Thursday, November 12, 2009

Song of the Week # 9 - "Lady's Got the Blues"

Track #9 from "Virtual Light", the new CD from ALIEN BLUE, is "Lady's Got the Blues" (4:14).

The song is a classic minor key blues in Am (which we'll discuss below) using a "straight" rhythm, features a gorgeous vocal by Blue, smooth vocal harmonies, and a cool opening lick where I double the guitar with a unison "scat" vocal (shades of things to come...) as a nod to the incredible George Benson.

For those interested in the mechanics of composition, it should be noted that the minor blues is the bridge between the "blues model" and the "diatonic model", featuring elements of both. In "Lady's Got the Blues", we take the standard 12 bar structure and alter it (doubling bars 9 & 10), thus following the 14-bar structure:

i7 iv7 i7 i7
iv7 iv7 i7 i7

VImj7 v7 VI7 V7
i7 V7

Note that bar 10 is a minor 7 on the 5 chord, but then bar 12 and 14 use the dominant 7 (major triad with flat 7 on the 5 chord), which opens up myriad harmonic possibilities because it introduces the G# into the otherwise diatonic C (though I stick primarily to the harmonic minor and it's dim-7 arpeggio).

The guitar solo references immediately back to several other songs on "Virtual Light", most notably by referencing licks straight out of "Imagine We", but at times placing them in a new context (note the rapid descending line that runs a succession of 16th triplets to straight 16s to 8th note triplets to straight 8s, for example, and the sweeped arpeggios).

The end of the song metrically modulates to a slower tempo, using a shuffled groove right out of the classic burlesque tradition (can you see that twirling feather boa?). FUN STUFF!!!


Friday, November 6, 2009

NOVEMBER Lifestyle Challege

"Remember tonight, for it is the beginning of always." (Dante)

Well, with the rib injury, I had to drastically alter not only my workouts, but my performance schedule, guitar practice schedule, and much more. This definitely had a negative impact on my October goals. I hope everyone else fared better, but I'm not complaining....and I am happy to report I hit the mark on some of my October guitar challenges (scales up 10-20 clicks, etc.). But mis-fortune is only pointless if we don't learn from it, so Live & Learn!

Sooooo.....what are YOUR personal goals for November?

I've re-vamped my workouts to accommodate my continuing shoulder recovery and now my rib recovery (it's been 3 weeks, though, and I'm doing much better), I'm experimenting a bit with my diet, but will likely go back to mostly raw fruits & veggies with occasional sashimi as my staple, I'm adding some additional musical (rather than just technical) elements to my guitar goals - including toying with Coltrane changes for the first time in years - and I have some VERY specific MUSIC BIZ goals. to share your successes and failures from October and your goals for November?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Song of the Week # 8 - "Skinny Devil Shuffle"

"Skinny Devil Shuffle" clocks in at 2:37, but this isn't a true representation of the song length. It's actually much shorter - just a little jam over a 12-bar blues shuffle. But this one was so much fun (you hear us laughing and such) that we left the mistakes and re-starts and after 2 false starts you get the real thing.

The shuffle (think triplettes, but drop the "2") groove is in E (a blues E, not a diatonic E) and I just play around with some fun blues cliches, running up & down the neck a bit having fun.

No words, nothing fancy - just a blues jam with a giant grin on my face and Blue humming along! Devil Shuffle.mp3