View Full Version : Texas Swing Mando

Mike Buesseler
Sep-19-2004, 12:10pm
I tried posting this question in the General Mandolin forum...maybe I'll have better luck here.

I just came from Scott T's "Texas Swing Mandolin" chord page here at the Cafe. #I've seen this sort of thing before and have heard a fair amount of swing music. #I have heard #tunes played BG style and swing style. #I hear the differences, but cannot understand how the swing chords are chosen, how a given pattern of swing chords can serve different tunes...or much else.

For the life of me, I cannot make sense of how to apply this chord "progression" or "pattern" to any tunes I know. #Scott suggests that his patterns work for tunes "like" Sally Gooden or Katy Hill, and even some Celtic tunes, suggesting the same chords could be used for other tunes. #(Not many standard tunes have the exact same chords or progressions.)

I just don't get this. #How can the same chord progression work for tunes that I know are not played with the same chords in a non-swing style?!? #

There is a fundamental point I am missing and I am unable to express the right question, I guess. #In Scott's example, he gives the chords for the keys of G and A. #I would at least expect the relative chords in both examples to be the same, e.g., a diminished 7th in the G set would match up with a diminished 7th two half-steps higher in the A set, but nope, they don't--not entirely, anyway.

Am I just "swing challenged," or stupid, or what?!? # http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/wow.gif

Joel Glassman
Sep-21-2004, 12:24pm
First, listen to some recordings of Texas style fiddle.
Mark O'Connor's Championship Years (1989 Country Music Foundation Records)
is a good place to start. You'll hear the chord substitutions in the playing of the guitar
players on this set. Without the recordings it would be too difficult to imagine the sound
of the music. The most basic substitution is to fit
a G G#dim Am D7 progression (2 beats each chord) into a space where there is only a
G chord. Also to replace two bars of D7 with D7///Am/D7/. It sounds like you're being a bit too
literal in the example above. Listen to the first two bars of
"I Got Rhythm" by George Gershwin if you can for the G G#dim Am D7 progression.
Most libraries with a jazz collection would have a recording of this tune.

Scott Tichenor
Sep-21-2004, 1:14pm
I'll try to explain this further. First off, this isn't a one-pattern-fits-all-songs thing. That was never said. But it can be pretty darn close to it for *some* songs. From what you've said I'm getting the impression you believe I said this one pattern fits *everything*, which certainly isn't the case. The exact quote is:

One of my favorite sounds is a chord pattern based on the changes associated with "Texas style" fiddling tune playing. This pattern will work with tunes like Sally Goodin', Sally Johnson, Katy Hill, and many others. I also find that parts of these patterns work nicely with Irish and Scottish reels & some hornpipes (not the exact pattern, but parts of).

Sally, Katy Hill and tunes like Grey Eangle share pretty common chords. Parts of the Texas progressions fit parts of Celtic and other fiddle tunes--not the entire tune necessarily. Those fiddle tunes have very common elements (parts, not the complete tune) of hundreds of Texas swing tune vocals like Miss Molly, Take Me Back to Tulsa, etc.

If you have:
G - G7 - C6 - C#dim - G

that's essentially the same as:
G - G - C - C - G

That first will also work well over:
G - G - D - D - G (Miss Molly!)

That's because you could write Molly as:
G - G - C - D - G

Plenty of songs going from G to C and back. Or G to D and back. The swing element is simply substituting sympathetic chord tones for the more common, simpler chord versions. Sally Goodin' is essentially G/D or A/E in it's simplest forms. The chords I wrote out are just substitutes for the simpler versions.

Rather than make it more difficult than it really is, it's best to let your ear hear the difference before worrying about the technical explanation. One of the best examples I can think of is Ricky Skaggs' recording of Sally where he plays it straight then busts into the swing chord change toward the end.

The advice everyone is giving is sound that I've read so far so hang in there.

Mike Buesseler
Sep-21-2004, 3:45pm
Thanks, you guys. This helps...at least as to why I am so confused. This is one of those things that might take me to a new level. (I could use a new level, believe me.)

It's easy enough to try the given chord set for a bunch of tunes to see where it works. My trouble starts when they DON'T work. I have no idea what to change to make them work. But, I'll stick with it. Sounds like listening is the ticket.

Scott, I have a copy of your "Girl I Left Behind." I've enjoyed it for some time. I'm using it as a lesson on swing chords now.

Scott Tichenor
Sep-21-2004, 7:38pm
Mike, hang in there. It's work to get those chords under your fingers but so rewarding to use them. Well worth the effort.

You'll be amused at this. On that cut of Girl I Left Behind from the MP3 page, if you listen very carefully that's me playing that exact Texas Swing backup over that tune--on guitar. I overdubbed that because the guitar player wanted it on the cut but didn't know how to do it. Works perfectly for that piece.

