West Meets East

West Meets East

Please give my latest work a listen, it’s a little over 8 minutes long, and like and post it. I’m getting the word out that I do this type of thing. Thank you.

Robert Abate
[email protected]
231-421-1401
robertabate.com

Green

Green

Recently I was approached by Michigan poet Robb Astor to provide a musical background for his written in Tanzania poem “Green”, here’s what we came up with:

 

green, how green

leaves of banana trees

fields

where crowned cranes danced

fields how yellow

dabs of yellow dappled fields

of african daisies

fireflies green with light

 

in darkness

shone stars i did not know

had never seen

rigel kentaurus

canopus

aldeberon

how we lay those nights

beneath the stars

show me you said

the southern cross

lost in interstices

of sky above the alleys

 

a green dress

satin shining in the shop window

your eyes in the glass

beneath old electric speakers

wired in the heights of marinets

the fullness of your hair eclipsing

clouds of magellan

 

how you danced

in midnight streets humming

that sappy bollywood music

the silhouette of you

beneath the screen and me

but oh how far from green i’ve wandered

 

how far

alcor

mizar

how cloudy my vision

all things colored

even the black mold

clinging to white stone

ruins where i used to sit

in forlorn grasses

drawing doorways in time-worn walls

Playing Melodies With Chords On The Guitar

Playing Melodies With Chords On The Guitar

This concept is very useful to guitarists regardless of any particular style or genre of music being played.  My explanation will be as simple as possible to include as many players as possible and their varied levels of music theory knowledge.  Yes, it is helpful to understand music theory when playing the guitar.

First it is important to understand that any chord that is played is in a certain key that is based on a certain scale and the chord is in a certain position in that key.  The most common scale used in Western Music is the Major scale.  The example that is going to be shown will the use an Am7 chord in the key of G Major.  The Am7 chord is based on the 2nd note in the G Major scale and the G Major scale uses all natural notes except for an F#.  The natural harmony of the G Major scale is: Gmaj7, Am7, Bm7, Cmaj7, D7, Em7, F#dim7, Gmaj7.  For you theory beginners an Am7 chord is not always in the key of G, which is another discussion.

What we are going to do is to follow the notes of a G Major scale up the 1st string on the guitar placing inversions of an Am7 chord underneath the melody note using all of the notes in the key in the melody including the notes not found in an Am7 chord.  Using this concept on the chords of the tune you are playing with the proper melody note will enable you to play melodies with chords on the guitar.

pdf Blog #16-page-001

It is best to use 3 or 4 note chords when doing this and obviously you can use the 2nd, 3rd and 4th strings for your melody note.

These kind of musical devices can be daunting for a person who hasn’t done them before, don’t let the difficulty scare you off.  If you need to find a good teacher who knows his stuff who can take the time with you to explain what you don’t understand.  Begin working.  You can do it.

 

The Love Of Music

The Love Of Music

The love of music is a wonderful thing: organic, natural and ancient.  Not only has it been an area of human focus for as long as there have been humans, it abounds and springs to life in nature.  Sound waves follow patterns inherent in the creation of the universe and can lead us to emotional conclusions that we need to be shown if we can open ourselves up to it.  It is there for you if you are willing to listen and will help fill that hole in your soul.

 

The Twenty-Third Job

The Twenty-Third Job

The Leader is my shepherd, I shall not starve

He maketh me sit down in powder blue tuxedos

He leadeth me beside shrill vocalists

He restoreth my wallet

He leadeth me in dance halls of gratuitousness

For his names sake

Yea, though I walk through the kitchen or the back hallway

I will fear no evil

For thou art paying me

Thy baton and thy charts they showcase me

Thou preparest a chair for me in the presence of mine audience

Thou countest off my chart with vigor

My beer spilleth over

Surely Goodman and Miller shall follow me all the days of my life

And I shall dwell in the house of Band forever

 

Blessed are the poor in cash, for theirs is the wedding gig

Blessed are those who blow changes, for they shall be soloists

Blessed are the sight readers, for they shall inherit the section parts

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for dinner on the break, for they shall be satisfied

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall never play an accordion

Blessed are the pure in tempo, for they shall be drummers

Blessed are the bass players, for they shall be bored

Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of playing “In The Mood” one more time, for theirs is the kingdom of Mortgage payments

Blessed are you when men revile and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my bandstand

Rejoice and be glad for your reward is great at the end of the night

For also did men persecute the trombonists who were before you.

