About Steve

Um, hi! I live in Ormond Beach, FL, with the wife and an adorable dog named Ruby. twitter/mrclay_org

I’ve been building sites, apps, and frameworks for the web since the early 2000s, usually using PHP, but I like front-end work, too. This piano/chord thingy I made with React/ES6. github/mrclay

I play guitar, bass, piano, and–when I get a chance–drums, though I kinda spend more time studying harmony than writing. If pressed, I’ll probably name Moose’s Live a Little Love a Lot as my favorite album, but please do not press.

Don’t spread ATSLD’s and ATSCD’s

Hi. Someone thinks you’re reading an Awful Thing Some Liberal(s) Did or an Awful Thing Some Conservative(s) Did.

In today’s hyper-partisan America it can feel great to share these things, but are you demonizing your friends and family who happen to think differently? Are you deluding yourself and your peers that the Other Side is awful? Are you being used as a tool for propagandists?

Ask yourself…

Does this story/piece of media serve a public good, e.g. help to solve a crime or publicize an abuse that should be stopped?

Or is it framed as “how those monsters on the Other Side behave” or “they caused or wanted this to happen”?

Do the subjects represent the common views/behaviors that the side depicted would embrace?

Or is it an extreme that would be rejected by the vast majority?

Do I want to be tarred by the worst behavior among the 100,000,000 or so people in my in group?

Please consider bowing out of this divisive mess.

Don’t share or like it. Call it out as propaganda. It doesn’t represent you or me.

Don’t feel bad about muting the hyper-partisan bomb-throwers. Nothing you say can stop them or their fervent followers from demonizing you, and you’ll exhaust yourself trying.

Get out of your bubble, follow kind people on the other side, and be kind.

Crunchiest Steely Dan chord? “Fire in the Hole”

The pre-chorus is in, well, we can say 3 flats. First there’s an Ab Eb/G resolving to Bb (which sounds like the key), then a little Abmaj7/C Bb/C Cm build up that ends with Abmaj7 Ebmaj7/G Ab (the key sounds more like Eb here). Then things get weird.

Ab is followed by Ab7/Gb, but while it sounds like the bass is heading down toward a Db/F chord, at 0:42 the bass jumps back up into into this striking Ab13#11 with no 3rd. The melody is also great here; just chord tones. It resolves to G7sus G7 Cm.

This Ab13 is basically a tritone sub for D7, but the 9th and #11 decorations also evoke the sound of a bVII dom7 “backdoor” chord in Bb. The key briefly sounded like Bb in the pre-chorus, so I think that resemblance isn’t accidental, but anyway… This was a tough one to figure out by ear. I could hear the embedded aug triad, but the recording is right in the cracks making playing along basically impossible. I had to retune an acoustic guitar with ancient, very dead strings.

The time is right for Annual Leave reform

The United States is, save a few tiny islands, the only place in the world where employees have no guaranteed paid vacation or holidays, and there’s simply no great excuse.

The effect of this gigantic hole in our labor policy is that about 23% of Americans–over 30 million–work some of the hardest jobs without any paid time off, 1 in 3 have no paid sick leave, and the bar remains low for employers who do offer PTO. For people on their feet in waste and food service jobs, the access to PTO is abysmal.

I think most of us don’t realize what a scandal this is, and it’s the right time to fix it.

  • Unlike extremely hard problems like reforming our healthcare system or finding the ideal minimum wage in a nation of wide-ranging costs of living, this is an easy one with 187 existing plans to choose from. Canadians are guaranteed 16-30 days off a year. The British 28. Germans 29. Russians 33. Chinese 16-26. Japanese 10-20. Indians 24. The French 36. Brazilians 24. Italians 32. These are just the big economies. If Congress is concerned about the disruption, phase it in one day per year.
  • We haven’t had a significant labor reform in generations and polling shows this has wide bipartisan support. If Congress wants to really improve the lives of millions of Americans and be heralded for their efforts for decades to come, this is low-hanging fruit. Americans desperately need a reason to come together and this is one will benefit Americans across the political spectrum.
  • For the first time in their lives many millions of Americans will take vacations and get to travel the country they love. Americans already having PTO will benefit by many employers raising benefits to compete, and just through the new chances to join more friends and relatives on holidays and vacations.

This reform isn’t sexy but is super pragmatic, and as much as hardworking Americans deserve the benefit, we could use a national cause to celebrate.

Schubert’s Strange Path Home

Schubert’s Impromptu D.935, Op. posth. 142 – No. 2 is one of my favorite piano pieces. It has many delights, but what really caught my ear was the bombastic double forte section (m. 17-30 at 1:06). It takes us into the IV key and uses a clever trick to modulate back so that I barely noticed when we arrived back home.

Below are lead sheet-style chords under their functions, with simple inversion notation. I’ve transposed from Ab to G to get rid of the double-flats (I’m terrible playing/thinking in Ab). Continue reading  

Bury figured bass

Figured bass notation is already long dead, but musicians carry its corpse around to show off that they squandered valuable moments of their lives learning it. It also creates needless ambiguity. Is I7 a dominant seventh? Not in figured bass. Just try notating G7b9/B in figured bass. Yeah, let’s bury it already. And it can be so easy:

V9:2. You may have already guessed this is the dominant 9th chord in 2nd inversion. Easy.

ii7:3 is Am7/G in G.

I7 has a flat 7th on the tonic. Imaj7 is the diatonic variety.

You are freed to do Roman numeral analysis with some sanity.

Perry Como “No Other Love” chords

Intro)

   SubV   I
   Gb7b5  F  C(no3)/G  F/A  C7(no3)/G

Verses)

   I                                                            VII
   F            C9(no3)   Fmaj7  F6/C  F         C7(no3)/G  F   E7
1. No other     love  have I.         Only      my love    for  you.
2. Watching the night   go by         wishing that you    could be
3. Into    your arms I'll fly.        Locked in your arms  I'll stay

    ii         V/ii       V/V    SubV                I
   Gm/Bb       D7/A       G/B    Gb7b5               F
1. Only    the dream   we knew.     No other love.
2. watching the night with me      into the night I cry
3. waiting   to hear    you say   no other love have I.

Bridge)
              Eb: I       Vsus     V    V/ii
                                      C: I         Vsus    V
F                Eb/G   Bb7sus/F Bb7/F  C/E       G7sus/D G7/D
Hurry home, come home to me.              Set me free.

C: V/ii
D:  V        I             IV
                        F: V/V    V      Vsus  V
   A/C#      D             G7     C      C9sus C7
      Free from doubt and free      from longing.

End)

ii                    SubV     I
Gm7           Gm9    Gb7b5#9   F
No other love.  No    other    love.

Wonderful bits:

  • The early D7/A – G/B (a secondary dominant with no 7th) sounds like a key change to G, and rather than the bass rising to C it falls to the tritone sub root Gb7b5.
  • The bridge walks us through the keys Eb, C, D, and back to the home key F using mostly inversions.
  • The voice leading in the choir’s final cadence:
      G    Bb     D    F     A
     Gb    Bb   C     E      A
    F     A     C      F     A
    

Protesters, MLK, and Partisan Urges

Young protesters urgently need to go watch “Selma” and in general pause and think, “what would MLK do?” The Selma marchers gracefully expressed their humanity and decency with their faces visible, and created a clear contrast from the opposition’s hate and savagery. The scene and imagery created were more powerful than any weapon, and turned 800 marchers into 25,000 at the end. It was masterful leadership. Continue reading