UnderGround Forums
 

SoundGround >> Progressive Bluegrass - Strength in Numbers


2/6/13 5:18 AM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
jman
560 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Edited: 02/06/13 5:33 AM
Member Since: 1/1/01
Posts: 13367
 
Crazy to see this kind of talent on one stage in a group called Strength in Numbers (basically the best session musicians in Nashville at the time). Mark O'Conner supposedly wrote this song when he was 16. Oh yeah he's "not" really a guitar player (although won the National Flatpicking contest in the USA I think) but nobody doubts he is the best fiddle player in Nashville. Oh yeah...did I mention Bela Fleck...not even getting into the other guys onstage. WOW~~~

As far as the "progressive" (FRAT warning for non-music theory nerds):

- The "head" of the song uses E 6/9 (no 3rd) and E Sus 2 chords on the guitar and modulates between E major and E minor (both of those chords can work over E minor or major...hence the no 3rd in each chord).

- Bela Fleck's solo is in 15/4 meter. Em is played for 7/4 and A is 8/4 add them up and it is 15/4 (just count it out when listening).

- On the outro of Bela's solo, they play the bridge section in 7/4 meter (just count to 7).

- There are some other things, but I'll let you dig into those.



2/6/13 8:05 AM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Ali
703 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 1/1/01
Posts: 9574
Unbelievable musicians. And yeah, O'Connor not "really" a guitar player really pisses me off! Damn!

I used to see Bela Fleck hanging around a coffee shop when I was living in Nashville. He's much smaller, but I always did a double take mistaking him for Mike Stern. Must've been the bangs! I used to know Jeff Coffin pretty well, who played sax in the Flecktones. Jeff went to North Texas for music school, and I watched him get better and better after he got back to Nashville.

That "missing 3rd" in the head arrangement is really typical of lots of jazz writing; especially (maybe) Wayne Shorter, who wrote a lot of the very opened-ened, cool tunes for the 1960s Miles Davis quintet. It allows for crazy directions in improvisation without going "out" -- because there's not an "in" established, you can just suggest so many keys!

And I have to dig more deeply into this and do the time-signature counting.... thanks for letting us know what to look for there, jman.

This is really cool music!
2/6/13 9:48 AM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
jman
560 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 1/1/01
Posts: 13369
Awesome, please tell us some more Nashville stories!!! lol @ the Mike Stern reference, never noticed it, but yeah that hair.
2/6/13 11:49 AM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Ali
703 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Edited: 02/06/13 11:52 AM
Member Since: 1/1/01
Posts: 9576
Nashville... strangely when I was there it was like Indie Rock Capital. You'd have to really "know" the out of the way places to hear country music live; the studios were there, the stars lived there, but the live scene, not so much. There was also a big "songwriters night" or "in the round" kind of thing going on.

I didn't just see Fleck hanging out all the time, just a few times. And John Hiatt once that I recall, kind of hiding in a VIP section. Kim Richey, Matthew Ryan were two people who got record contracts that I sort of knew "before" they got out there.

Jeff Coffin I got to see with Mark Feldman (violinist with John Abercrombie, among other things), and Viktor Krauss, who later played bass with Frisell sometimes. I saw later that he got the Flecktones gig, and sometimes plays as a sub for that annoying guy (Dave Matthews).

Edgar Meyer, who is playing bass on the vid you posted I think, was the standard virtuoso/ridiculous bass guy. Most of his music is "new age", and he did a fairly boring solo bass version of Bach cello suites. But he sure can play.

I think O'Connor is just great. Great violinist, great guitarist, great writing... he's really a gem among gems. Fleck is of course ridiculous -- I usually prefer the more old-school bluegrass from him. Most of the time when I hear the Flecktones I think... dude, it's a banjo. You sound like Al DiMeola if he had a banjo. It's impressive but not favorite thing. (And this is too general, because of course some of that music is wonderful).

But some of his collaborations kill me. He did some records with African musicians that I thought were great. That and the early bluegrass stuff is my favorite of his.
2/6/13 9:37 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
jman
560 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 1/1/01
Posts: 13372
Cool I'd love to hear some of the African stuff if you can find it.

Post anything you like on this thread regarding Nashville players, thanks!
2/7/13 1:05 AM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Ali
703 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Edited: 02/07/13 1:05 AM
Member Since: 1/1/01
Posts: 9578
The album "Throw Down Your Heart" is the one I've listened to. (I even have a copy... somewhere 'round here... I think....)

I could find a couple tunes on youtube. Here's the title track:



There seems to be a bunch of video footage -- like he did a documentary of his work with African musicians? I'm not sure. I see a bunch on the 'tube, but I haven't yet spent time figuring out how good it is, or which clips are particularly good. To be revisited.
2/7/13 3:47 AM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
jman
560 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Edited: 02/07/13 3:53 AM
Member Since: 1/1/01
Posts: 13374
wow I could listen to that all day long, sounded great

The thing to me that is so fascinating with African music is the rhythms (yes cliched but let me elaborate).

This song in in 9/8 - 123,223,323 or you could call it 3/4 - 1,2,3. It also has a feel of almost 6/4 at times - 1,2,3,4,5,6. The beauty of African rhythms is how they can play all of these polyrhythms (or implied polyrhythms) and it all melds so well together.

Now 12/8 is what I am used to hearing for African ployrhythm stuff. With that meter, you can break it down into so many polyrhythms just using multiples of the 1/8 note subdivision of the beat:

12/8 - 123,223,323,423
6/4 - 12,22,32,42,52,62
3/4 - 1234,2234,3234
2/4 - 123456,223456

Terry Riley used a lot of this stuff in his Minimalist Music in the 70's after traveling around the world exploring African and Asian music.