Mike Buesseler
Sep-21-2004, 7:55pm
Did you say amused or AMAZED? #I'm both! #I assume that you played the same chords on the mandolin, then, too. #(Duh.) #I was listening to GILBM for the chords at first, then got distracted by your version of the tune. #Once I started playing that (playing AT it, would be more correct), I sort of forgot about the chords. #Now, I'm eager to go back and try the chords...maybe it was that I had trouble figuring out the key. #Those chords don't give you a solid tonic to work from. #But I seem to remember the melody was in G.

Thanks, Scott.

Plugging Away,
Mike #http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/tounge.gif

Sep-22-2004, 7:16am
Since we are on the subject, has anyone used Peter Martin's Texas Style Fiddle Tunes for Mandolin, and is it as good as it sounds?

I've been thinking about ordering a copy for a while but it keeps slipping off my radar. Thanks in advance.

Sep-22-2004, 8:16am
If you like the MP3 version of Cotton Patch Rag, you'll like the CD and book. The version of Grey Eagle is a masterpiece, but I'm biased. Those Texas-style fiddle tunes are almost sacred to me.

Sep-22-2004, 9:50am
hey thanks I didn't realise that Cotton Patch rag on the mp3 page was his. It sounds really good, nice variation. I think I could benefit by owning that for sure, if it really goes through all those varations.

And Scott nice work on Girl I Left Behind that is excellent. Your examples of the chord substitution was right on.

Sep-23-2004, 5:05pm
Also not to forget all of Joe Carr's materials on Texas chord progressions: Several articles in Mandolin Magazine, a couple of videos, and a book. One link to the book is: http://www.addall.com/detail/0786648570.html, and there are others if you Google Joe Carr Texas Mandolin.

Pete Martin
Sep-23-2004, 7:43pm
The Cotton Patch Rag mp3 is the version in the book all the way through. #How I did the book was record myself playing the versions as faithfully as I could to the fiddle versions, then transcribed my own playing. #The CD is the original recording.

Answering the original question, lets take the common tune Sally Goodin. #Here are the easy chords

A / / / # A / E A
A / / / # A / E A

This can easily be played with other chords that add more musical movement.

A / D / # #A / E /
A / D / # #E / / A

What Texan fiddle music does is substitute chords over the original progression with even a little more movement. #"D#o" is D sharp diminished in the following. #"A/C#" means an A chord with a C# bass note.

A A/C# D D/F# # A A/C# E E/G#
A A/C# D D#o # #E E E A

Then the swing guys substitute more jazzy sounding chords over this, such as A becomming A6 or Amaj7, E becomming E9 or E13, etc. #

Texas fiddling is an oldtime fiddle style, so I dont hear many swing chords by the players who play it. #The Western Swing guys (Bob Wills, etc) added the other swing chords.

Hopefully this explains some more about the chord progressions.

For people who want to hear more of this stuff and learn some, I suggest to great recordings of Benny Thomasson on the Voyager label (www.voyagerrecords.com) "The Weiser Reunion" and "Say Old Man". #I recommend these as his son Jerry plays tenor guitar on most of this. #The mando works great playing tenor chord voicings (both are tuned in 5ths). #these type voicings work better in the oldtime fiddle style as opposed to the Western Swing..

I put out one article in Mandolin Magazine a couple years back about this Sally Goodin progression with these tenor type voicings. #The stuff Joe Carr has put in (excellent stuff) has been more for Western Swing sounding voicings. #Search the archives at Mandolin Magazine to find which issues they are in. #If there is enough interest, I can maybe put some of these tenor guitar progressions into the archives here if someone can tell me how. #Contact me through my web site.

Scott Tichenor
Sep-23-2004, 7:49pm
I can personally vouch that Pete is a monster player. Not just on fiddle. I heard him playing some hot sessions at WinterGrass on mandolin and he's an incredible player. Maybe we can coax a lesson out of him!?

Sep-23-2004, 8:44pm
Pete, count me as another interested party. If you have the time and inclination to post some of those Texas fiddle-style chord progressions, etc., I'd eat 'em up. That's mighty generous of you!

Sep-24-2004, 2:21am
Definately! I would love to see that!

Sep-25-2004, 8:26pm
Another good album to listen to is Mark O'Connor's Soppin' the Gravy. It actually has Buck White playing rhythm mandolin on it.

Pete Martin
Sep-28-2004, 10:31am
Plus "Soppin the Gravy" has Jerry Thomassons on tenor guitar as well. A good way to hear two different accompaniment styles. http://www.mandolincafe.net/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/laugh.gif