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.

V is for Van Halen

Alex, Eddie, David, Michael
Alex, Eddie, David, Michael

In that great musical debate about the preferred lead singer of Van Halen, I suppose I’m in the David Lee Roth camp, rather than the Sammy Hagar camp. It is only because my one and only VH album, 1982’s Diver Down, features Roth. “From 1974 until 1985 the band comprised guitarist Eddie Van Halen, vocalist David Lee Roth, drummer Alex Van Halen [Eddie’s brother] and bassist Michael Anthony.” That’s the group I remember watching in the early days of MTV.

Eddie played the blistering guitar solo on Michael Jackson’s hit single Beat It [LISTEN], #1 for three weeks in 1983.

LISTEN to: all charting info from the Billboard (US) charts.

From Van Halen II:
Dance The Night Away, #15 in 1979

From Diver Down:
Oh, Pretty Woman, #12 in 1982. This is one of five covers on the album, this one originally recorded and co-written by Roy Orbison.
Big Bad Bill Is Sweet William Now (Is Sweet William Now), which was written and first recorded in 1924. Jan Van Halen, Alex and Eddie’s father, plays the clarinet.
Happy Trails. The theme song of that singing cowboy of movies and television, Roy Rogers, written by his wife, Dale Evans.

From 1984:
Jump, #1 for five weeks in 1984.

When Michael Anthony left/was booted out of the band in 2006, coinciding with Roth’s second return, the new bassist was Wolfgang Van Halen, Eddie’s son with his former wife, actress Valerie Bertinelli (One Day at a Time, Hot in Cleveland).

Van Halen was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007. But at the time of the induction ceremony, Eddie Van Halen was heading for rehab. As it turned out, only Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony, both ex-members of the band, showed up.

 


ABC Wednesday – Round 14

Making Music, Literally

It’s just my pushback against W.W.C.T.G.Y.T.B.N.C.O.S.Y.A.O. – the World Wide Conspiracy To Get You To Buy New Copies Of Stuff You Already Own.

I used to occasionally buy music from Amazon. But since I canceled my Amazon credit card – because the issuing bank was going to slap on some minimum payment every month even if I had no balance – thus denying me access to some Amazon points I’d get from purchasing from them, I’ve been less inclined.

Still, I occasionally need new music. Or music that is new again to me. I have a bunch of LPs in the attic I cannot access because the area is under long-delayed refurbishing, including insulating.

The thing to do: go to the library, take out albums I already have on vinyl, copy them, then listen to them. Understand that I have absolutely no guilt about doing this.

I have purchased the music; I still have the music in my possession. It’s just my pushback against W.W.C.T.G.Y.T.B.N.C.O.S.Y.A.O. – the World Wide Conspiracy To Get You To Buy New Copies Of Stuff You Already Own.

These are some of the albums I’ve checked out, and copied, recently:

Pinups – David Bowie. This is an album of covers of songs made noteworthy by the Who, the Yardbirds, the Pretty Things and more. LISTEN to Friday On My Mind, originally done by the Easybeats.

Diver Down – Van Halen. The only VH I ever owned, it shares a common song with Pinups: Where Have All the Good Times Gone? , a Kinks song. It also features Dancing in the Street and the Roy Rogers theme, Happy Trails. LISTEN to Big Bad Bill (is Sweet William Now), a song from 1924.

Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere – Neil Young. Two very long songs dominate this album. But LISTEN to the minor hit single Cinnamon Girl.

Fresh Cream – Cream. The debut album from the group featuring Jack Bruce, Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker. LISTEN to I’m So Glad, a Skip James blues tune from the 1930s; they would perform this live to greater effect on the Goodbye album.

Greetings from Asbury Park, N.J. – Bruce Springsteen. Oddly, I couldn’t find any studio recordings on YouTube from this album except a couple that were lousy recordings. I was planning on using Blinded by the Light, which was covered successfully by Manfred Mann.

Led Zeppelin III. Always liked this largely acoustic album with songs such as Friends and Tangerine. LISTEN to Gallows Pole, a cover of a Leadbelly song.

Q: Are we not men? A: We Are Devo!-Devo. This is the premiere album of the group, which featured Mongoloid, Uncontrollable Urge, and functionally, the title song, Jocko Homo. LISTEN to (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction, a cover of the big Rolling Stones hit.

Legalize It – Peter Tosh. LISTEN to the title track of the 1975 reggae album by one of the seminal figures in the genre.

Songs for Beginners – Graham Nash. Nash’s first solo albums, after his time with the Hollies and while he was still with Crosby, Stills, and (sometimes) Young. LISTEN to Chicago/We Can Change the World, which has hints of sounding quite current.