2/7/13 12:01 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Ali
703 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 1/1/01
Posts: 9579
"Throw Down Your Heart" is really good, the best Fleck I've heard. Of course that's a matter of taste and collaborators, too, but he's one of those "can do anything" sorts of players and he's got the interest, cash, and guts to go seek out "foreign" music and learn as much as he can by playing with those guys.

Terry Riley did get there early, didn't he? Steve Reich became a big deal in minimalist circles because of African rhythm studies, too.

And there were some jazz guys in the 60s... Coltrane played with Olatuunje and did the "Africa Brass" sessions. There was lots of Cuban music being integrated into Dizzy Gillespies stuff in the 40s (among others), which is ultimately "African" rhythms, though shaped through the diaspora, clearly...

I've read, though I don't know, that Beethoven was listening to Turkish music and learning rhythmic things from that. (Unfortunately it was a claim in an essay about multi-culturalism generally, and didn't give any pointers to what music the author had in mind). It goes as far back as we've been listening to each other!
2/8/13 10:27 AM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
DasBeaver
93 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 3/28/02
Posts: 13811
Incredible, thanks for tearing this music apart and posting all this great material, I haven't heard any of it.
2/8/13 10:45 AM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
hugomma
967 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 4/5/10
Posts: 2706

You guys make it tough to know exactly where to VTFU.  Thank you Jimmy & Ali.  And you too, Beave.  You're pretty cool too.

2/8/13 10:55 AM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Ali
703 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 1/1/01
Posts: 9580
Here's a little teaser for the movie. Bela is yet another person who uses "literally" to mean "not literally":



Otis Taylor did a record called "Recapturing the Banjo" which was inspired by a similar point (i.e., banjo is an African instrument which has since become stereotyped as a white, southern thing). Only is record is more blues, not a trip back to the roots country. He's also not a banjo virtuoso -- he has five other guys playing banjo on that record.

Here's a classic:

2/8/13 4:08 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
jman
560 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 1/1/01
Posts: 13378
Wow, I never realized the banjo originally came from Africa, I'll have to look out for the documentary with Bela.

That's a beautiful thing about America being the "melting pot". From the Irish music making its way and spawning into Country Western and Bluegrass to the African songs evolving slowly into blues and jazz...it's fun to see musical evolution in action.
2/8/13 9:46 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Ali
703 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 1/1/01
Posts: 9581
I'm not sure the instrument you and I would recognize as a banjo really did come from Africa... it's one of those claims which comes down to "what's a banjo?"

The clip from Fleck's trip show his "maybe this is the first..." And lots of people cite the kora as a proto- banjo.

Wikipedia is fairly helpful, actually, if you really want to get into origins and credits.

What I think Otis Taylor gets right, and non-controversially right, is the African-American provenance of much banjo music. "Bluegrass" was an invention of Bill Monroe, and isn't particularly old (of course it comes out of more traditional musics -- what we call country and jazz).

I'll use this as an excuse to post another one or two tunes from the Taylor record (if I can find my favorites on youtube), and maybe some electronica with a kora... or something. (I need excuses to post more music, of course).
2/8/13 9:51 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Ali
703 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 1/1/01
Posts: 9582
This is at least as much about guitar as anything... but there is banjo. And it's on Otis Taylor's banjo record. And it's maybe my favorite version of a very familiar tune....

2/8/13 9:59 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Ali
703 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Edited: 02/08/13 10:05 PM
Member Since: 1/1/01
Posts: 9583
And with the banjos much more up-front... this is maybe my favorite tune from the Recapturing the Banjo record. It is a bit too intense -- a variation on the idea (lyrically) of Robert Johson's "Hellhound On My Trail" maybe... and maybe jman can count the polyrhythm on banjo arrangement for me. No pressure or anything. I just can't do it (or won't be bothered with the homework!)

Just listening is the point, though. Really.



Let me know what you guys think. I'm just curious (I have vague ideas about who might like what, but I'm not at all confident!)
2/8/13 10:14 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Ali
703 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 1/1/01
Posts: 9584
When Fleck (or Taylor) says the banjo originated in Africa... well, I'm a bit skeptical without a whole lot more explaining, which is why I referred the interested reader to the wikipedia banjo article. But ONE of the common claims is for the kora an ancestor to the banjo. I get that as far as the sound of the instrument, and that kora music must have been in the ear of the earliest African-American banjo musicians. But the kora itself is not a fretted instrument, played more like a harp.

Here's Foday Musa Suso with the jazz drummer (God) Jack DeJohnette:

2/8/13 10:30 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Ali
703 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 1/1/01
Posts: 9585
And sorry if this taking it all too far afield... I'll try to reel it in after this post. But here's the above tune as a "remix" which I posted on an Electronic Music thread on the OG not too long ago.

Heads-up warning for DasBeaver -- you might feel like some hippie on E will sneak up behind you for a hug if you listen to this one without a small mirror.

2/8/13 10:45 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Ali
703 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Edited: 02/08/13 10:47 PM
Member Since: 1/1/01
Posts: 9586
Ok, reeling it all back in...

Mark O'Connor was National Flatpicking champion, as jman mentioned in the first post. That really does mean he was a world class guitarist as a teenager. And... also as jman mentioned, that's not his primary instrument. He's a fiddler.

Of the big guys I got to hear in Nashville when I lived there no one impressed me more than this guy:

2/8/13 10:51 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Ali
703 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Edited: 02/08/13 10:52 PM
Member Since: 1/1/01
Posts: 9587
and getting away from bluegrass maybe, but keeping it squarely with Mark O'Connor and fiddle... here's some serious blues:



Mark O'Connor - Violin
Frank Vignola - Guitar
Jon Burr - Bass

Reply Post

You must log in to post a reply. Click here to login.