The inverse pedal point in music

Van Halen, Chopin, Johnny Cash, Samuel Barber

Inverted Pedal PointJaquandor, as is his tradition, was playing his Your Daily Dose of Christmas. One post highlighted the oratorio L’Enfance du Christ by Hector Berlioz. I had not heard that work.

Well, there is one exception. The Shepherd’s Farewell is one of my all-time favorite pieces of music. And the best moment is when the soprano note remains on the same note, but the rest of the chord below it changes, at about 1:00, 2:20, and 3:45 here. I find it utterly exquisite. Does that have a musical name?

As it turns out, it does. “That is called an ‘inverse pedal point’! A pedal point happens when the bass tone holds while everything above it shifts; an inversion occurs when the same thing is done with a voice other than the bass. Music! :)”

Now, I was familiar with the pedal point, even if I didn’t know what it was called. Singing bass in a church choir, we often sustained our notes while the other sections moved. This guy can explain better than I.

And here are some examples. It appears Jump by Van Halen is a popular choice. As I suspected, the drone of the bagpipe is a pedal point.

“When a pedal point occurs in a voice other than the bass, it is usually referred to as an inverted pedal point. Pedal points are usually on either the tonic or the dominant (fifth note of the scale) tones.” Think of the version of Hurt by Johnny Cash, starting at 0:52.

Amen

Final cadences, such as the Amen at the end of a church hymn, often involve the sopranos singing the tonic note twice, while the other parts move. Listen to the Barber Adagio for Strings, specifically around 5:30, and in general about 2/3s of the way through a recording. It ALWAYS devastates me.

Another favorite piece of music with a pedal point is the Raindrop Prelude, Op.28 No.15 by Chopin. This video is useful because it comes with a score. As Paul Barton plays the FEURICH piano, note that there’s a pedal point almost from the very beginning in the bass line. But notice how, at 2 minutes in, at the key change, the continual note is now at the top, first in the bass clef, then the treble. Then the repeated note is somewhere in the middle before the piece reverts to the original key.

If you want to play music at my funeral, I’d suggest the Barber adagio or Raindrop Prelude by Chopin. Or preferably both, though I probably won’t have much of a say in the decision.

Favorites: Johnny Cash (1996-2004)

Unearthed

Johnny Cash.AmericanRecordsHere is another edition of J. Eric Smith’s game show, Favorite Songs by Favorite Bands. Once again, I pulled a solo artist. If I HAD picked a band for this time period, it’d likely be The Beatles again, who had started putting out the Anthology albums.

Over a half-century, I kept discovering and rediscovering Johnny Cash. From his early hits, I knew who he was. He sang the theme for The Rebel (1959-1962) TV show. The prison albums catapulted him to new fame. I watched his great TV show (1969-1972) which had a lot of rock, pop and soul singers as well as country stars; I just discovered it’s being rerun in my area.

But by the early 1980s, I’d largely lost track of him, except for his appearances with the Highwaymen. Well, he had a good quarter-century run. But then he guests on a U2 album, singing The Wanderer!

Shortly thereafter, he did that first American Recording, produced by Rick Rubin, that came out in 1994. And I’m a John R. Cash fan once again. The second disc, with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers as his backup band, was also quite appealing. So I had to buy some old Johnny Cash, a greatest hits CD plus Folsom Prison and San Quentin.

The third album was released in 2000, and the fourth in 2002. Right after he died in 2003, Unearthed was released. It contained outtakes and alternate versions of songs recorded for those four American Recordings. It also contained My Mother’s Hymn Book, gospel songs Cash first learned as a child. The final disc is the best of collection from those four albums.

Songs

My favorite Johnny Cash songs lean heavily on his latter period. And I’m limiting it to 10 because otherwise, it’d be 50. Only the top 2 are for sure in those positions.

kappa. Redemption Song, with the late Joe Strummer, written by the late Bob Marley, from Unearthed. There are lots of gems there.
iota. God’s Gonna Cut You Down from the posthumous fifth American Recording, the history of the song appears HERE.
theta. Ring Of Fire. Hey, I’m a sucker for the horns, for the Carters’ harmonies…
eta. We’ll Meet Again – the last song on the last album he released before he died. Incidentally, Vera Lynn, most associated with the song, died this year.
zeta. Personal Jesus. Originally performed by Depeche Mode. 4th American album.

epsilon. I Walk the Line – this song defined JRC for me when I was growing up
delta. I Hung My Head from the 4th American album. I owned the Sting original version first and still recognized that Johnny had usurped it from the composer.
gamma. Rusty Cage from the 2nd American album. Written by the late Chris Cornell of Soundgarden
beta. Hurt from the 4th American album. Written by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails. The song was nominated for best male video at the MTV VMAs but lost to Justin Timberlake. Timberlake said in his acceptance speech “This is a travesty! I demand a recount. My grandfather raised me on Johnny Cash.”
alpha. The Mercy Seat from the 3rd American Recording. A cover of a Nick Cave song.

Next time period

Beach Boys (2005-2008). My friend Donna George died back in 2002. I had given her a box set of the Beach Boys, and I took it back, with her blessing the month before she died. After the baby was born, I needed musical comfort food and they were the choice.

