Saturday, February 4, 2017

Light Sweater Recommended

When I have a Phil Collins cover band it will be called "Light Sweater Recommended" and we'll play this unsung jam (it follows "In the Air Tonight" on the Face Value album--bummer for this song).

Important notes:

-This is Alphonso Johnson playing bass, thus explaining the generally badass nature of the bass playing.

-I count the chorus as 4/4 5/4, then 3/4 5/4. That 5 is more of a 4+1. In the 4/4 measure the melody enters on beat two, then on beat 1 every other time (3/4 measures). It's interesting how these moves work in a ballad/semi-reggae context.

-This album is great and all you Phil haters can suck it. Except for the Beatles cover. That one is pretty terrible.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Monday, August 31, 2015

Which synthpop hit from 1981 has the awesomest third borrowing from the parallel major?

After a long hiatus I'm back at The Unbehind, asking the tough questions. Like "Which synthpop hit from 1981 has the cooler major-third-in-minor-context action?"

I thought this would be simple. How was I to know the modal adventures I was about to embark upon (in my headphones at work)?


Jesus, is this ever going to get to C major?? NOPE. The bulk of this song is one long F to G dicktease that never gets to C (kinda like this). But it DOES get to A MAJOR at the "pre-chorus" or whatever the hell you call it. (I hate the term pre-chorus--is it part of the verse or the chorus--make up your damn mind!)

That happens at 1:09, by the way. A major, B diminished, A minor/C to E major. Solid passing diminished. And dramatic after the A major.

And no cadence on C. That would sound pretty stupid. So does the final A minor riff-let. But a cadence on C would have been worse.

And now that I think about it, no authentic cadence, perfect or otherwise, on A minor. And I totally just jammed the shit out of that vamp on a fretless bass with action that's too low. I sounded friggin' awesome.

But I really get into it.


Let's discuss this video some other time.

0:42--it's my favorite unexpected major third in a synthpop hit from 1981. A few things:

-This song is minor. All the way.

-But this is by way of bass line plus melody--the verses have no explicit chords--only the harmony that is suggested by a minor pentatonic tune combined with a decidedly aeolian bass of G, B flat, E flat, B flat, C.

-And then that B natural he sings....YESSSSS.

"This has got to be my favorite parallel major borrowing from a synthpop tune from 1981," I thought. And then I found this:


"Oh shit," I thought. "That guitar is playing major triads. Barre, lay them fingers down style."

What do I make of this? So is this major with a minor pentatonic melody? That's normal, but is that what is happening here? I really don't think so. Even with a (faint) major third in that voicing of the I chord, it still sounds so overwhelmingly minor (thanks to the non-minor pentatonic "flat VI"). And this isn't overcome until the vocal sings the major 3rd at 0:33.

But I think you have to hear this as a major inflection of minor, which goes against the norm.

But if the guitar is playing an F major chord doesn't that make it dorian?

Or for fuck's sake, of course is isn't flippin' dorian. This isn't some descant shit. NONONO. IT'S ALL MAJOR CHORDS ON A GUITAR IT'S NOT A MADRIGAL FOR CHRIST'S SAKE.

And you just heard an A flat chord two chords ago.

But what of that rogue major third, in this case an E natural on C? I've discussed the notion of power chords before, and that the added fifth above the root is of very little harmonic import:

Is this, perhaps, an extension of this? Is this simply a root progression, reinforced by fifths and major thirds, which are of course the extension of the harmonic series?

As usual, I think about these things much too hard. I know this. But what do you hear? I can only say what I hear. And once again, chords prove themselves to be deceitful, and instead the combination of individual lines creates the sound, and not necessarily in lock step.

The verses of Soft Cell's "Tainted Love" do not have explicit chords. Your brain is filling in the blanks. It's an illusion. That's really, really cool. And it happens all the time and you have no idea.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

"Two Tickets To Paradise": But what is the key? Dare to look within.

I know what you're thinking. This song is in A. And I understand. Certainly the verses seem to pound a flat VII to I sort of deal. And yes the melody. Ah yes. It truly outlines the C#. And the A.


Where are the transcriptions, you may ask? I am much too lazy for that. And if you're reading this, you can probably hear what I'm talking about.

And the persistent A majorish pentatonic-ness of the guitar solo? Yes. Of course.

Notice how I resisted saying "A-ness" just now. I am maturing slowly.

BUT. What about the (sorry excuse for a) chorus?

Do that four times and that's the chorus. With slightly different words.

So here's the thing. I'm not the type to say that things "change keys" unless I really need to. But this is tough. The chorus of this tune sure sounds like D to me, even after all of that A-ness.

Yes, I said it anyway.

The way the melody descends from G to D is one part of it. And the D chord is on beat one of the chorus--this would be an odd emphasis for the IV chord.

The melody lands on an E at the end of the chorus. Which is a better resolution, purely in terms of melody: the E as the fifth of the I chord or as the "re," part of the V chord and unresolved?

