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BR-549

Which Note To Start ON

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I can find virtually no info on the below.

 

When playing (picking, no chords) a song and you want to play it in C for this example.  Do you start on C,E or G (the notes in a C chord)?  If so is G, the last one what is generally preferred?

If this is true and I don't know if it is and you decided to play the same song in G and decided to start on G (the first note in a G chord) the song would be the same.  Is the same song the same in two different keys?

If this is not how to know where to start how do you know where?

Thanks

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@BR-549 I’m not sure if your question is intended to be as straightforward as it seems, but here goes. If you want to play the melody, those are the notes that you play. In this simple example, “Ode to Joy”, the first note is an E, then an F and a G, and so on. If we want to play this song in G, we must transpose it up a perfect fifth (or down a perfect fourth) and start on a B, then C, and D, and so on, with F# as the single accidental in the key of G. In this example, the melody starts on a pitch in the scale (E) which is often, but not always the case.

Ode to Joy C.png

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Thanks for the reply, that makes sense.  However we are given the music in that example.

If there is you and one other guitar player and someone says play Silent Night in C.  The rhythm player is going to start on C chord ( I think).  Where does the melody player start?  The example above uses E, but is that the only option?

Silent Night just popped into my head as a simple song everyone knows, not trying to figure that one out particularly.

 

Thanks

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44 minutes ago, BR-549 said:

Thanks for the reply, that makes sense.  However we are given the music in that example.

If there is you and one other guitar player and someone says play Silent Night in C.  The rhythm player is going to start on C chord ( I think).  Where does the melody player start?  The example above uses E, but is that the only option?

Silent Night just popped into my head as a simple song everyone knows, not trying to figure that one out particularly.

 

Thanks

@BR-549 Generally speaking with these songs (Hymns) you would play the melody as written in the chart, as Diane says. The rythym player would play the tonic (root ) chord.

Is this the only option? Well, no ... Is there an intro? In "Silent Night", using your example, the last 2 bars are often played as an into to the hymn, in which case the the melody first two bars played would be those. (and he rythym player playing the appropriate chord). 

Or;

Is the song/hymn being played as an improvisation? If so, then it's up to the player what melody line to play, using the chord tones of the song, perhaps with passing tones, as in jazz.

IMHO...

regars; Neil

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For a single guitar player it makes sense to play the C when playing the notes associated with a C chord. If another guitar player or bass player is playing C then you could start with a different note in C. Most of the sheet music you see is made for multiple instruments playing different parts. The best solo guitar players play rhythm, melody, and lead which covers all the notes in C or any other chord. The open C chord and many other chords have multiple root notes. For the C chord the note C is located on 5th string and second string so you can play inversions.  

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When playing group or otherwise with no indication of really where to start its entirely up to you.

But you'll find typically the "perfect turn around in the last 4 bars of a song.

There that or pick the first few bars, just tell who you're playing with what you're doing. 

In some of my church songs the intro is very long, we cut them down 

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Sounds like you're just trying to determine which note a song's melody starts with based on the key/first chord. Without considering intros or anything other than the melody of the song, you can bet that the first note of any given song will start on one of the chord tones of the first chord. Just use trial and error to determine whether it's the 1st, 3rd or 5th. It could be any of the three, but only one. Using your example of Silent Night in C, start playing the melody by ear starting with a C note. You'll find that the first four notes are C - D - C - A. At that point in the song, there would generally be a chord strum, so go ahead and strum a C chord. You can tell right away it doesn't work. Now do the same thing starting with the E. The notes will be E - F# - E - C#. You should immediately be able to tell you're not in the key of C since you already have two sharps. Now try starting with the G. The notes are G - A - G - E. Strum a C chord at that point and you can hear it works. So, Silent Night begins on the 5th of the root chord. Go back to the first part of your trial and error, starting on the C note. Since you now know that Silent Night starts on the 5th of the opening chord, you should play an F chord after playing C - D - C - A, since C is the 5th in an F chord. If you want to transpose the song to any other key, you'll need to start the melody on the 5th of the root chord. For example, if you want to play Silent Night in G, you'll start the melody with a D note, the 5th of a G chord.

Use the same method for any song, and you'll find the melody for about an equal percentage of songs starts on the 1st, 3rd or 5th of the opening chord. Trial and error is the only method I know of to figure it out by ear. 

Hope that helps.

Mike

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Thanks for all the replies.

 

Mike, That's exactly what I wanted to know.

 

Thanks

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Hello,

 

New guy on the block.  Let me see if I can tackle this.

It seems like you are asking a good question.  "How do you start a melody in a particular key?  What is the best note to begin on?"   But in a sense, its a lot like asking  "What's the perfect word to start a novel on?"

