Even if chords are simple, they should rub. They should have dissonances in them. I've always used a lot of alternate bass lines, suspensions, widely spaced voicings. Dfferent textures to get very warm chords. Sometimes you're setting up strange chords by placing a chord in front of it that's going to set it off like a diamond in a gold band. It's not just finding interesting chords, it's how you sequence them, like stringing together pearls on a string. ... Interesting chords will compel interesting melodies. It's very hard to write a boring melody to an interesting chord sequence.
The music has gotten thick. Guys give me tunes and they're full of chords. I can't play them...I think a movement in jazz is beginning away from the conventional string of chords, and a return to emphasis on melodic rather than harmonic variation. There will be fewer chords but infinite possibilities as to what to do with them.
I was 16 when I came to New York. I had graduated to a tenor banjo in the school jazz band, and it was kind of boring - just chords, chords, chords. Then my father took me to a mountain music and dance festival in Asheville, North Carolina, and there I saw relatively uneducated people playing great music by ear.
It's just rock and roll. A lot of times we get criticized for it. A lot of music papers come out with: 'When are they going to stop playing these three chords?' If you believe you shouldn't play just three chords it's pretty silly on their part. To us, the simpler a song is, the better, 'cause it's more in line with what the person on the street is.
With a track like 'White Christmas,' everybody has done that song in every format you can imagine, so I just looked at the chords at that particular song and what chords would make it work. That's kind of quite a sad song, and I had this idea of someone singing it in the subway, someone who is homeless, old and sad.
I think I always thought of the guitar as the vehicle to be able to make some musical idea up. The only appeal to learning more chords was having more chords to put into songs. I never got too wrapped up in becoming technically good. So writing songs happened pretty simultaneously with learning how to play the guitar.
The chords in 'Light My Fire' are based on [John] Coltrane's version of this song. He just solos over A minor and B minor, which is exactly what we did. Coltrane had played with Miles on Kind of Blue and took the idea of modal soloing over one or two chords farther out than anybody. He was a real pioneer - he just kept evolving, going where no one had ever gone. He could always attain this state of ecstasy when he played. Live, there was so much energy, you couldn't believe it. He would play for hours. It was indescribable.
Instead of thinking in terms of chords, I think of voice-leading; that is, melody line and bass line, and where the bass line goes. If you do that, you'll have the right chord. [These voices] will give you some alternatives, and you can play those different alternatives to hear which one suits your ear... Keep the bass line moving so you don't stay in one spot: if you have an interesting bass line and you roll it against the melody, the chords are going to come out right.
Does the king know you're back?" "Nope! I'm trying to think of a properly dramatic way to inform him. Perhaps a hundred chasmfiends marching in unison, singing an ode to my magnificence." "That sounds... hard." "Yeah, the storming things have real trouble tuning their tonic chords and maintaining just intonation." "I have no idea what you just said." "Yeah, the storming things have real trouble tuning their tonic chords and maintaining just intonation.