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For example, the chord is Cmaj7, but one of the notes is missing and there are only 3 notes being played. Sometimes it is because that missing note is too close to the melody note, so it is dropped to avoid dissonance, and I can understand that, but sometimes that is not the case. I mean when the missing note can actually be put there and it sounds even better and richer, in my opinion, so why was the note dropped in that case? Was it to make it easier to play (Hal Leonard does this a lot), or is it because the transcriber truly believes that it sounds better with that note omitted?

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It is very common to play chords with one or more notes "missing". Just because a chord has 4 or more notes does not mean they all must be played every time the chord is played.

Sometimes note(s) are dropped because it is music for beginners, so it makes it easier.

Other times it is because the dropped notes would muddy up the sound, (especially true in the lower registers), other times simply for convenience in playing, and sometimes the sound calls for a sparser chord.


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Originally Posted by rocket88
It is very common to play chords with one or more notes "missing". Just because a chord has 4 or more notes does not mean they all must be played every time the chord is played.

Sometimes note(s) are dropped because it is music for beginners, so it makes it easier.

Other times it is because the dropped notes would muddy up the sound, (especially true in the lower registers), other times simply for convenience in playing, and sometimes the sound calls for a sparser chord.


Ok, let's suppose you decide to pencil in that missing chord note anyway, and you play it and you think that it actually sounds nicer. Is this just a subjective thing then? Or is it possible that the transcriber watching this would say "What the %#$% are you doing? That's just wrong!" And I'm referring to transcriptions, not compositions.

Last edited by MathTeacher; 10/27/11 08:21 PM.
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Well IMHO rocket88 's reply pretty much says it all.

But...

Originally Posted by MathTeacher

Ok, let's suppose you decide to pencil in that missing chord note anyway, and you play it and you think that it actually sounds nicer. Is this just a subjective thing then?


Yes it's subjective, you can play what you think sounds better.

Originally Posted by MathTeacher

Or is it possible that the transcriber watching this would say "What the %#$% are you doing? That's just wrong!" And I'm referring to transcriptions, not compositions.


It's also possible that the transcriber made a mistake !
(Or the editor that came after).

Are we talking about transcriptions of improvised jazz solos, like those books with transcribed solos by Oscar Peterson, Keith Jarrett, etc? Because, there's very different levels of quality out there, there are transcriptions full of mistakes and approximations, and also (to their credit) sometimes it's very difficult to hear what the guy really played.

And, the next day, the player might play it differently, so it's not really important. A transcription, even if it were accurate, would be only one possible implementation.

But frankly... for one note left out, play it or don't, but I really wouldn't lose too much sleep over that ! Just play what you think sounds good. And, what you think sounds good evolves over time... so.... know what I mean ?

Maybe you could provide some specific examples? What's the note being left out ?

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Originally Posted by Hidden son of Teddy Wilson
Maybe you could provide some specific examples? What's the note being left out ?


So many examples. Here's just one:
[Linked Image]

First measure, E and G left out in Am7 chord. I play it with E above that C half-note, and I think it sounds better (even with the G too it sounds nice, even though it is only a major 2nd below the melody note). Why was the E dropped out, or the G? Same issue with the next measure, playing the F note above the Bb note in the bass sounds nicer in my opinion.

Last edited by MathTeacher; 10/27/11 10:07 PM.
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When there is a Chord notation above the music as your example provides, that does not mean that the chord is played with every note possible, at least not at that moment.

It simply means that some version or inversion or construction that includes some of those notes from the chord is being played starting at that moment.

In your example above, the Am7 chord is there, beginning with a minimum skeleton of the Am chord (A and C). The music then adds the E immediately following the first beat; Next on the second beat with the RH comes the G for the seventh tone, thus "fulfilling the prophesy" of Am7 as announced at the beginning of the measure.

So all the notes of the Am7 chord are present by the second beat...none are "left out" as you claim.

This creates a nice subtle progression. If you crashed in with the entire chord at the first beat, that subteley would be lost.

You have to look past the way of thinking that says every note of a chord must be there at the very first announcement of the chord. It often is not like that.

The chord reference simply says that such-and-such a chord is going to be developed starting now, and continuing until the next chord begins to be played, again either in completion, or in pieces.

Last edited by rocket88; 10/27/11 10:36 PM. Reason: clarity

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Ok... first of all I have a really restrictive definition of "transcription", like I said above, for me, a transcription is a written out score of something someone (preferably someone good, or great) actually played on a recording. Your example seems to be extracted from some kind of fake book.

You can (and should) tweak them to your liking. And I have found that they are sometimes very far away from recorded versions. I was working on Maybe This Time recently and it's amazing how the score I have is different from the recorded version.

The fifth is not really important, you can play it or not, it can sometimes sound muddy. If you like it better go ahead !

