Music Discovery


I had a really good meeting with a friend last night who went “under the hood” of my website with me and offered some great ideas.  One was to add a new entry under “Categories” –

* * * MUSIC DISCOVERY * * * 

I think what he intended by Music Discovery was for me to feature and write about music that mattered a lot to me and/or music I stumbled upon recently and wanted to highlight.  I think a new section of might spring from it.  But for now, I am treating this “Music Discovery” in another way.  I want this more interesting and lesser known music to be a more easily searchable item.

After we hung out, I created the category, “Music Discovery,” traipsed through all of my posts to see which contained links or references to music that I thought might be unfamiliar to some of my friends, and linked them to “Music Discovery.”


To begin with my oldest Music Discovery-categorized post, I’ll highlight this song by Caetano Veloso.

Caetano Veloso – Canto Do Povo De Um Lugar

This is a beautiful song recorded by Caetano Veloso, one of my favorite musician/composer/songwriter/singers, and an extremely important Brazilian musical/cultural icon.  In future posts I will elaborate on some of the music and creative output of Caetano Veloso as I have hundreds of his songs and have seen him live in concert several times in the United States.

In music, it is often important to be simple rather than complicated – to not reveal everything you know in one short space.  There are times to fill a space with a large amount of data, but more often it is important to sacrifice virtuosity and excess for clarity and memorability.  Caetano Veloso does this throughout Canto Do Povo De Um Lugar.

A few things to notice within the song –

the crescendo beginning at 0.44 as a second guitar, and then bass, enter the song

the beautiful switch to falsetto singing at 1.38

the sudden QUIET and shift of vocal register at 2.09 (pop recordings rarely/never get suddenly quiet!)

more guitar melodies in the instrumental section beginning at 2.21 – 3.28.  Within the instrumental comes the abandonment of the chord progression in favor of a single chord and more solitude, enhanced by the added prominence of the organ.

the introduction of a jarring, out of place, diminished chord  at 3.29 – 3.44, followed by a return to normal, then solace and fade out


This song was selected for inclusion in my October 12, 2012 post for two reasons:

1.  The melodic cell, 1-2-3-5, is the first four notes that Caetano sings. These four notes did not originate with this song.  They can be heard in many other musical compositions before this – they should be free to be sung and/or performed without the threat of a lawsuit.  They are, in other words, in the public domain.  I included Caetano’s recording in my October 12, 2012 post as supportive musical evidence in a hypothetical music copyright infringement case.  In this hypothetical case, Five For Fighting’s song, “Superman (It’s Not Easy),” is alleged to infringe the copyright of Angie Aparo’s “Seed.”  I was asked to opine about this, from my vantage point as one who actually works in music copyright infringement actions, by a reader.  I proceeded to analyze both songs, make the decision as to where I stood (in this particular matter, with the hypothetical defendant) and then  explain some of the reasoning and evidence I would use to prove that the defendant had not infringed the plaintiff’s copyright.  (The first four notes Caetano sings – 1-2-3-5 – are the same four notes at the center of the hypothetical Aparo/Five For Fighting matter.)

The October 12 post was the third and final post about this hypothetical case.  (The first was from October 10, 2012;  the second from October 11, 2012.)

2.  Caetano Veloso’s Canto Do Povo De Um Lugar is a beautiful song.  Given an excuse to promote Caetano Veloso or his music, I will!  In my perfect world, everyone in the U. S. would be fascinated by the music and musicians of Brazil.

So, I think I will treat “Music Discovery” as music which I know – maybe learned a few minutes or a few decades ago – that I find intriguing, inspiring, innovative, beautiful, novel or just cool, and for which I want to advocate.

As always I look forward to your input.




Christmas Music – Dave Brubeck, John Lennon, Cuba LA, The Monkees, Donny Hathaway & more


Merry Christmas 2013.

Here are twelve (12) of my favorite Christmas recordings, from Band Aid to Poncho Sanchez.  (My list ends with the letter, “S?!?”  No Tchaikovsky and nut cracking?  And none of the letters post-S. That means no Van Halen, Vivaldi, Webern, Xenakis, Neil Young, Frank Zappa or Jan Dismas Zelenka.)

As with most music, what attracts me to many of the recordings below is creative, surprising and atypical uses of chords, melody, rhythm, tone color, lyrics and/or structure.  And in the case of Bob Dylan’s “It Must Be Santa” recording and video, great humor.


