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Fiddle Lessons: Spelling Chords with 2 Notes

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All right,
we're just going to talk a little bit
about when we're playing jazz or,
or this kind of jazzy swingy music.
Different jazz violinists have evolved
different methods for
backing up, or just ya know, playing,
playing not lead parts.
Stephan Capelli, had a great backup
technique, he would just stop playing.
[LAUGH] And look at whoever he was
And that [LAUGH] that's a good one.
I don't think I need to teach that, and
So, I'm gonna talk about the other of
doing it, where you are playing.
In some of that is well how do we you know
make the chorus?
What do we, what notes do we chose when
we're just kind of spelling through it.
And this is not only for back up but it's
also for just increasing our understanding
of what the changes are because we need to
know this.
We're gonna be improvising over chords we
need to know what's going on the chords.
We need to know the chords.
So, we're gonna go to we're gonna use the
Be Bop blues form,
as our template for this, right now.
And we might use another template at some
But, for right now, we're gonna use the
Because it's such a big part of, who we
as incipient or somewhat accomplished jazz
So what do, what notes, I mean, what notes
would we choose, we got.
One of the nice things about violins is
that we got,
not that many notes to choose from here,
I mean we can't
go across all the strings.
Just doesn't sound right for this style.
If you were Bach.
You know we
could crunch across all the strings, of
And this,
really we're just talking about two notes
at once, really.
And for me, what really works for me is
the bottom two strings.
And of course, I'm using a five string
here, so try to ignore that bottom string.
We're just, most of you are gonna have
four string instruments.
With the low G.
So just focus on that low G,
which is that second string over.
So I'm talking about the g and the d
string pretty much for
just about everything that we do.
I might just go up and catch a little
thing on the a string occasionally.
But really, what we're talking about is
kind of working within
generally the first position on the bottom
two strings.
For every chord, every chord that we're
gonna be needing.
So that really cuts it down, you know?
Once we've established a couple of chord
forms for like,
for instance, a D minor,
that D minor, those chord forms,
are gonna be the same.
It's gonna be D minor no matter what tune
we're playing.
It's still gonna be a D minor, and it's
still gonna be the same notes.
So in a way, that's great, because, you
know, once we've got, you know, our,
in our heads a good choice of notes for,
you know, a D minor, a G seven.
Those, that's gonna be the same.
Again it go, so it really, you know, once
you kinda get on this.
Once you, once you kinda get the general
principle, you can really move fast.
And, and you can really you have a lotta
things open.
So, when we are doing jazz.
And you know, general swingy music or, or
any kind of improvising music.
We are talking about like, what are the
most important notes to spell?
You know, when we, when we're playing
backup, when we're thinking about
you know, what is going on in, in this you
know, harmonically in this tune.
Well one of the most important notes in a
chord, one, three, five, and seven.
Now, because we're playing this high,
little, squeaky instrument,
there's usually gonna be like a bass
player playing the ones.
So we don't necessarily have to think
about the ones that much.
We know, we wanna think about the ones,
but we don't necessarily have to play
What are the other important notes?
Well, the five's an important note, but
it's, it's the really important notes
that you wanna kind of that, that are
really telling you a lot about the nature
of the chord that's happening, are the
third and, believe it or not, the seventh.
Because the third tells you whether it's a
major or minor chord,
that's very important.
You know,
if you got the bass player playing the
You wanna know.
Well, is it a major chord?
Is it a minor chord?
G major.
So you want that, major note.
You wanna maj, major third if it's a
You want the minor third if it's a minor.
How about the seven?
Why the seventh?
Well the seventh is gonna tell you some
very important things.
It's gonna tell you.
Is it part of a dominant motion?
Is it a dominant chord?
Is it a seventh chord?
Is it gonna, is it part of some kind of
Is it part of some kind of cycle?
Is it leading you through a cycle for us?
Or is it a major seven?
Is it just gonna sit there like oh, we're
done, we've.
Found it. We've arrive. [MUSIC]
Okay, we're not, we're not going anywhere.
We're, we're hanging.
We're basking on our, on our, we're riding
on our laurels.
We're basking in the sunshine.
So major Seven.
means that we're ev,
we've actually stopped for a minute,
there's not emotion, and
a dominant, a flat seventh, [SOUND] means
that we're going somewhere.
We're, we're on the way, you know?
So, so is it.
So those thirds and sevenths can really
give us a lot of information, and
the beautiful thing about that is that, so
when we're playing like a G7 for instance,
G7 chord, we see a G7 in there, okay,
well, we got the third on the bottom,
we're talking about G and D strings only,
third on the bottom, find that third.
Oh it's a B, B natural, right,
seventh on top, it's a G7, meaning it's a
dominant seven.
Flat seven.
Okay oh theres F right that's that's an F
on the D string we can use.
we got that a try tone you can see that
ont he overhead camera.
that I got my fingers kind of
meshed together.
What we call a try tone the distance
between these two.
Notes is a flat five.
It's the sound of alarm.
Okay, what if it was a minor seven?
Well, we could, you know, it's a minor
seven, it's a, it means a G minor seven.
It means okay, it's a flat.
Third, right?
Minor third.
And the seventh on top.
Oh that's easy, we just bar right across.
So if it's a minor seven,
that means it's probably be going into a
seventh of some sort, a fourth away.
So a G minor seven, almost always leads
A C seven, right?
