How can you tell the chords of a piece of music if you can only hear bass and melody? There are a lot of possibility that it can be more than a single chord..Also, would be better like this.. To have a bass, melody and vocals without strumming the chords on guitar or playing block chords on piano? Because to me it sound dull and boring sometimes if you write a song like this..but in the same time it feels there is no runaway from that because I always feel like something is missing when I don't play the block chords!
closed as too broad by David Bowling, Dekkadeci, Richard, Dom♦ Feb 11 at 15:44
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This question brings up a recurring misconception about chords.
the chords of a piece of music
What chords are you talking about? Chords don't even exist until you play them. There might exist some expectations for possible chords, but it's just your imagination drawing from your cultural background. By playing chords you fill the empty parts of the picture with details, taking away or reducing the possibility or need for imagination to do its thing.
Why do we play chords instead of single notes? To more strongly and quickly explicate things, to set the scene for harmonic motion, to set the tonal center, to set up expectations, to set a "for dummies" interpretation framework. Chords leave less room for imagination, compared to single notes. Chords are really like for-dummies harmony explication devices that are used when single-note lines are not effective enough to deliver the desired strength of harmonic feeling within the given time constraints and the listener's skill level. :) With one or two chords, you can instantly change the listener's idea of harmonic context to something completely unexpected.
Nobody said that you have to play chords at all. Chords are not a law of nature, and a requirement for proper music, even though studying music theory might sometimes lead you to that conclusion. But being skilled in chord-playing is a good tool, it's a means for reasoning about what happens with the single-note lines, or the bass and melody notes you're talking about. You can think about chords, but then don't explicate i.e. play all of the notes you thought about. It leaves more room for the listener's imagination.
If you know what you're doing and know how to place and accentuate each note, you can deliver a lot of harmonic context with even single-note lines. If you can play as much as two notes or voices at the same time, you've got a very powerful arsenal for painting harmonic landscapes. Three simultaneous voices, and the sky is the limit.
I think I'll stick with the non-metaphorical world and answer the question I think you actually asked: since chords have (at least) 3 notes, and the bass has (usually) one and the melody has (usually) one more, how do you find that third "missing" note to fill in the actual chord? (Note: often you can 'hear' this chord when just hearing the bass and melody, as it is so evocative of a simple chord progression that the chord seems obvious.)
Well, first find out the key of the piece. You can figure this out by ear (always the best way) or mechanically by figuring out what notes are playing and in what key they belong. Beware that sometimes there are notes that don't "belong" to the key of the song, you'll have to go by statistical preponderance here.
Then here's a trick: if the bass is not moving stepwise (i.e. in a certain direction by major or minor thirds), it's probably (but only probably) playing the root of the chord. Then if you know the melody and the key, there are a limited number of notes that third note could be (unless it's out-of-key, as I mentioned), so you can sort of figure it out.
Knowing music theory and common chord progressions like I-vi-IV-V helps A LOT. Having a trained ear so you can "hear" the implied chord helps a lot too. That comes with experience. Sometimes you just gotta find a a recording of the song, and bang notes on the piano until it sounds right.
That's music for ya.
The bass is usually just the root of the chords, especially in pop.
For example in the following video the guy plays Forever Young by Alphaville, look at his pinky on the left hand, or just listen to the bass notes, on the chorus starting at 1:02:
C G A F G D F G
And then to know if they're minor or major, you just need to know which ones correspond to which using the diatonic chords of the key, which happens to be C major. The diatonic chords are: C Dm Em F G Am Bdim. So the chord progression is:
C G Am F G Dm F G
Sometimes in other songs the bass chord could be inverted, so the pinky might not be the root. But you'll still hear the overall chord if you listen.
How can you tell the chords of a piece of music if you can only hear bass and melody?
First of all you have to look at the signs after the clef relating to the key of the piece. According to the final chord and some accidentals it will be determined as major or minor.
(well, I've over looked the word if we can only hear ...)
I post you here a nice piece that starts right only with the bass, then with the melody. You can try out my advises after the first 2 verses! Then compare it with the "solution" given by this interpret. (and, oh, yes this is for dummies only!)
In many cases (of pop songs, as you speak about "melody) the bass tone is the root tone, especially on the weighted steps in a bar. This will be the case in the last bar as a song ends in the tonic and begins usually with a chord in the tonic (with a few exceptions): By the final chord above the root of the bass tone you can identify the key of a piece. The tonic is the triad of the 1st degree. If the first bass note is identical with the final bass note you can be absolutely sure that this is the key note and you have identified the tonic.
Have a look if there is a progression of tonic, subdominant and dominant (I-IV-V) then you will have identified the principal chords, or whether you find a II - V progression. This means: when the bass is progressing by degrees of 4th up or 5th you can assume that it is the root note.
In many songs the bass line leads downwards in steps of 2nds: this can be a passing tone to the next chord a 3rd lower, and the seconds on the unweighted steps are considered as passing tones. You can keep the harmony of the preceding chord or you can give this note a proper harmony (then the bass note can be the 3rd, the 5th, or the 7th tone of the triad or a tetrad (also called 1st, 2nd, 3rd inversion of a chord)
Try to identify progressions in the circle of fifth or fourth, this will also help you to tell what chord has been to played (read more about predominant functions.)
Of course also the melody tones can be helpful to identify the chords (as they usually are an element of the chord. In many cases the tune itself is built on chords, the it is quite easy:
a melody consisting of:
dodododo mimimi_ sosososo dododo_ sosododo sosodo_ sosomimi sosodo_
is nothing else than a canon built on the tonic. but if you find it's boring to accompany this only with the root you can play the scale downward and you have the progression of the Pachelbel Canon. this will also fit.
All this will mean: if you have a good progression that fits the phrases well together, the melody tones can be an element of the chord or passing notes or suspended notes or approaches (chromatic or diatonic)
There are a lot of possibilities that it can be more than a single chord..Also, would be better like this.. To have a bass, melody and vocals without strumming the chords on guitar or playing block chords on piano?
You are free to coose any accompaniment as you like.
You can change also a given bass or vary the melody.
There are many compositions (e.g. by Bach or Bartok with only 2 voices)
Because to me it sound dull and boring sometimes if you write a song like this..but in the same time it feels there is no runaway from that because I always feel like something is missing when I don't play the block chords!
It is never boring to find and invent your own accompaniment and harmonization:
You can change the chords in each verse even if once you had decided to notate them in a certain manner.
You can change the rhythm, even the measure.
- You can play paraphrases or parodies.
Yesterday is probably the most covered song of all times.
Compare the versions of:
Hey Jude by the Beatles and Wilson Picket
With a little help by my friends (Joe Cocker, Wet Wet Wet)
Bridge over troubled waters (S. & G. and Don Shirley)
Wish I knew how I feel when I‘m free (Don Shirley)
You are free and you will get by with a little help!
And there are over 100 different performances / interpretations of „go tell it on the mountain“