Bubbling Under Billboard Hot 100 #2

Most of these I have on vinyl

Janis Joplin
Janis Joplin
More from Bubbling Under the Billboard Hot 100, 1959-2004. These are songs, which didn’t quite make it to the promised land on the primary US singles chart, that I own. I find this to be an interesting way for me to rediscover music I haven’t played in a while.

Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing – Buffalo Springfield, #110 in 1966. Written by Neil Young.
I’ll Feel A Whole Lot Better – The Byrds, #103 in 1965, B-side of All I Really Want to Do (#40)

Johnny Cash

I own a LOT of John R.’s music
The Rebel -Johnny Yuma, #108 in 1961, theme from The Rebel TV Series. Country #24
Boa Constrictor, #107 in 1966,. Country #39
Papa Was a Good Man, #104 in 1971. Country #16

Why Does Love Have To Be So Sad – Derek and the Dominoes, #120 in 1973. Listed under Eric Clapton
Walking After Midnight – Patsy Cline, #108 in 1963 on Everest Records; reissue of her #12 hit in 1957 on Decca
In the Air Tonight – Phil Collins, #102 in 1984; reissue of the #19 hit from 1981 on an Atlantic oldies label. Popularized again because of the TV show Miami Vice.

Baretta’s Theme – Sammy Davis, Jr., #101 in 1976, Keep Your Eye on the Sparrow, from the TV series starring Robert Blake
Jesus Freak – DC Talk, #109 in 1995
Heartbreak Town – Dixie Chicks, #102 in 2001, #23 country
If You Don’t Love Me (I’ll Kill Myself) – Pete Droge, #119 in 1995. I’ve met Droge at least thrice, twice in Albany and once in Boston.
Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again – Bob Dylan (live), #110 in 1977

Do What You Gotta Do – Roberta Flack, #117 in 1971
Today I Sing the Blues – Aretha Franklin, #101 in 1969; originally #10 RB in 1960
A Funky Space Reincarnation – Marvin Gaye, #106 in 1979; this is the album version
Love and Happiness – Al Green, #104 in 1977, RB #92

Do It for Love – Daryl Hall and John Oates, #114 in 2002, AC #1
Watermelon Man – Herbie Hancock, #121 in 1963
Stone Free – the Jimi Hendrix Experience, #130 in 1969; all I could find were live versions
Baby Did A Bad Bad Thing – Chris Isaak, #125 from 1999, from the movie Eyes Wide Shut
It’s Different for Girls – Joe Jackson, #101 for two weeks in 1979

Jefferson Airplane

Most of these I have on something called vinyl
My Best Friend – #103 in 1967
Two Heads, #124 in 1967, B-side of Ballad Of You & Me & Pooneil (#42)
Plastic Fantastic Lover, #133 in 1969, originally the B-side of White Rabbit (#8)
Mexico, #102 in 1970
Have You Seen the Saucers, #102 in 1970 (the flip side of Mexico)
Long John Silver, #104 in 1972

Janis Joplin

Her version of Me and Bobby McGee was the second posthumous #1 pop song
Bye, Bye Baby – Big Brother and the Holding Company, #118 in 1967
Try (Just a Little Bit Harder), #103 in 1970
Maybe, #110 in 1970

J is for Tom Jones at 70-something


One of those guys I’m friends with on Facebook, after wishing for something impractical, wrote: “Well, here is a better, and more tasteful desire: I want to see Tom Jones make a bare-bones acoustic guitar album, a la Johnny Cash.”

It’s pretty clear to me and most people that those American Recordings of Cash in the 1990s and early 2000s represent some of the finest music in his career. As it turns out, Welsh singer Sir Thomas John Woodward, OBE, has already followed suit.

Praise & Blame came out 26 July 2010. “The album was Jones’ first release with Island Records and was recorded in 2009… [It] was made up of largely little known devotional and gospel covers, marking a departure from the pop-orientated style that had dominated Jones’ recent recordings…

“Upon its release, Praise & Blame received generally positive reviews from most critics. Giving the album four stars, Andrew Perry in The Daily Telegraph claimed that the album was ‘by far Jones’ best album in two decades’ and stated that “with its loose, spontaneous sound, and the all-pervasive sense of artistic rebirth… it’s a revelation.'”

Spirit in the Room (2012): “Tom Jones is still commendably committed to re-imagining himself as a Rick Rubin-years Johnny Cash, by way of interestingly oddball selections of Americana and bespoke blues covers.”

Long Lost Suitcase (2016): “Andre Paine, reviewing for the Evening Standard also gave it four stars, stating ‘At 75, Jones’s volcanic vocal still sounds majestic on an album that maintains the artistic rejuvenation of recent years.'”

I have the first two albums of the trilogy of albums produced by Ethan Johns, and I like them a lot. They’re a far cry from What’s New Pussycat and It’s Not Unusual.

Listen to:

What Good Am I here or here

Burning Hell here or here

Run On here; Johnny Cash performed the same song, as “God’s Gonna Cut You Down”, on American V: A Hundred Highways (recorded in 2003, released posthumously in 2006)

Bad as Me here or here

Hit or Miss here or here

Travelin’ Shoes here

Dimming of the Day here

Charlie Darwin here or here

For ABC Wednesday

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Chopped liver

Music

Just a clown singing Pinball Wizard to the tune of Folsom Prison Blues

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Genesis Tour Manager Recalls His Role in One of Rock’s Most Embarrassing Moments

Rock’n’roll shrimp named after Pink Floyd because of its deafening vocal ability