Thursday, November 3, 2022

"Nemesis Tori" by Gregory Francis (part 3 of 3)


- - - Part III - - -


TIMON DATE (TD) = TD-41999.358.0713

(Christian Date = 1999 AD, 7 days till years end, 7:13 a.m.)


                   "Fears from afar

              Killing many Holy ones -

              Spears made of stars

              A Testament in quantum sums -"

                            The Day of our Lord 9:19, v,5


  (Seventh Decription, WC-ARC-DIV.)

Content in the knowledge that theirs was superior, a secret sect, affiliated with a branch under control of the advocates of the New Order, initiated the final sequence of commands that would loose upon the world a wave of stars, setting them down upon the cities of their adversaries, reducing them in the cleansing nuclear fires. To them, no choices were left. One course only remained. With their masses starving, their allies turning away from them, the Common Market closing them off from the economic flows of the world, their lifeblood was swiftly draining away. What was there to loose? What could justify continuing such an existence? 

Friday, July 29, 2022

"Nemesis Tori" by Gregory Francis (part 2 of 3)

NEMESIS TORI (part 2 - find part one HERE)

- - - Part II - - -


TIMON DATE (TD) = TD-28999.280.2220

(Christian Date = 11,001 BC, 80 days till year's end, 10:20 p.m.)


Deep in the Sides of the North are hidden the Machines,

Disciples of the New Religion -

Start to see meaning in the seams -

That sew hot fabrics close together -

Forming patterns on their elemental reams.

                            Denominations 9:18


  (Mountain Archives, Edonos)


"Man should not play God!" Jahamon Gabrali pressed through clenched teeth. He was a devout student of The Path. How could the simple readouts on a computer screen challenge his faith thus? 

For many centuries, The Path had been accepted as the only true belief. It was the very Word of God! None could challenge its simple laws leading to a cleaner, healthier, happier life. And unlike most of the secondary religions, its references to bygone times were backed up with hard archaeological evidence. From the emergence of Man through the destruction of paradise by the flood, to the eventual reclamation of the land by wandering men.

Monday, July 18, 2022

The Music of "ELVIS" (2022 film)

The new movie about the life of Elvis Presley - the King of Rock-n-Roll - hit the Big Screen after premiering at the Cannes Film Festival on May 25, 2022, has received rave reviews, and as of this writing has grossed over $180 million worldwide.

The film stars Austin Butler as Elvis and Tom Hanks as Col. Tom Parker.

I thought it was an excellent time to share some of the music of The King! We'll start with "Heartbreak Hotel" (his very first #1 hit), as well as other rockers like "Hound Dog" (another #1 hit), and "Teddy Bear" (also a #1 hit), plus and a couple of ballads like "Love Me Tender" (#1 hit) and "Can't Help Falling in Love" (also #1 and an early '60s release), and finally his last #1 hit on the main Billboard charts, "Suspicious Minds" (from 1969).

"Heartbreak Hotel" Elvis Presley (1956)

E - - - /E - - - /E - - - /E7 - - - /
A - - - /A7 - - - /B - - - /E - - - /

Monday, June 6, 2022

Sonic Sorcery: "Top Gun Anthem"

In honor of the new "Top Gun: Maverick" movie, I'd like to re-wind the clock to 1986 and the original "Top Gun" movie, featuring a gorgeous theme song, the "Top Gun Anthem", written by Harold Faltermeyer and Steve Stevens.

For a quick backdrop, Harold Faltermeyer is a German composer who was discovered at a young age by producer & composer Giorgio Moroder (with whom he worked on a number of projects). Faltermeyer became hugely famous when he wrote & performed the song "Axle F" for the movie "Beverly Hills Cop" starring Eddie Murphy.

Steve Stevens is best known for his work with Billy Idol and at the time had recorded Billy's first two albums ("Billy Idol" and "Rebel Yell") and was in he studio with Billy recording "Whiplash Smile". Steve went on to record with many others, including Michael Jackson, and appeared on-stage for Live Aid playing guitar with the Thompson Twins alongside Nile Rodgers and Madonna.

Harold and Steve won a Grammy in 1987 for "Top Gun Anthem" for Best Instrumental Pop Performance.

So, to the music!

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Sonic Sorcery: Chromatic Descent with Bob Dylan's "Feel My Love"

Bob Dylan is a man of many talents and, musically, of many lives. 

With a career spanning 60-odd years, with classic songs coming from almost every decade, collaborations with other music legends, 125+ million records sold (with 32 of his 80+ album netting gold or platinum status in the US), Academy Award and Golden Globe alongside his 10 Grammy Awards & countless Grammy nominations (as well as both a Pulitzer Prize and a Nobel Prize for Literature, & other accolades), and much more, Bob Dylan's name & work is written, as it were, into the very stone of modern western culture.

In 1997 he wrote and recorded a song called "Make You Feel My Love" that has since been covered by over 400 artists, with charting versions from Billy Joel (who performed the first commercial release, peaking at #9), Garth Brooks (peaking at #8), and most recently by Adele in 2008 (charting in 10 countries and peaking at #1).

The song has a beautiful descending chromatic line we'll discuss in a moment, and an unusual but compelling chord progression.

Lets jump right in!

