Wicked Game - Is it really dorian?

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

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  1. jhundt

    jhundt Doctor of Teleocity

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    When I was young I loved to watch and identify birds. I became quite adept at identifying birds. One day I saw a bird which I could not identify; I felt challenged, and for a moment I wished I had "the book" with me so that I could identify that bird. Then I had an epiphany...

    That bird would not know that we called it a "red-backed grosbeak"; in fact, the Creator himself would not call that bird "a red-backed grosbeak", he would probably call him "this particular unique bird of mine" in a language that none of us living will ever hear or know.

    I looked at a bird and I realized that it was not a "red-backed grosbeak" that I was seeing. I was seeing "the bird I was seeing". The essence of the bird was simple, pure and unique. The name was only a man-made distraction. In another language, there would be a different name; lacking any language, there would be NO name. But the bird would remain - simple, pure, and essential.

    Since then I have continued to watch and enjoy birds; we share a lot of space. Sometimes I identify them with names I remember from my youth. Mostly I just call them "birds" and enjoy their presence.
     
  2. getbent

    getbent Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I watched an interview with Roger McGuinn once where he gave a similar analogy... maybe it comes down to: creating context and meaning personally, creating a common understanding (the exception notwithstanding,) the joy of codification and classification.

    The song and guitar part in this instance appear to be beside the point for most posters... heck, one guy posted and hadn't heard the song!
     
  3. Guran

    Guran Friend of Leo's

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    jhundt - I really like your last post! (And for clarity: No, I'm not being ironic, I really mean it).

    Still I also like this discussion. Sometimes the most important point, that it's just music, becomes clearer after an in-depth analysis that doesn't really give any clear answers.

    First of all, I was the one that suggested E mixolydic, but I have also come to the conclusion that I find myself wrong. Mostly because the mixolydian sound is clearly of a dominant 7 type that isn't present in the tune. IMO you can play the E as a dominant but that's not the way it was done.

    I still get the home feeling on the E chord, and that's what I got a bit hung up on, but I also hear what you all say, that the melodic home is in B minor.

    strat a various - Yes, I see that the G# note wont sound very good over Bm, but can work over the A and is great over the E. Are you saying that each note in a given mode must be good over all the chords in a progression for it to be considered modal?

    I was thinking that even in a straight up major I-IV-V there are notes in the major scale that are quite so-and-so over each chord. On the other hand, we're not talking modality then.

    Yeah, that's probably true, but it makes it more interesting, doesn't it? :lol:

    I also want to say it again; I love to discuss stuff like this, to learn and try to understand. Still, I never analyze like this when I play or create music. Then I just play. Once in a while though, when I feel a little stuck, this kind of stuff may help me to approach something differently. Thanks to you all!
     
  4. ibobunot

    ibobunot Poster Extraordinaire

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    Yes, reading all the different perspectives was very interesting and having James Wilsey give the point of view of the composer was icing on the cake.

    As Guran said "Thanks to you all!"
     
  5. WickedGTR

    WickedGTR Friend of Leo's

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    Just to clarify- I didn't write the song, I just did the guitar parts.

    This has been interesting to me- I always thought it was a simple three chord song....
     
  6. ibobunot

    ibobunot Poster Extraordinaire

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    Co-composer?, arranger?, co-conspirator?

    Like Billy Joe Shaver said "I got a good Christian raisin' and an eight grade education" and sometimes I have to work hard to make my writing semi-coherent.

    I was struggling with that one... :D
     
  7. strat a various

    strat a various Friend of Leo's

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    That's what I think it is, a well written simple three chord song. Course, "So What" is a simple two chord song, and it's modal.
     
  8. jazztele

    jazztele Poster Extraordinaire

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    to clarify a few things i said a page or so ago...

    when i said "sweet home alabama syndrome," i meant not that this song was similar in construction, but that it was a simple 3 chord progression that can be argued over seemingly endlessly.

    as far as the "mixolydian factor," yes, the chord in the tune isw not a dominant 7th, but if I were going to improvise a solo over this progression, i would not use E major over the E chord, E mixolydian sounds better to my ears.

    then again, if i was truly going to improvise a solo over this song, i probably wouldn't think scales at all, but that's just me.

    the song is most definitely in B minor. It's a moody, minor sounding tune. I still hear the chord progression "resolving" on E though. It's not V-I cadence kind of resolution, but nothing sounds "up in the air" about ending the tune on a nice big E chord on the line "nobody...loves no one..." But certainly, the song could have also ended just before that on the slow bent note over the B minor and resolved just nicely like that on the I...er, i.

    and no, I wouldn't play dorian over that B minor chord. So a B minor idea (B minor pentatonic would work just fine,) to an A major idea, to an E major idea, either with the flat seventh or no seventh at all...my ears don't want a D# over the E chord, that's what I know for sure.
     
  9. warmingtone

    warmingtone Tele-Holic

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    ....
    ...
     
