Grateful Dead Music Forum

A place to talk about the music of the Grateful Dead 

Musical Theory Abound!!!

 #4736  by jahozer
 Thu Apr 06, 2006 8:05 am
Very quicky, I can say that classical theory and most other folkier theory to a certain extent states that I or your Tonic is the home base. You start from there, get as far away as you can, creating dissonance and tension (jazz taking it to its logical extreme), then find your way back home through resolution. Through tension and resolve you set up little journeys for the ear, intriguing it then giving it what it wants. I tend to think of it sometimes as a sexual experience, with the grinding tension of the act that feels good, but then the payoff is the release/resolution at the end. kinda weird, I know, but hey, I am convinced thats why we like music (biologically speaking).
Any way, some chords really want to resolve to I, They are called cadences and have names like perfect and imperfect. The most common are V-I (perfect, I think) and IV-I (imperfect, I think) IV-I is your typical Ahh-Mennnn ending at the end of hims. and some have little mini resolutions to each other, but generally leading to that big ol Gspot tornado at the end leading to I. VII has so much tension in it that if you leave it hanging, with out resolving to I, the listener will not like it and will feel unfulfilled...Kinda like, well, you know.
Anyway, other people can explain this much better than I can and there are some awesome maps you can use that I found off of this site.
There is a simple map:
Then the macdaddy map...

 #4737  by waldo041
 Thu Apr 06, 2006 8:38 am
Last edited by waldo041 on Thu May 14, 2015 2:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

 #4739  by HOWEYMAN
 Thu Apr 06, 2006 8:50 am
Waldo and everyone

Thanks for answering my questions. I'm trying to become an acomplished soloist and the answers are filling the gaps of all this information I am taking in. Again, thanks People.

 #4740  by jahozer
 Thu Apr 06, 2006 9:01 am
I Tonic - Major
ii Supertonic - minor
III Mediant -minor
IV Subdominant -major
V Dominant - major
VI Submediant or -diminished
VII Leading tone - augmented
I am wrong in that the vi is minor, and the the VII is diminished
that site in the above post gives and excellent explanation of modal theory.

 #4741  by sarraqum
 Thu Apr 06, 2006 9:40 am
Referring to the "maps" mentioned above, is this a rule thats set in stone as far as chord progressions go or does it just give your song a better sound?
Other question is, G chord is what jahozer refers to as a dominant chord in C scale but I don't see C leading to G anywhere on the map. How come?

The map itself gives a lot of insight but still....thought I'd ask.

 #4742  by jahozer
 Thu Apr 06, 2006 10:19 am
There is one rule:
These are guidelines to experiment with. I think that you do not see a I-V movement represented in the map because V almost always wants to resolve to I. It may take its time getting there, through IV and whatnot, but it does. Its a bit confusing, I know. Take it with a grain of salt. It is easier if you sit with your guitar and try playing around with each motion, and see how it feels. You will notice the changes wanting to resolve in different places. Experienced players will often say to each other, "you'll 'feel' the changes".

 #4743  by waldo041
 Thu Apr 06, 2006 10:37 am
Last edited by waldo041 on Thu May 14, 2015 2:50 pm, edited 2 times in total.

 #4744  by jahozer
 Thu Apr 06, 2006 10:57 am
Thanks Waldo...
I love talking about this stuff, as it helps me get it straight in my head. Heady Heady Esoteric stuff indeed.
And yes, you are absolutely correct. the Roman numerals should be upper case for major and lower case for minor.
Now, harmonic and melodic minor is where I get a bit lost and would love to furthur the discussion and hopefully allyall can help me finally get it into my old tie dyed moth-eaten washrag of a brain... :x

 #4745  by waldo041
 Thu Apr 06, 2006 11:10 am
Last edited by waldo041 on Thu May 14, 2015 2:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

 #4751  by HawaiianDedhed
 Thu Apr 06, 2006 5:14 pm
Not to pile on what has become a mountain of information, but simply running scales is too simplistic an approach to soloing, particularly when analysing a player like Jerry. Remember, Jerry began playing bluegrass, he thus never forgot about the SONG. A song is made up of a melody and harmony. That is, a melody and CHORDS.

For example, take the beginning of the solo to Touch of Grey. Jerry is simply playing chord tones (B - F# - B - E - A - E. . .) While we could indeed describe these notes in terms of scales, that would only complicate and confuse things by adding notes Jerry never intended. Another good example would be the intro to Uncle John's Band. While you could view it as playing the G major/mixo scale, a much clearer view of the notes is obtained from the perspective of 'painting' chords (G Bm C D).

Scales are important, particularly when adding color and suprises, but they are used in conjunction with the chords being played. To simply look at every song as a vehicle to rip scales (and modes - a fancy name for altered major scales) is to forget that each song should be a unique entity unto itself.

 #4762  by jahozer
 Fri Apr 07, 2006 8:57 am
That is an excellent point, Hawaiian Deadhead. It also illustrates nicely several of the points brought up in this thread.

One being a perfect example of the Dead and particularly Jerry?s folk based writing style and how there really are no rules or at least there are but they are made to be broken. Something the Jerry did constantly, but understood them all.

So following Jerry?s lead, its important to understand them to know when they are being broken!
Take for example the lines you mention that Jerry plays during the beginning of Touch of Gray.

You will fall on your face if you approach this with a ?what scale is he playing? attitude. Because the chords F# B EA denote that it is not staying within one key, but spanning 2.

I know this because by understand the major, minor harmonic relationships between chords in a given key. Using the degrees in the above posts, when I see the chords BA and E, I think I am in the Key of E. I know that B is the V, A is the IV and E is the I. If the F# were a minor, I would confirm that the key is indeed E. The F#minor would be the ii of E. It is not, however, it?s a major F#, so this tells me that I need do what the jazz cats would call playing through the chords.

While Jerrys line is a composed piece and not really a solo per se, if you were to try to improvise over those chords, you could not just pick a scale or a mode. You could pick a scale for each chord and play at least two different scales. You r choices would be to play in the keys of either F# and E or B and A. Or you could play a different scale over each chord. F# B A and E?

Or you could do what Jerry chose to do and arppegiate each chord as it passes.
I am feeling small and rather insignificant at this point?

 #4765  by tigerstrat
 Fri Apr 07, 2006 10:29 am
word :smile:

 #4796  by dpmphoto
 Sun Apr 09, 2006 6:45 pm
uhhhh I think fire is in B not E

 #4801  by jahozer
 Mon Apr 10, 2006 5:06 am
dpmphoto wrote:uhhhh I think fire is in B not E
A major is not included in the scale of B. It is included in the scale of E, though. FOTM is the V (B) and IV (A) of the key of E. Jerry mostly plays B mixolydian over that, which is the E major scale starting on the V.

 #5713  by qiuniu
 Sun May 21, 2006 9:14 pm
HawaiianDedhed wrote:...simply running scales is too simplistic an approach to soloing, particularly when analysing a player like Jerry. Remember, Jerry began playing bluegrass, he thus never forgot about the SONG. A song is made up of a melody and harmony. That is, a melody and CHORDS.
I quite wholeheartedly agree here. In an interview of Jerry I read he said his first task in most solos was to find the melody for the lead. Essentially (for beginners) he would find the notes that sounded like the words, and that would be homebase and then he would noodle from there and then come back to it to wrap it up.