Grateful Dead Music Forum

A place to talk about the music of the Grateful Dead 

Musical Theory Abound!!!
 #118252  by mgbills
 Tue Sep 04, 2012 7:52 am
Here is another related question...modulation in GD stuff.

I used to love the way Jerry would lead us down a mental path to tension/resolution in leads. I remember on RFK tape I had where he darkened the solo, moved within the dark feeling to an almost Spanish interval, then resolved back to the bright happy tonic sound.

It seems that you can play any mode over a major chord. I study with a jazz guy, and I can't seem to get a straight answer on this. As you move toward Aeolian, Phyrgian, Locrian ...some of those note choices get really challenging to the ear. But if my rhythm guy is playing a vamp in A (for example) and I try these tonic travels they only work in a limited fashion. Mixo - the flatted 7th sound ok. Dorian - The flatted 3rd, now is really challenging.

It seems as though this darking is less challenging to the ear if led by the rhythm player. For example if the vamp is a I, IV, V....and the rhythm player moves to a II, V, I....then in the case of the Amaj vamp, we've just added a Bm, and the V can almost always be subbed for a V7. Now those same A Ion notes begin to sound dark for the lead.

This is a big topic I realize. I'm just looking for a tidbit to clobber the jazz teacher into helping me craft more tension in lead playing.

 #118254  by tcsned
 Tue Sep 04, 2012 8:10 am
I know Jerry would take the ending of Crazy Fingers where they're kind of doing the 6/8 G to the Gsus4 (or C) thing and switch to a more Spanish sounding thing to build some tension then back to the major key to resolve and end the song. That kind of change needs band member awareness to work, the other guys would switch from the G - Gsus4 thing to a G - G# move for the Spanish part. Then they'd move back to the Ionian together (when they're in sync). We do a little of Duke Ellinton's Caravan in Shakedown St and my bandmates have to be aware of that change since it bounces between a C and C#.

I've always felt that if you're vamping over a single chord all 12 notes are in play, though you gotta be careful when messing with the third. Add a second chord and your choices get somewhat limited. Add a third chord and you're pretty much locked into a key.
 #118259  by mgbills
 Tue Sep 04, 2012 9:58 am
That makes alot of sense. I find it's the small principles that trip me up. Like that 3rd chord you mentioned. Makes perfect sense. So in your Crazy Fingers examples (I can't play it office mate likely thinks I'm over here working :)), that section is a 1 chord vamp? G-G#?

What about in a larger piece like Eyes? What governs those apparent key changes that often appear? Would that be an agreed upon change? It's as though they walk down into a minor key, maybe even darken it a 2nd time, and then resolve it. I apologize for not having specific examples.

 #118263  by Octal
 Tue Sep 04, 2012 11:18 am
I IV V should be substitutable with very little difference for ii V I--unless you mean as you wrote II V I.

I IV V: Amaj7 Dmaj7 E7
ii V I: Bm7 E7 Amaj7
The Bm7 is basically a Dmaj13, or the Dmaj7 is basically a Bm9. These are only accents and not altering the main chord itself.
Although the difference is probably more clear to one's ears when none of the chords have accents.

But II V I: B7 Emaj7 Amaj7
We are in Lydian now
We now have a #11 in the A scale: the d# in the B7. (Hmm, here's a cool jam idea: have the drummer play in 16/4 and you play B7 | Emaj7 | Amaj7#11 each for one 4/4 measure. He's playing 4 measure phrases, and you're playing 3 measure phrases: the accent keeps shifting, so first it will feel like B mixo, then E Ion, then A lyd, and then it repeats, yes?)
#11s are one my favorites. I've found that they can be very ethereal: think of the Emaj7-Amaj7#11 "Stella Blue" ending; although they can also get spooky: Fmaj7#11 is like Am9 chord with an F in the root.

I don't know if any of that was of any help to anyone.
 #118264  by tcsned
 Tue Sep 04, 2012 11:34 am
In Eyes there are two specific scales and two keys in the jam sections. It starts in E major (Ionian) over the Emaj7-A-Emaj7 section. Then it shifts to the key of A major for the change that goes to the Bm chord. I usually just shift to an E mixolydian for that part (flat 7). But you could play a B dorian, or any of the key of A scales. I think these all have to be taken on a case by case basis as none seem to be the exact same application.

The one scale that I like to use on the open one chord jams is the whole tone scale. It works well over a dominant chord (i.e. C7 in Shakedown St) or a minor or minor 7 chord (i.e. the C#m in Feel Like a Stranger). They are great for building tension. I line up the scale on the tonic which gives you an augmented 4th and 5th - some nice dissonance. Diminished scales also sound cool over a 7th chord when you start the scale on the 3rd scale degree - that's an old Django Rhinehart trick.
 #118274  by Octal
 Tue Sep 04, 2012 6:28 pm
seniorpesca wrote:Check out tge lydian chromatic concept. Lydian is the true major scale!
I can't believe I hadn't heard of this...but damn is that book expensive.
 #119199  by fulltone1989
 Fri Sep 28, 2012 1:28 pm
gdrfk1990 wrote:Garcia primarily uses just 2 modes Dorian for the minor sounding stuff and mixolydian for major stuff. He also uses a chord approach using different scales etc. over different chords in the same progression. But as a rule of thumb the progression tells you what Mode to use In major stuff if the 7 is a b7 major then you are going to use Mixolydian ex. in the key of C if the Bb chord is in there it's most likely mixo. Also the Minor 5 chord is a tip you are in Mixo. For minor sounding stuff if the 4 chord is Major it's dorian. Also keep in mind this is not hard and fast you can go chord by chord in which case when you see any chord there are a number of options. Also you would be surprised how often Jerry uses plain old Major and Minor Pententonic.

Fire on the Mountain
Cold Rain and Snow
Foolish heart ( middle jam )
Dark Star ( back and forth A Mixo E dorian same 7 notes )

Playing Jam
Uncle Johns Jam
Tha Other One
Definitely not saying this is incorrect, I am interested in knowing how the logic of this works! Wouldn't the overall tonality be F?
 #119208  by tcsned
 Fri Sep 28, 2012 5:56 pm
fulltone1989 wrote:
gdrfk1990 wrote:in the key of C if the Bb chord is in there it's most likely mixo
Definitely not saying this is incorrect, I am interested in knowing how the logic of this works! Wouldn't the overall tonality be F?
Both are right. The Key Signature would be F (one flat). If the song is centered around the C chord then you'd mostly play a C Mixolydian scale over it.
 #119220  by fulltone1989
 Sat Sep 29, 2012 8:00 am
I was able to grab electronic scans of the Lydian Chromatic Concept, lemme know if you'd like copies!