Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Autoanalysis (2). No Puedo Morir Ahora. The major harmonic scale.

Here goes another quick analysis of one of my tunes, in this case "No Puedo Morir Ahora" (I Cannot Die Now). I wrote and recorded this song (which you can download here) just a few days after I bought my Ovation acoustic guitar. I was completely obsessed with its sound, so round and rich, and I tried to create something specially for it, a song that was not suitable for an electric guitar. I guess that's why I sought inspiration mostly in sax or trumpet players, and not in guitar players. Whenever I play this song, I have "Naima" in my mind, and that helps me get the tone and the feeling that I like the most for this particular tune.

The musical stuff:

The main part of the song is built over the following chord progression:

D#7b5 / D dim / FMaj7 / FMaj7 / D#7b5 / D Dim / Cmaj7 / Cmaj7 / G7sus4 / G7sus4 / G / G / FMaj7 / FMaj7

C major and D diminished scales are used.

Chord progression during the bridge is:

Fm (x4) / Am (x4) (repeated twice)

Lead part is built using C major harmonic scale against the Fm chord, and A minor scale against the Am chord.

Although I like the sound of major harmonic scale, I seldom use it. However, in this case I felt that it was the perfect choice to remark the feeling of the song.

In case you do not know about this scale, I´ll try to make it part of your vocabulary by giving you a couple of easy tips on how to use it.

The major harmonic scale is, basically, a major scale (Ionian mode) with a flattened sixth.

In C, that is : C D E F G Ab B

From this scale you can form the following chords:
  • - C major
  • - D minor b5 7 (half diminished)
  • - E minor
  • - F minor
  • - G major
  • - Ab 5# (augmented chord)
  • - B minor
The most important, or, at least, the most frequently used of them it´s the iv (In C Major
harmonic, that would be Fm)

When using it for the first time, consider this:
  • iv chord is very often approached from the IV chord (Fm from F), so it makes a smooth transition from one scale to another.
  • iv chord tends to resolve over the tonic chord.
  • Two very easy ways of introducing this scale into your songs using the iv chord are:
    1. iv IV I at he beginning of a song or fragment (Used, for example, in "All Of Me")
    2. IV iv I at the end of the song or fragment (commonly used by The Beatles, which means that it can be used perfectly in a non-jazz context)
iv chord can be replaced with a Naepolitan sixth chord (bii6) but that´s not common in jazz.

The technical Stuff:

Not much to say about this. Both guitars were recorded with the same settings, using a cheap but trusty zoom 505 pedal (I could not afford any more sophisticated effects by that time...).

The non-musical stuff:

Although it might seem that this is a sad song, that's completely wrong. In fact, it is just the other way round...this is a very happy song. The title says it all: "I Cannot Die Now". As opposed to most people, who think about death just when something bad happens, I only think about it when things are all right. This song is my way of saying "my life is so intense at this moment that it would be really unfair if I died now".

Some of my most intense feelings come out in the happiest moments. I consider myself atheist (safe for some ocassional - and weak - beliefs), but if I think about God that only happens when I am happy. People usually believe in God to ask him something, but I prefer to thank him instead (asumming the he is somehow responsible for the good things that happen to me...). Lennon said that God is a concept by which we can measure our pain. For me, it is more a concept by which I can measure my own joy and happiness.

Well, let's stop here, this is getting too philosophical, and this is supposed to be a blog about jazz... ;-)

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