  10. ibobunot

    ibobunot Poster Extraordinaire

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    Hey, this is nothing compared to the Gear Page Playing and Technique forum
    those guys get vicious over there... :eek:
     
  11. Guran

    Guran Friend of Leo's

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    It is!

    But it's beautiful (and I sincerely hope that this thread (that I'm the culprit of) hasn't taken anything away from it for anyone)!

    Special thanks for your input WickedGTR!

    The simplicity makes it more interesting in my opinion. I have even read some very serious analysis of the solo in the Ramones' I Wanna Be Sedated. One root note played as eights over a I-IV-V. Still, in it's own right, a great solo. Well, yeah, I'm an old punk rocker though...

    It's close to 2 am here, off to bed.
     
  12. JayFreddy

    JayFreddy Poster Extraordinaire

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    Personally I never saw this as a debate. More like an investigation, and anyone who disagrees is GUILTY!! :p

    Of course I'm just kidding... ;)

    It's a simple 3 chord song: i bVII IV, in Bm. The IV major chord not only suggests Dorian on the one, it begs for it.

    Mr. Wilsey, you may have "only" contributed the guitar part, but that is without question the best part of the song, IMHO... I think you know in your heart that - without your guitar part - the song would not have been chosen for the film, and Chris Isaak would not have had much of a career. Someone else wrote the song, you MADE it. I think you are too modest to admit that, and it's probably bad form to do so, but you don't have to admit anything...

    Just enjoy basking in the glory! :lol: :D
     
  13. jbmando

    jbmando Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    In the strictest sense, since the 4 chord is major, and it would be minor in a minor key, this is B Dorian using the i, the VII and the IV. (I use lower case Roman numerals for minor and upper case for major.) If we want to write it Nashville style, I'd say 1 minor, flat 7 and 4. Around here we base the Nashville numbers on a major scale, that's why you'd have to say flat 7. In the Dorian mode, the 7th degree is already a whole step from the root, and its triad is already major, so if everybody knew the Dorian mode, you could just say 1, 7 and 4, but for the sake of clarity we'd say flat 7. Also, in B minor, the key signature of 2 sharps, the 7 is already A major, so you don't have to call it flat VII, either.
     
  14. strat a various

    strat a various Friend of Leo's

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    I'm not absolutely sure modal means what you're thinking, but on the subject of the IV chord, Jazz is full of tunes that don't adhere to conventions of Diatonic Chord Harmonies, everything is an exception. The very basis of modern Jazz, "I've Got Rhythm", I VI II V, is played, not with Maj7th, min7th, min7th, 7th, but more often 13th, 7th#9, 7th#11 and tritone sub bII, then on to III7th, VI7th, II7th, and if we're lucky, V7th.
    What chord should be there means almost nothing, it's a matter of what the melody demands, not the harmonized chords.
    I don't hold a well written tune like "Wicked Game" to any lower a standard than a Gershwin tune. And I don't respect WickedGTR any less than the Jazz players who regularly interpret simple changes in inventive ways.
    The major triad E in no way indicates that this is a modal tune.
     
  15. warmingtone

    warmingtone Tele-Holic

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    I'm also sure that Bach analyzed in many ways his own music and others to understand what it was that he liked and refine his art further...that these aesthetic decisions, his systematic use of permutations and such are the stock in trade of any musician , should correspond to identifiable patterns is not surprising.

    A composer like Bartok also used these things explicitly, however the reason he was attracted to these things was that he liked the sounds and patterns that he found after analyzing 100's of years worth of folk songs that had stood the test of time.

    The people who created and enjoyed the music enough that it stood the test of time created the "patterns" that could be mathematically described...abstract mathematical ideas really does intersect the processes of the artist and the collective appreciation of audiences over time.

    I don't know that I can type anything that would sound like anything but personal "opinion" on this subject...I was trying to explain put a perspective forward to a bland unsupported statement that something was "fact". In this form of discussion it seems that the contributor is obliged to prove that something stated is "untrue" with supporting documentation and in 2 sentences or less regardless that the original statement is unsupported.

    But...hey if it comes down to waving PHd's at each other to have an engaging discussion, I'll have to concede on these kinds of points, maybe there are some cultural differences at play
     
  16. strat a various

    strat a various Friend of Leo's

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    The original statement is a question. Is "Wicked Game" modal, specifically Dorian? I say no, for simple reasons, one being that the root chord of the tune, the basis of the first half of the melody, doesn"t reflect a Dorian mode. This discussion would be a lot more interesting if some theory student dug up a cite from a theory tome that supports the conjecture that a tune need not be based on a mode to be modal, or that the first half of a tune can be composed in a different key center, but when that last half comes around ... Dorian.
    I'm not a theory professor, if there are any out there, come on with the facts, if not, it's all a bunch of opinions. I suggest mine are better supported by the melody/ chords/ original player's insight. I stand ready to be corrected by any evidence that better defines modal composition. That a note found somewhere in a B Dorian scale appears over the third chord of the piece or that a tension chord replaces a predictable one is no proof of modal writing, or structure. Aren't there any college students out there with a working knowledge of theory and a text book handy?
     