Dave Brubeck was a special gift to the planet.  Anything he created fascinated, led and taught me.

Dave Brubeck  –  The Christmas Song

This was quite a surprise and very un-Monkee-like.

The Monkees  –  Riu Chiu

This is the same song the Monkees recorded above.  It is a beautiful work that does not need frills or excessive ornamentation.

Kalenda Maya  –  Riu Chiu

Band Aid was one of those gathering of large rock & roll egos but one in which a new song would be recorded.  The song was meant as a reminder that there were millions of people living in poverty throughout the world who needed our empathy and support especially at Christmas time, and to raise money for famine relief in Ethiopia.

Band Aid  –  Do They Know It’s Christmas

This was one of John Lennon’s instant classics – a new Christmas song that did not preach or pronounce typical Christmas sentiments but instead reminded us that we could live better and more peaceably.

John Lennon  –  Happy Christmas (War Is Over)

As with some Christmas songs and Christmas carols, the origin of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen is not specifically known.  But the melody and chords set in a minor key lend themselves to many brilliant interpretations.

Cuba L. A.  –  God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

This is the most unusual recording I have selected.  It is surprising and insane to hear the names of many American presidents inserted into “It Must Be Santa.”  From 1.56 – 2.03:  “…Roosevelt, Kennedy, Johnson, NixonRonald Reagan…”

Bob Dylan  –  It Must Be Santa

Dave Brubeck with his band performing “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town.”

Dave Brubeck  –  Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

There are at least two (2) albums by Cuba L. A.  “Deck The Halls” is from their Christmas album, Navidad Cubana, in my opinion, one of the best Christmas albums.

Cuba L. A.  –  Deck The Halls

A very nice but overlooked and not well known Christmas song written and recorded by Donny Hathaway.

Donny Hathaway  –  This Christmas

Poncho Sanchez is an often-overlooked Mexican-American percussionist, band leader and singer who has worked with musicians as diverse as Claire Fischer, Hugh Masekala, Cal Tjader, Mongo Santamaria and others.

Poncho Sanchez  – What Child Is This

A Christmas mashup not intended as a mashup but of the mashup style that is sometimes heard in the music of Bob Marley.

Bob Marley  –  Christmas Reggae


Here, without additional text, is the set list in the specific order I favor today, December 25, 2013.  This could change in change in 10 minutes but for now for me this order is right and most satisfying!

Dave Brubeck  –  The Christmas Song

The Monkees  –  Riu Chiu

Kalenda Maya  –  Riu Chiu

Band Aid  –  Do They Know It’s Christmas

John Lennon  –  Happy Christmas (War Is Over)

Cuba L. A.  –  God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

Bob Dylan  –  It Must Be Santa

Dave Brubeck  –  Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

Cuba L. A.  –  Deck The Halls

Donny Hathaway  –  This Christmas

Poncho Sanchez  – What Child Is This

Bob Marley  –  Christmas Reggae


Here is the set list if you want to listen to these songs in alphabetical order via recording artist (a fun thing to do!):

Band Aid  –  Do They Know It’s Christmas

Dave Brubeck  –  Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

Dave Brubeck  –  The Christmas Song

Cuba L. A.  –  Deck The Halls

Cuba L. A.  –  God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen

Bob Dylan  –  It Must Be Santa

Donny Hathaway  –  This Christmas

John Lennon  –  Happy Christmas (War Is Over)

Bob Marley  –  Christmas Reggae

Kalenda Maya  –  Riu Chiu

The Monkees  –  Riu Chiu

Poncho Sanchez  – What Child Is This


M E R R Y     C H R I S T M A S             M E R R Y     C H R I S T M A S        

M E R R Y     C H R I S T M A S

A slew of bagpipes playing tangos in a forest – My Favorite Tangos (Part 1)

I’m loving my vacation in Nashville – my first Christmas not in Massachusetts.  It’s been great to catch up with friends and former students (from here and New Jersey), hike Radnor Lake, see the new stuff in Nashville and launch into some business.  All of my business is also fun, so I keep on “fun-ing,” as Sheriff Andy Taylor once said.

