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Jeffrey McFadden


From:
Missouri, USA
Post  Posted 9 Jul 2024 7:47 pm    
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Members here talk of knowing music theory in conjunction with pedal steel playing, and yes, it's music theory, to the same extent as the finest meal ever prepared is dinner. For many to most of you, your knowledge of music theory is incredibly advanced and fully internalized.
Y'all, good pedal steel players (sadly I'm not counting myself here) are at least the equivalent of a Master's degree in music theory.
The very top level, the people who created pedal steel as we know it and people today creating more capable and more flexible tunings, and the very best players, have PhD level knowledge.
I'm not exaggerating.
I've studied music theory much of my life, but my first 15 years of music were as a flute player. One note at a time. None of this "stacked thirds" business.
Compared to people who develop tunings and copedents to solve musical objectives, who know on the fly that they're going to pass seamlessly through a series of major, minor, and more complex chords on their way to a resolution they already see - y'all, you're really something.
The pedal steel is never going away, any more than any other highly learned, highly skilled creative pastime, but it's going to remain the domain of a few. There's just so much to it.
I'm taking it on again, second try, just as I turn 77. I'm spending my free time now, studying, focused on learning the parts of music theory that I missed, while I wait for my 6 string, 2 pedal, 2 knee, pull release Sho Nuff pedal steel to be made and shipped here. I've got my C6 lap steel, and I know enough theory in my hands and ears now to play that whole neck in any key, but I don't begin to think I'm where I need to be. I'm trying to get a clearer image of, for instance, chord substitution, and rootless chords, and - y'all, I'm serious. Give yourself a pat on the back. You have mastered a highly complex technical system, and use this power for good, making music.
My hat is off to you.
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Eric Dahlhoff


From:
Point Arena, California
Post  Posted 9 Jul 2024 9:22 pm    
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Trying to play pedal steel is the most rewarding thing I've ever done. Weirdest too! And very addictive.
I wish I had started in my teens, instead of my 50's.
Good on you Jeffrey starting again!
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Bengt Erlandsen

 

From:
Brekstad, NORWAY
Post  Posted 10 Jul 2024 3:55 am    
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Rootless chords and substitutions are kinda the same. Chord substitions will be a lot easier for the ear to grasp and understand(to begin with) if the substituting chord is played in the form Root 3rd 5th from high to low altho the notes played will function/sound like something else once there is a different bass note underneath.

Example Root 3rd 5th, C E G will in most cases be a C major triad but once there is a low A note present those R 3 5 will most likely sound as b3rd 5th and b7th of an Aminor7th chord. If you play some inversion of that C triad then the connection to the Am7 might not neccessary sound so obvious.

Knowing how to play more than one instrument also makes it easier to get some insight into how the theory might work one way or the other.

There is always something to discover no matter how long one has been playing.

Once you understand something on your instrument, whatever instrument it may be, then that knowledge/understanding is beautiful Smile

I dig both the E9 and the C6 as I discover things on one neck that can be applied to the other neck or even other instruments as well.

B.Erlandsen
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Bill McCloskey


From:
Nanuet, NY
Post  Posted 10 Jul 2024 6:05 am    
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Music theory starts by knowing your fretboard. When approaching a new tuning or copedent I like to map all the possible pedal/lever combinations and identify all the possible Triads (maj, min, dim, aug) and then work my way through the 7th chords. You can see an example in the D13 thread I started. https://bb.steelguitarforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=401803&highlight=

Theory is meaningless if you can't apply it to your steel. Start by studying the neck.
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 10 Jul 2024 4:14 pm    
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The pedal steel guitarist has certainly chosen a difficult instrument to play. Considering how laborious (yet gratifying) it is to accomplish even a simple harmonized scale in accurate musical time, the drive to continue moving forward is strong, however painstakingly slow the results come for most.

I don’t believe the level of music theory required is any greater for the mastery of the pedal steel than it is for any other polyphonic instrument, or for a composer of orchestral pieces, or an arranger for a pop music group. Additionally, many players seem to get by, and perhaps even excel, not knowing what in the heck they’re doing theory-wise, but have an innate sense for finding and executing the right sound.

I do think it is appropriate to acknowledge that the instrument is designed to accommodate the player’s motivation to explore the harmonic, rhythmic, and melodic possibilities available to any other generally accepted musical instrument. The ones that do manage to make what would be considered great music on any instrument have indeed accomplished an insurmountable feat for the majority who make the attempt.
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Jon Voth

 

From:
Virginia, USA
Post  Posted 10 Jul 2024 6:45 pm    
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Hey Jeffrey my hat is off to you as well.

