Aid for playing with multiple voices at the same time
Alpine folk music is mainly set out with two voices. The leading voice (1st voice) and a second voice is accompanying above or below the 1st one. Usually this two voices go along with each other in an parallel way. This means the distance between these two voices is a 3rd, this means that in an diatonic scale every second note is taken, or left out.
First the minimum of harmonic theory needed for this subject
The following is important for all kind of Instruments, some parts ar more important for Steirische.
We have twelve major scales. Sorted in the order they occur 1n the circle of 4th or the circle of 5th:
At the web page www.musiklehre.at you will find a picture that shows the circle of 5ths a bit different, in major and in minor.
On the Steirische the scales are arranged as they are usually needed in alpine folk music. The difference from one row to the other is a 4th (Quart). If you look at the scales you will notice going from the outside row one to the inner row one clef (#) is removed or one (b) is added. Theoretically all 12 scales would be possible, but usually A-D-G-(C), G-C-F-(Bb), Bb-Eb-Ab-(Db), but others are in use too. I do own a C-F-Bb Instrument, for use in combination with an clarinet. And a A-D-G-C for playing along with fiddles and singers.
Every diatonic scale has its own specific
series of tones made up by seven tones, for C major C, D, E, F, G, A, B, (C one octave higher) [English notation]
One can also name the scale in the Italian or France
For me it is easier to number the tones, similar to the numbering of step progressions.
Some of the major scales are given below:
You can imagine the scale as a staircase, beginning at the basement and ending on the first floor. This staircase consists of seven steps, the 8th step brings you into the 1st floor. For the second floor the same system applies. Every tone is represented by a stair step and every octave with a floor.
On each of these tones (steps, numbers) one can build up a chord triade and this chord is also named after the first tone in the triad. The most important chord is the one belonging to the 1st note in the scale and is made up of the tones 1 3 5. This is always true for every scale.
The tones printed bold in the table above are the major cord notes, also called tonic or 1st harmonic step progression.
The triad on top of the 1st note in the scale is also called “gerade” (even) in Alpine folk music. In a lot of standard music notation you will find big letters for the bass indicating the scale of the measure and small letters for the accompanying chord, so C or c for C major. On the Steirische you find direction these chord (notes) 1 3 5 repeated in different octaves (positions), when pushing the bellows. The 5th note of the scale on the middle position is the Gleichton except in row one.
The next chord used in alpine folk music is very important too and it is the harmonic step progression 5 (Dominant 7th chord). In reality a 4 note chord and it is made up with the notes 5 7 2 and 4 of the scale. In Alpine folk music this is called 'verkehrt' (turned around). In standard notation for accordion or Guitar this is often indicated with an 7, so in C-major G7 (or g7). In reality this chord is made up with 4 notes and it is not a triad as most other chords. On the Steirische you find this chord in the pull direction. Here too, the 5th note is the Gleichton. The least important note in in this chord is the 2 and so this note is often left out, if only 3 notes are played.
Another often used chord and step progression is the 4th step, the Subdominant, the triad built on the 4th note in the scale. This chord is built by the notes 4 6 1 of the scale and is indicated as a capital letter, so F would be the 4th in C-major. On the Steirische this is in most cases the next inner row in push direction.
These three progressions are major chords. The other three progressions (2nd 3rd and 6th) are minor chords (the 7th step is almost never used in “normal” music). Minor chords are very rarely used in alpine folk music, but in some tunes they do occur. But caution: If you have a tune mainly in major and you find very short passages with minor chords, then this minor chords often should not be harmonized with the rest of the tune, they should be left as they are.
Strictly speaking the double dominant is not a progression step, it is rather a change of the scale within the tune (a modulation, as they say in musical circles), in the midst of the melody or very often toward the end. The scale changes to a scale an 5th higher. The key signature is changed as well, the number of # gets one more or the b gets one less. In most cases this starts with an step 5 progression in the new scale, so one gets this double dominant. The end is in most cases the 5th step progression of the original scale. The following melody starts then very often with the 5th step progression of the original scale. On the Steirische you find the double dominant in pull direction on the next inner row.
Example: in C-major the 5th Step progression is G7. The new scale staring on the 5th note would be G major so the 5th step progression of G major is D7. Don’t get it confused with the 2nd step of the original scale, this would be D minor, not D7 major. You can have an look at: Erzherzog-Rainer-Marsch.
correct use of multiple voices
If you click at the staff you will start a midi file.
This is always the voice that ends with the basic tone, the 1st note of the scale, In C major this is the C. Is this note is the deeper note like this, then in most cases the right second voice is on top of the main voice (“Überschlag”).
"Überschlag" (2nd voice on top of the main voice)
An special variation that is often used is, if an „Überschlag“ is chosed but then transposed an octave lower. This results in an interval of a 6th. (large interval; 6th below)
Unterstimme (2nd voice below the main voice)
As in the first example the second voice is again a note, lower than the melody, taken from the chord assigned to this measure. But in some cases this note is not a 3rd apart from the first voice, so for the ending of a part it is usually the 6th step below the 1st voice. In this case the two voices are not completely parallel anymore.
Sometimes the second voice does not move much, but stays almost constantly on the same note. This is sometimes necessary, and there is sometimes no way around it. For me, it sounds better if the second voice is a melody on its own, and moves parallel to the first voice.
For this way of playing the second voice, i chose to use the Ennstaler Polka as an example. You see, the top voice is the main melody and this melody ends with the 1st note of the scale, the basic tone above. The second voice is below the first one and goes along in 3rds, except on the final chord. To illustrate this idea more clearly I have made two different note sheets, one for the first main melody and one for the second voice, both with bass letters added.
If a 3rd voice is desired, the above must be applied in a similiar fashion. However in my opinion the main melody and 2nd voice should always be correct first so the 3rd note of the individual chord can be added to fill the gaps to get the correct chord.
The 3rd voice should usually not be on top of the other voices (except in some “Jodler”). It should be found below - or between the other two voices if they were in a 6th interval before with two voices.
Here is an example for this 3rd voice. I again used the Ennstaler polka as example.
Tunes with 4 voices
In the alpine folk music in principle there are two possibilities to arrange a song for singing or for instruments with 4 voices:
Counter melody (Gegenstimme)
In combination to many melodies a counter melodie is suitable. A second melody that is not really in connection to the main melody, this voice is more free, but it should reinforce the main voice and not pull the main voice down. This voice is in most cases below the main voice in a lower position. It often fills the pauses of the melody or carries the rhythm during the long notes common in waltz melodies.
Often this mirror voce is first implemented when the tune is repeated the second time. First the main voice plays on its own, and later a second counter melody is added as decoration.
Bass voice and alternating bass
On the next pages you find examples for alternating bass (example alternating bass). The example is based on the Ennstaler Polka in different types of scales.
I explained the principle of alternating bass, on the page: Bass play and alternating bass.