*     *     *     *     *     *                      *     *     *     *     *     *

A question to which I often return  –  what is tango?  Should the question be, “What is a tango?   Is tango a dance?  Is tango music?  Is tango both music and dance?  To me tango is music and the accompanying dance.  To others I’m sure the idea of an “accompanying” dance, meaning the visual subservient to the aural, is offensive.  Music is meant for many as something to accompany dance.  For me it’s music – the invisible art form that grabbed and OCCUPIED me as a child  –  first.  Other stuff – film, video, TV, advertising, ballet, dance, opera, musicals, etc. – is often secondary and there to serve music.  I’ll more often stick with what I think is this contrarian view  –  let the invisible (music) rule and let us serve her/him/it/them.

And as a musician who likes tango but is not an expert in tango, a simple rhythmic figure that tells me, “this is tango,” comes to mind.  When I hear a specific rhythmic pattern that repeats, I think “tango.”  To do a disservice to tango and a deep explanation, the pattern takes place over four (4) beats, numbered, 1, 2, 3, 4.

T A N G O   is  not:

1                2                3                4                1                2                3                4

T A N G O  can be this:

1                2   and    3                4                1                2   and    3                4

T A N G O  can be this:

1                2   and    3                4   and     1                2   and    3                4   and

T A N G O  can be this:

1                2                3                4   and    1                2                3                4   and

And here is an explanation from Howcast of how to (dance) tango.  It states that the tango pattern is

1                2                3   and         4   

Here is a collection of tangos – sort of a HOW TO / HERE THEY ARE collection of tango.

For me, this   –

1                2                3                4   and  1      

 is my favorite tango and the repeated rhythmic figure which I first associate with tango.  I think there are not many examples of tango in rock (music).

Three (3) of my favorite tangos in rock are:

The Beatles  –  Ticket To Ride

The Doors  –  Moonlight Drive

The Police  –  Roxanne

At a future point, I will delve further into more of my favorite tangos (maybe an annotated list with links) and a discussion of that massive tango collection linked to above.  I’d also like to explore the effects of tempo/speed, as well as instrumentation and loudness on our definition and perception of tango.  For example

if a slew of bagpipes play tangos in a forest and no one hears them, is it still a tango?

Other favorite tangos of mine were recorded by Astor Piazzola, Gato Barbieri, Sting (in addition to “Roxanne”), The Doors (in addition to “Moonlight Drive”) and Burt Bacharach.

What are your favorite tangos?  Your favorite tangos in rock?  Are there examples of tango in country?  Jazz?  Urban?  Soul?  (Is there still “soul?”)  R & B?

I hope you enjoy the first Sunday in 2013  —–

E. Michael

¡Cubanismo! at The Exit/In, Caetano Veloso, Café Tacuba & Music of The Americas



The Americas  –  Music by Caetano Veloso, ¡Cubanismo!, Café Tacuba  –  Copyrightable Intros

When I was growing up and loving and learning geography, there were three places called “America.”  The  globes, atlases and maps were mostly but not always in agreement.  The three (3) Americas:

1.  North America

2.  Central America

3.  South America

North America had the three (3) most powerful countries of the hemisphere  –  the United States of America, Canada and Mexico.

Central America sometimes had Mexico and those smaller countries.  Other times, Central America had just those smaller countries  –  Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama –  and Mexico was considered part of North America.  One of the Latin America nations (oh yeah – just what was “Latin America” – Central America?) we “imperialists” in the U. S. really noticed was Panama as every ship had to go through the Isthmus of Panama’s Panama Canal that linked the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean.

South America had Brazil (the world’s largest Portuguese-speaking country) and a lot of other countries whose official language was Spanish.  Brazil had Carmen Miranda, samba, bossa nova and carnival, and the other countries (all Spanish speaking) had coffee, tin or llamas.  (Just a bit North American-centric!)

And then there were those islands – a petite floating continent  – known as The Caribbean and even the definition of Caribbean was odd as vacationers and cruise ship lines identified Bermuda as part of the Caribbean even though Bermuda was as far north as North Carolina, a decidedly non-tropical and non-Caribbean.

In terms of U. S. federal courts, geography becomes more confusing as Puerto Rico is part of the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals.  That means Puerto Rico and its natural adjacent neighbors (I am joking) –  Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island (which isn’t an island)  –  are part of the same appellate court, the First Circuit.  As if this isn’t nonsensical enough, Montana and Hawaii, non-natural neighbors, are part of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.  (No matter how these divisions are viewed, I’ll someday teach my “Music of The Caribbean” course again and still think of the Caribbean as its own entity, and not a part of North, South or Central America.)

