Just a quick note: I added a version of my Wild West End video from last week without backing tracks, just vocals and lead guitar as I played it live over the backing track. The mix including all effects and EQ is the same as in the full video with exception that I increased the level for the lead guitar for about 3 dB.
The song You can’t beat the House of Mark Knopfler’s latest album Get Lucky is a traditional sounding blues song, reminding of some Chicago blues. However, something in its chord scheme sounds somewhat surprising and fresh, so I had a closer look at the chords and the structure of the song.
You can’t beat the house is based on a standard 12-bars blues scheme. Of course there is not only one blues scheme, but many common variations. If you try to break it down to the very basics, the following 12-bar scheme seems to be the purest blues scheme (here in the key of C major):
Compared with this, the first verse of You can’t beat the house runs over the following scheme:
Everything is quite normal up to bar 5, where an additional 2/4 bar (red) is inserted before the change to the subdominant (IV) chord, the F7. This chord goes together with the line of the lyrics which says “you can’t beat the house”. It is totally unexpected and thus has a surprising effect. Generally, inserting 2/4 bars into a 4/4 song is one of THE typical elements of Mark Knopfler’s songwriting, a topic to be covered with a future blog article.
The second change to the original scheme affects the 9th bar of the original scheme: the first G7 (change to the dominant chord) is substituted with a C7 (blue colour) here.
The second verse and the last verses are almost identical to the first with one exception, the 9th bar is left out:
As you see, we don’t have a 12-bar scheme anymore but a 12.5-bar scheme in the first and an 11.5-bar scheme.
The solos are over the standard blues scheme as in the first figure. Just to make it complete, the bridge (from 2:00 to 2:18) is just over a C chord."Buy me a beer" - donate for the site via PayPal. Or buy a backing track in my online shop 🙂
A few days ago I jammed a bit with a friend of mine – Thomas Schwarze – in our little home studio. Thomas is a great guitar player and also plays fingerstyle, using a technique similar to the MK style. Our first idea was to play “something” and upload it to youtube. We tried out a few tunes and then attempted to play a rather complex tune – a song I wrote some time ago and recently started to arrange for a proper recording. Unfortunately it did not really happen with this song this day – too many parts and details to get it done properly in a little jam – so we decided to drop the idea of the youtube upload, and just jammed over some of the chord progressions of this song. For some reason we simply let the camera run, and also the audio recording software.
When we were watching the result we thought it was not that bad, so we finally uploaded it last week. Most comments on youtube so far were favourable, some people seemed to enjoy the relaxed mood of the tune. For this reason I thought some of you also might want to watch it, so here it is.
The gear used
The red Strat I am playing is a “Parts-o-caster”, it is something like a clone of Mark Knopfler’s red maple-neck Strat of early Dire Straits days, consisting of an old Fender neck with a (non-original) laminated maple board, a Japanese vintage body, and a vintage Squier pickguard loaded with the US vintage replica pick-ups of those first Squiers.
Thomas is playing a Fender Telecaster from the early 70ies, a beautiful guitar that always sounds great, also played through a Music Man amp (a 65-112), mic’ed with an Audio Technica AT 4050.
By the way, the chord progression is
E D A E (repeat)
C#m, B, A, G#m, F#m, E, A, E
Hope you will enjoy 🙂"Buy me a beer" - donate for the site via PayPal. Or buy a backing track in my online shop 🙂