~ tritone ~

~ tritones through changes ~ blues ~

'... super sound catalyst for all things Americana ...'

Half a nutshell. One half of our Americana music theory is based on the idea of perfection. We as theorists use this concept to create the basis from which all else evolves. As musicians we are working with musical sounds and the idea of 'perfection of sound' we apply to three intervals. They are termed 'perfect' simply in that they sound most consonant as compared to all others.

three perfect intervals

That nature backs up this perfection when we physically measure these intervals, coupled with their historical endurance in the organization and preeminance in the composition of our music, gives us the starting point to base our theory and consequently untangle and come to understand the theory variables of Americana music.

physically measure
pull of swing

The second half. We can base the second half of our theory on the idea of 'unperfection' of musical sounds. This polar opposite point to aural consonance is the dissonant sounds of the tritone interval. And as most things in life seeks to find an even balance, we most commonly use the tritone interval's dissonance in our musics to energize an artistic 'need' to balance with the consonace of aural perfection. This creates a sense of direction in our music that seeks resolution, which most often is simply back to the pitches we started our song off with. That we feel this need to resolve, and that it travels or 'motors' along in time which we as artists can shape, combine to create the magic we call music.

time

Blues basis. An old trick to learning licks is to master the rhythm first. This one comes us to us from Chicago I think. Example 1

.

Hey ya ya ya ya ya yaya old Indian chant. Example 1.

lick

Here's some help. According to the lovely recording strains of the 'Count Basie Orchestra', quarter notes swing the hardest, so that's where this discussion starts with the ancient quarter notes. This first idea surely goes all the way back in our collective memories.

Hey ya ya ya ya ya yaya old Indian chant. Example 1.

Carl

Octaves.

: This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

Comping.

: This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

Chomping.

: This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

YESTERDAY.

. According to the lovely recording strains of the 'Count Basie Orchestra, quarter notes swing the hardest, so that's where this discussion starts with the ancient quarter notes. This first idea surely goes all the way back in our collective memories. Example 1.

Carl

Saints.

: This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

8th's.

: This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

Gallop / an 8th note triplet.

: This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation
numerical scale degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
two octave C major scale
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
C
arpeggio degrees
1
.
3
.
5
.
7
.
9
.
11
.
.
.
15
C major arpeggio
C
.
E
.
G
.
B
.
D
.
F
.
.
.
C

'A half step above our tonic pitch.'

Theory names: This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation

 

In a nutshell. The diminished color just seems to be able to find its way into every knook of the American chromatic. Each of the styles has probably at least one spot where we might hear something of this doubly even or tripley minor stack'o pitches.

Into the wayback to the mid 30's to Charlie Christian and his "Air Mail Special", the bridge of which is but also chromatic ...?

can be something diffcan be lots of unique things to lots of different players. .

the American chromatic
the wayback machine

In today's music, while it's near impossible to hear any difference in pitches or tunings, the duality of our pitches enables the blue melodic magic weave over stable, closely tuned chord pitches. Just how central this relationship might be is more about one's own art directions but surely lives at the stylistic heart of Americana guitar. The bend-able string / pitch ability over precisely tuned chords is the basis of our guitar arts.

blue notes
a wide array of chords

The explosive potenetial of the diminished color. As tempos accelerated in bop andits post incarnates, the diminished colors becomes the great accelerator of American jazz. Thanks to its symmetrically sequenced DNA of minor 3rds, two solid theories emerge.

First, simply that the diminished color can slip between two of any diatonic motions at the drop of a hat. Surely some are more awkward, but jazz cats often dig on the challenge of finding the balance and proper presentation based on style, tempo and feel.

The second theory helps creates the various double Two / Five motions. Based mostly on the b9 in V7b9, the fully diminshed 7th chord in this dominant's V7 trnsion encourages chord motion moved around by the minor third interval. We can find this motion in three very lovely jazz classics.

"Satin Doll." The essential wedding gig lovesong, this Strayhorn / Ellington / Mercer 1953 classic number is really built around the Two / Five motion. There's seven different pairings in the song. Bar's five and six of the eight bar A section have what we're looking for here; a double Two / Five a half step apart. Sort of like this. Example 1.

