Wicked Game - Is it really dorian?

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by Guran, Sep 24, 2009.

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  1. slowpinky

    slowpinky Tele-Afflicted

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    The terms modality and modal harmony mean different things. Modality refers to the diatonic modal character of a composition.
    Ron Gorow(Hearing and Writing Music) explains modal harmony however as being the harmonisation of any modal tone with any chord that contains that tone - whether it belongs in the mode or not.
    Interesting..I always thought that modal harmony was like, the way McCoy Tyner would voice lead diatonic 4ths throught the dorian scale - but apparently not exclusively.

    There are plenty of examples in Gregorian Chant for example where the modal centre remains ambiguous.

    I can hear a nice overtonal balance in the Chris Isaak's tune - which gives it that modal ambiguity. I think OP's original point is alluding to where the modal root note is right?...not so much about what different modes that are possible on each chord.....

    Anyway the guitar line starts on F# on a Bm chord and descends by step through the first tetrachord of Bm to a B on the E chord. Both key melody notes are 5ths - which balances the 'function' of each chord to me.
    But the melody also feels Bm to me - simply because of its motion from dominant to tonic - so we get this melodic dominant to tonic with the counterweight of a harmonic i- IV (or if v-I the melody would be 9th to 5th)

    I think Strat's point about Bm -E not having to equate to a ii V is absolutely right - except that in this case the E gets the lions share of the bar lengths - so here's another question. Does it have to resolve? I hear the progression as Bm - but throwing its weight toward the E in order to foil a typical resolution - but i dont hear it resolving on E at all.

    bTW Strat, I always thought it was the chord at the end, not the melody note that determined the key - otherwise wouldnt everything end on a root note? I may have misunderstood that.
     
  2. WickedGTR

    WickedGTR Friend of Leo's

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    Funny, I never really considered what key it was was until years later. When I was coming up with the guitar part, I was reacting to the melody and the chords, and trying to make it flow together as a song.

    Usually the starting point to playing guitar on a song is 'what key is this in', but I guess I didn't even consider that on this song. Sometimes I'll just do the opposite and ignore the chords to a song (especially if they are 'busy') and just focus on the key.

    While the bm and E can both feel at 'home', I noticed that if you play a 'blues lead' over the chords to the song, it works in B, but not in E, which leads me (unscientifically) to believe the key is B minor.

    I did take a reasonable amount of music theory in high school, but I'm not sure which mode it's in.... and I know the difference between keys and modes.

    One thing I remember that the teacher (a jazz guy) told us was that a melody can contain notes within the key in a song, as well as any other note... if it 'works'.
     
  3. strat a various

    strat a various Friend of Leo's

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    There is an old rule of thumb, older than any of us, that the last melody note is the root of the key signature. This is accurate 95% of the time, at least with tunes that have lyrics. This is how good singers who don't really play an instrument used to determine their key when working with new sidemen or sitting in with other combos.
    The failure of this rule happen when the last note reflects the relative minor or Major instead of the nominal key (Amin vs C)
    To mention a familiar tune, Eleanor Rigby is in a minor key, (has that perfect 6th thing going on, too) but ends on the root note of the relative Major. This isn't really an exception, because it's the same key signature, so you can say that 95% of the time, the last note of the melody can be the root of the key or the root of the relative minor, either one.
    Speaking of Beatles tunes, there are at least two, if I remember correctly, that end on the V of the key instead of the root, so there are common exceptions. ("We Can Work it Out" and "And I Love Her")
    It's not very accurate that the last chord tells you anything, from Blues to Gospel to Jazz, ending on the IV is quite common, throws that theory right out. Cajun music, too. It's an old European folk music element, so don't count on the last chord. Not to mention all the minor tunes that finally resolve to one last Major chord.
     
  4. strat a various

    strat a various Friend of Leo's

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    There's nothing wrong with understanding music from your ear. You don't need to compose with math (unless you're Bach) or explain everything with science, music is an Art, not a calculation. We can go back and analyze, but that's not how great songs are written or great solos played. If you have a good ear, the music will find it's own place without researching theory rules and trying to adhere to them.
     
