for fiddle, voice or other instrument  become  somewhat compromised in transferring them to bagpipes.



 


Tom Hanway - Posted - 01/24/2016:  19:21:14


quote:

Originally posted by Klondike Waldo

 

Sorry I'm late to the ceilidh.  My experience with Celtic music is mainly as a bagpiper, so here are some observations for a highland piper's perspective ( though one with a degree in Music).




Many pipe tunes are pentatonic or hexatonic, which allows some ambiguity in  "the key"   As the natural scale of the Scottish System bagpipes is a  Mixolydian mode with a subtonic, (G ABC#DEF# ga) tunes which sound major will omit the seventh step.  Some which sound minor omit the third and sixth, or are built on the nominal second  (B).  Modern Lowland/Border pipes  can play the accidentals to play truly major or minor tunes. Some contemporary Highland pipes also have a choice of major or minor seventh and other accidentals  as well as an extended range of another note or two.   Scottish smallpipes and the ubiquitous practice chanters pipers learn on are capable of playing only the  9 notes  GABC#DEF#ga so that many older books of pipe music don't even bother with key signatures, naming the C# and F# as C and F, and thus some tunes originally meant for fiddle, voice or other instrument  become  somewhat compromised in transferring them to bagpipes.




 







People who play Irish and Scottish tunes need to listen to more pipers, not just fiddlers.



Best ~ Tom



wink


Tom Hanway - Posted - 04/27/2016:  03:53:33


Talk about "complex tonality": In Ireland and in the States, I know tune players who love to stretch out on ‘Music for a Found Harmonium’, as well as others who flat-out refuse to play this tune; go figure? It's a lovely tune, and it's great for the stage or to wind down a session, leaving audiences wanting more.... 



First, here is a template that a lot of trad – especially box players – tend to use, though it’s almost always played in the session-friendly key of D, based on Sharon adaptation of the tune, Sharon Shannon - Music for a Found Harmonium [Audio Stream] (here in Eb). Banjo players who enjoy playing trebles and stuttered triplets will have fun with this one. (I play it on the 5-string in Celtic fingerstyle, but that’s my choice.)



Second, here is an oft-copied version that one hears at trad sessions across Ireland and wherever Irish trad is played for the punters and tourists, Patrick Street - Music for a Found Harmonium.



Here’s a session-friendly version (key of D) in both standard notation (4-string) and tab (5-string), based on Sharon’s heavily trebled version in Eb. 



MUSIC FOR A FOUND HARMONIUM (based on Sharon Shannon’s version on the box) STANDARD



MUSIC FOR A FOUND HARMONIUM (Shannon version) TAB



(I have also  arranged in the key of C, closely based on the original PCO recording, but that’s not what’s heard at trad sessions, at least not in Ireland, so I won’t confuse folks with that syncopated rendition here, as fun as it is. If anyone wants it, please message me privately – no problem forwarding it on. I might put it up in the Tab Archive at some stage, even though it’s in standard.)



Enjoy! ~ Tom



 cool



Edited by - Tom Hanway on 04/27/2016 04:03:48

Tom Hanway - Posted - 05/08/2016:  00:17:17


Here's a tab that has complex tonality, just notice the chords, for starters.  Long ago it found a home in Irish and Scottish traditional music.  It has an even broader impact across the Celtic Diaspora, all over the globe.



This is based on the original Penguin Cafe Orchestra version, but I also have tabbed it for Trad in the BHO Tab Archive. I've been working on this one for donkey's years:



Music for a Found Harmonium



Best ~ Tom cool


Tom Hanway - Posted - 05/31/2016:  19:41:18


In review, modes are scales, scales are modes.​ Some Celtic modes are used more than others, and four are common in all the Celtic music traditions – that is, in Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Cornwall, Brittany and the Isle of Man, in the Celtic Diaspora (e.g., Appalachia, Shetland, Cape Breton), and in ex-Celtic lands (all across England).



THE FOUR CELTIC MODES























IONIAN



1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7



MIXOLYDIAN



1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, b7



DORIAN



1, 2, b3, 4, 5, 6, b7



AEOLIAN



1, 2, b3, 4, 5, b6, b7




 



Celtic music typically uses gapped scales of five (pentatonic) or six (hexatonic) tones.  Some tunes use seven (heptatonic) tones or all the notes of a particular mode. The Four Celtic Modes comprise the Ionian (Major), MixolydianDorian and Aeolian (natural minor). These correspond to the scales one would derive by playing only the white notes of a piano, starting on C, G, D and A respectively. 



Brighter Modes: The Ionian mode is the Major mode. Its unique step-pattern of notes fall on the white keys of a piano as:  C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C. 



The Mixolydian mode is major-sounding but differs slightly from the major scale, having a flatted seventh degree.  Its unique step-pattern of notes fall on the white keys of a piano as:  G-A-B-C-D-E-F-G. 



Darker Modes: The Dorian mode is both minor and major sounding – the mode that traditional musicians often mean when they say a tune is “modal.”  Its unique step-pattern of notes fall on the white keys of a piano as: D-E-F-G-A-B-C-D. It has a flatted seventh degree like the Mixolydian mode, and also a flatted third, which gives it a “minor” or “bluesy” sound. It has a major sixth, distinguishing it from the Aeolian mode, which has a minor sixth. 



Finally, we have the Aeolian mode, or “natural minor” scale in classical terms. Relative to a major scale, it has flatted third, sixth and seventh degrees. Its unique step-pattern of notes fall on the white keys of a piano as: A-B-C-D-E-F-G-A.



The Aeolian and Phrygian modes are truly minor modes (and these are not the only ones). Interestingly, the exotic-sounding Phrygian mode is not common to the Celtic tradition, but it is common to Spain and other Mediterranean countries.  Relative to a major scale, it has a flatted second, third, sixth and seventh. Its unique step-pattern of notes fall on the white keys of a piano as: E-F-G-A-B-C-D-E. It is sometimes found in Cornish and Breton songs but rarely in Celtic tunes. Some have heard it in certain Scottish music, and it’s associated with Flamenco music. It also has variants found in Middle Eastern music. It is not used in any of the Celtic tunes in this collection, but it gives us a good point of reference. 



Here’s a subjective view of the modes used in Irish and Celtic music, a kind of spectrum of the Four Celtic Modes (Aeolian, Dorian, Mixolydian, Ionian), going from more “minor-sounding” (darker/sadder) to more “major-sounding” (brighter/happier) tone sequences (scales):







SPECTRUM OF THE FOUR CELTIC MODES



 



MINOR < more “minor”  <  “MODAL”  >  more “major” > MAJOR



(PHRYGIAN)     AEOLIAN      DORIAN      MIXOLYDIAN      IONIAN



 


 




 


Tom Hanway - Posted - 06/17/2016:  21:28:21


This is worth a listen, and not just one listen: notice how chords are not major-minor specific, as if to tease the classical distinction between major-minor modality:



Altan - A Bhean Udaí Thall



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