Led by Jonathan Whitall on May 24, 2020
Queen’s Delight is a great tune for expanding your left-hand bass button technique! It affords a wide variety of chord choices, from the simplest to the most complex bass runs. The melody can be (for most variations) played entirely on the G row, so you don’t need to worry about reversals while you experiment.
I will be updating this page with a visual layout of the bass button system. Stay tuned!
You can get pretty far just using two bass buttons: 1 (bottom outer) and 2 (the button above button 1). This gives a “boom-chuck” feel when playing 1 on the beat and 2 on the offbeat.
Try this simple version. You won’t need to move your left hand at all for this one, allowing you to concentrate on your phrasing. Get comfortable with the feel of how you sound with both the melody and these buttons.
After you’ve mastered the simple version, listen to how well you think the bass buttons line up with the melody. If it doesn’t sound “right” to you, try substituting button 3 for 1 and 4 for 2.
I wrote out a 3-4 substitutions version that you can try, though this is by no means definitive. The numbers in orange highlight that the substitution goes across the beat (meaning, for example, 3 on a downbeat isn’t followed by 4 on the upbeat, or 4 on the upbeat isn’t preceded by a 3).
Applying principles of basic chord progressions, you can make fairly standard substitutions: A minor 7 (4/5 draw) for C major (3/4); E minor (7/8 draw) for G major (1/2); and a “high tension” chord (the C chord with D in the bass, a 4/5 push) that resolves to G major (1/2).
Try this fancier version. The 5-2 in the second half of measure 7 will give you a D major when the downbeat is a push and the offbeat is a draw. It’s a handy hack when the melody goes that way and you want to suggest is a D chord.
There’s plenty of variation you can play with your right hand, in combination with any of the bass button versions. Try this version for a few ideas. Orange notes should be played on the D row.
I will also be posting chord charts for right hand (see the resources section below). It’s a good exercise to feel how each chord is shaped. Practicing these will help you develop the intuition to complementary notes to other tunes.
This is more-or-less the way I like to play it (if you combine some of the ideas from the right-hand twiddles version). I got the idea listening to this version by Paul Young. (He goes on to play the tune again, but in A!)
Try any and all of these versions, and then use your ear and try some other things! Just remember that the most important part about playing for Morris dancers is good, attentive rhythm. Don’t feel like you need to do any of these versions beyond the simple one I posted. Get a good rhythm and swing, and you are 90 percent of the way of being a great Morris musician. The other 10 percent is mostly to amuse yourself (and maybe a few people around you).
Here are some additional resources:
- My musescore account (where you can download the PDFs for Queen’s Delight and other tunes, play MIDI renderings, and change the notation to suit your needs)
- Paul Young’s YouTube channel (where you can go to get inspired)
- The video of the melodeon workshop
- Bass button diagram (coming soon)
- Right hand chord diagram (coming soon)