Is there a music style without using chords?

Discussion in 'Tab & Music Forum' started by Bangbang, Aug 24, 2008.

  1. Bangbang

    Bangbang Senior Stratmaster

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    Well:?:
     
  2. bobthecanadian

    bobthecanadian Strat-O-Master

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  3. AnArmyOfJuan

    AnArmyOfJuan Strat-Talk Member

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    really free jazz?
     
  4. xfsl0001

    xfsl0001 Strat-Talk Member

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    Punk. You don't need anything for that.
    If you know any scale or chord for some reason it is already too late for you... get another style.
     
  5. bobthecanadian

    bobthecanadian Strat-O-Master

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    Dude, what's this all about?
     
  6. tylerangle1990

    tylerangle1990 Strat-Talk Member

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    Check out Thomas Blug or other solo guitarists. Of course they have a band that plays backing tracks with chords and such but he him self as some amazing solo guitar riffs. :)
     
  7. jerryo

    jerryo Strat-Talker

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    Ive seen Yngwie Malmsteen up close and he uses very few chords...

    its like one massive solo
     
  8. bobthecanadian

    bobthecanadian Strat-O-Master

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    Just goes to show you that he is a bit of a wanker. Did I say that? Out loud? Yup... that was me.

    He's a pretty amazing player. But too over the top for me!
     
  9. ldelo

    ldelo Strat-Talk Member

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    My $0.02... Caveat: I'm no music theoretician and at some level a question like this boils down to definitions and terms that have very specific meanings and devolve into very dry, lawyerly discussions...

    That being said...

    Basically any two or more notes sounded in unison is a chord. It might be dissonant and it might be devilish in terms of theory and etc, but it's a chord nonetheless.

    So whether its a double stop (triple stop, etc), power chord, a sweep (which is basically just a chord but with the notes spaced oh-so-closely together in time but not in unison), etc ad nauseum, it's safe to say that all music has chords.

    Or more to the point, the very presence of a key and a melody (lead line, solo, etc) *implies* a chord structure, whether actually played as such (that is, whether the chords are actually struck) or not.

    IMO a better question to ask would be "Can you have music without chords or any of the structure that implies chords, whether or present or not?"

    The answer is yes, but you have to abandon the notion of a key as the center for a song and scales/melodies as any kind of generally non-dissonant construct. For as soon as you play any of the common scales or any melody/scale that is from/in/centered-on any particular key, you've already implied the existence of an entire family of chords and in particular those chords that are non-dissonant with the scale.

    And with respect to punk... a lot of punk can be played with little more than power chords, but that's also true of a lot of songs/genres... And a lot of bands out there (regardless of genre) have made a living and a career out of power chords, whatever else one might think of that...
     
  10. ShiftingKevin

    ShiftingKevin Strat-Talk Member

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    I disagree. First of all, chords are not "any two notes played together." There are two mistakes in that one statement alone:
    1) The only chords that allow only two notes are the fifth chords, such as A5, B5, etc... "power chords," and even then, it's much like the discussion of whether a tomato is a fruit or a vegetable. Power chords are often thought of as false chords, of sorts. Either way, all of the rest are three notes plus, starting from the major triad (1 3 5) and modifying/adding notes from there.
    2) Not "any notes together" make a chord. You can have dissonant chords, but that does not mean that any dissonant set of notes makes a chord. There's actually math behind why chords have structure, and why our aural senses require them to follow certain rules.

    I also have to be a dissenter with the statement that "the very presence of a key and a melody (lead line, solo, etc) *implies* a chord structure." As Yoda might phrase it, a key and a melody do not a chord create. Keys and melodies are composed of notes, not chords. Chords are much like melodies and keys, in that they are structured of notes themselves.

    To answer the OP, however, yes. There is music without chords. Some old blues styles never used chords, back in the day when the blues were blues. A harmonica, singer, a single-string guitar, and a box struck for a beat created a very basic form of music (a beat and a melody-ish thing). Often, the harmonica and vocal notes were identical, creating no chord/harmony.