Well. Both pretty shitty. But I still hear this song, the chorus, at least, in D. And the verses are an extended, dominant upbeat? Maybe??

Listen! Listen to it! Try not to hear the D chord as the tonic during the chorus! This is not a good song! You must look within!

It's ok if you don't. Sometimes I sure do wish I could listen to music like this person I found online:

It's funny, 'cause I thought this song was about fucking. Any day of your life.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Artificial wonder, continued: Pi music

If you do a search for "pi music" in YouTube a few videos come up. Here are the top two:



I will summarize my feelings as briefly as I can: This is some ridiculously stupid bullshit right here, and the results of these experiments are total trash.

Not only am I offended by the vague, meandering diatonic nonsense of it all, I am especially offended by the premise: "What Pi sounds like."

BULLSHIT. Pi doesn't sound like anything.

Give me a fucking break. Pi has almost nothing to do with either one of these. The series of digits is used as a random number generator, which is then run through an overly simple number to pitch-class matching scheme. THEN! These bastards just sort of pick some "nice" chords and woohoo! It's music-ish!

One comment on the first one is pretty right on:

"Anybody can mash random white notes and it'll sound melodious since it is Cmaj. You could take any arbitrary random sequence of numbers and using this system you could say it was somehow "profound." No it isn't."

I am also offended by his vest.

I have written about similar "experiments" before:

So it was with some reluctance that I wrote my own pi music. But I decided to have the digits govern all the pitches throughout. I organized them in groups of four (until the very end). I went through the 100th decimal place (which is right after the first appearance of consecutive 1s, which was convenient).

0=C, 1=C#, 2=D, 3=Eb, 4=E, 5=F, 6=F#, 7=G, 8=Ab, 9=A, 10=Bb, 11=B

-My scheme is no less artificial than the ones above.
-HOWEVER--in my scheme pi dictates all elements of pitch. The occurrence of sets like [3,3,8,3] provide contrast and suggest cadential moments. So I think that the numbers of pi influenced my choices a great deal more than in the other examples, where the notes could really be any stream of numbers from 0 to 9.
-I am NOT running the numbers through the same sort of arbitrary diatonic filter. This made for a lot more work.
-There's probably a mistake in there somewhere.
-Cadences are only partially about the notes. Cadences are truly made by everything else.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Sometimes my washing machine does this.

Sometimes my washing machine does this:


It always reminds me of this:

This moment is another example of the eighth note triplet=eighth note metric modulation.

I mean. Pretty much. Pink Floyd was clearly not playing with a click.

This must be where Lionel Richie got it. These guys were DEFINITELY using a click.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Bing Crosby just didn't give a shit

Bing Crosby's recording of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" is the laziest piece of junk. I never noticed until this year. At least it was released as "I Wish You a Merry Christmas," thus relieving all arrangers, producers, and players from any culpability.

Here are the lyrics as most of us know them:

Holy shit! Jam with Joe friggin' Perry?? LIVE???

Ok, sorry.

Here's Bing:


Yeah, double reeds!

Let's break this down:

I wish you a merry Christmas.
I wish you a merry Christmas.
I wish you a merry Christmas,
And a Happy New Year.

That's fine. A little selfish. But ok. Time for the booze-soaked, dried fruit gut bomb:

UHHH bring us some figgy pudding.
Uhh bring us some figgy pudding.
Oh bring us some figgy pudding,
And bring it out here.

Sounds like Bing has been hitting the brandy. Maybe the cooking sherry. (Editor's note: I don't care how desperate you are--don't drink the cooking sherry. Trust me. And I have no idea if Bing Crosby was drunk for this. But if I had been in his place, I would have been pretty drunk.)

We won't go until we got some.
We won't go until we got some.
We won't go until we got some,
So bring some out here.

What kind of fucked up grammar is this? "We won't go until we got some?" And hold on...did they just end this with "bring some out here?"

Where's my cup of good cheer? And aren't we missing a few "Good tidings..." and shit?

And I have to take issue with the original carol/song--it's like some sort of wassail, door-to-door hold up. WE WON'T GO UNTIL WE GOT SOME! AND WE'RE GONNA SING WITH WEIRD GRAMMAR, TOO! UNTIL YOU HAND OVER THE DAMNED FIGGY PUDDING!

Bing's performance ends with the Merry Christmas, Figgy Pudding, then another Merry Christmas verse. Except he substitutes "I" with "We." Sorry, folks. Bing has now included all ya'll in this travesty.

He doesn't even do the "We won't go" bit. Maybe they got tired of singing traditional Christmas songs with verbs in the wrong tense. I would love to know how much time he spent on this tune at this session.

I wish you a Merry Christmas.
I wish you a Merry Christmas.
I wish you a Merry Christmas,
So bring some out here.

And I won't go until I got some.