Perhaps it is best that in 2012 the entire hemisphere is called THE AMERICAS, mostly to make things less messy when it comes to division via land mass.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

To the simple point of this post  –  three (3) great songs from The Americas (the Americas situated south of continental U.S.) that feature * copyrightable introductions. *


I know of no other career like Caetano Veloso’s  –  it is astonishing to simply look at his album covers.  Caetano Veloso’s career, artistic and musical influences and output are enormous   –  samba, Antonio Carlos Jobim, bossa nova,  torch songs, Tropicálismo, Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Arnold Schoenberg, minimalism, musique concrete, hip hop, experimental music, filmmaker, singer, songwriter, composer, soundtrack composer, political activist, political activist expelled from country, political activist welcomed back to country, etc.

I’ve plunked one song from his more than half-century output, and only to demonstrate a copyrightable introduction.

Caetano Veloso  –  Cada Macano No Seu (Cho Chuã) is from Tropicália 2, an album that pairs two of Brazil’s musical giants  –  Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso.  Tropicália 2 was one the best Brazilian albums of the 1990’s.


¡Cubanismo!  –  Ibiono Utereran   ¡Cubanismo! is the superstar band of Afro-Cuba (Afro-Cuba is my name for the island of “Cuba.”).  The best musicians of the island coming together to show others how it’s done.  I’ve been most fortunate to see ¡Cubanismo! in Boston, New York and Nashville.  Yes.  That Nashville.  Tennessee.  Music City.  ¡Cubanismo! played the famous Exit/In.  To this day, it is the best concert and musicians I’ve seen in Nashville.

Ibiono Utereran begins as if a square, dull waltz is imminent.  The “one TWO AND three” waltz figure introduced by the tres gets beaten back quickly by the rhythm section and then the loud brass.  The tres pattern is then re-understood as one of several rhythms coexisting in complexity.

This is one of those ultimate “how do I dance to this” dilemmas.

“Ibiono Utereran” is from Cubanismo’s brilliant, Reencarnacion album.  Reencarnacion needs to be on your Must-Have Cuban album list.


Café Tacuba  –  Camino Y Vereda    Café Tacuba has been in existence since 1989.  Their  frequently-changing musical styles have left them with passionate fans and music critics.  (The New York Times has praised Café Tacuba more than almost any other band.)

Intros to many of Café Tacuba’s songs feature copyrightable introductions.  I chose “Camino Y Vereda” because of its fun “how do I dance to this” metric deception dilemma intro, and to introduce any reader to their vital Cuatro Caminos album.

I hope to return to Caetano Veloso, ¡Cubanismo! and Café Tacuba in the future, as well as the music of Brazil, Cuba and Mexico.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

To repeat the three (3) songs:

Caetano Veloso  –  Cada Macano No Seu (Cho Chuã)

¡Cubanismo!  –  Ibiono Utereran 

Café Tacuba  –  Camino Y Vereda

Music of Africa & Copyrightable Intros – Les Têtes Brulées, Four Brothers & Thomas Mapfumo


It just occurred to me that this is the 3rd post in a row that features a tall structure as the cover photograph  –  from a building at Harvard, to the Eiffel Tower to a giraffe.  And there are three (3) giraffes.  I like how that came to be – unplanned but maybe related to the number 3 again?

I’ve been passionate about world music since I was a little kid and heard some of my parents bossa nova albums, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Perez Prado, and some others.  Also in those days there was I Love Lucy with some of Desi Arnaz’ very hot bands on TV.  I always loved what I perceived as its sophistication.

As a kid, I remember hearing my parents and their friends’ music  –  a lot of it was Latin and Brazilian music played on LP’s when they’d have a party.   I remember there was bossa nova, “The Girl From Ipanema” was a hit so I was hearing Antonio Carlos Jobim, but also Perez Prado whose music was called “wild, savage and exciting.”  I remember his odd atnd strange grunts and yells.  Perez Prado’s great yelps.  You can hear one his best a few times in his classic Mambo #5.

