Archive for September, 2008


29 September 2008

As much for my own reference (Internet searches really let me down for stuff like this), here are some tables about music notation/ theory.  From this you can find out the key a piece of music is in — look up the sharps and flats then decide if it’s major or minor by playing the major or minor chord.

The first is a table of all the major keys and relative minor keys for music. There are 24 varieties, but the minor share key signatures with major:

Minor Key Major Key b # Key Signature
rel F min Ab mjor 4 b b b b
rel F# min A mjor 3 # # #
A min rel C mjor 0 0
Bb mjor 2 b b
Bb min rel Db mjor 5 b b b b b
rel G# min B mjor 5 # # # # #
B min rel D mjor 2 # #
rel A min C mjor 0 0
C min rel Eb mjor 3 b b b
C# min rel E mjor 4 # # # #
rel Bb min Db mjor 5 b b b b b
rel B min D mjor 2 # #
D min rel F mjor 1 b
D# min rel F# mjor 6 # # # # # #
rel C# min Eb mjor 3 b b b
Eb min rel Gb mjor 6 b b b b b b
rel C# min E mjor 4 # # # #
E min rel G mjor 1 #
F mjor 1 b
F min rel Ab mjor 4 b b b b
rel D# min F# mjor 6 # # # # # #
F# min rel A mjor 3 # # #
rel Eb min Gb mjor 6 b b b b b b
rel E min G mjor 1 #
G min rel Bb mjor 2 b b
G# min rel B mjor 5 # # # # #

To get my files to organise themselves properly, I found that the more usual maj – min abbreviations were no good.  After a bit of experimentation I found that removing the “a” from major was best. This orders this properly and makes things easily identifiable: Bb min/ Bb mjor  as opposed to Bb maj/  Bb min.

Anyway, that’s all the keys, major and minor. In terms of key signatures (which indicate the notes you have to play), it simplifies down to just 12 varieties:

This is probably the one to try to learn, and then, later, learn associations to minor keys.

Major Key Key Signature
Ab b b b b
A # # #
Bb b b
B # # # # #
Db b b b b b
D # #
Eb b b b
E # # # #
F b
F# # # # # # #
Gb b b b b b b
G #

I have songs in every key in my MP3 collection, and I would rather play by key than by beats per minute.  MediaMonkey lets you customise, but I just use the “Mood” category to put in the key.  It’s then a cinch to organise by this column, and I get a list of songs from the lowest key to the highest!


Major Chords

Ab Ab C Eb
A A C# E
Bb Bb D F
B B D# F#
Db Db F Ab
D D F# A
Eb Eb G Bb
E E G# B
F# F# A# C#
Gb Gb Bb Db

Of course, it is easy to make a major triad chord into a minor one — always just drop the third one semitone.  In other words, drop the middle note of the triad down by one fret…

The second last chord when the third is dropped, gives a Bbb result — that’s just a technicality. Dropping Bb one fret is obviously A. So play A for a flattened Bb/A# or Bbb.

Hope this is useful!



27 September 2008

OK, I do not keep up with “celebrities”, “gossip” and all that — but I got onto a story recently that made me reflect about how far comedy should go, and also about how much a relationship can be expected to bear — especially a public one. It’s a funny story, but there’s a moral — and a sting in the tail.

The story in question is obscure if you’re not from North America. My own quick survey at work here in the UK, showed that while people knew Robin Williams, most had only heard of Ben Affleck and Matt Damon (but couldn’t say why, couldn’t pick them out of an ID parade, and knew nothing of their work until prompted).

  • Not a single soul had heard of Sarah Silverman (37) or Jimmy Kimmel (40)! The story is about these two.

I have to say I have no idea who Jimmy Kimmel is, but I like comedy and had seen some stuff by Jewish Radical Comedienne Silverman.  I think she did an awards ceremony once and I looked her up on the internet and watched some vids on YouTube.