    On an interesting flip-side... here's a form of music that you might not think of when considering chords: A capella - barbershop quartets and such, with no instruments beyond voices. Many times it is three to four singers singing harmonies such as a major chord would do, with (1 3 5) spacing.

    YMMV, IMO, and all other appropriate acronyms. :)
     
  11. ldelo

    ldelo Strat-Talk Member

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    Perhaps you didn't intend it to be, and perhaps i'm being a little sensitive, but I find your post to be condescending at the least...

    Not the least for your having taken me out of context and attributing quotes and paraphrases to me that I did not even say, in order to set up strawmen.

    So if you in turn find my post a little acerbic, keep that in mind.

    Having said that...

    Having done some reading around the web and so on, it appears I erred in that statement, and you are correct. Chords *are* apparently universally defined as three or more notes.

    However, as practiced by guitarists and many other musicians, most of us - and much of music theory and writings - refer to partial chords as a chord whether it is partial or not, and whether it satisfies the narrow western legalistic, mathematically-based definition or not (only for western music, only for scales based on the division of the octave into the western intervals we know as the chromatic scale, etc ad nauseum.)

    Further, the references I found that went beyond that strict, narrow definition presented a caveat that beyond that narrow, strict definition it is difficult to even define what a chord is in the first place.

    I also note that a very common chord in blues and jazz not only lacks the root, but also one of the other major triad elements, and instead contains other elements of extended chords. It can simultaneously be defined as one of several different chords depening on what key center it is played in/against, it vioilates several elements of the rules you claim rigidly, absolutely, and preclusively define chords... and yet it is universally accepted as a chord.

    That is also true of myriad other chord constructs, such as otherwise well formed (in the legalistic sense) chords with an alternate bass (tonic), partial chords over other partial chords, blended chords, etc ad nauseum.

    See above. Only in the strictest, most legalistic/formal definition and only for the western music system based on our... is this true.

    I also note that at least as I've studied it, while western music theory can neither define nor rationalize other chords within its own formal system, it also does not preclude other constructs from being considered chords.

    In fact a guitar instructor I had who was formally trained (in music theory) and was an accomplished jazz guitarist routinely referred to the entire body of "outside the lines" creativity and playing and musical constructs as "being outside" and claimed it was the goal of many musicians (whether they realized it or not) to be as "outside" as they could get without their playing/music simply becoming completely atonal and dissonant.

    I explicitly did NOT say that "...a key and a melody [do not] a chord create..." You said that, taking liberties with what I said. Perhaps there is confusion over the term "chord structure", a term two formally educated music teachers I had used interchangeably with the terms "chord scale" or "chord family".

    The simple fact is that the very presence of a key and a melody/solo/lead-line/etc defines a set of notes that are by definition in key, and set of notes that are either out of key or dissonant or both (and allowing for passing tones, incidentals, accidentals, slurs, bends, etc.)

    Because the melody and scales it is based on, **AND** the chord structure (family, scale, etc, from which a particular chord progression might be chosen) are BOTH defined by the key and the melody (scales etc) of the song itself, it is by definition true that the mere presence of a key and melody not only implies, but creates BY DEFINITION, a chord structure, whether actually played or not.

    I agree with nearly all of the rest of what you say, you are right on. And of course there can be music without a formal chord progression actually being played, and I made no statement to the contrary.

    It is interesting that you point out the blues, vintage/old-school or not.

    Virtually all blues (and nearly all jazz and rock as well, for that matter) are based on a strongly present, repetitive chord progression, whether formally played or not.

    Which again just makes my point.

    As I said earlier, perhaps there is some confusion over the term "chord structure", and if so I come by the honestly and from formally educated (in music theory) teachers. Though in hindsight it is an ambiguous term, for I guess it could easily be confused with referring to the internal structure of a single, particular chord.
     
