further developments

So my blood pressure is creeping higher and higher. This morning’s read was another all time high of 152/105. Bah. If this continues next week, I will call my doctor and ask for stronger meds.

Of course the past week has been pretty stressful. Nevertheless, I feel like I am staving off the inevitable switch to higher meds as I age.

File:Beatles - Abbey Road.jpg

I was reading about the song, “Because,” on the Beatles Abbey Road yesterday. The story is told that John Lennon was listening to Yoko Ono play Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata on the piano. He asked if she could play the chords backwards. When she did, he said, we’ve got a tune and wrote “Because.”

I immediately pulled out my scores to both pieces.  I was unable to find a much backwards Beethoven chord progressions in “Because.”


It would be safe to say there is some obvious inspiration going on. Even a bit of derivation.

They share the key of C # minor. They both begin with the same arpeggio figure. Beethoven uses triplets, but the Beatles use duple statement of the same three notes in the electric harpsichord beginning. Both pieces use their keyboard figurations throughout.  The choral melody sounds a bit like the Beethoven melody.

The back-up vocals do some obvious classical choral  riffs which could be a reference to making a song that is inspired by a classical hit (Moonlight Sonata). They sound more like Swingle Singers Bach to me than any kind of Beethoven choral stuff. Makes me wonder if the Beatles heard them. I kind of suspect they did.

I mention this primarily as more evidence of our derivative the art and music is in our lives. It is frustrating and naive to me when artists are unaware of their debt to their art for providing them the materials and context of their own work. It is a tricky issue to be sure. However, over and over I see that a good portion of the music I love is clearly referring to and even actually using material from other sources.

I like music that does this. And I like being aware of how it is doing it.

I was reading the Abbey Road wiki article and ran across a couple of other steals. “Something” by George Harrison takes its first line from the James Taylor song which preceded it and was even recorded at Apple Studios. It looks like a conscious steal. The first line of “Come Together “Here come old flat-top,” was not only taken from the Chuck Berry song, “You Can’t Catch Me,” it was even the subject of litigation.

I put on Abbey Road to treadmill to yesterday. I noticed that the tracks were not in the original album order. This frustrated me so much I got off the treadmill and renamed the files and put them in the old order.

Then I read (somewhere) that this entire album was influenced by a more self-conscious “classical” approach to the album structure. And indeed there are recurring riffs and use of “You never give me your money” that are more satisfying to me as a listener when the tracks are played in the original order. Hmmm. Interesting.

Speaking of derivative music, I played through the entire Bach Schübler Chorales for organ yesterday.

Title page of the Schubler chorale ms. So called because the publisher's name was Schubler. You can clearly see his name on the 3rd line from the bottom.

I have a request to play Bach Cantatas for the prelude for a funeral tomorrow. Cantatas are larger works for a bunch of players and singers. To do them as a solo is a challenge.

However Bach himself derived five of the six Schübler chorale preludes from identifiable Cantatas.  They are doubly derivative because of course each one is based on a pre-existing hymn or choral melody.

I would dearly love to play one or two tomorrow. Not the famous “Wachet Auf.”

But maybe the “Ach bleib bei uns” or the “Wer nur den leiben.” I know the English words to the last one as “If thou but suffer God to guide thee.”  The links are to the James Kibbie pages where you can download or listen to an mp3 or AAC file (whatever that is). Bless Kibbie for having all of Bach’s organ music online. I won’t play the “Ach bleib” as fast as he does. I actually hear it a bit slower and of course I’m less likely to screw it up at a slower tempo.

Eileen and I bit the bullet yesterday and signed up for Comcasts “Triple Play” special: Cable, High Speed Internet and Phone for around $90.00 a month.

Right now we are paying that amount for a slow internet connection and phone (TDS Metrocom and AT&T). So we will be able to raise the quality of life and pay the same amount. Interestingly the cable internet does not automatically come with a wireless modem. But after installation I can order a free kit to allow me to install my present modem. We’ll see how this all comes out.

Finally, I pulled out my banjo (actually my quasi-son-in-law’s banjo…. mine needs adjustment) and did some writing yesterday.

thinguma_seth-1.jpg image by rosbach

Never sure if these little spurts of composition will amount to much. If so, watch this space for further developments and actual recordings. Especially if it stays on the banjo. I can record my voice and my banjo pretty well with my little Shure mic.

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