Episode Transcript (unedited)

 Hello and welcome to Deep Tracks. This is a unique episode. It's not a regular episode in our narrative of the history of rock. It's not a bonus episode in which I do an interview.

Uh, this is a theory episode. We are gonna go into some music theory, which. Um, I probably lost half my audience just right there by saying that. Uh, but hopefully this is, uh, you know, as we're going into the music, we're talking about, uh, things like chord progressions and tambour and meter and all kinds of things.

Uh, you know, I'm, I'm trying to insert little bits of, uh, music theory information to help people understand what I'm talking about. Um, but I kind of felt like, you know, it'd be nice to just kind of take a moment and make. An episode that just really, you know, we roll up our sleeves and we just dive into some, some basic music theory now.

I know this is, it can be a very dry topic for, I mean, some people love it, right? I love it, obviously. And some people do find it very interesting. And then some people, they've probably already hit Skip on this episode, uh, but, um, whatever the case to try and help it be more engaging. Uh, and at the risk of overdoing a bit, I've decided to invite back into the Deep Tracks studio.

Both of my clones. That's right. Hello, I am Doug, part D. No, no, no, no. We're, we're not doing French. Remember we're doing Greek. So I'm Alpha Doug. You're Beta Doug. And, and I'm Gamma Doug. Oh, I like part D. You're French sounds more Scottish than French. Well, we are Scottish. I mean, McCullough, right? I mean it.

So that tracks and I'm Delta Doug. Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Where Told did Wait in the car this other Doug come from. Okay. Okay. We just, we wanted another one to help out with some of our chores. Yeah. Stuff and some other things, you know, around our apartment. And it was supposed to stay in the car. I mean, we left the window cracked and everything.

Okay. No, no, no, no. We're not, we're not doing this. Okay. This is, uh, like. This is getting way too much in the realm of the movie Multiplicity. I mean, our name is even Doug. I mean, that's the name of, okay. That's true of Michael Keaton's character in the movie Multiplicity is Doug. This is, no, we're not doing this.

You wish you could pull off Michael Keaton, right? Uh, okay. Delta, Doug, why don't you just go go back to the car and, all right. We'll come get you later. After we're done recording this episode, I can tell when I'm not wanted. Oh my gosh. Okay. I'm revoking. Both of your cloning privileges. Okay. From now on, only Alpha, Doug can do any cloning, whatever, dad.

Okay, fine. So let's move on with our episode. We are going to talk about, briefly about some basics, like scales. What are scales, and then we're gonna quickly try to move into chords and chord progressions, um, how that works with harmony. We'll also talk about some standard chord progressions and all kinds of fun things like that.

So let's dive into it. It's time.

That's your sting you came up with for No, no, no. We gotta do something else. We're you, alpha Doug, have lost all sting privileges. Agreed. From now on, you need to incorporate me in Gamma Doug. It's about two to one in all transition songs and all material. That's right. Yeah. Gotta run it by us. Yep. Wow. They, they say you're always your own worst critic, but this is ridiculous.

Oh my gosh. Yeah. Just stop. Okay. Okay. Okay. Uh, let's dive into it for real this time. Now, in this episode, as I mentioned before, we're gonna be talking about scales. Now, scales and music is basically just the collection of notes that you're using to create your sound palette. And then chord progressions is how you're gonna organize the harmony of.

The, the notes in your scale and, and actually the way chord progressions are used. Um, I, I kind of like the way it's is done in an episode of the Family Guy, um, which Stewy is, is writing a song about, um, I guess there's another baby that he has a crush on. I, I don't. I don't really watch the family guy, but a student showed this to me one time and I've been using it in my music theory classes ever since then.

So here's that, that clip from the family guy where he's stew's writing this song. All right, come on, Stewy. You can write a song. How hard can it be? You got your G code right here. The song is in the house where you live. That's where you start you journey, right in my house. Nice and cozy. And then you poke your head out the door with a sea chord.