I've degrees in music and been in years of theory classes but like you and the flute, playing tuba professionally for nearly 30 years, it's all single notes and mostly roots all the time. It's all there when you play in a small ensemble (hearing chords, talking about tuning, etc.) but becomes easier to turn off your brain when you play the same stuff over time.

Starting PSG at age 49 or so has been an experience; a re-awakening of concepts I studied decades ago in school. It's more complex than I am at the moment. I consider it a hedge against impending dementia. I'd rather do this that learn chess or some other language. Hats off to those who really know their instrument.

Now if it just wasn't so hard to play physically.
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Ian Rae


From:
Redditch, England
Post  Posted 11 Jul 2024 3:33 pm    
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I had a very privileged start in musical life, because there was a piano in the house, and although I never wanted to learn to play it, all the notes were laid out there to touch and listen to, and stacking thirds was like musical toy bricks. Also my mother made sure I could read and write before I started school, and that included music. As a result I can't recall not knowing key signatures and the names of chords and what notes they contain.
And like Jeffrey I went out into the world and played trombone and bass and always knew what was going on.
The problem with the PSG is that it's 3-dimensional. You can learn the fretboard on a guitar or bass (and all the alternate slide positions on a trombone), and you can always find those notes where you left them.
But the PSG is a stack of different fretboards, one for each pedal/lever combination. I haven't calculated a total but even on basic E9 it's a lot, so if your theoretical knowledge suddenly seems lacking, don't panic! Bach himself would have been equally confused Smile
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Bengt Erlandsen

 

From:
Brekstad, NORWAY
Post  Posted 11 Jul 2024 11:27 pm    
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Quote:
But the PSG is a stack of different fretboards, one for each pedal/lever combination.


Hmm, I care to disagree....at least a little bit.
It complicates things and leads to a lot of memorizing. I have always viewed my pedalsteel as one fretboard where pedals/levers give access to notes above or below where ever the bar is positioned. Maybe because I learned to play a regular guitar as my first instrument and applying knowledge/experiences from that instrument over to the pedal steel. The pedal steel is different tho as a regular 6 string guitar can more or less play the same melody line in a multitude of fret positions on the neck where the pedal steel might favor two or three certain positions for that same melody line to flow properly.

Pedal steel could be compareable to a valved trombone where using valves or overblowing to produce different notes in relation to where the slide is positioned. Overblowing would be the strings themselves and the valves would be the pedals.

The only thing I need to keep in mind is how much my pedal/lever are offset from equal temperament so I can hit the exact same note with or without the pedal/lever applied.


B.Erlandsen
Zumsteel S12extE9 7+7
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Tony Prior


From:
Charlotte NC
Post  Posted 12 Jul 2024 1:46 am    
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Bill McCloskey wrote:
Music theory starts by knowing your fretboard.

Theory is meaningless if you can't apply it to your steel. Start by studying the neck.



Bill is completely correct. Knowing the fretboard, regardless of the instrument we may play is the roadmap to the songs we want to play as well the add-lib and improvising solo's. This doesn't mean we have to know every nook and cranny but the roots, 2's , 4's and 5's are the absolute minimum.

here is a for example

The guitar is tuned in 4ths, never mind the B string. The Mandolin is tuned in 5ths. Playing across the guitar neck is 4ths, coming back is 5ths. Those who have been playing a long time know where the root pockets lay, thats not an accident. Even if they don't understand 4ths across , 5ths back.

The Mandolin plays in 5ths across the neck and 4ths coming back. If we just think about it for a moment, we can play in any root positions at any point on the fretboard. Same with the guitar. These are not accidental things they are "APPLIED THEORY" Its like if you know one pocket and understand the minimal theory, you can execute in any KEY, pretty much any song. We are playing the fretboard, applying it to the song . Not the other way around.

The E9th Pedal Steel is the exact same formula, the open 8th /4th strings are our root, Peds AB bring us to the 4th. Its the basic starting block, almost a simple math game. The C6th neck is actually easier , its a C tuning. Of course we have to identify various string grips to bring us to the proper positions but they repeat up and down the fretboard, they are the exact same grips. Now add peds 5 and 6 ( in basic simplicity) and we open up to another world where everything repeats, except we are now aiming at 4ths and 5ths from the open root. Thats what we build on. after that we had the beautiful SUBS that are built in , just waiting for us.