There is no perfect word that fits everyone.  Music in a way is a language.  I feel that if you learn the basics of the language, you can narrow down the choices.  In a song like Happy Birthday, trial and error is one way to do that.  But the first 2 notes of the melody are "pick up" notes.  The song itself starts on the third note.  The accent of the chord itself will be the first bar of the song.  So in this instance, it's like a "run-up" to the song itself "starting".

I use this example to express that there are no right or wrong notes to start a melody on.

What I feel would help, though, is that you DO have some idea of the chord underpinnings on that.  So for that, at a minimum:

1.  I'd suggest being able to write out, play and absorb/memorize internally the pitch collections of the major scale. This is like language.

2.  I'd suggest that at a minimum, you understand Diatonic Harmony.  This is the idea that for every note of the scale you are on, there is a chord, that fits it like a group or family.  There are some parameters to that, that are outside of the scope of this answer, and I don't want to get into the weeds with you on it, but if you ask everyone "What are the diatonic triads of F Major?"  every correct answer would match up.  So this is something that can be learned, and memorized, and in my opinion, it is essential to understanding "language" as well.  For example, even if its not "Playing" you can still "hear" in your head, where the direction of the chords would be going if they were playing.  This could then inform you of a possible starting melody note

3.  I'd suggest you study and learn Cadences.  Cadences give the direction to the resolution of a part of a progression. a V to I is a cadence, for example.  You can also learn chord tendencies,  like how many songs go I IV V, of vi ii V I or any number of directions.   

If this is getting you a bit into the weeds, and you don't know what I just stated above, no worries.  If you learn the Harmonized Major Scale, and we also call this Diatonic Harmony, and you label the order of these chords starting on the first chord of the family with Roman Numerals...

Here...I'll use the chords in the key of F Major as an example:

F Gm Am Bb C Dm Edim

The first chord is F which would be Roman Numeral I.

Gm - The next chord, or chord number 2 would be ii (MInor chords get lower case roman numerals and Major get uppercase)

Then using a vi ii V I - with F being the key, you'd have Dm Gm C and then F played in that order.  This is an example of what I mean by chord directions, or tendencies which us that understand that language can identify and conceptualize and hear...again this is language, and it's learned by steps and practice and application.

So ultimately in your development as a musician that wants to understand language, you can "hear" the melody you want, and the way the chords, if they were played, where they'd be, and that might inform you as to what you want your melody to do, and/or what someone else's melody might be doing, and based off of.

Rarely is any melody written devoid of a sense of where the chords might go if they were there, is what I'm saying.  Even if they aren't there, a melodies accented or emphasized notes give some sense of a place where a chord might have been placed.

I hope these thoughts, while they might not have directly answered your question, give you some idea where TO start developing your own language, so that you can answer this question, for yourself any time.  

Everyone's answers definitely work, what I was thinking is that one alternative to trial and error is to have some sense of what chords might be playing in the background, even if they won't actually be there, they can still be felt.

Best,

Sean

RnB Academy

.com

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16 hours ago, RNBACADEMY said:

Hello,

 

New guy on the block.  Let me see if I can tackle this.

It seems like you are asking a good question.  "How do you start a melody in a particular key?  What is the best note to begin on?"   But in a sense, its a lot like asking  "What's the perfect word to start a novel on?"

There is no perfect word that fits everyone.  Music in a way is a language.  I feel that if you learn the basics of the language, you can narrow down the choices.  In a song like Happy Birthday, trial and error is one way to do that.  But the first 2 notes of the melody are "pick up" notes.  The song itself starts on the third note.  The accent of the chord itself will be the first bar of the song.  So in this instance, it's like a "run-up" to the song itself "starting".

I use this example to express that there are no right or wrong notes to start a melody on.

What I feel would help, though, is that you DO have some idea of the chord underpinnings on that.  So for that, at a minimum:

1.  I'd suggest being able to write out, play and absorb/memorize internally the pitch collections of the major scale. This is like language.

2.  I'd suggest that at a minimum, you understand Diatonic Harmony.  This is the idea that for every note of the scale you are on, there is a chord, that fits it like a group or family.  There are some parameters to that, that are outside of the scope of this answer, and I don't want to get into the weeds with you on it, but if you ask everyone "What are the diatonic triads of F Major?"  every correct answer would match up.  So this is something that can be learned, and memorized, and in my opinion, it is essential to understanding "language" as well.  For example, even if its not "Playing" you can still "hear" in your head, where the direction of the chords would be going if they were playing.  This could then inform you of a possible starting melody note

3.  I'd suggest you study and learn Cadences.  Cadences give the direction to the resolution of a part of a progression. a V to I is a cadence, for example.  You can also learn chord tendencies,  like how many songs go I IV V, of vi ii V I or any number of directions.   