So now's gone to the four chord. He looks OK out here. Look, subdominant, maybe I'll take a walk outside to the decor. This is the five chord dominant. Walking around outside, look at all the stuff out here. Now he's about to go to the minor court and we go to a, so this is the two chord, little cloudy here.

He'll go to the sixth. We might have notice the darker character of the minor courts. Definitely got some weather. Things are a little more complicated than they at first. And then we go back to my house. And that's a perfect analogy for how chords work. You, um, whatever key you're in, you'll usually start off on that chord.

So in this case, Dewey was writing a song in the key of G, so he started on G chord. And then the other chords, there are a way of kind of making a journey through the song. Um, but then a lot of times, most of the time the point is for that journey to end up. Back home again with your one chord. Now, this isn't always the case.

Sometimes songs end on something other than a one chord. Yeah. But like 99.9% of the time, they, they go back to one. Although I am reminded of one of my favorite examples in which a piece of music does not end on the one chord, that's the the very end of. Uh, Charles Ives is Symphony number two, um, which let's play just the last few seconds of it.

This is the New York Philharmonica under the direction of Leonard Bernstein. You mean Bernstein? Shut up.

That guy was a mad genius. Yeah, he's a really interesting figure that it would be kind of cool to do. He has nothing to do with the history of rock, but it would be fun to just contrive a reason to do a whole episode on him sometime. He, he made his money, you know, in working for Insurance com, mutual life insurance.

And, uh, just, but always had a passion for composing and, um, anyway, this has nothing to do with, with chord progressions. No, it doesn't. Let's get back on track, shall we? So there are some chord progressions that are used so often within certain genres of music that they. Even become somewhat synonymous with that genre of music.

So there's a, a chord progression called the doo-wop progression. The doop progression starts on the one chord, then it goes to the six and then the two, and then the five. Yeah. And then it cycles back to the one. And all these, these numbers that we're tossing out will make sense in just a moment. Yeah.

When we start talking about scales. But before that Alpha Dog, tell us what we're gonna do first. Uh, what we're gonna do is we're gonna share a brief. Clip of, um, a YouTube video featuring the band Axis of Awesome. Yep. And in this, this video, it's kind of a famous video. Uh, they, what they did is they, they performed, um, I don't remember however many songs.

36. It's a medley of 36 songs. Yeah. Like a ton of 'em. Um, that they're all like famous, popular songs, but they all use the same exact chord progression. So let's play a little clip of it, uh, real quick and then we'll talk about it. Well, that time we've never had a hit. I'll just, yeah. But you guys know why, why we never wrote a four chord song.

What do you, what's that? What's a four chord song? Benny? Well, Fiona, all the greatest hits from the past 40 years. Just use four chords. St. Paul Chords for every song, it's dead simple to write a pop here. Just four. Yeah, yeah, yeah. These four here. 1, 2, 3, 4 chords. Sorry, let me get this straight chicken.

Little, um, what you are, um, what you're trying to say is you can. You can take those four chords, repeat them, and pump out every pop song ever. Is, is that what you're saying? Yeah. All right. And then and here, a little play clip of him demonstrating it. Just listen. Do you recognize this? Uh, yeah. That is Don't Stop Believing By Journey.

It's a great song. Very original. There's a few more fit. Check it out. My life is brilliant. My love is pure. So this is You're Beautiful by James Lum. I saw name. That's just two songs that New Forever Young by Alpha Bill. Right. And he continues on, he plays a bunch more songs and then eventually they all join in together.

Yeah. Here we get a little Elton John right here.

That's right. And it keeps going. So they do 36 in total, right? And they, uh, and there's a list of the songs that they have in their medley, um, in the notes below, or the comments below the YouTube video. Um, which we'll actually, we'll, we'll link, uh, the YouTube video in the deep tracks or the show notes for this episode in the Deep Tracks website.

So the chords that they're playing, uh, are an e major chord. And then a B major chord and then a C sharp minor chord, and then an a major chord, right? So,

But when they say the same four chords for all the hit songs, they're talking in terms of a chord progression. Now, when we talk about chord progression, we're talking more so in terms of how chords function. So not all of those songs use exactly an E major chord followed by a B major chord, followed by a C sharp minor.