For the Am7 : ok they wrote Am7 but there's an F in the small notes, that might clash with the G you wanna play. (I can't try this out right now because I have neighbors!)

Are you doing this with a singer ?

Anyway ... I always take the score with a grain of salt.

I keep seeing stuff like Dm/F when what they should really write is F6, and lots of other strange stuff. Listen to the recording, use the score as a guideline, but the recording is the truth.

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Originally Posted by rocket88
When there is a Chord notation above the music as your example provides, that does not mean that the chord is played with every note possible, at least not at that moment.

It simply means that some version or inversion or construction that includes some of those notes from the chord is being played starting at that moment.

In your example above, the Am7 chord is there, beginning with a minimum skeleton of the Am chord (A and C). The music then adds the E immediately following the first beat; Next on the second beat with the RH comes the G for the seventh tone, thus "fulfilling the prophesy" of Am7 as announced at the beginning of the measure.

So all the notes of the Am7 chord are present by the second beat...none are "left out" as you claim.

This creates a nice subtle progression. If you crashed in with the entire chord at the first beat, that subteley would be lost.

You have to look past the way of thinking that says every note of a chord must be there at the very first announcement of the chord. It often is not like that.

The chord reference simply says that such-and-such a chord is going to be developed starting now, and continuing until the next chord begins to be played, again either in completion, or in pieces.


In the second measure, there is no F note being developed at all for the Bb major chord. But anyways, I do get the essence of what you are saying.

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Originally Posted by MathTeacher


In the second measure, there is no F note being developed at all for the Bb major chord. But anyways, I do get the essence of what you are saying.


Sometimes all the possible notes of a chord simply are not used...in those cases, the chord symbol is the name of the chord anyways, as it most closely describes what is happening, and, as those symbols in your example also include guitar symbols, that allows other instruments, including guitar, to play some or all notes of the chord.

Last edited by rocket88; 10/27/11 11:14 PM. Reason: clarity

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In your example, the tabs above the score are for guitar. The tab for A7 shows that the E, & G are played by the guitar.

If you are playing piano without guitar or vocal, then feel free to play whatever you like.


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Originally Posted by Studio Joe
In your example, the tabs above the score are for guitar. The tab for A7 shows that the E, & G are played by the guitar.

If you are playing piano without guitar or vocal, then feel free to play whatever you like.


Yes, I think that is what I'll be doing, if I feel it sounds better. I generally like maxing out on the chords at the point it is announced, giving what I feel is a richer sound. But I will also keep in mind that it is also at a cost of subtlety, as Rocket mentioned.

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After I auditioned for music school playing full chords in the left hand, one of the teachers looked a bit concerned and said that I need to work on not just playing full root position chords (ie. voicings; dropping out some of the chord tones, spreading out the chords, addding tensions, etc).

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Always a good idea to have some inner movements outside the melody. Tensions and resolutions. Try making countermelodies in the left hand or with the right hand thumb. Add passing chords and make interesting bass lines. .Remember that the chords and chordsymbols originally evolved from polpyphonic music and counterpoint. Ignoring the written music in these pop music arrangements is always a good idea unless it's been specifically arranged for piano.

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I used full chords because I didn't know any differently for a long time. Now I use them when I'm analyzing a piece to see the chord progressions, when I'm practicing inversions and chord progressions, etc, to get a full picture in my mind. I'm far less often playing things the exact way they are written, but more and more appreciating different voicings, other than using all the notes of a chord. It gives me more options, as KlinkKlonk says, for counter melodies, passing notes, interesting riffs, or just good open-sounding simplicity.

It's not note-for-note classical - it's wide-open for interpretations, to me.

Cathy


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When playing solo piano, the LH is best occupied in playing a strong, musical bass line. If you're in an ensemble with a real bass player it may play chords, but they will rarely be full close-position triads and 7th chords - they just tend to sound muddy in the lower register. Think more of using the LH to propel the rhythm of the music. The only time you would just plonk down a full chord in the LH is when playing an automatic keyboard which uses it to recognize the harmony you require.

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for an exercise, practice Dave McKenna style left hand bass lines


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Originally Posted by Exalted Wombat
When playing solo piano, the LH is best occupied in playing a strong, musical bass line. If you're in an ensemble with a real bass player it may play chords, but they will rarely be full close-position triads and 7th chords - they just tend to sound muddy in the lower register. Think more of using the LH to propel the rhythm of the music. The only time you would just plonk down a full chord in the LH is when playing an automatic keyboard which uses it to recognize the harmony you require.


Yes, full chords in the LH tend to sound muddy quite often. So for a 4-note chord, I usually will play around 3 chord notes in the RH (all below the melody note), and usually one (maybe two) notes in the LH.


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