Welcome to old and new friends who are interested in discussing Cajun and other diatonic accordions, along with some occasional lagniappe....



General Forum
Start a New Topic 
View Entire Thread
Re: FINALLY! A Way To Master The 4th Position

Again, Greezy, regarding Marais Bouleur, you can't play in the key of E on a Bb accordion. In fact, there is no E note anywhere on a Bb accordion. The 4th note of the Bb scale (or the "third position" if you will) is Eb.

As to your question of how I know this, remember to song "Do Re Mi" in "Sound of Music?" Every major scale (regardless of key) sounds like the scale in that song, because every major scale consists of an identical set of intervals between notes, as follows:

Do to Re = 1 full step (2 half steps)
Re to Mi = 1 full step (2 half steps)
Mi to Fa = 1 half step
Fa to So = 1 full step (2 half steps)
So to La = 1 full step (2 half steps)
La to Ti = 1 full step (2 half steps)
Ti to Do = 1 half step

It's easiest to see this on a piano keyboard, where each key is a half step up or down from its nearest neighbor. Where there is a black key between two white keys, that black key represents the half step, and the distance between the two white keys on either side of it is thus a full step. That black key can be "named" for the white key to the left of it (in which case it's called a sharp) or for the white key to the right of it (in which case it's called a flat). So the black key that sits between the white keys D and E can be called either D# or Eb. Where there is no black key between the white keys (specifically, between E and F and between B and C), then the distance between the white keys is a half step.

So looking at all the half steps, starting with C, you would have:

C - C#/Db - D - D#/Eb - E - F - F#/Gb - G - G#/Ab - A - A#/Bb - B - C

You can start on any key at all, black or white, and if you follow the Do-Re-Mi intervals above, you'll get the major scale for that key. In the case of Bb:

Do to Re = Bb to C (1 full step)
Re to Mi = C to D (1 full step)
Mi to Fa = D to Eb (1 half step)
Fa to So = Eb to F (1 full step)
So to La = F to G (1 full step)
La to Ti = G to A (1 full step)
Ti to Do = A to Bb (1 half step)

Hope that makes a little bit of sense. On a C accordion, you get all the 7 notes in the C scale -- and no notes that aren't in that scale. However, those 7 notes include all but 1 of the notes in the G major scale (the 7th, F#, is missing) and all but 1 of the notes in the F major scale (the 4th, Bb, is missing), so you can play tunes in those keys too as long you're able to work around the missing notes. For other keys, you'll be missing even more notes (not to mention bass chords), so workarounds get much trickier.

FYI, when I learned intervals as a kid, I was taught that the half step interval is the first 2 notes of "Oh Danny Boy" and the full step interval is the first 2 notes of "Silent Night."

Re: FINALLY! A Way To Master The 4th Position

For Marais Bouleur: it's in G major, just the usual I an V chords, except that an E minor chord intervenes often and prominently. Or if you feel like that dominates the song, you could say it's in the key of E minor, since that's the same thing: relative minor of G.

Nearly positive it's just a C box being played in the key of G in the the usual way, 2nd position, over the I and V chords (and thus the usual occasional chord clashes with the bass side if you play it). When the E minor chord comes up, she just plays an E note (with a few extra little things a couple times). That's a push note, so if you play the bass side there, you will have a C chord, which will sound very wrong.

The basic melody is just composed of the notes G-A-B-D-E, so theoretically you could play it in 1st position on a G box, or 3rd position of a D box.

Re: FINALLY! A Way To Master The 4th Position

Nathan, do you acknowledge the "4th Position" key of "D" on a "C" box?

And yes, you are right Kristi Guillory is playing a "C" box for Marais Bouleur. That's some break down you have there! Wow.

How is it that you are able to do this? Did you go over the song with a guitar, or do you have your accordion fingers dry erase marked?

But the 3rd position "did not" confirm itself when I played along with my "D" box in the key of "E". The 4th position "E" kept confirming itself.

Confirmation keys or the "double octaves" and "double chords" that usually start the song, and or finish the song, or even repeat prominently within the song. If your accordion fingers are musical note marked, you can visually see these confirmation keys happening as you play. Seeing these confirmations will help to teach you how to play in the 4 known position, and be able to recognize and or call the key of each.

Yes Yes?

Re: FINALLY! A Way To Master The 4th Position

Not sure what you mean by “acknowledge” … I personally have no particular stake in this numbering controversy :)

It’s definitely not a D box on that song because you can hear an occasional C (natural) note in the flourish she sometime does over the E minor chord. And it’s definitely not a G box, because during the D chord she plays D and A notes together (I feel like I hear that combo in like EVERY song played in 2nd position). So yeah, that was my thought process, and I have a C box anyway so I could reproduce it right away.

You should theoretically be able to play all the notes of the basic melody on that D box, but not necessarily reproduce all the details, like that little C note in the flourish.

Jamey Hall's most excellent Cajun Accordion Music Theory

Brett's all new Cajun Accordion Music Theory for all keys!

LFR1.gif - 1092 Bytes The April 2011 Dewey Balfa Cajun & Creole Heritage Week

augusta.gif - 6841 Bytes

Listen to Some GREAT Music While You Surf the Net!!
The BEST Radio Station on the Planet!