No. What we're talking about is, uh, really a one chord. Followed by a five chord, followed by a six chord, followed by a four chord. And now this is where we're gonna start talking about scales a little bit before we move on with chords. Yeah. So where the chord numbers come from, it comes from the, the scale degree numbers in the scale.

So, um, in most music of western civilization, scales are diatonic scales mean it have seven. Pitches or seven notes. And so, because we were just talking about music in the key of E major, we'll, we'll stay in E Major for now. So an E major, the, the first note in the scale is yes, E, and then it goes to F sharp.

And then G Sharp and then A, and then B, and then C Sharp, and then D Sharp, and then back to E. Now, when we look at the, when we're talking about scales, we talk about each of these notes in terms of scale, degree, numbers. So here's one, which is E, that's where we get the name of the, the scale. It's also called the Tonic.

And then F Sharp is two. Also called the super tonic. That's my favorite. And then G Sharp is three, also called the median, and then A is four, also called the Subdominant. Then B is five, also called the Dominant. Then C Sharp is six. Also call the sub median. And then D Sharp is seven. Called the leading tone because it leads us back to e or one or eight, or tonic, whatever you wanna call it.

Right? If, if this was, um, probably the, the way that most people have heard this described or will think of it is from, um, sulf Fe or, you know, I mean, popularized in the sound of music, but you know, you have, do Ray me fa, Soult. Doe, which this reminds me of one of my favorite bits in The Simpsons, where Homer is driving and they hit a deer statue with the car doe.

A deer, A female. Yes. It's like, really? It's a great moment. So, um, now what this, this'll bring us back to, uh, what we're talking about with cord numbers or cords that have numbers, cords with functions. So in the QV major, the cord built on the one is the one cord, yeah. Which is an E major cord, and then the two.

Is a F sharp minor chord. The three is a G sharp minor chord. The four is an A major chord. The five is a B major chord. The six is a C sharp major chord, B minor. The seven is a D sharp diminished chord. And then that brings us back to another. E major chord, right? And so axis of when they're talking about songs easing the same chords, they are talking about songs that use the same chord progression, the same chord numbers, which in the key of E happened to be an E major chord followed by a B major chord, followed by a C sharp minor, followed by an A major.

But we can take this, we can transpose it to any other key, right? So if we were gonna do this in the key of C, we can still take the one cord. Follow up by the five chord, follow up by the six chord, and then follow that by the four chord. And the chord progression will be the same even though we're in a different key.

So. So C major scale, we have C is the one, D is two, E is three. F is four, G is five. A is six, B is seven, and C again, of course is one, right? So, um, we could take the one chord C major, and then our chord progression is followed by the five G major, and then it's followed by the six A minor, and then it's followed by the four F major, right?

So we have the same chord progression in a different key. So we could play it like how it would be in a song. Usually. This is how you hear this chord progression in most of these songs. For some reason that's our C major. C major, A minor F major. Let's change keys. Let's go to a major, but let's change up the style A majors our one chord.

There's our five chord, which is E major. And then do you remember where we go after that? So the six chord will be F sharp, minor? That's correct. And then our four chord is D Major. Good job. Wow. I, I really live for your praise. Yeah. Here's a Scooby snack for you. I think we'd belabored this point enough.

Okay. So I'm gonna demonstrate a couple of these things, uh, using the doop chord progression. Yeah. Let's do this. Right. Um, so as you remember, the doop progression, it starts on a one chord. Yep. Then it goes to the six chord, then to the two chord, then to the five chord. That's right. And let's say, I really like the Doo op song Shaboom.

And I want to sing it, you know, I'm listening to the original recording, which was done by the group, the chords, and, uh, they, they, they perform it in the key of F And so my, in the key of f my one chord is an F chord, which is the major chord. Then my two chord is D I'm sorry, my six chord is D minor. Yep.

