Sunday, April 6, 2008

With a heave and a ho

I assume I'm mostly talking to guitar players on this blog, because that's the kind of stuff I'm talking about. So, consider this chord: xx5767. What is it? High-to-low, that's A C# F# A, so that's an A6 without the E. But, if you're taking out notes to consider the chord, it's a perfectly acceptable Dmaj7, having the third (F#), the fifth (A), and the major seventh (C#). Who cares if there's no sign of the root note? Do we really need a D note to make it a D?

That's a conversation I was part of in another forum, and that discussion came up, and there were people who insisted that it couldn't be, just because of that. This brings to mind a few pieces of structure that come to mind that take this concept to fuller expression.

You might know "Train Kept A-Rollin'". As a guess, I'd say you know the Aerosmith version, especially if you've listened to classic rock radio during the last 25 years. You might be familiar with the Yardbirds take, also known as "Stroll On". If you're truly cool, or perhaps truly geeky, you recognize it from Johnny Burnette and his Rock & Roll Trio recording, with the great Paul Burlison. And if you're really and truly a musical fiend, you'll recognize it as a jump blues from Tiny Bradshaw.

As a refresher, here's the Yardbirds.



Here's some of the structure as expressed as the bassline. Pretty much the Aerosmith version for this, but under everything, it's the same song.

E ---------|---------|---------|---------
B ---------|---------|---------|---------
G ---------|---------|---------|---------
D ---------|---------|---------|---------
A ---------|---------|---------|---------
E -3-------|-3-3-0-3-|-3-------|-3-3-0-3-

E ---------|---------|---------|---------
B ---------|---------|---------|---------
G ---------|---------|---------|---------
D ---------|---------|---------|---------
A ---------|---------|---------|---------
E -5-------|-5-5-0-5-|-3-------|-3-3-0-3-

E ---------|---------|---------|---------
B ---------|---------|---------|---------
G ---------|---------|---------|---------
D ---------|---------|---------|---------
A ---------|---------|---------|---------
E -5-5-5-5-|-7-5-3-2-|-3-------|-3-3-0-3-


Or something like that.

So, there's lots of Gs, lots of As, lots of Bs and a little bit of E as a passing tone. So it might be a surprise to you to find it's a blues in E. E is the relative minor for G, G is the minor third for E, so it's a substitution, or maybe an inversion. But play a 12-bar in E singing the song and you'll be convinced I'm right. That's why we have this song in E with hardly any E in it.

Which gets to a more fundamental cool thing. I heard it once, I think on a fiddle DVD. Fiddles have very few usable strings at once, normally just two at a time, so you play as much harmony as you can with as little as you can.

So, consider blues. All chords are assumed to be dominant seven chords in the blues. That's just how it is. So, in G, that's G (G B D F), C (C E G Bb) and D (D F# A C). All chords except diminished chords have the root and the fifth, so let's strip them, leaving the major third and dominant seventh. B and F, E and Bb, C and F#. So, you can play the blues on two strings. Shown four-to-the-bar slightly Freddie Green style:
E ---------|---------|---------|---------
B ---------|---------|---------|---------
G -4-4-4-4-|-3-3-3-3-|-4-4-4-4-|-4-4-4-4-
D -3-3-3-3-|-2-2-2-2-|-3-3-3-3-|-3-3-3-3-
A ---------|---------|---------|---------
E ---------|---------|---------|---------

E ---------|---------|---------|---------
B ---------|---------|---------|---------
G -3-3-3-3-|-3-3-3-3-|-4-4-4-4-|-4-4-4-4-
D -2-2-2-2-|-2-2-2-2-|-3-3-3-3-|-3-3-3-3-
A ---------|---------|---------|---------
E ---------|---------|---------|---------

E ---------|---------|---------|---------
B ---------|---------|---------|---------
G -5-5-5-5-|-3-3-3-3-|-4-4-3-3-|-4-4-4-5-
D -4-4-4-4-|-2-2-2-2-|-3-3-2-2-|-3-3-4-4-
A ---------|---------|---------|---------
E ---------|---------|---------|---------
Play it and be convinced that you can take out some complexity and the mind will fill it in.

3 comments:

MooPig_Wisdom said...

Hi Sans
I came by and looked in, and learned something new.
I also noticed your phrase "let the mind fill in." Is that like persistent vision, a secondary use of the various halves of others' brains?

Like, sometimes I step into the future by stepping into the past.
Enjoyed this, and many other posts, can you tell?
Patrick Darnell

Dave Jacoby said...

I'm glad you like it. I'm so glad people get something out of this.

I think it is kinda like persistance of vision, yeah. But, depending on the environment, it's also "let the bass fill in". First time I started thinking about this, it was through David Grisman. He's a mandolin guy, so four notes. If he's playing an eleventh chord, and being a jazz guy, he's likely to play an eleventh, he can at max get four of six notes. A11 being A C# E G B D, he can play a G6 (G B D E) or the like and be sure, between the rest of the band, that the full chord is represented.

But jazzers also use algebra chords (letter and numbers!) to represent "scales", allowing different notes in the higher octave than are available in the lower octave, and while a hint of that might show up in the accompaniment, you don't need it all. Freddie Green really played no more than three notes at a time. Why do you need to play all six?

MooPig_Wisdom said...

I got to the end of my thoughts here, and should back up and tell you what I keep thinking about. Trends in my lifetime have already gone from Cole Porter, Dylan, Motown, British invasion, Blues, etc to rap. So I keep looking for the next thing. That may seem a shade worrisome, but it is why I keep coming around to the blogs.

Uncanny, Dave, I can hear those fills as you describe them. Weird effect translating music from several perspectives all at once, and from symbols to language....

So we all hear something unique when we experience a harmony, or accidental, eh? No doubt.

This makes me think of Mariachi bands on the Riverwalk in San Antonio. Usually the full string section with brass... telling the whole story as they go. Is this a really good argument for more orchestration of songs? and a case for no less than five piece groups?

Dave you have a much in your arsenal of knowledge. Can you produce a seventh using on the three perfectly tuned notes in the triad? pd/mpw