11-29-2004, 11:02 AM
I like the Celtic Genre of music and have been able
to make some "Celtic sounding" variations of simple songs
especially in DADGAD ( actually DADGAD down a step) . But what are
the genre characteristics for Celtic Guitar? Are there particular
scale and rhythm patterns ( perhaps 6/8?) that are typical? ( or
stereotypical? ) I know about the "drone notes". Are there
chord progressions that tend to be associated with the genre?
Perhaps there is a book or website that someone here knows about
that explains this well.......
11-29-2004, 11:25 AM
That's a lot to try and answer in a forum like this,
especially since it's hard to convey the feel of the music through
words. Here's a very general starting point.
First, put aside whatever you know about playing American folk,
bluegrass or rock music, as Irish music follows a different path.
The strum is full up and down mostly in an eighth-note pattern (as
opposed to boom-chick) leaning on the main pulses of the meter, two
for 4/4 and 6/8, three for 9/8. Also, it's not uncommon to vary the
rhythm somewhat, especially when playing under traditional melodies.
The jig rhythm, BTW, is fairly specific, based on a single up or
down strum for every eighth note with emphasis on the pulses (1 and
4). Most say the best pattern is DUD-DUD because it maintains proper
tone and emphasis on the second pulse of the meter, and I have to
agree. It feels clumsy at first, but it's learnable, and it's useful
when you get to 9/8, since a strict alternation in that meter will
turn you around on every other bar. Some use DUD-UDU very
effectively, but it does give a different tone. Some use DDU-DDU,
but I don't care for the back-beat-ish sound of that one.
Chords are equally hard to describe, but if you're familiar with
DADGAD, you probably already have a handle on it. Regular
fit-to-note chords are certainly acceptable, but the full sound of
the music comes from chord substitutions (some of which don't make
sense on paper) and "chord scales." Also, it's fairly
common to mix things up a bit so you're playing different positions
on the same chords from verse to verse, and sometimes different
chords, throughout the tune.
I hope this makes sense. The best thing is to find some good records
and listen to them repeatedly until you get a feel for things. John
Doyle has an excellent record called "Evening Comes Early"
which is a good starting point. He plays Irish rhythm mostly in
drop-D, but the style is there nonetheless. He also has an
instruction video on the Homespun label; though it's geared toward
backing up traditional Irish tunes, the lessons can be applied to
most any songs that can fit the genre.
I'm drawing a blank for the moment on others. There are many fine
guitarists in this genre, but a lot of them focus on fingerstyle as
opposed to rhythm.
11-30-2004, 09:19 AM
Are we talking about modal as it seems to me to be
sometimes, but not always, used in the sense of "no 3"
(major or minor) version of chords and scales?
That's one way to look at it, although perhaps not the best
explanation. Most modal chords do tend to replace the 3rd with
either the 2nd or the 4th, though.
"Modal" simply refers to playing in a "mode"
rather than a major or minor scale. Modes are derived by taking a
major scale, and changing the note that you start and end with.
For example, if we take a C scale, with no sharpas and flats, we
get C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C, right? The major scale is also referred to as
the Ionian mode. By starting on a different note, but using the
same notes that make up the C scale, you'll be playing in a
Ionian: C D E F G A B C
Dorian: D E F G A B C D
Phrygian: E F G A B C D E
Lydian: F G A B C D E F
Mixolydian: G A B C D E F G
Aeolian: A B C D E F G A (this is an A minor scale--the relative
minor for C)
Locrian: B C D E F G A B
Much Celtic music is centered around the Dorian mode (which sounds
minor-ish) and the Mixolydian mode (which sounds major-ish). Now,
how do we figure out how to play in D Dorian or D Mixolydian?
Since Dorian is the second mode, you need to know the major scale
that has D as the second note. (We already know it's C, since I
listed it above.) Then, you play From D to D, using the key
signature of the major scale that has the targeted note as the
second step. In this case, it's C, and there are no sharps or
flats in C, so you play D E F G A B C D.
If you wanted to play in G Dorian, you'd have to know that G is
the second step in an F major scale (F G A Bb C D E F), and then
play G to G using the key signature for F: one flat (Bb). this
gives you G A Bb C D E F G. Voila! G Dorian.
Another way to think of the Dorian mode is a major scale with a
lowered 3rd and lowered 7th. G major is G A B C D E F# G, so when
you lower the third (B becomes Bb) and the 7th (F# becomes F), you
end up with the same result: G A Bb C D E F G. G Dorian again.
Mixolydian starts on the 5th step of a major scale, so if you want
to play in D Mixolydian, you need to figure out which major scale
has D as the 5th step. guitarists are used to knowing the 5th
(it's the other note in a power chord, for example), so the 5th
can usually be figured pretty quickly. D is the 5th step in a G
major scale: G A B C D E F# G. So, to play in D Mixolydian, we go
from D to D using the key signature for G major: D E F# G A B C D.
