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.

About Steve

He lives in the sleepy Ormond Beach, FL, with his wife and adorable dog Rufus. twitter/mrclay_org

He’s been building sites, apps, and frameworks for the web since the early 2000s, for the longest time with PHP and JavaScript but now he can’t live without TypeScript & React. Latest side project is this piano/chord thingy made with React/ES6. More at github/mrclay.

He plays piano, guitar, bass, and–if anyone will let him–drums, though he kinda spends more time transcribing harmony these days than writing. If pressed, he’ll probably name Moose’s Live a Little Love a Lot as favorite album, but please do not press.

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  

Monuments to a Government’s Failure

The Civil War is a strange case where the oppressors and terrorists, upon losing, were basically let alone to continue countless awful misdeeds, and the biggest slave owners retained all the power of government. The “freedom” blacks gained was purely notional until many decades later.

Imagine an alternate history where, instead, former slaves had been given real, meaningful citizenship: The right to vote unobstructed, to hold office, to receive the full protection of the law, and the opportunity to really be known and understood by the white population as fellow Americans. In this more just outcome, do we really think the citizens of the South, almost half black, would’ve chosen to publicly celebrate—with monuments and names of counties, towns, and streets—the cause to continue enslaving their children and neighbors?

We can’t know the answer, but I think it’s “absolutely not.”

These monuments exist because of the dismal failure of the government to protect its citizens from abuse; by fellow citizens, police, the courts, and the law.

If a community or its elected representatives desire it, they should come down in an orderly fashion, with the goal of preserving them. Communities deserve the freedom to decide what they will celebrate for the next few centuries.

The Civil War is better documented than it’s ever been, and if American schools and parents fail to teach history, a statue isn’t going to do it. What we’ve definitely failed to teach are the stories of the generations of Americans that lived under terror and de facto slavery after the war’s end, and through Jim Crow.