Last time we covered chord cycles (particularly in 4ths), showed you some two chord progressions, and went over some ideas on the nature of modal chord progressions. This time we'll continue poking in to the whole "modal" thing, I'll show you some more two-chord progressions, and we'll also look at a couple of cool three and four chord progressions.
How To Use Chord Progressions In Your Dulcimer Practice
Here are some ideas for applying these progressions to your daily practice:
- Progressions often form the backbone of many popular songs: use them to get ideas for new melodies that might go well over the chords. Try different melodic ideas over a progression (sing some melodies while you play the chords - I know this sounds almost impossible if you are new to it, but it works for me....and I'm not any kind of singer in public!!).
- Use progressions for an exercise in arpeggio playing. There are endless possibilities for arpeggiating a chord, and when you experiment with your own personal way of flowing up and down each chord and connecting them in interesting ways, you are taking some important steps in organizing your musical ideas.
- Use progressions as a bed for your improvising. This is best done by laying down the chord progression on a tape recording or digital sound file (the latter is easy to loop, so you can have it repeating many times). Then, with you as the "lead player" you can try all sorts of melodic stuff over these chords: the sky is the limit, and if you try this, you might be amazed at how much fun it is!
- You might try some of the modal chord progressions as a kind of endless cycle of mesmerizing, hypnotic arpeggios: you might want to try chanting some syllables of your own choosing over them. This meditative use of the progressions contains the first three ideas above as well.
Modal Two-Chord Progressions
- Em7 - A7 (Dorian)
- Bm - A or F#m (Aeolian)
- A - G or Em7 (Mixolydian)
Modal Three-Chord Progressions
- A - D - Em - D (Mixolydian: "In My World There's A Garden")
- Em7 - A7 - Em7 - D - Em7 - A7 - Em7-D-A7 (Dorian: "Flowers of Kale")
Modal Four-Chord Progressions
- D - A - Bm - G (maybe not that modal, but the G or IV chord at the end makes it a very circular, swirling kind of progression: "Tapping Into the Light" "Tapping At the Edge of Paradise")
- A - Em7 - G - D (Mixolydian: "Prayer for Safe Passage")
- Bm - G - D - A (Aeolian: first four chords in "Star of the County Down" - more about this in my next email newsletter)
Listening and Downloading the Music
All of the selections in parenthesis (with the exception of the traditional "Star of the County Down") may be heard in their entirety at SoundCloud, and I now have enabled free downloads on just about everything: just look for the little downward-pointing arrow icon below the waveform. All of the progressions above are custom-tailored for your DAD dulcimer, but on the recordings, you may find that I'm tuned CGC or EBE. ENJOY: