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Posted by on Oct 2, 2013 in Recordings | 0 comments

Be Love at Sacred Grounds

I love open mics. I have two favorites in San Francisco that I make every time I’m in town — Hotel Utah on Mondays, and Sacred Grounds on Thursdays.

It is in places like Sacred Grounds that the culture begins, where it wells up right from the ground, not manufactured or corporate or in service of any agenda but the beauty of human creativity.

Last week I sang Be Love at Sacred Grounds, and my dear friend Claudia took a video. Here it is. I hope you enjoy it. It really gets the flavor of the place.

 

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Posted by on Sep 25, 2013 in Recordings | 0 comments

Breakup Songs

I keep working my way closer to recording in strict just intonation. Here’s one I did today, of my song Breakup Songs.

 

The acoustic guitar is in equal temperament, and the bass and vocals are untempered. I love singing harmony when the fretless bass is playing lattice notes. Sometimes I feel like I’m sliding along a groove in the tonal gravity field.

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Posted by on Sep 23, 2013 in Just Intonation, The Lattice | 0 comments

Chords on the Lattice

A chord is a collection of three or more notes sounded at the same time. Arpeggios, in which the notes are sounded one after the other, are considered chords too. Two notes sounded at once are generally called an interval rather than a chord.

Chords make patterns on the lattice. A given kind of chord will look the same no matter where it is.

The most common chords are the major and minor triads (a triad is a three-note chord that is a stack of major and/or minor thirds). Here is what a major triad looks and sounds like on the lattice:

The major triad is an upright triangle. It even looks stable. It’s made of three interlocking intervals — in this case, from 1 to 3 (a major third), from 3 to 5 (a minor third), and from 1 to 5 (a perfect fifth).

Anything that looks like this on the lattice is a perfectly-in-tune major chord.

A minor triad is an upside-down triangle. Minor triads look like this:

Major and minor triads interlock to form the hexagonal lattice of fifths and thirds. This generates another lattice, a lattice of chords. W.A. Mathieu goes into great detail in Harmonic Experience, extending the chord lattice a long ways out and showing how music wanders on it. Here is an illustration based on my own lattice:

Chord Lattice

I use roman numerals for chord names, because the relationships between chords stay the same no matter what key I’m in. For example, the progression C-F-G is exactly the same as the progression G-C-D, at a different pitch. Both are I-IV-V progressions. This convention uses capital letters for major chords, and lower case for minors. I add a little twist by adding + and – to show commas; this allows a unique name for every chord on the infinite lattice.

It’s illuminating to track a chord progression on this lattice. The famous “Heart and Soul” progression, I-vi-IV-V, is what Mathieu calls “Matchstick Harmony.” The lines move like the matches in those matchstick puzzles. Progressions that move by these small harmonic distances are intuitive and easy to follow. The last move, from IV to V, is also easy for the ear, making this chord progression as natural as breathing. Start playing it on the piano and you will instantly have a crowd. In the key of C, it goes C-Am-F-G.

The chord lattice adds another dimension to lattice thinking. Watch the Flying Dream video for a good example. The progression travels far afield, exploring many of these major and minor triangles before finally coming home.

Other chords make other shapes that also repeat all over the lattice. For example, there are at least three different kinds of minor seventh chord. Here’s an article distinguishing them.

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Posted by on Sep 20, 2013 in Recordings | 0 comments

Real Girl at Shell Cafe

I often have the pleasure of singing at one of Steve Key’s Songwriters At Play showcases. These are held several times a week in San Luis Obispo area. There’s a lot of talent in the county, and Steve books many good traveling acts. These tend to be excellent shows.

Brian Jeffrey is one of those local talents. Last month Steve had a showcase at Shell Cafe in Pismo Beach, Brian was the featured act and I played four songs. I didn’t know it but Brian videoed one of my songs, and he just put it up on YouTube. I like it a lot!

Thank you, Brian!

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