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Post new topic Joaquin Murphey’s C6/A7........Why the B? “Yesterdays”
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Author Topic:  Joaquin Murphey’s C6/A7........Why the B? “Yesterdays”
Guy Cundell


From:
More idle ramblings from South Australia
Post Posted 24 Oct 2009 7:23 pm     Reply with quote

I have been working with Joaquin Murphey’s C6/A7 tuning for a few years now and am starting to understand the consequences of the (not so) high B on the bottom string. I would say that dual tunings such as this one or the John Ely B11 (well explained by Doug Beaumier in the NSPG tabs thread) offer a wider range of chords required by some music. One of the great difficulties of lap steel is the limited note availability for chording which is increased by slanting but with attendant problems of intonation. Dual tunings are another way of increasing the available chords.

I guess that Jerry Byrd’s innovation of an alternate C# bass note was the start of the dual tunings but I am sure Forumites will correct me if I am wrong. Murphey’s tuning abandons the C natural bass note and substitutes an (unwound) B on the bottom which sits in pitch between the 3rd and fourth strings. It is difficult getting used to this configuration because of the physical placement of the B (out of ascending pitch order) and the fact that you don’t have a fat root note to anchor your 6th chords. But it is a very worthwhile exercise.

The bottom four strings give you a half diminished or minor 7 flat 5 chord. (m7b5) This chord is crucial for handling minor keys as it is the ii (2) chord when harmonising a minor scale (natural or harmonic) in seventh chords. It consists of a diminished triad with a minor seventh on top. This chord appears in many styles but is critical for jazz. A diminished triad which appears in a number of tunings is useful for the ii chord in minor keys but the m7b5 is much more satisfying. I have looked at tunings on Brad’s Page of Steel and in Andy Volk’s “Slide Rules” and I haven’t been able to find another dual tuning that offers the m7b5 as well as Murphey’s does.

Another reason for making sure a m7b5 chord is available is the other chords that it can stand for in the phenomenon that I know as “plurality”. This really makes a difference when there are many chords and modulations.



“Yesterdays” written in 1933 by Jerome Kern is a jazz standard. Its form is 32 bars made up of two almost identical 16 bar sections. It is a challenging tune in minor with a number of modulations, a cyclical section of dominant chords, a melody which has a broad range and a quirky contrapuntal section where the melody ascends as the bass descends. My starting point for this arrangement was a Real Book chart. The chords are for accompaniment but the chart works with bass only (IMO).





PDF link
[IMG]http://dc169.4shared.com/img/143416973/2c3f68bc/yesterdays.pdf[/IMG]

I can’t help wondering if Murphey’s tuning played a role in Buddy Emmon’s subsequent innovations for the PSG. I have seen a video posted here on the forum of Mr E reeling of a perfect Murphey style solo. I look in wonder at his subsequent remarkable chordal approach to jazz on the PSG and question whether Murphey’s tuning played some part in its genesis..
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Ray Montee


From:
Portland, Oregon
Post Posted 31 Oct 2009 7:23 am     I wonder if............................ Reply with quote

You know, as a beginner, I too, went thro' the trials and tribulations that I now see other newer players encountering. It can be most frustrating!

These guys that each of us so admire, DID "THINGS"....
that for one reason or another,
they dreamed up in order to overcome some kind of 'playing issue' or in order to develop a particular signature SOUND that popped into their head. It might have been for just one single record rather than for a life-style.
We of course, never know this and we knock our brains out attempting to figure things out.

I doubt very much that a single one of them ever did so, with the intent of influencing generations of new steel players (like YOU and ME!)........to want to play like them.

Instead of attempting to copy every single note that a recording artist might do on a particular song, we should be evaluating how WE might alter it just enough so that it could be "OUR VERY OWN" hot chorus.
A hot chorus, that we in turn, might be remembered for. Be impressed with the other guys uniqueness but remember, YOU are the important person when playing.
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Terry Farmer


From:
Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA
Post Posted 31 Oct 2009 7:56 pm     Reply with quote

I've just started fooling around with Tom Morrell's 10 string E 13 tuning (subsituting a B on the bottom). Looks like there are a couple of easy grips for a m7b5 on the 6th and 8th fret positions and several slant options elsewhere. Check out diagram below.


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Guy Cundell


From:
More idle ramblings from South Australia
Post Posted 31 Oct 2009 8:05 pm     Reply with quote

Looks interesting, Terry but a strum one would be handy. How is the intonation on the 4 string slant?

And I am wrong about the m7b5 in the B11 tuning. It is sitting up there proudly on strings 5,4,3 and 2.
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Terry Farmer


From:
Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA
Post Posted 1 Nov 2009 8:56 am     Reply with quote

Guy, sorry, I didn't realize you were looking for a "strummer". I was thinking grips. As far as the intonation for a 4 string slant I can guarantee you mine would be quite a bit less than pretty at this stage of my playing ability.

I think you are right on with your analysis of the Murphy m7b5. If you refer to the Murph C6/A7 tuning diagram below you can see that in measure 2 of your Yesterdays arrangement you get the strummed Em7b5 on strings 5,6,7,8 at the third fret just as you've written. Of course the b7 is on the out of sequence high 8th string. (Tried as I may, I could never get comfortable with out of sequence tunings) In measure 31 of your arrangement you get the in sequence Em7b5 chord tones on the 9th and 10th frets, strings 5,4,3,2, just as you have written.

If you're interested, the tuning/chord/scale generator I'm using is called "Chord Alchemy". It's an easy, fun tool and I imagine it's probably still available on the internet. Keep up the great work. Your arrangement, music and TAB look great! Are you using a computer generated Music/TAB program?


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Guy Cundell


From:
More idle ramblings from South Australia
Post Posted 3 Nov 2009 2:15 am     Reply with quote

Cheers, Terry. Chord Alchemy looks like a very handy program. I might shell out the $14.50. The program I am using is Sibelius, a top scoring program with a handy tab function. It handles most instruments. I wouldn't be surprised if they even came up with a way of dealing with PSGs some day.
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