I am not a music major I don't have even an Associates degree but I do know that first comes the fretboard then the songs. When we are driving to a destination , we don't guess then look at the map to see if we are going the right direction, well I hope we don't do that Very Happy We check the map first, then drive .

When I was teaching I never taught songs, I taught the basic fretboard . Some students just wanted to learn songs, I cut them loose. Others listened and applied simple fretboard theory , they figured out some songs on their own before the end of the session/lesson. They were amazed, it all clicked for them in real time. It wasn't magic, it was just an understanding of the principles of root, 2's ,4's and 5's and where they were on the fretboard. It wasn't guessing or stumbling into the right stuff, they now KNEW.

There is another scenario which has nothing to do with any music theory. If the student cannot differentiate the TONES from the root, 2's,4's ,5's for example, the musical journey is going to be very difficult , thats not something I can personally assist with. Recently a friend at a Bluegrass jam asked me, " how do you tell the difference between 1's, 2s 4's and 5's ? Uhmm tuff answer for me. I replied, listen to the song while viewing the chord chart , listen to the chord changes to identify the changes in tonality. Thats all I could come up with in a moments time.

So back to what Bill said, he is totally correct and we don't have to be theory geniuses. Start very simple, then progress rapidly because now the door is wide open .
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Tim Toberer


From:
Nebraska, USA
Post  Posted 12 Jul 2024 5:29 am    
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“First you learn the instrument, then you learn the music, then you forget all that s**t and just play.” - Charlie Parker

Music theory is like mathematics in that it is a system built for the human brain that tries describe something in nature. Although I can't imagine a mathematician who doesn't care about numbers! Some people seem to be able to play just fine without theory.

The problem as I see it with pedal steel guitar is that we inherit tuning-system developed by people for the specific type of music they were playing, mostly country for E9 and Hawaiian and jazz for C6 mostly. The universal system is better, but still not perfect and still evolving. Changing the tuning mechanics of the guitar is well beyond most people who just want to play. New players are forced into the system that the guitar they have was designed for, which is not standardized. Most people assume that the C6/E9 systems are the best for the instrument, and it certainly is if you want to learn the classic licks and tunes. While they cover a lot of territory there is a whole world outside of them that should be explored. For me I find my diminished tuning makes more sense. I didn't want to be chained to a specific tonal center. This tuning requires more complicated footwork, but it opens up more possibilities. No classical instruments that I know of are tuned to a specific chord. Stacks of minor 3rds make sense because a complete chromatic scale can be achieved with half steps up or down.

It is a shame that pedal steel guitars are not built to allow the easy change of tuning, like the early Fenders or even the Harlin Bros Multichord. The organic nature of the instrument is chained to the rigid mechanics of its design. As you play it seems completely natural that you want to slowly design the instrument to meet your own specific way of thinking and playing, but this is a luxury most people don't have. The cost is out of reach for most people to justify taking up the instrument and the wackiness of it is enough to frustrate even the most competent musician! That said I can't think of a better instrument for learning music theory besides the pianoforte.
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J D Sauser


From:
Wellington, Florida
Post  Posted 12 Jul 2024 11:28 am    
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One has to know or find out WHAT to know.

To me, yes, organizing the fretboard is first, but also is an ongoing never ending expeditions which goes deeper than even entering the jungle of psychoanalysis.
then too, it's a different approach on E9th than C6th because on C6th things can be learned "static", while E9th everything starts "moving" from the very beginning.

"Functional Harmony" is to me one of the most pivotal, useful and near immediately enjoyable "theorIES".
Hand in hand with that, at least for Jazz, is becoming aware that a tune in one key, still may have segments in other key-centers.

And yes, "TheorIES" it's plural because else, it would be called "Law of Physics". And while music is closely related, but really only related, to physics, emotions, feelings and tastes and degrees of tolerances as well as geo-cultural traditions vary, it opens endless opportunities to "gracefully" fall off that (physics) band wagon at every turn.
Theories are not much more than well explained opinions, and may even get really, really close to the hard fact, until some BB or a King comes along and plays that note, that just touches us all and is nowhere to be found on a keyboard, and proves all theories to be, well, just that, TheorIES.

To my son's displeasure, I often refer to keyboards as "that 1-Dimensional instrument". It goes only from left to right, ONE axis.
Stringed instruments like ours are at least 2-Dimensional (along & across the strings) and when you got pedals, one can view it almost as 3 dimensional. It's VERY graphic, while a sax or flute or singing is not. Additionally, our instrument is tuned in chords, and while wind players tend to think in scales, it would SEEM more coherent for us to think off chords and their alterations and morphing into other chords. Our perspective of theorIES may be different than the one of not only other music stiles but also instruments.