It seems that Sarah Silverman and Jimmy Kimmel were a couple. A celebrity couple — and that they had been together for five years (which is remarkable apparently).  They were very comfortable playing jokes on each other — even in public.

Kimmel has a long-running chat show, and he does a long-running joke about having Matt Damon as a guest, but always running out of time before the interview can take place. Sometimes Matt Damon is actually there, and one time he acts angry at getting “bumped” yet again!

So that’s the scene all set.  Then at the top of 2008, Sarah Silverman’s Fifth anniversary gift to her partner, Kimmel, was a video of her song “I’m Fucking Matt Damon” — premièred on Kimmel’s talk show! How weird is that?

This goes down a storm in the USA, and on YouTube gets millions of hits.

So then — to get back at her, Jimmy Kimmel does a video response song, “I’m Fucking Ben Affleck”!

Once again, this goes down a storm, and is posted up on Youtube for millions of hits. Not only does this video have the real Ben Affleck, but also  Robin Williams, Harrison Ford, Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz, Christina Applegate, Meatloaf, Huey Lewis, Joan Jett, and even singer Macy Gray and others known better statesside… Don Cheadle, Rebecca Romijn, Benji Madden, Joel Madden, Dicky Barrett, Christopher Mintz-Plasse aka Mclovin, Lance Bass, Dominic Monaghan, Pete Wentz,  Perry Farrell  and Josh Groban.

Well, then.

The next thing you know, and the couple have split up!

Now I am not saying for one minute that she actually did have sex with Matt Damon (or anyone else for that matter), or that Kimmel was unfaithful either… but it just goes to show that some things should not be put “out there”. I’m serious; I think this shenanigans caused them to break up.  You cannot even kid about being unfaithful, the idea shouldn’t be discussed, even in fun. Really.

At the end of the day, Sarah Silverman is looking at forty. A 40 year old spinster. The public have always been divided on her looks — some guys thinks she’s “hot”, others think she’s a “rat face” — there doesn’t seem to be any middle ground or grey area; you either love her or you hate her, lookswise.  One thing’s for sure, if you think she’s hot, for how long will that be true?

Foir Kimmel, just like for all guys, it’s a different story.  On top of which, he’s a TV personality — and Silverman managed to make him famous world-wide on Youtube!

They spilt in July 2008 — and on mid September, Silverman’s song from the Video “I’m Fucking Matt Damon” wins an Emmy!

An Emmy!

For The Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics category.  Jeez, they announced their split just two days before her nomination was released, and she won! Talk about Bittersweet!

In her acceptance speech she actually said:

…” To the person for whom this was made, Jimmy Kimmel, who broke my heart … oops … I mean, who will always have a place in my heart.”

Ouch! I feel sad for them.  I feel especially sad for Silverman.  She makes her living from comedy that is on the edge, and I think she’s felt just how sharp that edge can be.

Lessons to be learned: make fun of almost anything, but stay away from pissing on your personal relationships (especially in public).



23 September 2008

This year’s hot pop band for the festivals is The Ting Tings — which is just a girl and a bloke on drums (Jules de Martino and Katie White) — a bit like The White Stripes, but in reverse. Sort of.

This post is appropriate because the band has just played my home town (last night) to rave reviews and earlier this week they won The XFM Live Breakthrough Act at the 2008 Vodafone Music Awards at the Carling Academy in Brixton.

Anyway, the track listing for their début album, “We Started Nothing” on Columbia, 2008, is as follows — and I have added the keys.

01 – Great DJ  [D major];
02 – That’s Not My Name [E minor];
03 – Fruit Machine [D major];
04 – Traffic Light [B major];
05 – Shut Up And Let Me Go [E minor];
06 – Keep Your Head [E major];
07 – Be The One [E major];
08 – We Walk [Eb minor];
09 – Impacilla Carpisung [C major];
10 – We Started Nothing [E minor].