If this is getting you a bit into the weeds, and you don't know what I just stated above, no worries.  If you learn the Harmonized Major Scale, and we also call this Diatonic Harmony, and you label the order of these chords starting on the first chord of the family with Roman Numerals...

Here...I'll use the chords in the key of F Major as an example:

F Gm Am Bb C Dm Edim

The first chord is F which would be Roman Numeral I.

Gm - The next chord, or chord number 2 would be ii (MInor chords get lower case roman numerals and Major get uppercase)

Then using a vi ii V I - with F being the key, you'd have Dm Gm C and then F played in that order.  This is an example of what I mean by chord directions, or tendencies which us that understand that language can identify and conceptualize and hear...again this is language, and it's learned by steps and practice and application.

So ultimately in your development as a musician that wants to understand language, you can "hear" the melody you want, and the way the chords, if they were played, where they'd be, and that might inform you as to what you want your melody to do, and/or what someone else's melody might be doing, and based off of.

Rarely is any melody written devoid of a sense of where the chords might go if they were there, is what I'm saying.  Even if they aren't there, a melodies accented or emphasized notes give some sense of a place where a chord might have been placed.

I hope these thoughts, while they might not have directly answered your question, give you some idea where TO start developing your own language, so that you can answer this question, for yourself any time.  

Everyone's answers definitely work, what I was thinking is that one alternative to trial and error is to have some sense of what chords might be playing in the background, even if they won't actually be there, they can still be felt.

Best,

Sean

RnB Academy

.com

Thanks for this clear explanation, Sean.

I will check out your Rock N Blues Academy.

Wim.

Edited by Wim VD1

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On 9/20/2019 at 12:02 AM, Wim VD1 said:

Thanks for this clear explanation, Sean.

I will check out your Rock N Blues Academy.

Wim.

Hi Wim,

That's cool my friend.  I'm just here to help where I can, though.  Theory and helping others is my life's passion.   

I've also thought more about this question and I'd like to offer some more information that may help you and others on your journey.

BR asked about the best note and strongest note to start on, and used C as an example, which seemed to assume, that it was in C, and that the correct notes of a C Triad are in fact C E and G.  They asked if G would be the preferred note.   Several pointed out that C might be a solid choice, and I agree. 

But to make this a little more helpful,  I thought I would go through the hierarchy of choices in the C E G notes, as starting options, and express why they might be good starting choices.

C is a great choice because it is the same note as the name of the chord; the "Root" by which the supporting harmony of the chord is based.

E is a great choice, because yes, it is in the triad, and we know it as the 3rd, but it also is the only note in the chord that tells you if its quality is major or minor, so if you wanted to derive a value in the melody that was a little more interesting a note to start a song on, than the more "predictable" C that accentuated also its "majorness"  then E is a great example.   If the song was to be played in C minor, that E would be now a half step back , and be Eb, and that "minorness" over a C, would be fairly easily felt.

As an example of that "feeling", just for fun, if you listen to the 4 chords in the Radiohead song "Creep"

The 4 chords are: G B C and Cm.  The *only* thing that tells you it's Cm, is you hear/feel that E note, move to an Eb.  If the bass had only been playing on C, you'd never have "felt" that chord "change".  The idea that that E moved to an Eb, is the ONLY sense of this major or minor shift, which makes for a very interesting and uncommon progression.  

My real point though, is to say how cool it might be, and what unique properties a 3rd can convey, if you use it as a starting note.

Then you have the G, the last note in a C triad (chord).  I see this as the least important of the three.  More like, it "Fills in the harmony" for the other two voices.  Many times in chords themselves, stripped down to the minimum notes needed to convey the chord and quality, the 5th would be gone.

That said, many times a song in C can start the melody on the G note (the 5th) as others have pointed out, and be just fine.

However, there might be another interesting way to use the 5th as your starting note and that might be as a "Pickup" note to go to the C.  To give you the barebones tip, without going into the underlying theory here,  the 5th of the chord, wants to pull to the Root.  so if you played G say a couple of times, and THEN to the C note to "start" the melody, it can be very effective.

The reason this can be felt, is derived from the concept that the V chord in Diatonic Harmony and the study of Cadences WANTS to resolve a song on the I chord in that key.  So its like a "gravity" pull and it can be a very powerful songwriting device when you understand it, and cadences as a whole.

Best,

Sean

RnB Academy

.com

Edited by RNBACADEMY

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