  5. jazztele

    jazztele Poster Extraordinaire

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    one thing's for certain, now that i actually sit down and play it--E major just doesn't cut it over the E chord--it wants mixolydian.

    though E still feels like home...hmmm...sweet home alabama syndrome, of a sort.

    anyway you slice it, the reason it sounds so dang good is precisely because of the approach that james took--it's a strong, strong melody, so play off of it.

    It's funny, i'm probably one of the cats here who's most guilty of analyzing everything to death, but my little dark secret is that for every song i play, the melody--no scale or whatever-- is my safety valve!
     
  6. slowpinky

    slowpinky Tele-Afflicted

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    Well 'Old' European Folk music was non-chordal in its origins so that's true -
    and it hasn't escaped me that most standard tunes end on the tonic note - I guess the Eleanor Rigby example is what Im talking about, 'All the things',' If I should lose you', 'Youd be so nice to come home to' etc are others. As you say, a number of beatles tunes Help, Hard Days night, , and others that 'fade' on a turnaround etc seem to ignore that rule -

    as for ending on chords - well of course any musician can improvise a cadence - as well as improvise the last melody note they play/sing!
    Thats pretty arbitrary.

    Harmony is only ever a perspective on the subject (the melody) but youd have to say that if theres a common melodic rule of thumb in standard harmony to resolve on I - then theres a harmonic one too - to end on the tonic chord (even a tierce de picardie change from minor to major acknowledges the original key) -and in many cases its just as natural within certain idioms to break any one those rules of thumb.
    Except that of course its easier to change perspective than to change the subject::rolleyes:
     
  7. klasaine

    klasaine Poster Extraordinaire

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    Me too. But ONLY when I (and I'm sure you too Jeff) practice ... never when I play. This is a point that I think needs to be re-emphasized in all this theory talk. The analysis is for when you're working things out - that's part of practicing.
    ... and, I try to find the 1 or 2 notes that work over the whole song or section. That's my anchor.

    *And my own little personal quest lately is to try to reduce every chord type or short sequence to a minor pentatonic set of intervals (not necessarily the 'blues box' shape). Yeah, guitaristic to be sure but hey, why not - I play guitar (besides, McCoy Tyner seems OK with it - ?).
     
  8. Joe-Bob

    Joe-Bob Doctor of Teleocity

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    I don't believe that. Why don't you post some examples?
     
  9. slowpinky

    slowpinky Tele-Afflicted

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    Last edited: Sep 25, 2009
  10. JayFreddy

    JayFreddy Poster Extraordinaire

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    Thank you! I noticed that too, so in combination with the Bm chord tones in the opening riff, it's always sounded like Bm to me too.

    Btw, I hear lots of people try to play that riff who miss one or two notes, or sometimes add an extra note... I had to slow it down to 25% speed, but I'm pretty sure I transcribed your phrasing on that tune 100%. It's just fun to play, thanks for that too.

    Speaking of which, I still need to get a copy of your latest CD. What is your preferred way for people to order the new CD from you?
     
  11. Guran

    Guran Friend of Leo's

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    When I threw this question out, I didn't think about it as having anything to do with guitar playing. It's more a matter of understanding music.

    Actually, the last line is "Nobody loves no one". Yes the chord is E, but the note seems (I'm at work now, no instrument at hand) to be, as you say, B. However, it feels like it lands on the E, not like it's left to hang.

    I think the reason that I hear it as E is that, for some unknown reason the G# note on the E chord, though seldom sung or played, is the note that cuts through to me. What I hear is the major third of the chord we spend most of the time at. In a song where the melody is mostly based on fifths, that third sticks out to me, and says it's there to point something out.

    Thanks for the insight! You sure made it flow as a song, and the fact that we are having this discussion some 20 years later tells me that the song is interesting. Or that I'm stupid... :oops:
     
  12. jhundt

    jhundt Doctor of Teleocity

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    well, I'm glad Mr WickedGTR chimed in...

    yes, my comment was 'tongue-in-cheek', because I like a little light humour now and then - especially in a deep and serious technical theory discussion.

    I never said I dislike the discussion; in fact if I didn't enjoy it, why would I read through all that stuff?
     