I took a few jazz guitar lessons when I was 10 or 11.  That meant that now I could play Jobim as well as listen to him.  The teacher was a nice man but I preferred experimenting and teaching myself.  I did some of the most important things in my experimental way  –  turn on the radio and play along with whatever I hear, and play it on the guitar, piano or organ.  I can get further into what I consider to be the best means of learning music later though.  The point of this post is world music and copyrightable intros in world music.  I want to limit it to just three (3) examples, all of them from two (2) African nations  –  Zimbabwe and Cameroon.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

Thomas Mapfumo was a powerful voice – a giant –  in music and politics in Rhodesia and its successive nation, Zimbabwe.  One of Mapfumo’s innovations was to adapt Shona mbira melodies and rhythms for electric guitar and rock band.  The frequent polyrhythms, the complex interwoven melodies, as well as Mapfumo’s composing and singing and live presence is what drew me strongly to his music.  I have been most fortunate to see Thomas Mapfumo several times.  Mapfumo even allowed me to play one of the band’s mbiras.  I didn’t ask  –  we were talking and he went back, got the mbira and handed it to me!  (My Pinterest board has a photo of Thomas Mapfumo.)

If any Western musician tries to transcribe and play “Muchadura” with her band/ensemble (as I was able to do), be prepared to spend a lot of time getting it right!  It is so damn easy to get off track rhythmically and once you do, it can be even harder to, “…get back to where you once belonged.”

The introduction is where the very independent melodies begin.  First, a solo mbira introduces one melody and before the melody can seem to end, the drums enter, followed quickly by the bass and every other instrument but Mapfumo’s vocal, which will begin at 0.35.

Thomas Mapfumo  –  Muchadura

Les Têtes Brulées are a band from Cameroon.  Les Têtes Brulées translates to “burnt heads,” and the band tries to surprise and shock audiences, first by their appearance, and then their music and stage antics.  Here is another picture of Les Têtes Brulées.  When I first heard and saw them, I was an adult and excited by their costumes and the skeleton appearances.  I can only imagine how much fun this must be to little kids to see tall skeletons playing wild and exciting music.

“Za Ayi Neyi” is one of the most complex and irregular compositions from beginning to end.  If you are unfamiliar with their music, I hope you consider this your very lucky day!

Les Têtes Brulées  –  Za Ayi Neyi

The Four Brothers are not brothers and various iterations of the band have had more than four members. Like Mapfumo, their music reflects the influence of Shona mbira music with guitars imitating mbiras.  “The Best Of Four Brothers” album is one of my favorites.  I’ve used their music frequently in teaching Western Classical music theory, or known to the Western centric crowd as “music theory,” or simply “theory.”  I do so because a lot of their voice leading and chord progressions are much closer to Mozart than Chuck Berry.  (Isn’t that a strange claim.  Can I prove this?)

Four Brothers  –  Makorokoto 

Here again are today’s three (3) great African songs from two (2) African nations.  (Even if some of Sarah Palin’s followers hack Wikipedia again, Africa remains a continent.)

Thomas Mapfumo  –  Muchadura

Les Têtes Brulées  –  Za Ayi Neyi

Four Brothers  –  Makorokoto 

Three Songs (5/4) & Some Thoughts (7/4) About Dave Brubeck (9/8)


Dave Brubeckone of my musical heroes, was respected by every musician I have ever known.  He was the first American whose jazz excited me.  My first exposure to his music was through one of his big hit songs (yes, a jazz musician who was creative, brilliant, and commercially successful without having “sold out”).  That hit was “Take Five,” written by his sax player, Paul Desmond.  I was too young to play or analyze it  –  I only knew that it made me happy (I think I was five years old when it was released).

I was extremely fortunate to have met Dave Brubeck once.  He seemed to be as great a person as his music.  But before I met him, I met his drummer, Joe Morello who came to Framingham North High School (now known as Framingham High School) and gave a masterclass.  I remember that Morello was brilliant, looked like Roy Orbison (especially with his thick horn-rimmed glasses) and played complex meters and really well.  I liked but didn’t love what I was hearing but had enormous respect for him.  It’s easy to fall for what a passionate and virtuosic person is putting out, regardless of your age, culture, and in my case, as a young kid at a very heady jazz drum master class, maturity.  I knew that someday I’d explore jazz, just not that day or month.  (It took Miles Davis for me to “get it”  –  jazz  –  completely.  And then came the ultimate for me  –  Weather Report)

Brubeck, one of my heroes, studied with French composer and Mills College professor,  Darius Milhaud, another hero of mine.  Milhaud, as well as a few other “serious” composers/art music composers of the first quarter of the 20th century, was profoundly impacted by American jazz and incorporated elements of jazz into his composing.  My favorite Milhaud composition is his hugely influential 1923 work, La creation du monde, here conducted by Leonard Bernstein.  Click that link and for 17 minutes enter a fascinating world.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

One of the important features of a lot of Dave Brubeck’s music is his use of rhythm and especially uncommon time signatures.  Brubeck met with resistance from Columbia Records when he insisted on having songs with unusual meter/time signatures on his brilliant million-selling album, Time Out.  Fortunately for music, the public and Columbia Records, they gave in.

