Re: This is how I take my modernism! roared the pedant

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I think you're missing a comma in there, benny boy.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 02- 6-08 10:26 PM
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On review, never mind. You're still perfect as always.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 02- 6-08 10:28 PM
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In case anyone's curious, the piece is a collage of allusions to classical works. The basis is the third movement of Mahler's Second Symphony, and on top of that are layered snippets of things ranging from Brahms's Fourth to Debussy's La Mer, Berg and Brahms Violin Concertos in close proximity, Symphonie Fantastique, literally dozens of other things. It's one of the great postmodern tours de force in classical music. As the Swingle Singers (for whom the piece was written) get more into the mix, the text, taken from Beckett, becomes more prominent. There's just about nothing better than this. It's strangely listenable, too.

I've emailed Ben PDFs of the score with all the quotations marked in, in case he cares to share (huge files, though, so maybe not practical for bandwidth reasons).


Posted by: Brodysattva | Link to this comment | 02- 6-08 10:40 PM
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"The TV. There's some good things on it, sometimes."


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02- 6-08 10:49 PM
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Yeah, it's probably a horrible sin to present the third movement of a four- (and then five-) movement work in isolation

It is, but how else is anybody going to know if they enjoy "classical music", if it's going to involve having to sit down and spent half an hour, or an hour, or more to listen to just one piece of music?

Thank god for BA commercials I say, or I would've never known the sheer glory of Delibes' Lakmé.

(Of course, go too far the other way and you get those classical stations which only ever provide extracts of symphonies and never the whole thing.)


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 12:27 AM
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Brodysattva's email included a note saying that the scores make for "fascinating score-following as you listen". Well, maybe it does for some people! If there's interest I'll upload them to the server tomorrow.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 12:43 AM
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from one of the Feldman links:

Feldman's quiet, intense music with its hesitant momentum did not allow one to turn away, or to go get a drink, or make comments to one's neighbor

counterpoint: all these things are possible, and even necessary, during his interminable, dull pieces.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 1:46 AM
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re: 6

I quite like following the score for pieces I might have some chance of playing [guitar music, basically] but I think to get some pleasure out of it for other pieces of music takes a certain degree of general musical knowledge that I certainly don't have.

"Ho ho, look he's using the same contrapuntal ascending pattern that Bach uses in the Brandenburg", etc.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 2:49 AM
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Can anybody provide a link to an mp3 of just the audio for that Obama "Yes we can" video that I can play on my I-Pod? I also liked the "Fired Up, Ready to Go" Bergevin Brothers song, linked to in the comments over at Crooked Timber.


Posted by: Robert | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 3:06 AM
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Someone broke into my office and stole my iPod docking station. About a week ago. And then, just Tuesday night, someone broke into my office (after I left at 8:15 pm) and stole a bottle of black cherry rum. The miscreant didn't take the bottle of pineapple rum in the same box, or Cala's bottle of vanilla rum, which I'd already taken out of the box and put on the bookshelf.

I'm assuming it's the same thief, and, now that I think about it, that it's probably someone who listens to isolated movements of classical music. Who else would do such a thing?


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 6:38 AM
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I would like to see the score-thingy. Strangely, since I am musically illiterate. But it often both interests and helps me to see that sort of thing--somehow, once I feel I can "place" the music I enjoy it more.

This is pretty neat.

Have you ever read Samuel Delany's mostly-sixties memoir The Motion of Light in Water? This reminds me somehow of some of what he wrote about music, happenings, etc.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 6:40 AM
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I'd be interested in the score if you upload it, Ben. Or you can just send it to me if no one else cares.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 7:13 AM
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Strangely, since I am musically illiterate. But it often both interests and helps me to see that sort of thing--somehow, once I feel I can "place" the music I enjoy it more.

I wonder if this would help me. I enjoy the shit out of music, but in an utterly dog-staring-at-the-box way. Meanwhile, I have an excellent facility with languages, but only if I can see them - I do better reading a Romance language I don't know than I do hearing German, which I do know (better than I do any Romance languages, anyway).

Actually, though, I think the problem is that I don't know what's supposed to be going on with music - terms like "major fifth" are utterly meaningless to me. Even discussions of the mechanics of simple pop music are over my head. I wonder if my CC offers a class in music appreciation.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 7:35 AM
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I would also like to see the score. On the posting of single movements out of multi-movement works, there is nothing sacred about this shit. Post/listen to/like what you enjoy, get out of it what you can and move on.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 7:38 AM
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I wonder if my CC offers a class in music appreciation.

