Walter Becker's mu chord voicings

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by Leonc, Jul 21, 2019.

  1. JonR

    JonR Member

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    The mu chord was a favourite of one of my heroes, Bert Jansch, who was using it before Steely Dan (though obviously not before those mentioned above).
    This track (a late one from 1993) is mostly just Eadd9 and Aadd9, each one with the mu voicing:

    Eadd9 = 0-9-6-9-0-0
    Aadd9 = 5-7-7-6-0-0

    Naturally they have a different effect on a fingerpicked guitar than on an electric piano. ;) More melancholy or bittersweet, IMO.
     
  2. Trevordog

    Trevordog Member

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    They're easier to play with open strings. Folkies have some great fingerings for them using capos and different tunings. It's more subtle when it's fingerpicked.
     
  3. Motterpaul

    Motterpaul Tone is in the Ears

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    FWIW: I have a SD songbook and the first chord could be F#/B (if the bar covers 5 strings).

    The SECOND chord is used in there all the time: That would be called an Emaj9. It is also called B/E.


    [​IMG]
     
  4. JonR

    JonR Member

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    Sure. Bert had his reasons for those higher positions in this case, and would more often play those two chords in open position: 0-2-4-1-0-0 and x-0-2-4-2-0. I.e., still in the "mu" voicings, not just adding a 9th on top.
     
  5. blueworm

    blueworm Member

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    Joni Mitchell also. At least starting with the album For The Roses. And ubiquitous with Hejira.
     
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  6. JonR

    JonR Member

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    I should probably mention the first "mu minor" chord I ever heard:

    Interestingly the music was written by the drummer, Jim McCarty; bassist Paul Samwell-Smith wrote the words.
    I always wondered if it was Jeff Beck who decided on the chord (0:40), and maybe thought he invented it. But then the whole tune seems to be written around the chord (Emadd9, 0-2-4-0-0-0), and it's "sad" vibe: the whole sequence is directed towards it, and it accompanies the title; as if it inspired the lyrics rather than being added later. Whichever way round it happened, you can just tell how much they liked the chord: feeling as if it "ought" to resolve (as it does), but liking how it sounded before it did so.
     
  7. JonR

    JonR Member

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    Thanks. I need to get more familiar with her stuff. I loved her first two albums, but then kind of moved on and didn't go back.
     
  8. TopDog

    TopDog "jumping the valence" Silver Supporting Member

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    Pure Steely Dan sarcasm.

    They used Jazz and modern jazz harmony in their songs. They were pulling everyone's chain with that description.
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2019
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  9. Mark Robinson

    Mark Robinson Member

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    Get on that immediately, you’re in for many treats. Ms. Mitchell is relentlessly creative, melodic and original, Enjoy!
     
  10. blueworm

    blueworm Member

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    Too me the most vocal example would be Oliver Nelson 'Stolen Moments'. Basically a minor blues, but the trick is that the arrangement features add9 on both subsequent chords (like i-ii) and the M9 of the second minor chord basically is the M3 of the tonic, which is supposed to be minor. Very clever and awesome showcase of blues minor/major ambiguity (as a matter of fact that's uncommon for minor blues)
     
  11. cameron

    cameron Member

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    Most people associate that chord with a Pink Floyd song. "Breathe", I think it's called.
     
  12. Leonc

    Leonc Wild Gear Hearder Gold Supporting Member

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    Not me :). I always associated it with Mr. Magic by Grover Washington Jr. Where Eric Gale uses it in a fabulous little progression.
     
  13. Litterick

    Litterick Member

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    What a teacher to have had.
     
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  14. JonR

    JonR Member

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    I don't know an add9 chord in that song. At least, I think the Em is a plain triad. Maybe you're thinking of a different song?
     
  15. russ6100

    russ6100 Member

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    There's a least once where the 9th is added in that tune on the record.
     
  16. JonR

    JonR Member

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    I believe you, I just hadn't noticed it myself.
     
  17. kingsleyd

    kingsleyd Frikkin genyus Gold Supporting Member

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    A fair number of Joni's tunings featured stacked fifths. Play that stack from the root, then add a major (or minor) 3rd somewhere and there ya go. Falls easily to hand with any tuning built from stacked fifths. (any Crafty Guitarists in the house?) Both Michael Hedges and I glommed onto that early on, although both of us also got the idea from the slow movement of Bartok's second piano concerto, where some strings ominously slide around in a stacked-fifths harmony.

    Andy Summers also mined this territory often in the Police.
     
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  18. JonR

    JonR Member

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    Indeed. Every Breath You Take is basically mu chords the whole way through.
     
  19. guitarjazz

    guitarjazz Member

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    I just looked at the fold-out chord chart in the back of my mom's old copy of Hindemith's Craft of Musical Composition: there is a whole group of 'Chords with seconds, sevenths, or both'. Mr. Mu chord is right there.
     
  20. guitarjazz

    guitarjazz Member

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    Pat tuned is 12-string to fifths instead of octaves...second tune on Bright Size Life.
     

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