Which Chord To Select From Limited Range?


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We have an old Casio 701 and it only offers three kinds of 'one finger' chords: Major, Minor, Seventh.

So if using for instance a typical 'cheat sheet' book of popular songs we'll be presented with all kinds of chords: Dimished, minor 7th, ninth, 6th..

How should we 'convert' those unobtainable chords into something we can play?
 
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You Casio is an 8 note polyphonic keyboard which means it can play 8 notes at a time so your options are a bit limited in what instrument sound you are using.

You could try learning how to finger chords, it is not that hard. You do not have to learn each chord, the finger pattern will mean learn a C and the finger pattern for a D will be the same. This is valid for all chord types.

If you want to stay one fingered simply try playing what you can and listen to what sounds best. If you cannot find one that is right learn the fingering for the chord concerned.
 
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There is no kind of harmonic rule to follow, no matter if somewhat inexact?

Like when it says for instance a minor 7th which is the most important thing in that chord? The 7th or the minor? i.e. if I can't play a minor 7th then I should play a minor because that's the main thing? Or conversely I should play a 7th because that's the main thing?

Things along those lines?

But I get the message. It is all about sounds. I should try and see which I prefer.

I can't mix in fingered chords with 'one finger' chords. The machine is either accepting the one or the other.

In one finger mode a C major in root position would be seen as C7.

So I have to choose between the two modes.

I am trying recently to learn to finger the chords but I can have a more interesting little session using one finger because I can get around a lot more tunes with something vaguely like in time. Though it is not . Generally. But sometimes a bit like.

Whereas fingering chords it's all stop/start. Fairly hopeless.

Which brings up another question, then. If I were to select fingering chords as the mode and attempt to finger my way through a piece are there any general rules I could adopt to make that easier for me? I mean like which chords could I leave out entirely (feeding them in later as I get better) or which chords could I mutate into a simpler chord (gets back to my original question there) ?
 
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Like when it says for instance a minor 7th which is the most important thing in that chord? The 7th or the minor? i.e. if I can't play a minor 7th then I should play a minor because that's the main thing? Or conversely I should play a 7th because that's the main thing?
For a minor 7th, the minor would be the main thing, that's what you should choose. Major or (dominant) 7th (the only other choices, as I understand it) would both be decidely non-minor.

For the diminished, there is some chance that a dominant 7th that is 4 half steps lower *might* work... sometimes it will, but often, you may find nothing sounds good, and you either have to learn how to play the chord yourself or not play that song! AN example of what I mean by 4 steps lower is, if you need a B diminished, you could try a G7, which includes all 3 notes of the B diminished. It adds a 4th note, and sometimes that may be tolerable and other times it will not.

For a plain sixth, use the major. In some cases, a minor that is 4 half steps down may be worth a try as well. For example, for a C6, you could try either a C major or the A minor (since either of those will contain three of the four notes that make up a C6). It's possible that in some cases, that lower minor might work better.

You could try learning how to finger chords, it is not that hard. You do not have to learn each chord, the finger pattern will mean learn a C and the finger pattern for a D will be the same. This is valid for all chord types.
I agree that learning to play the chords is preferable, but unfortunately, 12 major chords does require learning which "finger pattern" to use for each. They may all use the same three fingers, but that's the smaller part of the battle, compared to knowing which are the black and white keys for each!
 
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Do read other threads and search the forum for answers as many questions asked have been asked before and the answers are there.


There is no right or wrong way to learn to play keys, there is what works for you.

Typically the advice given about learning is to start slow and speed will build up in time, the downside is you are training muscle memory and not necessarily technique.

Forget about chord inversions for now and play and hold a C chord on your keyboard, count the number of keys between each finger. Now play an A chord and again count the number of unplayed keys between each finger. You will find they are the same hence you have learned the pattern for major chords.

Repeat the exercise for Minor, Seventh and Diminished chords and you have cracked learning chords in their root positions.

Then look at and practice chord inversions.

Then learn about Chord progressions in songs and there are thousands that follow a simple 1, 4, 5 format.

A progression will be in a form such as:- 1 M, 2 m, 3 m, 4 M, 5 M, 6 m, 7 D

You will get there just keep practicing and learning.
 
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For the diminished, there is some chance that a dominant 7th that is 4 half steps lower *might* work... sometimes it will, but often, you may find nothing sounds good, and you either have to learn how to play the chord yourself or not play that song! AN example of what I mean by 4 steps lower is, if you need a B diminished, you could try a G7, which includes all 3 notes of the B diminished. It adds a 4th note, and sometimes that may be tolerable and other times it will not.
Thank you for that. I gather from your remarks that choosing a chord the machine will play that has the same notes is the way to go. Should have thought of that myself. I'll get a exhaustive chord chart.