Take a class in basic music theory if you want to understand terms like "major fifth" (well, more accurately - nah, fuck it, I'm quoting and I'm not teaching a class here). It may even be a prereq for anything else they offer. Either way, it will greatly expand your vocabulary and you will learn to read sheet music. A full score will still look incomprehensible but you'll have much better tools for deciphering.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 7:44 AM
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Thanks, RMP. I can read simple notation, and get at least a sense of melody into my head - which is why I thought the score could be useful - but that's it. I'll check it out next time they mail me a catalogue.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 8:00 AM
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I just want to say this filled me with an inexpressible sense of joy.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 8:03 AM
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Yeah, I'd also like to see the score. I read music pretty well but I suck at reading bass clef, so will be interesting to see.

re: 15

There's no such thing as a major 5th. There's perfect, diminished and augmented 5ths. It's 3rds and 7ths that are major or minor.*

* I'm sure you know this, hence the 'I'm not teaching a class here', but for the benefit, etc.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 8:11 AM
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Ah, major thirds, that's what I was trying to recall (from HHGG, as it happens). I was also pretty sure there were sevenths, but didn't want to embarrass myself more than strictly necessary.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 8:23 AM
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HHGG?


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 8:24 AM
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Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 8:26 AM
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This piece encompasses everything I dislike about postmodernism. Pretentiously high concept and aesthetically stomach churning.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 8:27 AM
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20, 21: Sí.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 8:34 AM
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Is 22 about the movement, or about w-lfs-n's post?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 8:34 AM
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Is 22 about the movement, or about w-lfs-n's post?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 8:34 AM
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24, 25: Not my fault!


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 8:34 AM
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24-26: Specifically, it was about the movement.... although to be fair, I was already feeling a little queezy.

I do blame the post, however, for making it sound like something I might enjoy.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 8:42 AM
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I confess sympathy with Spike's position, and that I find it strange that "listenable" doesn't seem to be the primary way to judge music, but as long as people continue to make music that's actually fun to listen to, I'm willing to let the eggheads enjoy their games.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 8:55 AM
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With a combination of Berio, Beckett, Boulez and the Swingle Singers, how could it not be awesome? It's awesome. I too would like to see the score. The Gann posts are also excellent; I especially love this anecdote:

One of my favorite stories Feldman liked to tell was of Marcel Duchamp visiting an art class in San Francisco, where he saw a young man wildly painting away. Duchamp went over and asked, "What are you doing?" The young man said, "I don't know what the fuck I'm doing!" And Duchamp patted him on the back and said, "Keep up the good work."


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 8:56 AM
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18: Right. I started to launch into a rambling attempt to remember the mnemonic I was taught and no longer remember and now I'm not even sure it exists outside of hallucination so I stopped myself.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 9:01 AM
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re: 30

I found I learned them all once I understood their function in chords formation. Playing jazz on the guitar [very badly in my case] quickly makes it clear as it's the only way to learn the multitude of chord voicings e.g. 'move this note down one fret to flatten the 5th as the chord is a diminished', etc.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 9:09 AM
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31 worked for me too, [probably playing even worse]. Before needing to construct things, I could never keep it all straight without plodding through slowly.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 9:11 AM
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29: I'm convinced that Duchamp holds a lot of the blame for the artistic boorishness of the 20th century. At some point, irony became more important than beauty, and a lot of that was his influence.

I did think the urinal was funny, though.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 9:13 AM
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Boorishness, shmoorishness. Sinfonia is cool.


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 9:28 AM
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28: listenable:music::likable:politicians


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 9:35 AM
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re: 32

I have some recordings [playing in a 30s swing style rather than bop/post-bop] floating about online for show-n-tell.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 9:38 AM
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Meta question: Why enclose the title in <q> tags rather than just using quotation marks?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 9:44 AM
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Because Ben is annoying that way, despite the fact that I've demonstrated to him that the q tags make quote marks that can't be copied/pasted.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 9:46 AM
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Feldman is the one who was famous for showing up to orchestra rehearsals an hour or so late, with hookers, right?


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 9:49 AM
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Sorry, 39 was me.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 9:49 AM
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that I find it strange that "listenable" doesn't seem to be the primary way to judge music

But ogged, this piece is hella listenable.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 9:50 AM
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37: Smart quotes don't always translate well in browsers. <q> ensures that your quotation marks have the proper slantyness when displayed. The other option would be straight quotes - " - which don't look as good.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 9:50 AM
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Did Feldman even write orchestral pieces?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 9:50 AM
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The other option would be straight quotes

Like God intended.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 9:52 AM
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44: Homophobe.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 9:52 AM
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...it's probably someone who listens to isolated movements of classical music. Who else would do such a thing?

