Arron Keim is a ukulele player and builder up Broomfield, Colorado way. He is also a member of the popular Boulder Acoustic Society. To add to his credits, Arron is now an author having recently released a new Two Chord Songbook.
1: Did you make any observations or discoveries concerning the two-chord form while putting the book together?
There is a lot of great music that can be reduced down to this one basic chord change! To me, almost any song can be done this way, just as almost any song can have chord substitutions added to it. When you take it back to two chords, it really illuminates a songs fundamental form and lyrical structure.
2: What is the role of the Dominant 7th chord versus the V (5) Major chord in the genre of Old Time music?
Most old time songs and tunes can be done either way. Usually tunes that have more modal sounding melody use I chord and flat VII chord. (i.e. A Major and G7). Chords with a more major melody use the I and V (i.e. A Major and E7). To get more technical, both G7 (gbdf) and E7 (eg#bd) share a similar function to the A, they both act like a dominant chord and share the notes B and D.These were the primary chord progressions in the book, but we also have songs with a I-IV-I pattern.
3: How can one make playing simple two chord songs more interesting?
One way is by adding bits of the melody to your chord playing. You can also change the voicing and fingering of a song. Playing two different D chords and two different A chords makes a two chord song twice as interesting! Also, different strums and picking patterns also add some spice.
*Tunes in the Two Chord Songbook include:
Big Chief Buffalo Nickel
Pistol Packin’ Momma
Cluck Old Hen
Ain’t Gonna Rain No More
Down In the Valley
Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho
Black Jack Daisy
Old Skin and Bones
Little Liza Jane
Rove Riley Rove
See That My Grave Is Kept Clean
Workin’ On A Building