  13. Guran

    Guran Friend of Leo's

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    I saw both meanings of your post. In another thread I got the impression that you didn't really like discussions like this. It may well be me that interpreted it wrongly. Eventually, the wording in that thread was humoruos. I was a little put off by the fact that there's almost always someone that tells us to shut up and play. Sorry if I made you into that someone! :oops:

    You do have a point there! :)
     
  14. warmingtone

    warmingtone Tele-Holic

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    Hmmm...I wrote a long reply...but the forum deleted in some cryptic message...still, chance to do a bit of editing, or not...I think this turned out even longer! Oh well...

    ...

    This tune is very much modal in nature and a good topic to follow on from recent discussions...

    From those people probably get the idea that the note "set" as I tend to call things (the set of notes that make up the melodic and harmonic material) could be interpreted as B Dorian, A major or E mixolydian...the notes being equivalent...

    There appears to be some misunderstandings with the ideas of key signatures...this is a notational device and should be treated with caution...the best fit signature would be A major (or the relative minor key F#minor)...two sharps...

    It is clearly not in A major or F# minor despite the note choices...clearly it doesn't settle or resolve to the A chord even though the E major is a dominant 7th and the V chord in that key.

    It also doesn't use conventional functional harmony...if it is in E the V is minor (Bm)...this might occur in a natural minor key but that would mean E minor...and A minor as well...so clearly not that.

    Simply though, if you were to apply conventional harmony to it, I don't think anyone could hear it as "pulling" towards A major or F# minor.

    ...

    However it could be considered E mixolydian...it's the end chord, the E chord lasts twice that of both the Bm and A major chords, the note choice fits...there certainly could be some ambiguity, the repeating "progression" does seem to keep coming back to E.

    ...

    However, I think the song definitely sounds minor. The melody makes a clear statement in various ways of the B minor tonality, the melodic phrases end on B. This is a good reason that people should actually play the melody of the song, not just the chords when looking at things.

    It's a good example of Modal type composition, it does not have the harmonic drive of functional harmony but kind of melodically floats around a tonal environment with the harmony supporting rather than driving it. The note choice do not fit maj/min writing and functional harmony rules, nor do the chord choices.

    Because modal writing characteristically doesn't have the "drive" of functional harmony, the harmony exists just to support the melody and is drawn from the "modal environment", there isn't the "need" to end on a "tonic chord". The concept of tonics are largely a functional harmony thing.

    This answers the question posed, does a chord have to resolve...well, if you can divorce yourself from functional thinking, there is no functional harmonic drive...so no...no clear V chord, no need to resolve, etc...The E is a dominant7 chord, but there is no "pull" in it.

    ...

    Lest people think this is a lot of BS theory...typically a song writer may just put together some chords and a melody that fits, this kind of analysis is only really needed after the fact when the question is asked...a lot of it is intuitive. In fact much of Modal influences are quite strong even in functional writing and the sensibilities are quite common in pop music these days IMHO as well as more emphasis on "groove" writing.

    ...

    I can't see anyway of really considering using the g natural of E minor or B natural minor as was mentioned...it would have to be treated as an outside note as the G# is quite a dominant tone, frequently skipped in the melody but still there, but present in the harmony in the E major chord and melody which predominates...so, yep B Dorian!

    ...

    There's nothing wrong with understanding music from your ear. You don't need to compose with math (unless you're Bach) or explain everything with science, music is an Art, not a calculation. We can go back and analyze, but that's not how great songs are written or great solos played. If you have a good ear, the music will find it's own place without researching theory rules and trying to adhere to them.

    There deserves a bit of a "correction" of sorts, I did a fair bit of study and writing in 16th century counterpoint at uni and there are some "strict" rules that would make it appear a 'science'...if you adhere to the rules, it generally will sound bach-like (note these are different rules to traditional "classical" theory that is learned, some of it with some strong modal elements, many specifically melodic and treated as multiple melodic lines rather than blocks of harmony).

    The thing that was always reinforced to us with these things is the "theory" and rules came much later, Bach could improvise this kind of stuff, he wrote those rules in his compositions, he didn't write to them.

    When one writes by "ear" and essentially music is audio...but we understand it as music because of an underlying structure even if we don't know the names and ways of discussing things specifically. You don't need to know how to read or write in order to speak after all!

    ...

    I'm intrigued, hope some of these ideas come up perhaps in another thread. I am a little dubious, the pentatonic scale, even if used modally, tends to have a set M2/M3 interval structure that can only do so much...I have my own ideas about combining and overlaying them and for sure they are a powerful tool.