And they probably applaud between movements as well. Then again, we don't want to be "spine-starched prigs".



Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 9:53 AM
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That's a like twenty-sixth-hand anecdote, so who knows?


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 9:53 AM
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This piece encompasses everything I dislike about postmodernism

Similarly, the ham sandwich I had for lunch today encompassed everything I dislike about spinach vindaloo.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 9:54 AM
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Ogged: crotchety old-world grump. "Waaaaaaah, all this modernism! Waaaaaaah, all these women-folk paintin' up their faces an' gettin' the vote! Waaaaaaah, all these yellow people drivin' cars!"


Posted by: strasmangelo jones | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 9:58 AM
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8, 11, et al.:

It's hard to account for why it can be so satisfying and fun to follow along with the score of a piece. Something I found amusing when I was reading Stephen Davies's elaborate, analytic-philosophy-oriented theories of musical affect and pleasure in Musical Meaning and Expression (I think that's what it's called) is when, having just constructed this large, fairly implausible theory of why we enjoy music, he's forced to say (I paraphrase) "as for why we enjoy following along with the score of pieces of music, I have absolutely no idea even though it is totally contrary to my theory that we should enjoy doing so at all, and I admit I enjoy it as well". I think it has to do with the conjunction of (1) having a visually-oriented intellect, (2) enjoying complicated things for their own sake, and (3) everything else we enjoy music for, but I haven't, like, formalized this hypothesis.


Posted by: Brodysattva | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 9:59 AM
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Like God intended.

Ogged is typographically barbaric. Or homophobic. Or both.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 10:00 AM
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48: "This is how I take my pedantry!" roared the Modernist.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 10:01 AM
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this piece is hella listenable

But will it make the girls shake their booty meat?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 10:02 AM
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seconds and sixths can be major and minor as well.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 10:05 AM
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I like to follow along a score too, but once there are more than four or five parts, my ability to juggle musical ideas runs out. And tenor clef is now beyond me.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 10:05 AM
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re: 54

True. For seconds, I usually think in terms of #9ths, 9ths and b9ths, though [because that's how they'd generally be labelled in chord construction*].

* leaving aside sus2s and the like played by rock guitar players frightened of 3rds.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 10:10 AM
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"This is how I take my Fifths!" roared the Major.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 10:10 AM
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55: Part of what's interesting about it is that the enjoyment of doing that (for me & others, sometimes, I think) doesn't even necessarily depend on being able to actually follow all the notes in all the parts. It can be fun to listen while following along with an orchestral score that I would probably be incapable of sight-reading at the piano without leaving a bunch of stuff out. Something about the enjoyment of the visual aspect has to be wrapped up in something much simpler, like just kind of seeing the "shape" of the music as it happens, or something.


Posted by: Brodysattva | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 10:11 AM
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56: one can be afraid of fifths? That seems rather limiting.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 10:13 AM
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I meant thirds above.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 10:15 AM
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59: not fifths, thirds. Depending on what you're playing, sometimes triads sound really square and dorky.


Posted by: Brodysattva | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 10:15 AM
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51, 52: "This is how I take my quotations!" roared the Homophobe.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 10:15 AM
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61: so play them diminished or augmented, no?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 10:16 AM
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re: 59

3rds. 3rds.

Rock guitar players pretty much never play them as part of chords. Ditto 7ths.

It's because they sound like total arse when played with a distorted/overdriven guitar sound. The harmonic overtones cause all kinds of unpleasant 'beating' like two strings a fraction out of tune with each other. You can play 3rds with a distorted guitar tone if you tune to non-equal temperament but that then can require retuning several times per song, which isn't really practical. There are bands who've allegedly done that in the studio: retuning for specific chords.

Standard 'power' chords in rock guitar consist of root, perfect 5th and octave only.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 10:17 AM
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(further to 61, where triads = chords with thirds -- plain major and minor chords, generally. Kiss of death depending on musical idiom.)


Posted by: Brodysattva | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 10:17 AM
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re: 63

It's not about the harmonic dorkiness as such. They'll be played as part of single note solos, but they just sound awful when played through an overdriven amp.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 10:17 AM
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64: yeah I've run across that, but jazz chords sound neat distorted and don't they have all kinds of triads in them?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 10:19 AM
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64: oh yes, I hadn't even thought of that. I don't play guitar, don't work much with amplification.

For a funny view of thirds as "avoid-tones" (as the music theorists say) generally, I think this, from Steely Dan published in the 70s, is kind of awesome. Sadly their greek-letter terminology was not adopted by the profession at large.

63: The idea, though, is that you don't use chords with thirds at all -- instead, open fifths or (as with the Steely Dan thing) chords with a second instead of a third, etc.