So, I don't know, what's a C seven?
Okay, do I have to jump around?
No, this is the beautiful thing about
these kind of forums.
Okay, G minor seven, B flat is the third.
Seventh is the F.
C seven.
Well, we've got the B flat.
That's the seven of C.
And we need a third on top.
Got the seven on top, and the third on
Oh, okay, oh.
The third of C seven is only a half step
From F.
So, all we have to do is this.
We've got G minor seven to C seven.
What if we have.
A minor seven to D seven?
A minor seven to D seven.
Oh that's a whole step up from.
G minor seven is C seven.
A minor seven is E seven.
Just move the whole assembly up.
So, what if we have, and this is so
common, A minor seven to D seven, G minor
seven to C seven, around the cycle, right?
The, the cycle for us.
G to C.
Oh, what is it?
Okay, A to D to G to C.
A, D.
A, D, G, C.
That's right around the cycle for us.
One's a major one's a minor.
So, A minor seven, to D seven.
G minor seven, to C seven.
Look at that, it's just as lovely little.
You know, geometric instruction.
But, what if we wanted to continue around
the circle of force G minor, C.
That would be C minor to F maybe, we want
to do that.
Okay, C minor to F, okay.
Well, what do we got?
We got some some C minor.
We, it's third and seventh.
Oh, there's seventh, the seventh of C.
We're already playing it.
To B flat.
We need, so we need a third, so what, we
need a minor third.
Oh, I know, there's, there's an E flat.
Okay, here's another way to play that,
minor seventh.
Well this is familiar from our blue grass
playing, right?
It's just a forth away, so we've got the.
You got the seventh on the bottom, and the
third on top.
And then when we wanna go to F.
Oh, here's the F seven, the seven and the
F is on top it's the same note E flat,
so we wanna go to the third on the bottom
we move.
Our second finger down a half step.
We've got that, so we got.
So, we've got that kinda thing.
We could also spell a D minor seven again.
Third, seventh on the bottom, third on
To a G.
That's very common.
Like that.
And then C minor seven to F.
So, we've got these beautiful little
shapes, you know?
We got, we can either go.
Straight across.
Minor seven to seven.
Or Minor seven to seven.
Okay, well, what moves, on in this, the
top note moves.
And this, shape the bottom note moves.
All right, so that's.
Or duf, and between those two shapes, we
can find just about everything,
and just in the first position on the
bottom two strings.
Very simple, and we get all kinds of cool
So if we took, for instance, the Bebop
Blues we could do F,
F major third.
On the bottoms.
Major seven on top.
And it sounds pretty good.
Or we could just add the F, if we wanna be
very simple and direct.
There's no law saying we can't do platonic
if we want,
if want it to sound a certain way.
And then we've got the B flat.
You could play.
Play a very simple B flat like that, or we
could play a B flat seven.
We could go down.
To A flat, which is the seventh.
And then play the third at the top.
So we get.
Back to F.
B flat seven again.
Our, what is that?
And then C minor seven to F seven.
We played that already.
Seventh on the top.
Seven on the bottom, third on top.
And there's the F.
And then.
Either B flat.
Or B flat seven.
Okay, there is the B diminished.
We could play a tritone there.
There's the B.
And there's the flat five.
Like that.
That sounds really good.
To F.
Oh, look at that, we can just go.
Right up.
Oh, that's interesting,
we have a line that we get from the B.
To the B, B flat.
To the B diminished.
To the F.
To the, D seven,
we could easily stay there if we wanna
really make that line happen.
F to the D.
We could do that.
And then G minor seven, okay, third on the
bottom, seventh on top.
To C seven, seventh on the bottom, third
on top.
And then here's our little one, six, two,
Let's see if we can find an elegant way to
do that F.
D minor seven.
G minor seven, C sharp, so.
So, very little movement can produce a lot
Great little chord movements that we can
so I, you know?
Take this general rule we also have the
lovely, you know?
If we're just going straight around the
circle force.
For a tune like for instance oh.
We can just.
Let's see start singing on A seventh.
Let's get that, let's tritone.
Let's put the third on the bottom, and the
seventh on top.
Third, A seventh third is C sharp.
G on the top, which is a seven.
To D seven, right?
To D seven.
Oh, look at that.
If we just drop the whole thing down a
half step.
We get a D sesven.
So A seven here to D seven.
[LAUGH] Why does that work?
That's great.
You go a fourth of the way, but you only
have to drop a half step.
You got the third on bottom, similar on
the top for the A seven.
If we drop it a half step.
Oh, it just flips.
Okay, seventh on the bottom, third on top,
for the D seven.
But, if we wanna go another fourth away to
the G, G seven.
Drop it another half step.
Oh, back to third on the bottom, seventh
on top.
Wow, that's amazing.
And then, what, let's go another fourth,
to the C seven.
Drop it another half step, we've got the
seventh on the bottom, third on the top.
Third and seventh, they flip every time
you go one and
coming around the circle of fourths.
A seven, B seven, G seven, C seven.
Wow, that is just the coolest thing in the
And it's so easy.
You know, just drop and half steps.
So that is kind of in a nutshell, very
quick nutshell,
a way to start, you know, approaching just
doing two note backup notes.
Chords, and just kind of getting, you
know, just.
Feeling how these changes, these minor
seven to seven, or circle force changes,
can work very easily and simply in the
bottom two strings of your instrument.