Re-arranging for keys, we get the following (which might be interesting as a playlist)…
04 – Traffic Light [B major];
09 – Impacilla Carpisung [C major];
01 – Great DJ [D major];
03 – Fruit Machine [D major];
08 – We Walk [Eb minor];
02 – That’s Not My Name [E minor];
05 – Shut Up And Let Me Go [E minor];
10 – We Started Nothing [E minor];
06 – Keep Your Head [E major];
07 – Be The One [E major].

Generally, The Ting Tings is St Etienne meets Brazilian electro-pop hedonists CSS (or even Brazilian baile-funk supremos Bonde Do Role). It’s indie dance pop. They were hyped big time by NME and feted by the music media for the big summer festivals, but at the end of the day, it’s just pop — it’s fun!  This is just music for the summer of 2008 – pity it was such a wash-out weatherwise).

“That’s Not my Name” got to No1 simply because it is a cross between Toni Basil’s “Micky” and The Knack’s “My Sharona”. Hooks abound, so Jump about, dance along or sing in the car when no-one is looking.

Catch this like the cold.



5 September 2008

In music, keys are tied to pitches.

And although that might sound difficult, it’s not. Really.

Concert pitch is measured in Hertz or cycles per second, and since 1936, the note A above middle C is pegged at a frequency of 440Hz.

  • There is even an international standard for this (ISO16:1975) — get it here.

You are not even supposed to care about this, you are not even supposed to know about this.  It is a standard, a benchmark, a LAW, taken as read — this is a given — except…

Sometimes a piece of recorded music is slowed down or speeded up, and A4 is no longer 440Hz, and in fact is between the tone and the next semitone — in no man’s land.

I bloody hate that.

For example, my wife noticed that on the Liberty X CD (Being Somebody, 2003, V2) the third track is out of standard pitch. It turned out to be almost exactly between F#m and Gm. A quarter tone! So should it be higher in pitch, the G minor — or lower and F# minor? Which was the original key when they recorded it? Well, the second track, “Jumpin” is G# minor — and so’s the fifth track, “Watcha Doin Tonight?”, so I figured it might be a good bet that it was G minor.

So what I do is rip my CDs to an MP3s (or download the MP3s; whatever), then change the pitch in Audacity (free software) using skill and judgement and a guitar correctly tuned to concert pitch, and then export to MP3 again.

You needed to get LAME so that Audacity would let you export to MP3 fromat, but the results were superb — an altered pitch, without altering the beats per minute!

Anyways, recently my corrections have been shockingly bad quality… and so I am gutted that I have to save as a huge WAV file and then use the free version of NCH’s “Switch” to make the MP3. It’s an extra step I could do without!

Back at the Liberty X track — the quarter tone up to Gm made the voices sound too high, so I dropped the track to F#m in Audacity, and it was spot on!

What the pluck is the good of doing that to a record — it means you cannot play a piano along with it, and you have to retune your guitar all the time.  This is why it is so difficult for people to learn music by ear! Aaargh!

Having a list of musical frequencies and wavelengths is a must, I canny find anything on the web, so I have nicked the following from an old text book.

The Definitive Frequencies List:

Note Frequency (Hz) Wavelength (mm) voice
C0 16.35 21 000
C#0/ Db0 17.32 19 900
D0 18.35 18 700
D#0/ Eb0 19.45 17 700
E0 20.60 16 700
F0 21.83 15 800
F#0/ Gb0 23.12 14 900
G0 24.50 14 000
G#0/ Ab0 25.96 13 200
A1 27.50 12 500
A#1/ Bb1 29.14 11 800
B1 30.87 11 100
C1 32.70 10 500
C#1/ Db1 34.65 9 960
D1 36.71 9 400
D#1/ Eb1 38.89 8 870
E1 41.20 8 370
F1 43.65 7 900
F#1/ Gb1 46.25 7 460
G1 49.00 7 040 sub-bass, contrabass, or  basso profundo:
lower than G1
G#1/ Ab1 51.91 6 650
A2 55.00 6 270
A#2/ Bb2 58.27 5 920
B2 61.74 5 590 Tenor: B2 – G4

