I-IV-V and Ratios in Accompaniment
Found in: Accompaniment
Ming Y., New Zealand
I’ve been working on I IV and V on accompaniment 1 programme with some students and was asked these questions which I couldn’t quite answer with confidence. Care to share your experience and thoughts please?
So does the I IV and V only work for songs that only have those 3 chords and not other type of chords? How do we learn to transpose other songs like Scarborough Fair?
Why does the accompaniment for 1:2 ratio in Auld Lang Syne and Danny Boy not sound the same even though it is the same time signature?
Mark M., New York
1) How to transpose other songs is a more complicated task. There’s no simple way to answer it here or to your students especially at the I/IV/V phase. It’s one of the things that would typically be said as best left for some time in the future.
2) Quoting from my Acc Knacks program (https://ivoryleague.thinkific.com/…/acc-knacks-acc-pack-2), from the Danny Boy chapter, the section called Ratios and Aesthetics:
“Though Auld Lang Syne and Danny Boy share a 4/4 time signature, we handle the ratio differently. In Auld Lang Syne, we played two 1:2 ratios per measure. In Danny Boy, we play just one 1:2 ratio per measure.
In the TTMs for Shape Songs (Acc Pack #1), I talk about how the relationship between time signature and ratio is a flexible one. It’s worth taking this opportunity to underscore for students that the number of ratios per measure is a purely aesthetic choice, based on what we think will sound good for a piece.
In Auld Lang Syne, we counted to four as “together-right, together-right.” When we count to four out loud, we can feel ourselves saying the “1” the loudest, but we may also feel the “3” being louder than the other numbers. So with Danny Boy, we can easily just decide to play a single 1:2 ratio, with its two events falling on those two moments. There is no need to create a new spoken instruction such as “Together, pause, right, pause.” We don’t even need to count to four. It’s enough to know we’re keeping a smooth and even rhythm with a single “together-right” per measure.
If you like, at the moment you’re introducing the 1:2 ratio for Danny Boy, you can draw out from the students what the time signature is and what we did with that for Auld Lang Syne. Then, demonstrate what Danny Boy would sound like with two 1:2 ratios per measure, exaggerating how silly it sounds. Tell them that Danny Boy is a rather sad song, a ballad, and we want it to sound gentler, so that’s why we’re going to do just one 1:2 ratio in each measure.”
Karen M., Canada
How do you transpose songs in minor keys?
Mark M., New York
Karen M. As I said above, it’s too complicated to get into here.
The simple answer answer to 100% of all transposition no matter what key or what kind of key/scale is: move absolutely everything, every note, every chord, every note of every chord, move it all the same number of half steps in the same direction. But that is *extremely* cumbersome/tedious/rote to think about and do, and so it’s not how people actually think about and do transposition. How people actually think about and do it takes more knowledge/explanation than is reasonable to give here or to any students except advanced ones who are already developing some reasonable amount of theory knowledge.
Sharon M., Florida
Concerning Scarborough Fair…. Something I like to do with some of my more mature students is have them transpose the piece a half and whole step higher and then also half and whole lower.
Beth M., Australia
Hi Ming Y. Just briefly on the aesthetics of the ratios, I’ve found the students are happy when I ask them a maths question
eg what can you divide evenly into 4?
4, 2, & 1 right ?
Which one suits this particular song?
Play a couple of options while singing
They seem to get it pretty easily then.
Laurie Richards, Nebraska
Transposing beyond I, IV and V is covered in Accompaniment 2. This program is introduced later in the Foundation Program – I always start during Level 8.
Regarding Auld Lang Syne vs. Danny Boy ratio, I do the same as Mark – play Danny Boy with 4 chords per measure vs. 2 chords per measure and talk about how it sounds ridiculously “chordy” with 4 chords. We talk about how it all depends on how fast the song is as to what sounds appropriate.
Original discussion started November 16, 2023