 

Dominant Chords An Augmented 4th Apart In The Root

Dominant Chords An Augmented 4th Apart In The Root

The most powerful and most used progression in music is dropping a 5th in the root.  Anyone has merely to play a Dominant chord of a key followed by the 1st chord or Tonic of that key to understand why the monks of Europe in the Dark Ages named the 5th chord of a key Dominant.  It is an inherent rule of music that the Dominant chord leads to the Tonic.  Anyone can hear the settling of the tone center when this particular chord change is played.

#13 3rd's and 7th's REVERSEFor this particular example of chord substitution I’m going to use an E7 going to an A7 resolving to a Dmaj7.  The A7 chord in this progression is going to be substituted by an Eb7 chord which is the same chord type an augmented 4th away in the root.  You can hear in the example that this is a pleasing similar sound.  I don’t know why this works but it does.  It also happens that the 3rd’s and 7th’s of the A7 and the Eb7 are the same notes reversed in position, making the different chords quite alike.  What you can realized out of this harmonic device is a chromatically descending chord progression that is different from the cycle of 5th’s with the same amount of solidity and power.  When using this device you must adjust the chords to reflect the notes of the melody that are happening when the chord substitution is being played.

 

Chemical Reaction

Chemical Reaction

Chemical Reaction, I’m feeling kind of hot

Chemical Reaction, You know I just can’t stop

‘Cuz you’re looking kind of sexy

And whatever comes I will

Chemical Reaction, I just can’t get my fill

 

When I see you walking down the street

I see you talking to the people that you meet

I want to tell you that I love you

But I can’t get up the nerve

The nerve, the nerve, the nerve

To say it’s so

 

 

Progressions In Harmony

Progressions In Harmony

There is so much to think about when discussing chord progressions it boggles the mind.

A good starting point in understanding chord progressions is the flow inherent in most any musical piece.  Fast or slow, happy or sad, poignant or ludicrous, rebellious or patriotic each tune is built around defining the flow of the piece reflected in style, tempo, rhythmic and harmonic structure.

There are two basic overall rhythmic flow types in music: vertical and horizontal.  A good example of vertical music would be a John Philips Sousa march where the rhythm is defined by micro stops in time enforced by emphasis.  A good example of horizontal music would be a Bill Evans ballad that magically floats thru time and space.  Most tunes are somewhere in between.

Musical compositions are based on establishing a tonal center, going away from it, coming back to it.  How you do this is dictated by the style of music and the level of the composer/arranger.  There are 3 basic types of harmonic chordal progression: diatonic scale motion (Cmaj7, Dm7, Em7, Fmaj7,etc.), cycle of fifthing (C7,F7, Bb7, Eb7, etc.) and going from relative major to relative minor (Cmaj7 – Am7).  You must remember that these progression types have been noted in a simplified manner.  The amount of sophistication, creativity and inventiveness that can be applied is endless.  The goal of jazz progressions is to proceed fluidly forward with no effort.

 

Approaching The Technical End Of Music

Approaching The Technical End Of Music

When I was a young person I was always amazed by anyone who could play anything. Since I didn’t know a lot about the technical, theoretical end of music I was easily impressed by anything that sounded good to my untrained ears. I didn’t realize that that was as far as most people took it, they just liked it or they didn’t and that was all there was to it.

I wanted to play and I wanted to be good but I didn’t know how. What happened, because I didn’t understand how or why, is that I placed myself in a position of un-understanding which hindered my musical growth for many years. I hadn’t been shown and I wasn’t a savant. I lacked a good music education and my musical growth suffered until I came in contact with competent teachers who had experience and knowledge.

It took me the longest time to start writing drum parts. How could I do that? I wasn’t a drummer. It wasn’t until I asked Bill Muha, a drummer in one of my bands, for advice and he told me that drumming really clicked for him when he finally got the basic swing beat. In 4/4 time the snare on 1 & 3, the bass drum on 2 & 4 and the ride cymbal on 1, the and of 2 and 4. I went home and wrote that rhythm into my Finale software program and played it back. Lo and behold my understanding clicked. Here was a rhythmic flow defined by a combination of 3 simple parts. Granted this isn’t the end all of drumming but it allowed me to open my mind and place my feet on solid ground to proceed forward. Thanks Bill.