And then my two chord is G minor. And then my five chord is G Major. G major. So let's say I'm listening to it. And I think, yeah, I can, I can sing this and I start trying to sing it. So life could be a dream. Yeah. If I could only sing, life could be a dream. This key is way too high. Right. So I, I realize like, oh my gosh, this's a little bit high for my voice.

Yep. I don't have a great voice to begin with, and then I start singing it. This is not gonna work. So, This is where music theory comes in and this is where it is. Why sometimes when you hear covers done of songs, you'll hear them in a different key because Yeah, yeah. You have to shift the, the music around the accompaniment to fit the range of the vocalists.

Exactly. So, so I have a horrible range, so obviously this is a much bigger issue for, for me, as opposed to, Uh, a professional vocalist or someone who's is well trained or just has a, an amazing range, you know, there's much more versatility, um, and they can kind of grapple with more stuff and it's, there's not as much onus put on the, the backing musicians to adjust themselves for the vocalist, which I have done that several times.

There's been a number of times where I've been actually an rehearsal and. And the music was just in a, a rough key for the vocalist. And, and there on the fly we had to transpose everything into a different key, which is always kind of an adventure. But, um, alright, so if I wanted to take this song now, remember, I'll remind you what it sounds like in the key of F.

So, so if we wanna go down a half step, then I'd be in the key of E Major. So then my one chord course is E major to C sharp minor, which is, yeah, the six chord and then the two chord, F sharp, minor, and then the five on B major.

Then we go down another half step to E flat, right, E flat, and then. C minor, then F minor, and then B flap major. I really wanna launch it down. I could go or I could just shuffle over to the key of of C, which could be lower or higher depending on, on which way you go. Right? That's the point of octaves and music is, is the same sound, but kind of a different pitch level.

So yeah, let's demonstrate that. C major, a minor D minor. G major, but here I can jump up an octave, which is more of a Chinese sound. So it's the same notes, but higher pitch. Or I could go down to another octave. Yeah. The tamper changes depending on the octave. Right? So there's, there's lots of options. You can go up a key down, a key up, an octave, down on octave.

It gives you all sorts of stuff to play with. Okay. But the where, where this becomes a chord progression that gets used often is what I'll, what I'm gonna do is I'm gonna play this chord progression for a while. And then I will toss out the words and melody of a few different Doo-wop songs, and I'm gonna stay in the key of C.

No, no. Let's do in the key of D. That'll be easier than C C's. A little bit too low. Yeah, I agree. Let's do D. All right. All right. Right. The, the clones have spoken. All right. So myself and myself and myself will. Try to um, not butcher these doo-wop songs too poorly. Yeah. Um, I will say there's going to be heavy usage of pitch.

Oh yeah. Correction on my part. What about you guys? Definitely. Yeah. You guys can use some pitch correction. Oh yeah, yeah. Totally. Little auto tune. Magic major. Let's make it happen. Captain. It's on like donkey com. Oh my gosh. This is starting to sound like the trolls soundtrack. Okay, here we goes. Three doo-wop songs, um, all in a row using the exact same chord progression.

This is gonna be like our own version of Axis of Awesome. The nexus of. Never sing again or the alliance of oral agony. Yeah, that's probably more accurate. Life could be a dream if I could take.

If you will tell me I'm the only one that you love, life could be a dream sweetheart. Sweet sweetheart. Hello, hello, hello again. Tell me, tell me, tell me, oh, who wrote the book of Love? I've got to know the answer. Will this? Someone from up above wonder.

Okay. Now that we've completely dishonored the memories of the. The, uh, the chords, the Dell Vikings and the Crests. Is that who recorded? Uh, book of Love? Nope. No, no, no. You're, you're, I think they recorded, uh, 16 Candles. That's kind of their big hit. Um, it was the Monotone who Recorded, who wrote The Book of Love.

So those are the three songs that we, that we just did. We did, um, Shabo by the Chords, and who wrote The Book of Love by the monotone. And then come along with me by the Dell Vikings. Now, when we say by, we mean as, as in who kind of first recorded the songs and first made these songs famous. Right. Um, they were written by songwriters, uh, who were sometimes part of the actual performing group.