Want to play in G Mixolydian? G is the 5th step in a C major
scale: C D E F G A B C. So, G Mixolydian is G A B C D E F G (G to
G using the key signature for C major).
Another way to think of the Mixolydian mode is a major scale with
a lowered 7th:
G major: G A B C D E F# G
G Mixolydian: G A B C D E F G (the 7th step is lowered from F# to
C major: C D E F G A B C
C Mixolydian: C D E F G A Bb C (7th step is lowered from B to Bb)
The little experience I have playing in DADGAD has made me realize
that including the major or minor 3rd in a chord is often more of
a stretch or contortion than what my fingers can make!
Here's an easy, moveable major and minor chord shape in DADGAD. It
does involve some muting of strings, though:
Major: 5xx45x (or 3xx23x, 4xx34x, 8xx78x, etc.)
Minor: 5xx35x (or 3xx13x, 4xx24x, 8xx68x, etc.)
Basically, you are playing the root on the sixth string, the 5th
on the second string, and either the 3rd or the flat 3rd on the
I hope all this rambling makes some sort of sense. It's tough to
cover all this info briefly!
11-30-2004, 11:14 AM
More ways of thinking about Modes . . .
If you don't want to think about key signatures and notes, you can
just use patterns of whole and half steps.
W = Whole step = 2 frets
H = Half step = 1 fret
Ionian (Major): W-W-H-W-W-W-H
So, to use D as an example:
D Ionian (D Major): D E F# G A B C# D
D Dorian: D E F G A B C D
D Phyrgian: D Eb F G A Bb C D
D Lydian: D E F# G# A B C# D
D Mixolydian D E F# G A B C# D
D Aeolian: D E F G A Bb C D
D Locrian: D Eb F G Ab Bb C D
Try playing all of the modes to get a feel for how they sound . . .
Re: About Chords?
> I have a lot of Irish lyrics with chords for guitar
and i'd like to try using them with my tenor (Gdae) how do i
"translate" the guitar chords to chords for the banjo?
- Posted: Thursday January 08 2004, 23:18 (NZST)
- By: Frank
- In reply to: About
Just use the chord finder here at Irish Banjo. You'll have too look up
the chords one by one though.
Tell me if you need any chords that aren't included in the chord finder,
and I'll add them.
> one other Q: how do i take out chords to a tune if i only have the
Now that's a tricky question.
The easy answer is you do it by trying and failing.
There are lots of rules - or rather guidelines - for finding a good
chord progression for a tune, but it's way too much to get into here I'm
Some simple rules though:
First you have to determine what key the tune is in.
Start with the root note. usually it's the note the tune starts and/or
ends with, but in Celtic music you can never be really sure. Play the
tune through and try to determine what note the tune naturally
"comes to rest" on. That's the root.
Then we have to find out if it's in major or minor. You can figure that
out from the key signature, or from which scale the tune is based on,
but if you don't feel confident enough about notated music, you can just
try the alternatives.
Say you found out the root was a d. Try playing chords to the tune
starting and ending with a D major chord (that's the one we usually
simply call D). Don't bother with the chords in between. Does that sound
good? If so it's a safe bet the tune's in D major.
If not, try the D minor (Dm). Is that better? Then the tune's in D
(Before somebody accuse me of false teaching: yes, I've left out loads
of details, but I'm trying to be practical ;-)
Next we have to fill in the chords in between. This is where the trial
and error comes in.
There are two different basic systems used for Celtic chord progression,
classical harmonization and "modal" harmonization.
Here are the most common chords used in the different keys (the
most common chord to the right, and so on - very roughly ordered of
Classic: C G7 F Dm Am Em
Modal: C Bb F G Gm
Classic: Cm G7 Fm Eb Bb Ab
Modal: Cm Bb Gm Eb F
Classic: D A7 G Em Bm F#m
Modal: D C G A Am
Classic: Dm A7 Gm F C Bb
Modal: Dm C Am F G
Classic: E B7 A F#m C#m G#m
Modal: E D A B Bm
Classic: Em B7 Am G D C
Modal: Em D Bm G A
Classic: F C7 Bb Gm Dm Am
Modal: F Eb Bb C Cm
Classic: Fm C7 Bbm Ab Eb Db
Modal: Fm Eb Cm Ab Bb
Classic: G D7 C Am Em Bm
Modal: G F C D Dm
Classic: Gm D7 Cm Bb F Eb
Modal: Gm F Dm Bb C
Classic: A E7 D Bm F#m C#m
Modal: A G D E Em
Classic: Am E7 Dm C G F
Modal: Am G Em C D
This is just a very approximate guideline though, so
don't put too much significance into this table.
As I said, unless you want to invest lots of hours learning basic music
theory the best approach is probably to just try different ideas and see