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Nov 30, 2022 - 4:37:31 PM
426 posts since 2/23/2019

OK so if you've been following my recent posts you know that I'm taking a crack at writing my first bluegrassy style song to Big Rock Candy Mountain. I found the chord progressions and basic melody of each of the measures of the song online and have it uploaded into MuseScore, transposed it into the Key of G, and have a banjo tab staff underneath the melody staff, filling core melody notes in, adding in filler, listening to playback, making adjustments, etc.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I understand that the chord symbols denote the chord type of the key you're in, so G major I chord would be GBD, C Major IV chord is CEG, D7 (V7) Major is DF#AC, etc.

1) Assuming I want to respect the chord progression integrity as much as possible, do the chord symbols dictate which notes are "allowed" in the respective measure or is it simply a frame of reference/starting point for constructing an arrangement? (I feel it's the latter case)

2) I noticed that some majors which contain chord symbols (like G Major in attached pic) don't even include all the notes GBD. The example measure just has G's and an A). Again, chord symbols = frame of reference?

Thanks


Nov 30, 2022 - 4:59:26 PM
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13887 posts since 6/2/2008

Melodies often have passing notes outside the underlying chord. These may not be what I earlier called core melody, but you still may want to play some of them in your arrangement. Some times you may want to hit a note from the upcoming chord as a way to create tension or musical interest leading into it. This might not happen on Bof Rock Candy Mountain, but it's something to know about.

So, yes, notes outside the chord are allowed. And not every measure will play every note of a chord.

Plus, you will often play the open fifth string G against chords it is not part of. That's how banjo works.

Nov 30, 2022 - 9:44:52 PM
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1465 posts since 1/9/2012

I have a suggestion that might help you answer your questions yourself AND might help with your project. Try strumming the chords indicated while you sing the melody. Then try it with a different chord in one place. For example, with your measure with g g g a, try other chords, besides G major, that contain the note g. Try chords that contain the note a. Try switching chords within the measure, e.g., three beats of G and one beat of something with a. Your mind's version of the tune likely has the melody embedded in a chord sequence. You can alter that, but it will give the tune a different feel.

Dec 1, 2022 - 2:00:08 AM
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3557 posts since 10/17/2009

The notation is the melody.

The chord symbol is the suggested chord harmony to accompany the melody. It's a short hand rather than writing out what specific notes to play for accompaniment, typically another instrument, say a guitar or piano, or mandolin; and the accompaniment can choose any register or order of the notes (GBD) in the chord.

Melody notes are not dictated limited to only the chord notes; nor does melody have to contain every note of the chord. As well, doesn't necessarily require a chord change for melodic notes not in a chord. (as in example the "a" note. 

Dec 1, 2022 - 4:53:26 AM
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Players Union Member

Texasbanjo (Moderator)

USA

28244 posts since 8/3/2003

There are actually 7 notes in a scale (12 if you add sharps/flats). So, any note within that scale can be played as melody or fill, according to the song. You can have passing notes or "color" added and those notes could be sharps and/or flats. Just because you're using a G chord doesn't mean you're limited to G, B and D. You can use G, A, B, C, D, E, F# or Fdim.

Dec 1, 2022 - 7:45:56 AM
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84 posts since 2/8/2016

As said by Sherry and others, you can use any note of the keys scale. (You can use notes outside the scale as well (occasionally). Blue notes are allowed in BLUE(s)grass.)
Each note will "feel" different played against the chord. There is a lot of crazy theory and ear training that you can get into here but it is not necessary for you to compose a great song.
What I would recommend is finding a drone track for the given chord and play various notes while that drone is going. This will give you an idea how each note feels in relation to the chord.

Dec 1, 2022 - 9:06:12 AM
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2067 posts since 2/10/2003

quote:
Originally posted by finger-picker

OK so if you've been following my recent posts you know that I'm taking a crack at writing my first bluegrassy style song to Big Rock Candy Mountain. I found the chord progressions and basic melody of each of the measures of the song online and have it uploaded into MuseScore, transposed it into the Key of G, and have a banjo tab staff underneath the melody staff, filling core melody notes in, adding in filler, listening to playback, making adjustments, etc.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I understand that the chord symbols denote the chord type of the key you're in, so G major I chord would be GBD, C Major IV chord is CEG, D7 (V7) Major is DF#AC, etc.

1) Assuming I want to respect the chord progression integrity as much as possible, do the chord symbols dictate which notes are "allowed" in the respective measure or is it simply a frame of reference/starting point for constructing an arrangement? (I feel it's the latter case)

2) I noticed that some majors which contain chord symbols (like G Major in attached pic) don't even include all the notes GBD. The example measure just has G's and an A). Again, chord symbols = frame of reference?

Thanks


Since this is a theory forum.  In the measure you posted, the G with a triangle indicates a G major 7th chord.  This along with the key of the piece is meant to tell player improvising harmony what notes and or combination of notes to play that will create harmony under the written melody. In the melody there are 3 G notes.  In the G major 7th chord there is a F# note which is a 1/2 step interval from the Gs in the melody. This half step interval is usually something you want to avoid as it creates dissonance.  A little bit of dissonance is ok, but here you have 3/4 of a measure of it which is usually too much.  It would be better to write a different harmony here.  A G without the triangle would indicate a G triad (G,B,D) and would tell harmory players to stay away from the #7.  If you want something fuller or jazzier, a 6th chord is usually written as harmony when the melody is falling on the root note of the I chord of the key.  

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