Often they were not. And, and then of course, very often they were recovered by other groups. Um, yeah. A lot of times these were. Made popular by, uh, a group of black singers and then covered by white singers. Yeah, that's what would allow for the, the crossover. The song would crossover, but not always the artists, but it, we mentioned earlier the song 16 Candles, and that's a good example of a, a doop song that does not use a doop chord progression.

So, you know, when we refer to this doop court progression is, It's called that just because it's, it's kind of the most common chord progression in doo-wop music. Um, but it doesn't mean that every single doo-wop song is using that chord progression. Uh, so, but for example, with 16 candles, what's interesting is, um, you know, it has this little introductory portion, but then once you get the first verse going, Our cord progression, it starts on, it's in the key of C and it starts on a C cord, but then that C chord immediately moves to a C7 cord.

Now what it's doing there, when it goes to the c7, it's, it's izing a new key. Very briefly. So, very briefly, it's making us feel like we are in the key of F because C seven is the five, seven, or the five chord, a dominant seventh chord of F. I know I'm throwing a lot of terms at you, but. But basically the point of the C seven, when you add that seventh cord to, or that seventh to it, it makes it feel, yes, it makes it feel like you're in the, in a, briefly, in a different key.

And then in this case, it's in the key of F. So, but then when it goes from that, uh, so it goes from C to C, seven to F, and then it briefly goes to F minor. And then that transitions to G and then brings us back to C. So it's kind of a different chord progression than what you get in most Doo op music, but it's handled very well, especially with, this is called chromaticism, where you're, you're using.

Notes from other keys to, uh, to kind of smooth the transition as you work your way from cord to cord. Um, right. Instead of just going from C to an F chord, I can go C to C seven and it creates that tension that makes it really want to resolve to F and then I go to F minor. And the f that part that makes it minor, that makes it wanna slide down to G and then.

I can make it a G seven that again, adds tension to make it want to go to C. So let's hear what it actually sounds like in the actual song. Well, one of us performing it you mean who's gonna sing this one? Alpha Dog. You want to take this one? Fine. I'll do it. Yeah. And then actually, you know, let's make it a little more authentic.

Let's add some kind of, uh, vintage sounding reverb to the voice so it just sounds more like an old We'll leave in the pitch correction because Yes, please. Um, we, Love our audience and we don't wanna punish them too much. Hey. But, uh, we'll add some, we'll add some reverb. Yep. And that'll make it sound a little more authentic and cover up more of my bad singing.

16 candle all sing


Blow out the candles

sound. That's your blowing sound. You're blowing out the candles. All right. But I think that demonstrates what we're talking about with. It's still in the style of doo-wop. Um, you should really listen to the original cuz it has all the other singers in there that gives it that real doo-wop sound. Um, but also demonstrating how the chord progression is working together.

Each of the chords is really helping move the music. Forward to the next chord. Yeah. And that's basically what chord progressions are, are all about. If you really think about it, it's just tension and release music is a, is a temporal art form, meaning it's experienced through time. Um, you know, other examples of temporal art forms would be dance or, or even literature or movies or plays the theater, right?

So anything that's an art form that you kind of experience the, the art. Over time. It's, it's, you get bits and pieces of the art piece itself through time as opposed to, you know, like a sculpture or a painting or architecture where everything is presented at place. Wait, wait. So do you think podcasting counts as a temple art form?

Let's not cheapen art by what, you know, attaching things to it that hardly count as art. This is totally art. This is the highest form of art right here. Okay. Let's not get into like a hole. You know, esoteric discussion right now about what is art and what isn't. Agreed. Agreed. Let's, um, let's get back to talking about chord progressions.

Yes. Tension and release. Yeah, you're right. It, it's, it's, um, it's tension and release. So chords, the, the way that they're working from one chord to the next, that helps you feel like you're moving through time, which is why if, you know, if you have a, a song that uses what's called a drone is just kind of hovering so, On one.