TheorIES should be explanatory, simplifying (evidencing a clearer way to resolve doubts) and helpful and thus enjoyable, rather than "intellectual"-spaghetti of fancy concepts and confusing. Beware what you are being taught / beware what you are studying!

Learn to analyze chord progressions.
Get a Bass Guitar or learn to play rhythm guitar along the whole neck, if keys is something you shy away from!

... J-D.
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Jeffrey McFadden


From:
Missouri, USA
Post  Posted 12 Jul 2024 1:39 pm    
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J D Sauser wrote:

Considerable snippage...

TheorIES should be explanatory, simplifying (evidencing a clearer way to resolve doubts) and helpful and thus enjoyable, rather than "intellectual"-spaghetti of fancy concepts and confusing. Beware what you are being taught / beware what you are studying!

... J-D.


This is, of course, how we got "theory."
The music came first, farther back in the mists of time than anyone can know.
Theory came along afterwards, to explain what people had already done.
Now we learn theory, but still typically parallel with or after learning to make music come out of the junction between instrument and human.
Musically, the first specific thing I ever learned was how to make a sound by blowing across the hole in a flute embouchure. After that I learned to change the sound by moving my fingers. Only then did I learn scales, melodies, harmonies, counterpoint.
As humans, we started (probably) with a string on a bow, and sticks on hollow logs, and built the rest from there.
Now, learning how to describe the physical structures of the patterns of sound we are building or attempting to build helps us by adding a different dimension to our understanding of what we're doing.
For me in particular, having begun on (and spent over a decade learning and playing) a single note melody instrument, I have long understood keys, notes, time signatures, key signatures, the circle of fifths, but things like harmonized scales have come far later and been far harder to comprehend. And at that point, coming to understand theoretical explanations of harmonies, chords, and intervals became a useful tool, to help me understand what to do with all these extra notes at my fingertips.
But the music comes first, and the music comes last. And it is my personal belief that we humans are hard-wired to both make and enjoy the combinations of sounds we call music. Theory simply gives us another handle to think and talk about the music we make.
And it's interesting. So why not?
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 12 Jul 2024 6:30 pm    
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I am very happy my pedal steel is not tuned to stacked minor thirds.
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Ian Rae


From:
Redditch, England
Post  Posted 13 Jul 2024 12:52 am    
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Diminished chords are a bit depressing.
I think your message should have read
"I am very happy. My pedal steel is not tuned to stacked minor thirds."
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Tim Toberer


From:
Nebraska, USA
Post  Posted 13 Jul 2024 5:02 am    
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Fred Treece wrote:
I am very happy my pedal steel is not tuned to stacked minor thirds.

You should try it out before you dismiss it. It works for me, not saying it is right for everybody. It is an amazing tuning and I would be happy to explain it further to anyone interested, but if you just want to write it off as a bad idea it is your loss. But this thread is about music theory and how it applies to the pedal steel, not your close-mindedness.
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 13 Jul 2024 6:54 am    
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Ian Rae wrote:
Diminished chords are a bit depressing.
I think your message should have read
"I am very happy. My pedal steel is not tuned to stacked minor thirds."

Ha, yes maybe that would have come off more diplomatically. I really don’t have anything against the dim7 chord. I just prefer it as something I get into, rather than out of, with pedals and levers (or slants).

Sorry for the unintended consequence of trying to be concise and failing with humor, Tim. I will not quit my day job…!

My only real defense is that I definitely do not have time try every idea I find here, as wonderfully odd as some of them appear to be. This thread in particular is an exercise in thoughtfulness. I thought about Tim’s comment regarding his tuning for two days, and even dinked around on my steel, playing 4- and 5-string stacked minor 3rd configurations. As you said, Ian, it is a desperate sound that begs to be resolved, and I was “happy” that I could get there by just releasing a lever or a pedal.

I hope this thread can now continue as scheduled.
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Ian Rae


From:
Redditch, England
Post  Posted 13 Jul 2024 10:12 am    
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I'm not dissing Tim's tuning either. I'm always interested in new ideas, and the notion that the pedal steel is done being invented is ridiculous.

But I'm no longer interested in experiments. Having settled on a tuning that makes sense to me (B6/E9 with P6 on a lever), I intend to see how far I can go in the time I have left (family history suggests I may not live much beyond 90).