I have selected three (3) Dave Brubeck songs, each in a different and unusual meter.  5 beats per measure, 7 beats per measure and 9 beats per measure are far less common than the most common meter in Western music – 4 beats per measure.  In keeping with the idea of three –  3 different time signatures/meters  –  I have also compiled three (3) sets of three (3) songs each.  In each of these three 3-song sets, I have chosen a Brubeck composition and followed it with two (2) other compositions that share the same number of beats.  In each example, the songs I have selected are not of the same style.

I grouped these songs together in this manner so as to hear Dave Brubeck’s music and his take on an unusual meter followed by other artists’ versions of the same meter.  This is the manner in which I usually approach music  –  find music from disparate, seemingly unrelated  styles and periods and locate what they have in common.  It might be my inner anthropologist at work.  It’s also how my Dad lived – connecting dots that did not reach out to be connected.


5   5   5   5   5

Dave Brubeck  –  Take Five (1959)   This is not the original studio recording but a live faster version recorded in 1961.  This is how most of the world learned to feel and count five (5) beats per measure.  5 = 3 + 2.  To me, it still seems the best way to subdivide 5 beats.  Paul Desmond, not Dave Brubeck, wrote Take Five.  As with the other time signatures below, Brubeck is not the first to have used them.  But the music he wrote that has these particular time signatures is superb and deserves to be widely known.

Lalo Schifrin  –  Mission Impossible Theme (1966)   Lalo Schifrin’s theme music to the television series, Mission Impossible, in addition to being the best theme song in the history of television theme songs, is the second best known example of 5/4.  Like Paul Desmond’s Take Five, Schifrin has also used   5 = 3 + 2.  Lalo Schifrin.

Uakti  –  Ovo Da Serpente (The Serpent’s Egg) (1987) I’ve adored the music and sound of Uakti since I first heard them in the early 1980’s on a Milton Nascimento recording.  This Brazilian ensemble has also recorded with Paul Simon and Philip Glass.  With respect to Simon and Glass, in my opinion, Uakti was the “big deal” in these recordings.  Back in the mid-1990’s I flew from Nashville to Boston just to hear Uakti perform live (at Boston University) in a short American tour.  As I recall, Boston and New York were the only U. S. East coast cities on that tour.  (I would love to write more about Uakti in other blog posts.)


7   7   7   7   7   7   7 

Dave Brubeck  –  Unsquare Dance (1961)  Just as Dave had made 5/4 simple, normal and fun, in “Unsquare Dance he makes 7/4 your new favorite meter.  7 = 2 + 2 + 3.  This is the Brubeck studio recording choreographed.

Pat Metheny  –  Finding & Believing  (1992) Pat Metheny wrote and performed most of the instruments on this song in 7/4 and throughout his great and massive 1992 album, Secret Story.

Sting  –  Straight To My Heart  (1987)  One of my favorite aspects of Sting as a composer is his use of – what I respectfully call  –  “music theory tricks.”  If one transcribes and analyzes Sting’s music, it is obvious that Sting has (maybe often) considered structural aspects of music before and during his composing.  (To discuss Sting’s music theory tricks more would mean writing more about music theory and structure, something I do not want to do here.)


9   9   9   9   9   9   9   9   9

Dave Brubeck  –  Blue Rondo A La Turk (1959)  I selected the brilliant night photograph of the Eiffel Tower for the cover of this blog post for several reasons.

1.  The Eiffel Tower is one of the world’s most unique and magnificent  structures immediately recognizable to people from all over our planet.  The same can be said for Dave Brubeck’s music.

2.  The Eiffel Tower is a symbol of not only Paris and France but the entire European Union, and it was in Europe that Brubeck heard many complex and irregular time signatures.  Blue Rondo A La Turk revealed Brubeck’s influence by and capture of Turkish rhythms.  (Beethoven and Mozart had also been enthralled with Turkish music.)

3.  The Eiffel Tower is pointing upward.  Is there a heaven above?  Above has always fascinated many of us and pointing and living upward is inspirational to me.  Dave Brubeck represents upward.