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Sonic Sorcery: The Dark Arts of "Every Breath You Take"

From the mind of the man who brought us "Roxanne", "Message in a Bottle", "King of Pain", "We'll Be Together", "All This Time", "Fields of Gold", "Desert Rose", and more (over 60 charting singles in all, with 20 platinum selling albums and over 100 Grammy, MTV, AMA, & other major award nominations with 46 wins and a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame), Sting is among the most prolific & critically acclaimed artists ever, as well as one of the best selling artists of all time.

The song "Every Breath You Take" - which was written in 1982 at Ian Fleming's writing desk at Goldeneye Estate in Jamaica - was released in 1983 and became a Top 10 hit in 19 countries (topping the charts in 6), won 2 Grammys & other major awards, is ranked #84 on Rolling Stone's "500 Greatest Songs of All Time" list, and more.

Quick note: The song was written in A, but performed with instruments tuned 1/2 step down. However, I'll refer to the song in the key of A for simplicity.

No time to dally! Let's look right at the chart, and then we'll discuss the progression, the chords, the modulations, and the lyrics!

Monday, August 30, 2021

Sonic Sorcery: Modulations featured in "Instant Karma!"

This fabulous song was released in 1970 by John Lennon and is often cited as one of the fastest released songs in pop music history, as the it was written, recorded, and released in a mere 10 days. John Lennon wrote the lyrics & music, and it was produced by Phil Spector, with Beatles bandmate George Harrison on guitar as well as a cast of all star musicians.

The song was an instant hit, peaking at #3 on Billboard in the US, and becoming the first post-Beatles million seller by any of the band members.

Let's dive in with the chart:

"Instant Karma!"

A - - - /F#m - - - /A - - - /F#m - - - /
A - - - /F#m - - - /F - G - /A - - - /
D - - - /Bm - - - /D - - - /Bm - - - /
C - - - /Am - - - /D - - - /E7 - - - /

G - Bm - /Em - - - /G - Bm - Em - - - /
G - Bm - /Em - - - /D - - - /E7 - - - /

A - - - /F#m - - - /A - - - /F#m - - - /
A - - - /F#m - - - /F - G - /A - - - /

Sooo...what's happening here? That seems like a lot of random chords, but really its a very simple progression that just moves to different keys.

The opening two lines of the verse is A to F#m, which is a simple major to relative minor switch.

The third line is D to Bm, while the fourth starts with C to Am...both of which are the exact same progression as A to F#m (which is in the key of A, while D to Bm is the key of D, and C to Am is the key of C).

So its really a 2 chord vamp played in 3 different keys. The F to G to A in the second line is just a transition, as is the last section o fboth verse & chorus (the D to E7 change).

The chorus builds on the same idea, but instead of a straight G to Em, it adds a Bm for half the measure to make a G - Bm /Em - - - (the same vamp again, but in the key of G).

So what we see here is Lennon building an entire song on what amounts to a 2 chord idea moved across 4 keys, with a couple of transitions for spice.

Ponder that idea.....and then take a look at anything you've written with, for example, G - Em - C - D. How can you spice things up using this gift John Lennon has handed us?

Monday, August 23, 2021

Sonic Sorcery: The Fearless Modulations of "Good Vibrations"

In the third installment of this series, we took a look under the hood, as it were, at The Beach Boys song "Surfer Girl" which, harmonically speaking, is a gorgeous run through diatonic exploration. While it does possess a key change at the end (shifting up 1/2 step from D to Eb), the pay-dirt is really found in the prosody between the chord progression and melody.

By contrast, "Good Vibrations" (written just 3 years after "Surfer Girl" was released) leaps into the fires of modulation (aka: key change) with no reservations at all. Worthy of note: Brian Wilson was only 23 years old when he wrote this masterpiece that went on to hit #1 on the charts, be nominated for a Grammy, land on Rolling Stones "500 Greatest Songs list" at #6, and be cited as a major influence for songs like "A Day in the Life" by the Beatles and "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen (and, I suspect, much of Sting's work both solo and with The Police, which we'll examine in future installments).

Monday, July 19, 2021

GUITAR GODS: Jon Butcher

The year was 1983, the channel is MTV, and the camera pans right to left....bass player, drummer, and then settles on the guitarist for a moment as the caption appears in the lower left of the screen: Jon Butcher Axis, "Life Takes a Life". I pause, because the song moves from quasi-Terminator tech rock to open, airy chords over a steady underlying bass/drum pulse. Then the vocal comes in, which is unique, but at the moment I'm only hearing the subtle and very interesting guitar work - fills and textures and tonal coloring. The song moves through interesting stages, a post-chorus shift, a deep blues-based but contemporary guitar solo, and then fades out...and I'm mesmerized.

Worthy of note: 1983 is the year of SRV's "Texas Flood" and Billy Idol's "Rebel Yell" in addition to the debut of Jon Butcher Axis, so when Butcher was in the studio, there were no mainstream precedents for his bluesy guitar approach or fearless guitar tone explorations. But when the album hit the streets, Jon was on a short list of new players alongside Stevie Ray and Steve Stevens and Brian Setzer who dared NOT to cop Van Halen licks and party rock compositions on the rock music landscape.

That fearless approach ultimately led to 7 Top 40 singles across his first 5 studio albums, world tours with acts like J. Geils Band, Scorpians, Def Leppard, Rush, INXS, and more, national TV appearances, and a 1986 Grammy nomination for "Best Rock Instrumental" in the song "The Ritual" (alongside songs by Yngwie Malmsteen, the aforementioned Stevie Ray Vaughan, & Jeff Beck).