  12. johnreardon

    johnreardon Senior Stratmaster

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    As long as I have been playing a chord has been accepted as consisting of two or more notes, so Idelo, I agree with you.
     
  13. gibsonjunkie

    gibsonjunkie Strat-Talk Member

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    From Websters Dictionary.com

    (No mention of the word chord)

    mu·sic Listen to the pronunciation of music
    Pronunciation: \ˈmyü-zik\
    Function: noun
    Usage: often attributive
    Etymology: Middle English musik, from Anglo-French musike, from Latin musica, from Greek mousikē any art presided over by the Muses, especially music, from feminine of mousikos of the Muses, from Mousa Muse
    Date: 13th century

    1 a: the science or art of ordering tones or sounds in succession, in combination, and in temporal relationships to produce a composition having unity and continuity b: vocal, instrumental, or mechanical sounds having rhythm, melody, or harmony
    2 a: an agreeable sound : euphony <her voice was music to my ears>
    b: musical quality <the music of verse>
    3: a musical accompaniment <a play set to music>
    4: the score of a musical composition set down on paper
    5: a distinctive type or category of music <there is a music for everybody — Eric Salzman>


    One could argue that harmony might be chords... or not... :D
     
  14. stevo58

    stevo58 Strat-Talker

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    to be pedantic, two notes makes an interval, you need three to make a chord.

    Except that the human ear will fill things in. The only important tones in a chord are the third and the seventh. Everything else is just color. You can easily play a recognizable blues with two fingers, within three frets. The great Freddie Green often used two-note comping.

    I think the only thing that comes close would be twelve-tone music.

    just my 2 cents

    steven
     
  15. Papa Joe

    Papa Joe Strat-Talk Member

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    B B King seems to do OK on one string at a time...PJ....
     
  16. ShiftingKevin

    ShiftingKevin Strat-Talk Member

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    Idelo - your first statement was on the money. I certainly did not to be as abrasive as I came across, nor condescending!

    Whoooaa. While I truly appreciate a good debate with someone who actually knows various argumentative fallacies, I think asserting my statements as strawman arguments is incorrect. I directly quoted you on the "key and melody" comment, and indirectly on the "any two notes" comment, though I believe paraphrasing was accurate. After reading your rebuttle, I now understand that your term "chord structure" is not defined as "the structure that forms a chord," but rather "the structure of ordered chords." Is that correct? If you read my post again assuming the first, you may see where I was coming from, and how my mistaken definition changes what I was saying. I stand by that statement, though I see now it's neither here nor there, as it does not apply to what you said.

    If there is any error in my post regarding your statements please feel free to point them out.

    Having cleared up the "chord structure" comment, I too nearly agree with your post, though I stick with the idea that a chord consists of three plus notes. :)

    Yes... I knew I was performing delicate surgery with the blues comment. Hahaha. 12-bar blues is one of the paramount examples of reliance on chords, so I tried to avoid that as much as possible!

    Yes... the last statement regarding the "chord structure" definition variance is spot on. Out of curiousity, have you studied law or philosophy?

    *tips hat to Idelo*
     
  17. Sniper1

    Sniper1 New Member!

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    Quoting the great BB King-"chords?I don't play no chords"-nuff said.
     
  18. Bangbang

    Bangbang Senior Stratmaster

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    Wow..........and I thought this topic was dead. I am still a beginner and if I am playing lead Blues...it seems I am often just playing single notes and double stops. You guys are way over my head. Ughhhh! I also find myself going outside the scale I am playing in.
     
  19. smsuryan

    smsuryan Strat-Talker

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    and then you can also define music also....is music merely sound? well rests in music are a lack of sound as well....so music could really be anything...sound is defined as "pressure waves passing through a medium"....basically a vibration..and everything is vibration..everything gives off a tone..even light produces a tone, did you know that? chordless music...who knows..theres two types of music out there, music you like and music you dont...so keep on playing! amen...
     
  20. Armour

    Armour Strat-Talker

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    I suggest you play the same note over and over again preferably in private.