Relating Colourchord to piano chords?

I sometimes struggle a bit trying to explain Colourchord to fellow musicians. It's often easier to explain to non-musicians because you kind of know where you are with it and you can take it a step at a time. With musicians you don't want to insult anyone's intelligence, but you also never really know whether they think numerically in terms of the scale (many phenomenal musicians don't think in those terms) or indeed whether the tonic/subdominant/dominant thing actually means anything to them on an instinctive level or is just something they learnt about college but doesn't play a part in their everyday musical life.

I quite often find I've explained it to a musician and they've nodded and said encouraging things, but then if we progress to actually trying it they will often go "Ohhh!! Now I understand!"

I'm wondering whether the following is a better approach.

"Imagine you a playing a C major chord (root inversion) on the piano - thumb on C, middle finger on E little finger on G. Now move middle and little fingers up a white key and you have an F chord (2nd inversion C F A). Go back to the C chord. Now move thumb and middle finger down a white key and you have a G chord (1st inversion B D G.)

Imagine that whenever a word is Black you would play the C chord, whenever a word is Blue you play the F chord, whenever a word is Red you play the G chord.

Now imagine your thumb is one singer, your middle finger is another singer and your little finger is another singer.

So using this set of voicings you can harmonise any major-scale melody with two singers (= "thumb" and "little finger") only ever moving between two notes (C and B; G and A respectively), and one singer ("middle finger") only moving between three notes (E, F and D)."

Is that more or less confusing I wonder??

Cheap piano accordion for teaching Colourchord?

…following on from the previous blog, "stradella" bass is a good match with Colouchord as the three major chords of any key are grouped next to each other. Annoyingly with stradella you go down the accordion for "Blue" (subdominant) and up for "Red" (dominant) but other than that it's a really good match :-)

A choir leader need only use their left hand for the accordion leaving the right hand free for conducting / gesticulating.

Looking online there are lots of £50 "kids" accordions available. They are of limited functionality in most situations as they only have an octave and a bit on the right hand, and only four chords on the left.

BUT for Colourchord this is potentially all you need. The left hand chords are F C G D so you can play Colourchord songs in either C or G. These are pretty good compromise keys i.e. most singers will be able to song any given song in one or other of these keys.

This sort of thing

Accompaniment app?

Just sharing a thought I had, on the off chance that there's a music app developer out there who might like to oblige!

It's definitely easier to teach Colourchord if you have instrumental accompaniment. Without it it's easy for singers to go out of tune which then throws everyone else - accompaniment gives everyone more confidence that they're doing the right thing.

It would be BRILLIANT at some point to have a Colourchord accompaniment phone app - maybe just three circles on the screen (black, blue and red) with a dial or slider for selecting the key, and maybe a choice of a few instruments?

An advance version could have a fourth circle that can be set to one of the bracket variations?

In the meantime the simplest approach for non-instrumentalists is probably to learn three chords on the ukulele (C, F, G probably) and use a capo to shift key. C shape = Black, F shape = Blue, G shape = Red

Team harmonies using hand gestures

This is an idea that occurred to me recently whilst thinking of ways to increase audience participation at gigs. Here's how it works:

- Split the group or audience into three
- You don't need to talk about team colours but in Colourchord terms the team to your left (assuming you are facing the group) will be orange, middle group green and group to you right purple
- Team to your left only pay attention to your left hand. If your hand is flat they sing note 1, if you point down they move down to note 7
- Team to your right only pay attention to your right hand. If your hand in flat they sing note 5, if you point up they move up to note 6
- Team in the middle pay attention to
both hands. If both hands are flat they sing note 3, if left hand is pointing down they move down to note 2, if right hand is pointing up they move up to note 4
- Chords are as follows
Both hands flat = black (i.e. tonic / chord I)
LH pointing down, RH flat = red (i.e. dominant / chord V)
RH pointing up, LH flat = blue (i.e. subdominant / chord IV)

I didn't actually try it with the audience in the end but I tried it out with my choir on Monday and it worked really well. The singers will just sing long "ahhs" so you will have to sing the melody whilst conducting the chord changes, or you could have one group on the melody?

I imagine reaction times will be slower than reading the colours so if you're using the Colourchord booklet to conduct the chord changes you may want to pick a song with not too many changes, or just ignore the briefer chord changes?

It may also work as a good introduction to Colourchord in general?

Edit: here it is in practice:


Hi, thanks very much for visiting the website. Lots going on in Colourchord land. I'll just be adding thoughts and experiences to this blog as things progress…