Posted by: Brodysattva | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 10:22 AM
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re: 67

Most jazz chords sound shite distorted unless you are going for a very specific 'gnarly' sound. It certainly wouldn't integrate well with a rock sound -- with the possible exception of things like #9s [e.g. in the chord sequence to Purple Haze] or normal 9th chords [just about any funk-rock tune].

Also, most 'jazz' chords won't involve close voiced triads on the guitar because playing close voiced triads involves mad stretches and unless you have a huge fretting hand, they are hard to do. Instead, it'll be a triad with one or more notes displaced by an octave -- to make drop 2 and drop 3 voicings, or some sort of inversion. Still sounds pretty nasty distorted but probably not as nasty as a close voiced triad generally does.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 10:22 AM
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I may be confused and actually thinking about augmented and diminished thirds. Being weird and not having to read music I usually think about intervals in semitones so I need to convert around in my head.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 10:23 AM
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re: 68

I've not seen that Steely Dan thing before, that's quite fun.

Another thing that can sound quite OK with some moderate amp distortion is chords built using stacked fourths [i.e. quartal chord voicings] which gives you that 'Bitches Brew' sort of rhythm sound.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 10:24 AM
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re: 70

Obviously, if you want to sound like Nels Cline or Mark Ribot, any old jazz chord [triads or no] will still sound quite cool distorted.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 10:25 AM
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Yeah I know fuck-all about guitar. I'm thinking about distorted keyboards.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 10:25 AM
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31+32 makes me think I shouldn't bother with the class, after all. Since I won't be composing any jazz on my guitar, none of it will stick anyway. A dozen evening classes that leave with a vague feeling that I have missed something almost entirely doesn't sound rewarding.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 10:26 AM
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re: 73

Yeah, there are all kinds of things about intonation on the guitar that probably mean distorted keyboards and distorted guitar don't completely interchange from the point of view of 'avoid' notes.

And also, some freaky guitar players will be slightly bending notes in chords sharp or flat to make the intonation of the chord 'sound nice' which adds another issue.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 10:27 AM
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"want to sound like" might be more happily put "are".


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 11:42 AM
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(76 to 72)


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 11:43 AM
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63: The idea, though, is that you don't use chords with thirds at all -- instead, open fifths or (as with the Steely Dan thing) chords with a second instead of a third, etc.

I hated McCoy Tyner with Coltrane when he used those clunky LH chords. The more economically he played and the less he soloes the better I liked him.

As I remember, one thing Miles learned from Evans was different, opener voicings, and that's one of the things I like about the later electric Miles.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 2:01 PM
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To me The Dan's Mu chord looks like a major ninth chord with the third up top.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 2:05 PM
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79: You're right, of course -- I had misremembered it and linked without looking.


Posted by: Brodysattva | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 2:55 PM
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I'm in the sad case of knowing a lot of history and theory without being able to play at all. I'd trade all my knowledge to be a mediocre club pianist or guitarist or sax player.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 2:59 PM
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re: 78

The Evans [both Gil and Bill] thing is, I think, the quartal chording. McLaughlin uses it to great effect on 'In A Silent Way', too.

e.g. on the guitar play 0 10 11 11 12 0 [with those numbers representing the frets on the E A D G B E strings respectively]

The Dan Mu chord is just a standard 9th chord voicing. It's the same chord much used by Andy Summers on the Police records.

re: 81

I've played guitar since my early teens but it was only recently [the last three or four years] that I started taking the idea of playing jazz seriously. It just seemed insurmountably hard before. I still can't play fast bop convincingly, or at all really, but I can make a moderately good stab at swing -- Charlie Christian, Eddie Durham, etc -- or 'gypsy' styles. It's never too late to start, I think.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 3:11 PM
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I gave it a hard shot at ages 19-23, but between over-anxiousness, impatience, and overthinking I just didn't have it. On top of that I have two injured fingers.

I did work out a jazzy modal fourth-chord piano style, and I sometimes hear stuff that reminds me of my old stuff, but the killer is that I just plain don't like that kind of thing when I hear it. I never got any real pulse or direction into the music and it just sounded like noodling around, and I couldn't get beyond that. It approached New Age spiritual music -- quite a bit edgier, but equally noodly.

I have other things in my life now, including but not only Unfogged. It's a lifelong regret, though.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02- 7-08 3:44 PM
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by the way, if we're all agreed that chords with 3rds in them sound really awful when played through distorted amplifiers, someone really ought to tell Malcolm Young out of AC/DC, the poor thing has apparently been embarrassing himself for years.


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 02- 8-08 8:13 AM
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