Operatic Tenor: B2 – C5

C2 65.41 5 270 Bass: C2 – C4
C#2/ Db2 69.30 4 980
D2 73.42 4 700
D#2/ Eb2 77.78 4 440
E2 82.41 4 190 Operatic Bass – Basso: E2 – F4
F2 87.31 3 950 Operatic Baritone: F2 – G4

Baritone: F2 – F4

F#2/ Gb2 92.50 3 730
G2 98.00 3 520
G#2/ Ab2 103.83 3 320
A3 110.00 3 140 Mezzo- Soprano: A3 – F5
A#3/ Bb3 116.54 2 960
B3 123.47 2 790
C3 130.81 2 640
C#3/ Db3 138.59 2 490
D3 146.83 2 350
D#3/ Eb3 155.56 2 220
E3 164.81 2 090 Alto: E3 – E5
F3 174.61 1 980 Operatic Contralto: F3 – A5
F#3/ Gb3 185.00 1 860
G3 196.00 1 760 Operatic Mezzo- Soprano: G3 – B5
G#3/ Ab3 207.65 1 660
A4 220.00 1 570
A#4/ Bb4 233.08 1 480
B4 246.94 1 400
“Middle” C4 261.63 1 320 Bass: C2 – C4

Soprano C4- A5

Operatic Soprano: C4 – C6

C#4/ Db4 277.18 1 240
D4 293.66 1 170
D#4/ Eb4 311.13 1 110
E4 329.63 1 050
F4 349.23 988 Operatic Bass – Basso: E2 – F4

Baritone: F2 – F4

F#4/ Gb4 369.99 932
G4 392.00 880 Operatic Baritone: F2 – G4

Tenor: B2 – G4

G#4/ Ab4 415.30 831
A5 440.00 784 Operatic Contralto: F3 – A5

Soprano C4- A5

A#5/ Bb5 466.16 740
B5 493.88 699 Operatic Mezzo- Soprano: G3 – B5
C5 523.25 659 Operatic Tenor: B2 – C5
C#5/ Db5 554.37 622
D5 587.33 587
D#5/ Eb5 622.25 554
E5 659.26 523 Alto: E3 – E5
F5 698.46 494 Mezzo- Soprano: A3 – F5
F#5/ Gb5 739.99 466
G5 783.99 440
G#5/ Ab5 830.61 415
A6 880.00 392
A#6/ Bb6 932.33 370
B6 987.77 349
C6 1046.50 330 Operatic Soprano: C4 – C6
C#6/ Db6 1108.73 311 sopranino: higher than C#6
D6 1174.66 294
D#6/ Eb6 1244.51 277
E6 1318.51 262
F6 1396.91 247
F#6/ Gb6 1479.98 233
G6 1567.98 220
G#6/ Ab6 1661.22 208
A7 1760.00 196
A#7/ Bb7 1864.66 185
B7 1975.53 175
C7 2093.00 165
C#7/ Db7 2217.46 156
D7 2349.32 147
D#7/ Eb7 2489.02 139
E7 2637.02 131
F7 2793.83 123
F#7/ Gb7 2959.96 117
G7 3135.96 110
G#7/ Ab7 3322.44 104
A8 3520.00 98
A#8/ Bb8 3729.31 93
B8 3951.07 87
C8 4186.01 82
C#8/ Db8 4434.92 78
D8 4698.64 73
D#8/ Eb8 4978.03 69

Based on A4 being 440Hz and The Speed of sound = 345 m/s (which, in the USA is 1130 ft/s or 770 mph)

It is my pet hate when producers depart from the standard pitch system.  They do it on TV when things are over-running, but there really is no need to mess it up when making a pop record — but they do, and it is sloppy work in my opinion.

ears Years ago I used to have a pitch control (speed adjustment knob) on my turntable, and I would make cassette tapes of the corrected music to keep my ears cleansed!

It took me AGES to buy a CD player because I would be unable to pitch correct recordings — until I got a CD player from Richer Sounds complete with a pitch slider control. Result!