I don't have to avoid the song just because there's a few chords i can't get. Perhaps unfortunately my musical ear isn't that sensitive to the chord changes in the left hand - I'm very much listening to the melody in the right.

It is very, very simple music that I play and leans heavily towards show tunes, jazz standards and like Sinatra's songbook, that sort of thing.

For a long time - right up until now - I've been happy enough just playing right hand only, even.

I'll try what you suggest. thanks again.. :)
 
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Belated further post -

I have been trying to play the full chord in the left hand. It is working! Thanks for the suggestion. I find it very rewarding. Somehow it seems to make more sense in a physical way - I can almost get a feeling of being in touch with the composer as he/she felt their way around the keyboard constructing the song...

and I find surprising things like how this chord is so close to that chord though i would never have thought so and one finger movement of the three fingers makes this chord into that chord.

These relationships are not apparent in the 'one finger' mode of the instrument for it doesn't care what you are fingering beyond the first key on the left - it takes that to be the root, the tonic or whatever it should be called and then if there's another key pressed to the right - anywhere to the right - of that then it says we have a minor and if there's yet another key pressed anywhere to the right again it says ah here's a 7th.

I like this way much more. It simply makes more sense. Tells me more. Teaches me as I go.

All this is very baby stuff. The book is in large print with note names inside the head of the note, with chord symbols instead of a bass clef with notes and every piece transposed into Cmajor so's i'm constantly playing the same core set of chords.

Which of course makes it easier for me.

So ridiculously simple. Not even primary school level. I've looked at some very basic beginner stuff from the classical repertoire - I think maybe bartok? and a few other - and their exercises for the rawest beginner are beyond me.

So that puts me in my place. I know where I'm at and i would never audition for the primary school band.

But: I can play well over 200 tunes - in my own often halting way and loose and ill disciplined tempos - and enjoy it immensely ( though I admit I can't say I'm aware of anyone enjoying listening ) so it's all cool with me.

I'd recommend the method to anyone who'd love to make a little bit of music but finds the rigour of the 'proper' methods of learning a bit too much.

:)
 
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Excellent! Yes, playing the actual chords makes it "feel" more like you're playing the instrument... because you are. ;-) Now that you're on this (much better) path, I'll answer an earlier question which I guess I missed earlier...

If I were to select fingering chords as the mode and attempt to finger my way through a piece are there any general rules I could adopt to make that easier for me? I mean like which chords could I leave out entirely (feeding them in later as I get better) or which chords could I mutate into a simpler chord (gets back to my original question there) ?
Major and minor are the most important. To start, you can pretty safely omit all the 6ths and 7ths... IOW, you can play the "three note" C major whenther it says C or C6 or C7 or Cmaj7 and it will usually sound okay. Then add those "fourth notes" as you feel comfortable doing so.

Getting back to what you said about small finger movements changing one chord to another, that will be something for you to continue to explore using inversions (that is, the same notes, but in a different order). For example, to change from a C major to an F major, instead of moving from CEG to FAC, you could play the F chord notes in a different order... keep your pinky anchored on the C and move the other notes from EG to FA. Sometimes it can sound better, depending on the song. But also, since getting to the chords "in time" is one of the challenges you're dealing with, you may find that this allows you to make some changes more quickly/smoothly.
 
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Indeed. I've already discovered a little about this. It is possible to keep the hand more or less within one octave by using inversions isn't it? I'm working on that right now. Discovering just what the best fingerings are to minimise my hand movement.

Which, I can, may well be not the right thing to do from a strictly musical point of view - the wrong inversion may seriously screw up what the composer intended - but I'm the rawest of raw beginners, remember. For me it's good. :)

Thanks for the tip about 6ths and 7ths. I wouldn't have thought that. On the guitar the 7th is generally such a noticeable thing ( to my mind ) I guess I've maybe gotten an exaggerated idea of how important it is.
 
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Thanks for the tip about 6ths and 7ths. I wouldn't have thought that. On the guitar the 7th is generally such a noticeable thing ( to my mind ) I guess I've maybe gotten an exaggerated idea of how important it is.
It's important, but usually not as important as the underlying major or minor chord it is building on, so it's a matter of priorities. Also, often the melody you're playing in the right hand will have that "fourth note" in it, which completes the chord without your having to pay as much attention to whether or not your left hand is playing it.
 

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