Blue Rondo A La Turk is a masterpiece.  9 = 2 + 2 + 2 + 3.  I started to learn to play Blue Rondo A La Turk in my usual way  – put on the record and play along with it.  I kept putting the needle back to the opening and early sections as it is not easy to learn this work, especially as an untrained high school musician.  But when I knew I’d come to a stop and not be able to ever play this entire thing was when I got to 1.36 – 1.39 of the song  – the FANTASTIC & BIG CHORDS in contrary motion.  Damn it  –  that was going to require a lot of practice.  I did the easy thing  –  quit trying to play it, love what Brubeck was doing and move on!

And then comes this abruptly different, laid back bluesy section at 1.53 – 1.57.  For all of four seconds, the song changes character until the agitated opening 9  = 2 + 2 + 2 + 3  thing returns abruptly.  (There is a musical concept of “multiple time” that would describe this as well.)  If you have it in you, write a Blue Rondo A La Turk and place it is as your album’s opening track.

Milton Nascimento & Wayne Shorter  –  Ponta De Areia (1974)  Ponta De Areia is the opening song on the extremely important album, Native Dancer, an album that featured the first-time collaborative writing and performing of music legends from the United States (Wayne Shorter) and Brazil (Milton Nascimento).  Nascimento’s 9 beats per measure (9/4 rather than 9/8) are really long, temporally speaking.  Brubeck’s 9 fly by, whereas Nascimento’s 9 almost contain story lines as the rhythm section is left to create subplots within.  Listen especially to how much takes place in the drums, bass & keyboard from 0.41 – 1.28, a relatively long span of time with lots of smart activity but one which features only eight (8) measures of 9/4.

Sting  –  I Hung My Head  (1996) – Sting’s I Hung My Head epitomizes what I mean by “music theory tricks” above.  in this song, Sting divides 9 in a unique manner:  5 beats followed by 2 and 2.  9 = 5 + 2 + 2.  You can hear this pattern in the bass.  The drummer is left to also articulate a 9-beat pattern but his is even more peculiar and agitational, in terms of the context.  This drum pattern is in the forefront.  Not that drummers are often hard to notice but in this case, the drum accents predominate and propel the band.  Whereas the bass plays 9 = 5 + 2 + 2, the drum rearranges this palindromically (not a palindrome per se, but palindromically)  :  9 = 2 + 5 + 2.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

This post went in a direction different from writing a eulogy.  (I had not intended to write a eulogy – I only intended to write a few sentences more than my Foursquare entry last night shortly after I heard the sad news about Dave Brubeck.)  To me this post is a conversation (at this point, only a monologue) about great music.  When you’ve “received” a great work, it leads to more thoughts and appreciation of the work and that should lead to…  “Have you heard this?”  Or… “What do you think about this?”

I am deeply grateful for Dave Brubeck  – who he was, what he gave us, where he led us, and how he inspired us.


Copyright From A – Z, Crime Before Thanksgiving, my 19th Annual Berklee Lecture, Inna & The Farlanders

I always love the Tuesday before Thanksgiving because for the past 19 years I have spoken to students at the Berklee College of Music in Boston.  It has been an annual tradition, and a great honor, for me since 1993.  The second part of the tradition is our Thanksgiving Fish dinner at Legal Seafood in the Prudential Center, across the street from the Berklee classroom.  (The Prudential Center is posted as today’s photograph.  Finally, a post photo that relates precisely and without need for interpretation or metaphor-loading.)

In order to get to Boston, I’ll have to deport myself from Gloucester to Boston.  (I just wanted to use that “deport myself” phrase.)

At some points today, I’ll select some topics for my two-hour presentation.  I’ll choose from these questions and issues and more:

Can One Copy A Bass Line?

Can One Copy A Chord Progression?

Can One Copy A Guitar Solo?

How To Break The Law/How To Get Away With Crime (Crime?  “Fair Use” or The Perfect Crime ?)

What Is Fair Use?

Fair Use Done Right/Wrong

What Is Satire?

What Is Parody?

What Is Right of Publicity?

Can One Sample?

What Is A Mashup And When Are Mashups Legal/Illegal?

Publishing Done Right

Publishing Done Wrong



I will play music from North America, South America, the Caribbean, The European Union, Asia, Africa, Australia-Oceania, and The Middle East.  Even if the Middle East is part of Asia, Africa and Europe, I consider it its own place/continent.  And I’m really thrilled that the CIA agrees with me!

