Stormy Monday Structure
Even though Stormy Monday is not a harmonica song, both Joe and Shoji are excited to explore the many musical learning opportunities it offers.
Shoji focused the discussion on the chord changes, which at first glance seem complicated and even confusing.
The original version of the song is actually fairly standard. However, when the Allman Brothers’ version was such a huge hit, it included the now famous ii III change that has become so familiar. In fact, this song is in almost every guitar instruction book because teachers and authors often select it as the “blues song to know” for the aspiring rock guitarist.
Starting with the turnaround, Shoji explained the power of using the “dominant” to precede resolving to the root. A common turnaround example would be a V V I I sequence, but the T-Bone style of ii V I I is mellower and easier to listen to, especially in this kind of dramatic slow blues. That results in Am7 D7 G7 G7 for bars 9-12.
Continuing this style, the Am7 in bar 9 can be preceded with the same ii V sequence in bar 8 resulting in:
|| G7 | C7 | G7 | G7 |
| C7 | C7 | G7 |Bm/E7|
| Am7 | D7 | G7 | G7 ||
What the Allman Brothers did differently was to build tension by dropping down one half step (to the Bb) before resolving to the Am7 in bar 9:
|| G7 | C7 | G7 | G7 |
| C7 | C7 | G |Bm/Bbm7|
| Am7 | Eb7/D7 | G7 | G7 ||
Inserting the 6th (Eb7) in bar 10 is just a little fancier way of doing things and also notice the major G in bar 7 which is more of a jazz sound and less of a blues sound. This has the effect of making the following chord changes much more dramatic.
Shoji then demonstrated, with both guitar and harp, the power of playing appropriate scales over the chord changes - specifically, blues scale over bars 1-6, major over bars 7-9 and blues/minor pentatonic over bars 10-12. Shoji added that if you are not up to making these scale changes “on the fly” the harp still sounds good over the entire form using the mixolydian scale. Sidebar comment - this was an amazing demonstration of Shoji’s mastery of both instruments!
What About Rhythm?
As much as there is to discuss about chord changes, there is even more to talk about regarding rhythm. Next time we will get into rhythm in detail but Shoji gave us a quick preview by illustrating the dramatic effect of switching from a double time to a triplet feel and back again, while he soloed with harmonica over the Stormy changes. Another amazing demonstration of Shoji’s musical talent!!!
Little Milton - favorite of Shoji's; great guitar solo with double-time feel
Martin Lang in B1 Next Monday!!!
Next week we will be welcoming Martin Lang, “a terrific Chicago player who is passionate and dedicated to the blues,” says Joe. He will be bringing his new CD, so join us and pick one up. It should be a fun evening with a lot of Chicago style blues!
- No class notes this week. Study. Practice. Come to class.