Two / Five
'A' section
half step motions

Strollin'. The idea of a 'silent architecture of music' refers to the structural nuts and bolts of the pitches we use to create our American musical sounds. Part art, part science and surely part magic of nature, understanding this architectural theory helps us project and filter any idea through a wider range of options. Knowing the basis empowers us to sort things out as each new pitch comes along. The idea is to build an intellectual theory structure within, so as the new ideas come along we have a framework to store, organize and recall our ideas.

"Moment'sNotice.". The idea of a 'silent architecture of music' refers to the structural nuts and bolts of the pitches we use to create our American musical sounds. Part art, part science and surely part magic of nature, understanding this architectural theory helps us project and filter any idea through a wider range of options. Knowing the basis empowers us to sort things out as each new pitch comes along. The idea is to build an intellectual theory structure within, so as the new ideas come along we have a framework to store, organize and recall our ideas.

Along the way of this discover process we need to explore some of the history and by necessity, the basics of natural sound, i.e., acoustics, and how we are thought to physically hear sound. This is our first topic of a few where music and math will meet. We combine these to create the precursor for understanding why we tune our instruments of today the way we do and what we gain by tuning the pitches in this manner.

And even though our story includes thousands of years of creative output, creating the rich and varied collection of music we enjoy today, this silent architectural structuring of our pitches has yet to vary very far from its origins. Founded on earthly natural sounds and as we'll soon see, its scientifically measurable acoustical properties, we've simply tweaked our tuning of this core a time or two over the millenia to arrive at today's pitch resource for the modern guitarist.

As guitarists. Turns out all we need to begin this discovery is of course built right into our instruments. We're simply going to use the pitches created by the guitar's natural string harmonics to recreate one way of how our pitches come to us. From the historical view of this, the whole theory tamale revolves around the two pitch octave interval, which lives on today in so many of our cherished American melodies.

string harmonics video

Our story begins at the blacksmith's shop. One source of our present day organization of music comes to us as part of a package deal often described under the broad heading of Western Civilization. We can trace this thread back through European history to the Romans and even further back through to the Greeks, whose philosopher Pythagoras and his people, dating from around 530 B.C.E. or so, laid the foundations for many of our present day ways of taking care of business.

"The key to the future of the world is finding the optimistic stories and letting them be known."

Pete Seeger

Grout, Donald Jay. A History of Western Music, p. 10. W.W.Norton and Company Inc. New York, 1960.

 

Aebersold, James and Slone, Ken. Charlie Parker Omnibook. New York: Atlantic Music Corp., 1978. I know this is a troubling stand to take but I felt I had to and as jazz player, I based it on Charlie Parker's compositions in the Omnibook. Find a copy, count the number of tunes, then compare the number of major key to minor key songs. Any real book of popular American song, by a mix of composers, will follow along similar lines in this regard.regard.

So why a perfect 11th? Simply in that this is the same pitch above our root as the perfect fourth, just now moved up an octave. Again we bump into the idea that with the colortones, the music theory of the natural diatonic 11th is usually more about chords than melody. Thus, having an 11th usually implies that we also have some sort of 9th in our chord. And having a 9th implies we've a 7th in the chord as well. 'The finger bone's connected to the hand bone, the hand bone's connected to the wrist bone' ... all in a perfectly closed loop. Ex. 1.

color tones
chords
melody
loops of pitches
numerical scale degrees
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
two octave C major scale
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
C
arpeggio degrees
1
.
3
.
5
.
7
.
9
.
11
.
.
.
15
C major arpeggio
C
.
E
.
G
.
B
.
D
.
F
.
.
.
C

"Blues is the roots, everything else is the fruits." 'Howlin' Wolf.'

Theory names: This half step above the tonic is often simply referred to by its numerical designation. Generally we'll use the sharp (#) when ascending away from the tonic and the flat (b) designation when descending towards our tonic pitch. I also call this pitch a blue note, but I'm probably the only one that does.

half step
music notation