Billy McLaughlin, ‘William’s Run’.

Just wanted to document an insistently lovely piece from guitar inspiration Billy McLaughlin.  Via Pandora I have found that I like a lot of his work, and the story of his struggle with focal dystonia does rather add to the mystique.

Anyway, I love this piece, “William’s Run“.  Bookmarked!



This is a “quickie” anthology of a few of my own favorite drummers.  The idea was inspired by a coworker, but since I like to annotate things a bit (stop laughing, now), I thought it made sense to post it here.

Bill Bruford

Heart of the Sunrise.  If I had to pick one short example of what I love so much about Bruford’s style, it’s to be found between 0:32 and 2:08 from the 1972 studio recording of Yes’ Heart of the Sunrise.  He decorates like nobody else I’ve heard before, and it’s especially noticeable when his playing is sparse like this.

Indiscipline.  This tune dates from 1981 and is a great summary vehicle for the ’80s King Crimson in general.  This clip is from 1982, with some good coverage of Bruford’s playing.

Interestingly, here is Bruford, years later at a drum workshop, discussing his approach to playing (and playing with) the tune’s introductory drum sequence:

Larks’ Tongues in Aspic, Part One.  Here is Bruford with storied percussionist Jamie Muir in the 1973 Crimson piece “Larks’ Tongues in Aspic”.  (Gotta love that early ’70s video aesthetic.)  It’s not quite right to cut the piece up like this–the below clip omits nearly half of LTIA Part One, and then there’s the rollicking LTIA Part Two bookending the other end of the album;  you really need the whole thing for proper context–but it nonetheless gives an idea of what sort of sound coloring that edition of Crimson was experimenting with.  Anyway, here Muir is the far more interesting player;  his impact on Bruford’s subsequent playing was…significant.

There’s lots of other Bruford to go further with, but the above gives a decent introduction.

Other King Crimson

Starless.  The tune dates from 1974, and the studio recording is simply stunning, but this clip is from 2015, played by a seven-headed beast representing the first King Crimson group to seriously treat prior material.  (This is still weird to me, the notion of going to a King Crimson show and hearing anything other than the current band’s all new music.  But they are re-invigorating much of the back catalog in a way that is more than honorable to the Crim muse.)  I posted on it in a bit more detail already, but am including it here again to showcase that triple-drummer frontline.  The 13/4 and 13/8 middle sections are a great showcase for the patience and collaboration that Mastelotto, Rieflin, and Harrison bring to this group.  Three drummers and still, so much space!

Easy Money.  Another clip from the 2015 tour, this one of the 1973 piece Easy Money.  Another look at the frontline of that seven headed beast (the first one I stumbled across);  here, Rieflin is entirely on keyboards, leaving Mastelotto and Harrison to share the fun bits.

Zappa drummers

The Black Page, played by Terry Bozzio.  This is a famous piece with a funny story.  I couldn’t find the one I’d seen before with Bozzio and Chad Wackerman playing it in unison, with a rolling score superimposed on the screen, but here is a good one of Bozzio (the drummer who first played the piece) on his own.  Remember, this is a written piece, not an improvised one.

Here’s another clip of Bozzio in his prime, taking the vocal on “Punky’s Whips”, followed by one of those Frank Moments.  It may be possible to rock harder than this, but you’d have to work at it.  🙂

Thirteen.  This one gets the include both because it’s Vinnie Colaiuta, generally regarded as the most technically skilled of all the Zappa drummers, and because I just love hearing Frank casually telling the audience how to clap along in 13/8 time.  And then he and Shankar just tear it up.

One could really go on about Zappa drummers–and many others–but I’ll stop there for now.


Does this question make my pocket protector look big?

So today, on my way to work, while stopped and waiting for the pilot car (the five Alaska seasons being fall, winter, breakup, spring, and road construction), a question popped into my head:  in the famous Paul Desmond piece “Take Five“, would it be more appropriate to view the descending turnaround as belonging to the song’s root (minor) tonic, or to its relative major as a temporary replacement tonic?  This is just an attempt to better understand how to think about the written sequence of chords.  I think I talked it out of myself at the time, but I’d love the opinion of those more formally versed in theory than I am.

(Yes, I think geeky things at weird times.  It just seems to be the way I’m made.)

Okay, so I’ve studied the piece a bit before, even going so far as to score it up as an arrangement for Guitar Circle Colorado, transposed up a half step into the more convenient E minor.  (What follows is based on that Em arrangement.)

The vamp is written as Em – Bm7, which is a natural minor thing, written with one sharp on the staff.  The turnaround is written as:

Cmaj7 – Am6 – Bm7 – Em7 – Am7 – D7 – Gmaj7
Cmaj7 – Am6 – Bm7 – Em7 – Am7 – D7 – F#m7 – B7

It occurred to me that one way to think of this turnaround sequence would be within the context of the Em as the tonic chord, in which case I’d think of the chords like this:

VI maj7 – IV m6 – V m7 – I m7 – IV m7 – VII 7 – III maj7
VI maj7 – IV m6 – V m7 – I m7 – IV m7 – VII 7 – II m7 – V 7

Hm.  That somehow doesn’t seem right–more like a shoehorn than a natural fit.  But what if I looked at the turnaround as belonging to the key of G–which would be, after all, the relative major of E minor?  Then I’d think of the chords like this:

IV maj7 – VII m6 – III m7 – VI m7 – II m7 – V 7 – I maj7
IV maj7 – VII m6 – III m7 – VI m7 – II m7 – V 7 – VII m7b5 – III 7

Well, that seems to clean up a lot, doesn’t it?  4-7-3-6-2-5-1 would seem to be rather precisely descending in fifths, and the idea of the last four chords being a two-five on G followed by a two-five on Em…finally sold me on the idea.

Okay, so that’s what occurred.  And the question to those more formally schooled in functional theory than I:  am I thinking properly here, or am I missing something obvious?

Polyrhythm graphic.

There’s a programming experiment and educational resource in here somewhere, I am sure.


Pretty cool, no?  Maybe I can devise a programming experiment as a collaboration with my daughter (who’s just becoming interested in programming), with some basic utility tools like lighting up one or more of the polygons at a time (and therefore ignoring others), slowing it down, providing counts at sync-up moments–etc.  I suspect it will be worth it as an educational tool for grokking polyrhythms, and possibly other things too.  (Yes, I are a geek.)

Found via the TwitFace, as posted on Imgur, and reproduced here for bookmarking and attribution.