  17. ibobunot

    ibobunot Poster Extraordinaire

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    Hey... something we can all agree on... :D
     
  18. warmingtone

    warmingtone Tele-Holic

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    The "evidence" presented that a modal analysis is a "best fit" is that all the melodic and harmonic notes are diatonic the entire Dorian mode throughout the piece.

    All the chords are predictable to the Dorian mode, the tensions in it are what makes the dorian mode characteristic.

    The same principle that we would say a piece is "major" in that all the chords and melody notes derive from that scale, regardless of which notes fit over any particular chord.

    There are insights in considering other ways of looking at things, I took some time in going through them, but in the end there is a "best fit" analysis IMHO.

    We are not looking at the thought processes of the performer or the approach of the writer in analysis, it's looking to find ways of describing things after the fact.

    Not that it should preclude anyone, but I am a continuing student of theory with 5 years of university training and textbooks handy, but it doesn't take that much to ascertain the tone set used in a tune and identifying it by name.

    If you approach things with a theoretical bias of how things are explained, you will hear it that way.

    The intention of all these modal posts of mine of late is to put forward that there are ways of hearing the modes as their own unique tonal environments and can be understood by their own rules, that these things are not particularly "out there" sounding, and those elements that may have "modal" qualities in this tune may well be an example.

    ...

    You can dress a bird up in a chord theory tuxedo and call it a penguin, but underneath it all that you may well find a duck.
     
  19. jbmando

    jbmando Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Yes, jazz is replete with non-conventional music, but this is a rock song. I was merely going by what notes and chords are used in the song. If you wrote it out in Bm, you'd have to use an accidental every time you got to the E, so I'd rather say that it is B Dorian, which is essentially a minor sounding mode anyway. That way, you know the 4 will be major. And I would say it's in B minor if I were at a jam. You sound too much like a theory geek if you say Dorian. And, yes, I agree that the song does not sound "modal" but not sounding modal in no way indicates that a mode is not the harmonic basis of the song.
    I had a discussion similar to this one on the Mandolin Cafe about the song "Spooky" by the Classics IV. It uses Em7 and A13 for the basic body , then goes to A#dim7. The turnaround is a Bm7 - the v minor. My argument was that the composer deliberately chose to use the v as a minor chord and not the V as a dominant chord. You can call it E Dorian, since the 4 is major and the 5 is minor, but it sounds like Em to me. This song sounds like Bm, but it uses the B Dorian mode for its harmony. That's all I was saying about it being B Dorian in my first post in this thread. I'd call it Bm too.
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2009
  20. strat a various

    strat a various Friend of Leo's

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    Classics IV, those crazy guys from, what, Florida? I used to play with a bass player that worked with them. The original version is in F min I believe. But you're absolutely correct about "Spooky" being in F min vs the dopey "F Dorian, because the F min and Bb13 could be interpreted as II, V relating to the key of Eb, so the C min works" that beginning theory students try to claim. Very similar to the argument here where players who don't see enough complex scores and arrangements try to shoehorn everything into a Diatonic Chord Scale.
    In "Spooky", the turnaround goes to B dim7 in the original version. Most players sub Db13 for the Dim chord. That's a common sub, look at the notes, D dim7, (inversion of B dim7) is a Db7 with a b9 as the bass note instead of D. The C min is clearly a sub for the expected C7#9, which is the chord most players use anyway. Minor Vs were not that uncommon in the 60s, Louie Louie has a minor V, it's kind of a surf-jazz thing I guess, guys influenced by rockabilly, surf, 60s jazz, eclectic stuff.(By the way I know Louie Louie was a stolen Reggae song,) It adds darkness to the tune, much like the E in "Wicked Game". That minor V is often a reharmonization of the bluesy organ/horn lick which goes from the I to the IV to the I7, a la "Chicken Shack".
    And of course, as you noted, both "Wicked Game" and "Spooky" are minor tunes with 7th or major triad IV chords. This is a melodic choice, not evidence of some modal composition going on ... Spooky isn't Dorian just because there's a D natural in the 2nd chord, it just doesn't work that way. It's in F min, four flats, the D is written as an accidental.
    "Killer Joe" goes from C7 to Bb7 over and over, we don't look for a Chord Scale that has two 7th chords a whole step away from each other, its just a I chord as a 7th and a bVII as a 7th, it's written in "C".
    This whole discussion regarding keys and modes would be a lot easier if folks who recently discovered the Major Harmonic Chord Scale and learned the Greek Modes didn't try to make every simple tune fit the mold.
    But anyway jbmando, you're right about "Spooky".
     
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