I know this is supposed to be a theory thread. My theory is that once music gets hold of you it never lets go...
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Tim Toberer


From:
Nebraska, USA
Post  Posted 14 Jul 2024 4:34 am    
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Fred Treece wrote:
Ian Rae wrote:
Diminished chords are a bit depressing.
I think your message should have read
"I am very happy. My pedal steel is not tuned to stacked minor thirds."

Ha, yes maybe that would have come off more diplomatically. I really don’t have anything against the dim7 chord. I just prefer it as something I get into, rather than out of, with pedals and levers (or slants).

Sorry for the unintended consequence of trying to be concise and failing with humor, Tim. I will not quit my day job…!

My only real defense is that I definitely do not have time try every idea I find here, as wonderfully odd as some of them appear to be. This thread in particular is an exercise in thoughtfulness. I thought about Tim’s comment regarding his tuning for two days, and even dinked around on my steel, playing 4- and 5-string stacked minor 3rd configurations. As you said, Ian, it is a desperate sound that begs to be resolved, and I was “happy” that I could get there by just releasing a lever or a pedal.

I hope this thread can now continue as scheduled.

I like to joke around too, but I am serious about music. I appreciate the response, no hard feelings. I like these theory discussions, because it is one of the only things that I can relate with. My guitar doesn't have E-F lever and A-B pedals etc. The truth is I am learning a ton with my challenging setup, but I need help and this is a place I have gotten a lot of it. My tuning isn't perfect and I still sometimes can't find the right voicing, and it is physically challenging to play.

I don't find the diminished chord to be depressing at all, more mysterious and maybe unsettling. It isn't a sound you want to creep in at the wrong moment, so that is the first challenge of playing a tuning like this or Leavitt.
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Ian Rae


From:
Redditch, England
Post  Posted 14 Jul 2024 12:01 pm    
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The dim chord is indeed mysterious, with the magical property that any of its four tones is a valid leading note (including to another dim), so it's a powerful musical tool if used sparingly, hideously melodramatic if not.
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J D Sauser


From:
Wellington, Florida
Post  Posted 14 Jul 2024 5:06 pm    
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I think pedal steel players (BE-C6th setup) tend play the diminished chord "over-voiced"... meaning that they stomp on the "diminished" pedals (5&6) and play 4 notes, all a minor third apart instead of just alluding it. In most cases, the diminished is being played over a Dom7th chord with the diminished chord's root a half step over the Dom7th chord's root... really playing the Dom7th as a b9th (the root sharp half). Just THAT note alone is often all it takes to create that tension and add to the satisfaction of "resolution" a 4th up.
Less, but still perceivable than an augmented (stack of Major 3rds), the diminished stack of minor thirds won't tune well "JI". It's easier to take it as "acceptabl" in ET than it's augmented counter part. One more reason to either widen the intervals or just allude to it playing the important note (b9th).
Barry Harrys' Maj6thDim harmonic approach can easily be reproduced on C6th PSG but it sounds muddy and "old" quickly.

Still, to me, navigating the diminished concept of "Family Of Four Chords" (the 4 Dominant chords each, any of the 3 possible Diminished chords can allude to) and playing what Barry Harrys suggested is NOT a "Whole-Half" or "Half-Whole" scale but rather two diminished arpeggios in parallel a half or respectively a whole step of each others, has become the connective tissue and gateway to "Altered" at the same time.

In most cases, it tends to sound plumb or even dumb to approach a new chord playing the root, the exception to me are diminished and also the half diminished, two chords with only one note difference (bb7th / b7th respectively) which have totally different functions.


I've told this before:
My father in law, is a live long professional piano player. He can't read, he wouldn't know what I'd mean if I'd say "four chord" or "the five", "ii-, V, I" is not a concept that would ring a bell either. He just plays, ANY and EVERYthing... and can learn a tune in 5 minutes. 5 years ago, I was practicing guitar rhythm to one of the more complex Jazz Standards (I forgot which one) and he walked in and said "I like it!", "what is it called?"... He sat at the piano, and declared never to have played it, because "nobody plays it" and asked me to show him. I sat closer and inadvertently must have moved on the neck and proceded to strum and hum the tune and he'd pick it up and before we were thru, he was already "running with it". It's then only that I realized that I had showed it to him "off key" in some stupid key like C# or something. And that really made me realize he could not have ever played it, not in THAT key anyways.
So, I asked him how he goes about it. He always plays pretty much in the middle of the keyboard, both hands fairly close to another... he has these big "paws" and it looks like he is "kneading" the keys, while just looking up 15 degrees and making what BB King would call "oninon-faces" with his mouth.
So, I asked him and he kept kneading the keys looking up really seeming to find an answer and then said:
"I don't know, I look out for STRANGE tones/notes!"
I was rather disappointed because there didn't seem to be any educational value in that answer, so I pressed on and he added:
"I don't know, all diminished somehow".
By that time I had had it, fed up and gave up on extracting anything of value from this man.

