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Relative and Absolute Chord Names
When you learn chords on the Tex-Mex accordion,
you're learning finger patterns that can be applied to any
Tex-Mex accordion in any key. All that is necessary is that
you keep in mind the
name and you easily transpose by changing instruments. For instance,
if you apply the relative chord names I Maj - IV Maj - V Dom7 to
the key of C, you get C - F - G7. If you apply this same relative
chord change to an A-D-G tuned Tex-Mex accordion, you would get
the chords D-G-A7.
The middle row of a Tex-Mex 3-row is the
("the One row") or
. So here when we give relative chord names for the G-C-F Tex-Mex
accordion, I is C, II is D, Eb is IIIb, etc. The G-C-F instrument
is of course the perfect instrument on which to model this exercise:
the home key
is C, so those notes which are accidentals to the scale step system
(e.g., I# IIIb, IV#, etc.) are also accidentals in their absolute
note names (C#, Eb, F#, etc.).
The following table gives relative chord
or note names and examples of their absolute equivalents on
both a G-C-F Tex-Mex accordion and an F-Bb-Eb Tex-Mex accordion.
Chord Diagram Groups
Below are links to images of chording patterns.
In these images
You will of course wish to choose inversions of these collections
of chordal tones appropriate to the melody of the piece you are playing.
- Chords are given for press and draw.
- All notes that may possibly be used for the chord are shown with no
consideration of inversions. Thus, while Minor 7 chords are
shown, Major 6 chords are not, since they are an inversion of
the relative Minor 7.
- Where a Major triad might have been given, a Dominant 7th chord is
given instead if one is possible in the bellows direction. To form the
major triad, leave out thechord's flatted VIIth tone.
- Where a Minor triad might have been given, a Minor 7th chord is given
instead if one is possible in the bellows direction. To form the major
triad, leave out thechord's flatted VIIth tone.
- The chords are listed both with their absolute name (e.g., CMaj7)
and their relative name (e.g., I Maj7) relative to the I row, which
is C on the G-C-F tuning.
Due to the wet tuning
of the instrument, many-voiced chords sound mushy. Although
it is popular in the Norteño style to end a song with a chord
splash, usually chords are played as arpeggios, frequently as repeating
16th-note runs, e.g., a C Major chord accompanying singing might fill
a four-beat measure thusly:
C-E-G-C' | C-E-G-C' | C-E-G-C' | C-E-G-C'
Sometimes for flavor or irony, the minor third will be
substituted for the root thusly:
Eb-E-G-C' | Eb-E-G-C' | Eb-E-G-C' | Eb-E-G-C'
The variety is nearly infinite. Experimenting with chord
arpeggios and finding cute, novel patterns is a large part of using
the instrument for accompaniment.
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