Yeah, on one cord or one note. So you can start off just with one note here, and then we can add the fifth. Um, and so this open fifth, it has this kind of, this spacious feeling and because it's not moving to any other cords, we feel like we're floating. Composers use this a lot to just kind of create a sense.

Of floating or timelessness. Right. And especially with these lower voices, you know, and then we add the third of the cord. So right now this is a C major cord and it's spaced out so that we have the root of the cord at the very bottom, then the fifth and then the third. But we can move that third down a half step, and that will change it from a C major chord to a C minor chord.

Right there. And that's where you can change the quality of a chord to c major to C minor from C major to C minor is by playing with the third of the chord. Right? And when we're talking about the, the root and the the third and the fifth and all those things, again, you can, um, so each chord, the name of the chord is, is derived from the root.

So the root of a C major chord is C. And, and then if you just imagine, um, just. The A scale built on that route, that's where we get numbers for the third and the fifth and those kinds of things. So for a C major chord. The third is an E, right? C, D, E. That's three notes up. And then the fifth is G, so C, D, E, F, G.

So that's. Five notes up. So that's the fifth of the chord. And uh, so when people talk, you know, you hear, uh, musicians often talk about chords in those terms. You know, the fifth of the chord, the third of the chord. There are different chord members that have different purposes, and you can create different effects like we did with that open fifth earlier, where it's just this open, spacious sound.

Um, a lot of rock music just. Uses the open fifth, um, especially in power cords. And then, uh, but you can add the third of the cord and that that will give it the major or the minor, uh, sort of value to it. You can also add the seventh to the cord and that can jazz it up a bit. If it's a lowered a flat seven, a lowered seventh.

Um, then that will make that cord, it's, you can use it to then transition to, um, like we demonstrated earlier with, uh, 16 candles. That's a great way to use it to transition to a new, uh, temporary tonic. Or if you add a raised seventh, it has a very jazzy kind of sound. You know, if you, if you add it onto a, a major triad, if you have a major seventh, it has a very.

Yeah, a lot of jazz sort of uses that sound, and if you use a minor chord, a minor triad, and you add a major seventh, That has the James Bond villain sound. Yeah, it's a great chord. Especially in a higher octave. Yeah, I mean, it's basically the entire Incredibles soundtrack right there, right Now, one more thing we can say about drones.

Um, and again, I, I need to emphasize, most of the time when somebody's talking about a drone in music, they really, they usually are talking about a single note, or if they are talking about a cord, it's usually gonna be an open fifth. Like we had kind of demonstrated. Um, but uh, something else that is similar to a drone is something called pedal points.

So you might have a single note that is being sustained underneath a cord progression that is happening across the top of that, and that's called Pedal Point. And it can create kind of a. Interesting, sort, sort of tension. Um, maybe even like a, an expectant, um, sort of tension if it's major chords at the top, or a sort of dread if it's minor chords over the top, depending on again, what instrumentation you're using and, and all that kind of thing.

But yeah, kind of a classic example of, okay, so to differentiate here, a, a classic example of drone in music would be in traditional Indian music. Yeah. Which plays a drone chord on the toura. While the sitar is playing a ragga across the top of it. And, uh, I mean, it's much more complex than that of course, but, but that's a great example that I think a lot of people are probably familiar with and, you know, like that would provide the bass for like the Beatles song within you Without you, which definitely channels the sound of.

Um, Indian music and, you know, with its use of drone and then the scale being, uh, played across the top, especially playing with major and minor chords, shifting back and forth. Right. And a great example of pedal point or a pedal tone in rock music, um, would be cashmere by Led Zeppelin. Uh, it's a classic example of.

All right. And that's, uh, everything for now that I think we wanted to say about. Yeah, I think so. Chord progressions and chords and scales. That's right. Now that everyone's mind has been blown. And as always, you can find much more information on my website to access some of the music that I talk about in this podcast.

Be sure to follow me on Instagram. Um, but please don't follow me on the street because that would be stalking.

This is

and it's theory. Till next time, keep it deep.