Minor 3-Major 2 Patterns

The common pentatonic scale has only two kinds of interval between its notes: each pair is separated by either a minor third (three frets) or a major second (two frets). Of course, this scale counds very familiar, not only because of its use in rock music but also from its very different uses in music by the likes of Debussy and Ravel. So it's interesting to look at what happens when we navigate the total chromatic using those two intervals.

Karnatic Etudes

Two big twentieth century studies of Carnatic scales by Western composers are now available in full on YouTube. If nothing else, I think we Western musicians can benefit from hearing these scales "in our own accent" rather than solely in the context of South Indian music. They also prove that these "exotic" scales can make excellent music in a Western style, in case that still needs to be proved to anyone.

Balanced Steps

Just a quick note on something funny I noticed in Richard Cohn's Audacious Euphony that led me to a mild (and daft) reharm of Giant Steps.

Chords from Sucharitra

I haven't played much with Sucharitra but today I worked out a few basic harmonizations -- in thirds, fourths and seconds, basically -- and I liked the sounds.

Some Messiaen-like Chords

I've always enjoyed Messiaen's chords without really knowing what's going on with them, so today I looked at an article about them and cooked up some chords of my own inspired by it.

The "Minor Up A Minor Third" Trick

OK it's not really a "trick" but I've been using this a lot lately so I thought it was worth a note. The idea is that on a C minor you can pivot to Eb minor, and in general substituting "the minor up the minor third" sounds nice and unexpected.

Some Tuplets to Try

I've been immersing myself in early 20th century piano music again lately and getting lots of ideas for the guitar. One thing you see happening at that time is increasing rhythmic flexibility and sophistication, and this often comes from the use of tuplets. You can see it all over Ravel and Debussy, not to mention of course the wilder folks like Scriabin and Sorabji, and it continues into more modernistic composers like Boulez and Xenakis too.

Some Pentatonic Major 7 Vocabulary

I've been playing with Common b6 Pentatonic from my previous post over the past view days and thought it would be worth noting some applications of this and the Hungarian Minor Pentatonic to major 7 chords.

Common Pentatonic b6 Combinations

Last night in the practice room I revisited this post about a mildly altered pentatonic so this morning I decided to pull out some more possibilities for combining it with familiar things.

Derek Bailey Style Chords with Harmonics

I've been revisiting some Derek Bailey recordings lately and realised I never really worked on one of his most distinctive sounds: combining normal fretted notes with natural harmonics. These fascinating effects can be harsh, percussive or shimmeringly beautiful, and the technique can be applied outside Bailey's own very idiosyncratic style.