    ...

    You can reverse theorize...create rules and try and compose with them, sometimes with interesting results, especially if you allow your ear to make exceptions to the rules occassionally...I play with these ideas a bit.

    I also find that you can extrapolate "rules" from ideas presented in various songs. In another thread I mentioned dock of the bays entirely Major Chord sequences and the sound that creates (and can be found elsewhere in croppers writing, many of them hits)...

    the one that come to me tonight is something hendrix uses almost like montgomery slides octaves around...

    -|---|---|-5-
    -|-3-|---|---
    x|---|---|---
    -|---|---|-5-
    x|---|---|---
    x|---|---|---

    This is a stack of 5ths (similar in a way to the summers' message in a bottle chords)...I tend to hear the top not as the melody chord, but the parallel harmony seems to follow things around without question making some interesting sounds without sounding "out". Again, you can extrapolate some "rules" as to how to use these kinds of things.

    ---

    Finally, the Wicked game guitar stuff is classic...a breath of fresh air that cut through the radio at the time and is fun to play...it certainly seems to have universal appeal. WickedGTR, if you came up with that part of the song, my thanks and congratulations, it's what everyone aspires to creating!
     
  15. strat a various

    strat a various Friend of Leo's

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    This simple tune is basically a I, bVII, IV progression. I disagree with most of your points, but I'll address the most important ones. This is not a modal composition. There is no overriding mode expressed by the harmonic structure. The note set that comprises the possible solo choices throughout the piece are a "D" major scale (Not A Major) until the dissonant E7 chord which contains a Major 3rd, clearly a tension substitution for the Emin that would be the diatonic harmonized IV.

    Two sharps is D Major, not A Major. You may want to re-read your post.

    There is no way the composition is driven by E mixolydian, as the only scale that contains those notes fits over only one chord, the E7. The A is the V of "D", the bVII of Bmin. There is no modal aspect to this tune, just scales that can be retrofit to certain chords if you approach soloing that way.

    There is no "B" Dorian, the Bmin is a "B" min, the only note in an E7 scale, the Major 3rd of E, "G"# exists as a substitute chord tone during the IV.

    This tune is not a modal composition, is not "written" in either E Mixolydian or B Dorian, "A" has three sharps, and finally, when the performer weighs in to confirm that it's a B min composition, you're ignoring him, or re-phrasing B min as B Dorian because what? Does everything have to be some modal construct? Respectfully, you need to reexamine the Melody and Harmonic Structure of this tune.

    Also, what is the nature of your correction regarding my observation that Bach used mathematical elements in his compositions? Are you saying he didn't? Are you sure about that?
     
  16. charlie cash

    charlie cash Tele-Holic

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    I don't know much theory, but this thread is interesting and it has got me thinking a bit, though I am probably way off. Is it possible that the ambiguity of the key one of the things that make it work, and could it be modulating between the keys of Bm and E? What do you guys think?
     
  17. klasaine

    klasaine Poster Extraordinaire

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    I've talked about how to use the minor penta shape (set of intervals) in some older threads. Search: others uses of pentatonics. You'll probably get some hits.

    Of course it won't work for everything and if you use it exclusively you run the risk getting really boring really fast (I'm referring to music other than blues or rock). but I've found how to effectively utilize it over all standard chords (maj, min, dom, alt.dom and m7b5).

    *I haven't actually played 'Wicked Game' since the late 90's but when I did I never thought of it as anything but a Bm tune - ?
     
  18. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    Without knowing the song and just going on the symbols I-IV-v, I can suggest another concept from classical music: mode mixture. Mode, here, refers to the major and minor modes. Not to be confused at all with dorian, etc. If you are in a major key then have a few bars of v, iv, III, or VI, but not moving the tonal center, then mode mixture can sometimes be the most efficient way of explaining these chords.

    Can someone explain how this song relates to a movie? I'm missing something important, I can tell.
     
  19. fezz parka

    fezz parka ---------------------------

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    The I/VII/IV thing works, as well as the "Sweet Home Alabama" comparison. But Jimmy's right on, play blues over it, and it can't be anything but Bm.
     
  20. Guran

    Guran Friend of Leo's

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    It was in the David Lynch movie Wild At Heart and here it is.

     
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