I also consider the Caribbean NOT part of North or South America – it’s too much its own world/continent and shouldn’t be subsumed within NA, SA or The Americas.  The CIA disagrees.

I refuse to play music from Atlantis.  I’ve been boycotting it for awhile.  I have not ruled out music from Antarctica or Arctica (why isn’t it called A – R – C – T – I – C – A?).  Both poles speak to me.  Enough geography talk.

I’ll play music by

Louis Armstrong

Beastie Boys

George Clinton

Miles Davis

Evolution Control Committee

Foo Fighters

Ghostface Killah

Jimi Hendrix

Inna & The Farlanders

George Jones

Albert King

Led Zeppelin

Bob Marley


Roy Orbison

Steve Perry


Rolling Stones


They Might Be Giants

Keith Urban


Hank Williams


Neil Young

Frank Zappa

Inna & The Farlanders  –  I assume that few of you will have Inna & The Farlanders’ The Dream Of Endless Nights album, so I included a link to a performance of “Ivan” from that album.  The studio version is better – get this album!

I could work the phrase, “A – Z,” into the title of this presentation, couldn’t I?  (Now I will.)  And discussing the music of “XSCAPE,” rather than “XENAKIS,” shows just how much of a stretch one (1) of these twenty-six (26) names was!

My questions for you  –

Do you have suggestions for adding topics?

Do you have suggestions for eliminating topics?

Should I write about these topics here at or simply include them in today’s long talk?

Does the “How To Break The Law/How To Get Away With Crime” topic annoy anyone?

I hope your Thanksgiving preparations/travels are going very well.  I’ll have a special Thanksgiving post.

Baseball and Music – The Right Songs for the Right Season

I thought of calling this post, “15  Songs for the Soul.”  But that thought lasted for two seconds.  Elvis Costello’s great lyric from “Alison” came to mind, and rescued me:   “I’m not going to get too sentimental like those other sticky Valentines.”

I also liked the title, “I see St. Peter wave ,” but decided against that too.   If you don’t know, that is a short phrase from a song by They Might Be Giants.   “I see St. Peter wave” then led me to the rest of the song which burrowed its way perfectly into this post.   And I love the messages the songs below convey.  They are perfectly suited for this day, don’t you think?

I’d love to get reactions to these songs in this season.  :  )

To quote ELVIS COSTELLO again (re this post):


*   *   *   *   *   *

I’ll only write a baseball post this once (in 2012) but because I love music and baseball, I thought I could fuse the two, especially because this is prime time baseball season with the 2012 World Series about to begin.

Music, and music with words, can make us connect with our emotions.   Our emotions can become more intense through and with music.  We can use music to heighten our feelings, to subdue our feelings, to bring us out of sadness, or even to take us down a more languished and lugubrious path.

Have I mentioned that I am from Cambridge/Boston/Framingham?   I love New York City – visited it hundreds of times, lived in midtown Manhattan for a lot of 2004-2006 (51st & 7th Avenue), and in nearby NJ from 2008-2012.  These few facts are central to why and how I constructed today’s post.

The New York Yankees lost four (4) straight games to the Detroit Tigers (their final loss came last night) and will not be in the  2012 World Series. New Yorkers view winning the World Series as a birthright.  Bostonians, on the other hand, do not have any kind of birthright but we get great joy when New York sports teams fail.  I think the sports fan enthusiasm with NYers and Bostonians are nearly genetic in origin.  According to contemporary health and medicinal talk, what we have are PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS!

So with that in mind, I offer some music for New Yorkers today on this bleak day, the morning after a $200 million team collapsed into darkness….



T H E Y   M I G H T    B E    G I A N T S


 T U P A C  

B O B     D Y L A N 

H A N K    W I L L I A M S

E L V I S    C O S T E L L O

T H E    M A V E R I C K S

T H E    P O L I C E



I would be remiss if (I love cliches like, I would be remiss if) I didn’t offer some music for Bostonians today as well.  With that in mind, let us pray (no, I won’t use that cliche) —-  let us turn to some more music:



T H E     B E A T L E S   

B O B    M A R L E Y

R O L L I N G   S T O N E S 

U 2


E A R T H,  W I N D   &   F I R E

T H E    C O W S I L L S


Have a great weekend!