I’ve been teaching about diminished chords in the last couple of weeks – they appear in a Grade 1 RIAM piece called ‘Lame Duck’ and also in the third section of Beethoven’s ‘Für Elise’. Here’s a quote from Barry Harris:
People react to a lot of things. What I’ve found they really react to is diminished notes. See, ’cause, if you play diminished notes with something, it’ll sound like it’s wrong. And people…the ears of people react to wrong. The audience reacts to wrong. And what you have to do, you have to throw that little ‘wrong’ in, then you make it right, that messes them up. But you got their attention; it’s real weird, too, it’s really true. They’re real funny about that. People can react to a wrong note, “now I say, do you hear that, he’s playing a wrong chord in that song”. But you make it right then they don’t know what to think. So you have to fool people and people will gasp.from a Frans Elsen film of a Barry Harris workshop at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague
Title from the beautiful Beatles song, ‘Fixing A Hole’. Paul’s adlib vocal line over the last chorus hits all kinds of jazzy notes, there’s a harpsichord, George’s guitar parts are tasty tasty, and it has the breezy mood that’s so wonderfully prevalent in a lot of Paul’s songwriting.
I accompany the Gardiner Street Gospel Choir each Sunday evening at the 7.30pm mass in St Francis Xavier’s Church on Gardiner Street. This Sunday was a special service to celebrate the centenary of the birth of Joseph Wresinski, who strongly believed that “extreme poverty is the work of mankind and only mankind can destroy it”. He founded the organisation ATD Fourth World in the 1950s and it continues to bring the voices of the world’s poor to the corridors of power.
Take a moment and read the last letter he wrote before he died in 1988:
We sang Michael Jackson’s song ‘Man in the Mirror’ (written by Siedah Garrett and Glen Ballard) after the mass as a special tribute to Wresinski’s legacy.
Such a great track (sidenote: there are apparently two versions in the new Lego Batman movie). The outro is just fantastic. The choir (The Andraé Crouch choir, The Winans, and Siedah Garrett), the synth bass, the whole thing in a slightly other world at the end. The song’s key change lifts us from G major up to A flat major (listen how the electric piano sound is switched out at that point for a grand piano…Greg Phillinganes really lets loose!). The whole last section rests on a variety of the IV chord – D flat sus 2 – which provides the ‘open’ feeling. The bass that punctuates every six bars rather than eight, as we might expect, and this also destabilises the listener. You just have to relax into it. The singers are so confident, though, as is the bass…it leans us out over the edge of the chord, starting on a B flat, but draws us strongly back in…B flat, F, C, A flat, D flat. So satisfying! I love that the song stays in this place right to the end. Michael’s final urging to ‘make that change’ flies off at the end with infinite possibility.
But Skippy doesn’t hear him. Looking through the telescope, he is watching the frisbee girl again as she runs back and forth over the gravel, jumping and twisting mid-air, upstretching her arm to catch the disc and spinning it off again before her feet even touch the ground, laughing as she scoops strands of dark hair out of her mouth . . . She seems so much brighter than everything around her, a fragment of summer that’s somehow found its way into October; at the same time, she makes everything around her brighter too — she makes it all fit together somehow, like in a musical where someone bursts into song and everyone else starts singing as well…
She pushed the scrap of fabric that she had cut across the table. ‘Here’s your evening,’ she said. ‘You can keep it, if you wish. But if I were you, I’d burn it.’
from ‘The Ocean At The End Of The Lane’ by Neil Gaiman