Music - Behind The Tunes

- First Tune

The first tune, ‘THE PURPOSE”, I wrote in the mid 1990’s while living in New Jersey. The tune is straight from the Bebop tradition with my angular approach to melody. The melody creates an ambiguous situation over the harmonies, letting us know that the potential of any purpose is all around. The melody notes of the first two measures, which are over an Eb chord, start with the third of the chord going to the flat seventh, going on to the third an octave higher before resolving down to the major seventh, and ending the two measures with a pickup note that leads to the next two measures and happens to be the flat ninth of the Eb chord it is over. This signifies the steadfast attitude any purpose encourages. In the next two measures the melody outlines the II- V7 beneath it, Ab-7 to Db7, giving sight to the possibilities our time encounters. Then it’s back to Eb for another two measures and the purpose remains before going on to G-7 and C7. Back to Eb one more time before going on to C#-7 and F#7 and resolving to B and Bb to B and Bb each for one measure. The control of our time is now in hand, we use all possibilities to fuel our vision. This whole section repeats with a tag of an additional B to Bb phrase. But it is “THE PERPOSE” itself which is central, represented here by the return to the Eb tonal center. The next section is a chromatic style Bebop line over Eb and D7 chords each for one measure for the next 16 measures. This now embodies the full realization of our diligence. Our control is all encompassing, as we freely travel between the purpose itself and outward for inspiration. With no reason to hold back, the “PURPOSE” of our time will be what we ascribe to it.

- Second Tune

The second tune, “RELENTLESS”, I wrote in the mid 1980’s while studying at The New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. The backdrop for the tune is soldiers from the turn of the twentieth century, in columns, on the march. Deliberate and devoted to their purpose.

The tune starts with a repeating bass line that shifts back and forth between the tonal centers of G and F. This bass line continues through the whole tune. The melody has the tonal center of E. The tune is in 4/4 time with a triplet feel. The intro through the first guitar solo shows this unwavering purposefulness. The following drum solo indicates the seemingly everyday attitude of the soldiers even in the face of the unknown. Out of the drum solo enters the guitar into the embellished melody in an intense tremolo picking echoing the constant of machine gun fire. The bass stays true as the soldiers march on as all hell breaks loose in a guitar attack of octaves and open strings. Out of the chaos comes the undaunted, steady rhythm of the soldiers as they march on as one. The guitar reveals the intensity with power chords, strong harmonies and open strings. All leading to a final explosion as the air is filled with brightness and sound which overcome all sense of reality.

- Third Tune

The third tune, “SHACKLETON”, is named for the great explorer Ernest Shackleton. In 1914, he and his crew of twenty seven, set sail for the South Atlantic in pursuit of the last great prize in the history of exploration; the crossing on foot of the Antarctic continent.

The tune starts with a frenzied intro, symbolic of the intense nature of the quest. The melody enters with a tonal center of E, while the four measure bass line, with a tonal center of F, repeats throughout the section. The melody is transposed to Ab and then Bb signifying the journey as the crew deals with the mounting adversity. The melody resolves back to the frenzied intro climaxing the incredible strength of their spirit and all they had endured. After being stranded on the ice for twenty months and incredibly finding their way back, the end vamp resolves back to the tonal center of E as the story sails through the ages as the greatest feat of exploration, navigation and survival in modern times.

- Forth Tune

The fourth tune, “SCUFFLE”, reveals the possibilities the events of our lives offers us. The opening intro calls to our daily theme of existence. The 4-bar melody in the ‘A’ section, which is repeated, is supported by a repeating two measure bass ostinato which depicts the daily sameness that is a person’s life. The tonality of this section, ‘G’, is stagnant, enforcing that sameness. The 4-bar melody of the ‘B’ section, which is also repeated, is supported by harmonies that move to and from any central tonal center. And in this section the bass now plays a walking line that moves us from event to event in our daily dealings.

The scuffle of life is revealed. The solo section affords us the opportunity for personal interpretation. Following the bass solo, the guitar and bass start together in unison but soon part ways as the guitar plays the notes of the line in a reverse order. When the melody returns, it is now embellished, modulated and extended. The symbolism is clear, the dealings of the events in a person’s life can be left as they are, and in that way commonplace. But once the events are realized, the scuffle seems no more. We can handle what comes our way. And the ease with which we deal with the commonplace, we can now embellish and enjoy.

- Fifth Tune

The fifth tune, ”SOMETHING ELSE”, expresses the idea that the meaning of the emotion can often change due to different surroundings. Just as words can have different meanings depending on the situation in which they’re used, so too musical notes will be affected in much the same way. In the first section, which is eight measures long, the melody is made up of a three note figure which repeats within a two measure phrasing. As the melody repeats, the supporting harmonies change, as do their tonal centers, also in two measure phrasing. The character of the three note motif is changed due to the supporting harmonies. This section is repeated. The ‘B’ section expresses the same logic, though the motif here is just two notes which moves up as the harmonies resolve down, again in two measure phrasing.

What is the same, can be different. The phenomenon of emotion is relative. It functions from the point of view through which it is perceived. And the emotion of the point of view will be directly influenced by the surroundings of the moment. So what else is it? You tell me.

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(C) Steve Young