3 years later, as I progressed (at least I'd like to think so) in my Jazz studies, it dawned on me:
"Strange tones" means "Altered"
And yes, the connective tissue, is the two parallel running diminished arpeggios a half, respectively whole step away from each other. I am pretty sure, that's what he really tried to describe.



It's seems elusive to try to convey these concepts in words at times, worse even written format. Sorry.



... J-D.
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Was it JFK who said: Ask Not What TAB Can Do For You - Rather Ask Yourself "What Would B.B. King Do?"

A Little Mental Health Warning:

Tablature KILLS SKILLS.
The uses of Tablature is addictive and has been linked to reduced musical fertility.
Those who produce Tablature did never use it.

I say it humorously, but I mean it.
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Mike Preuss


From:
Mount Vernon, Washington, USA
Post  Posted 14 Jul 2024 6:31 pm     Dim/altered
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I appreciate how we all come at this from different lenses or perspectives. Some major, some pentatonic, some diminished, or whatever! It is inexplicably a personal relationship between the musician and their instrument. And it is also a journey. A journey that connects us all as humans trying to relate via music. Does it get any cooler than that!? What an amazing language!
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J D Sauser


From:
Wellington, Florida
Post  Posted 14 Jul 2024 7:08 pm     Re: Dim/altered
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Mike Preuss wrote:
I appreciate how we all come at this from different lenses or perspectives. Some major, some pentatonic, some diminished, or whatever! It is inexplicably a personal relationship between the musician and their instrument. And it is also a journey. A journey that connects us all as humans trying to relate via music. Does it get any cooler than that!? What an amazing language!


Point of views! Different instruments, different methods and schools and approaches, but all just the same 12 notes.

As fundamentally different some approaches and thus theoriES are, at the end it just needs to sound good, interesting, pleasing and maybe even sophisticated.

What often gets lost, with all the methods and theoriES, is "playfulness"... after all, it's called PLAYING music.

And playfulness is a discipline which can lead to a lot of discoveries and... new theoriES!

... J-D.
_________________
__________________________________________________________

Was it JFK who said: Ask Not What TAB Can Do For You - Rather Ask Yourself "What Would B.B. King Do?"

A Little Mental Health Warning:

Tablature KILLS SKILLS.
The uses of Tablature is addictive and has been linked to reduced musical fertility.
Those who produce Tablature did never use it.

I say it humorously, but I mean it.
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Andrew Frost


From:
Toronto, Ontario
Post  Posted 16 Jul 2024 5:32 am    
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Interesting thread. As an obsessive theory lover, its funny to me that what really seems to make the phone ring is being able to play stuff that is not terribly complex on paper, but just enhances the vibe of a recording or performance. Stuff that lifts and augments a musical situation without drawing too much attention to itself. With all the complexity of this beautiful instrument, playing a couple of well timed notes, in tune and with good tone, seems to be what we end up doing more often than not.
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 16 Jul 2024 7:00 am    
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A, C, and E walk into a bar. Bartender looks at them and says, “Sorry, we don’t serve minors here.”
On the way out, A glares at C and scolds, “I told you to look sharp!”

For cowboy horn sections—-
Q: How is a bull different from an orchestra?
A: In an orchestra, the horns are in the back and the asshole is in the front.
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 16 Jul 2024 7:10 am    
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Andrew Frost wrote:
Interesting thread. As an obsessive theory lover, its funny to me that what really seems to make the phone ring is being able to play stuff that is not terribly complex on paper, but just enhances the vibe of a recording or performance. Stuff that lifts and augments a musical situation without drawing too much attention to itself. With all the complexity of this beautiful instrument, playing a couple of well timed notes, in tune and with good tone, seems to be what we end up doing more often than not.


I would not underestimate the theoretical knowledge it takes to do ambient type playing effectively. The timing and the feel for what notes create the desired sound might seem easy, but there is substance behind it.

There does seem to be a lot of “background” steel playing now. I think pop music in general is in another “disdain for too many notes” phase from instruments that are associated with solos and fills. We are being bombarded with vocals though, which would be fine if the producers actually did their Beatles and Beach Boys homework.
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