The Foghorn Chord in Down to the Waterline

Posted on 7 CommentsPosted in MK guitar style and licks, Understanding music

I recently realized that I used to play the foghorn chord wrong (the very first notes  in the intro of Down to the Waterline). I played those foghorn sound on only the two lowest strings – this way I explained it in a Youtube tutorial on Down to the Waterline. In fact  it is played on three strings. Not a big deal, and I guess many of you were already aware of this, but for me it was again one of those little bits that make such a nice effect, and I simply did not think about it at all before. By the way, the same chord appears in the intro of Radio City Serenade on Mark’s Privateering album.

The chord consists of the notes B, F, and A. With B being the root nore, it is a B7b5 chord (the F is a semitone below the fifth note of a Bm chord – the F# – and thus denoted as b5, while the A is the 7th). It is mainly the b5 that makes the mysterious, misty foghorn association. The interval from the B to the F is a so-called tritone. It was called the ‘Diabolus in Musica’ (devil in music) centuiries ago, and was avoided, almost banned, as it was regarded as evil. Tritone means three whole notes. The tritone divides an octave in two identical intervals, in other words,  B – F is a tritone, and so is F – B.

The foghorn in Down to the Waterline
The foghorn sound in Down to the Waterline

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Keys for all Mark Knopfler and Dire Straits songs

Posted on 9 CommentsPosted in Easy stuff for beginners, MK guitar style and licks, Understanding music

I found this in the AMIT forum and thought it might be very useful info for us guitar players. The author – nickname foma – allowed copying it, so here it is, a list of all keys with the songs in that key. It even included the songs of Privateering, Mark’s coming album (to be released September 2012).

Thank you, foma 🙂



It’s the statistics of almost all Mark’s songs and scores keys.
Don’t know when (and why lol) I’ve done this, probably five years ago.

So, here it is (I’m working on list constantly, so it’s becomes accurately and hopefully will be spot-on):

31 in D MAJOR (D-dur): Water of Love, Wild West End, Skateaway, Les Boys, It Never Rains, Ticket To Heaven, How Long, The Rocks and the Thunder, Whistle Theme, Smooching, Going Home, Irish Love, A Secret Place Where Will You Go, Waiting For Her, Last Exit To Brooklyn, Victims, Wag The Dog, Imelda, Are We In Trouble Now, Do America, The Long Highway, Kingdom Come, Devil Baby, Coyote, Donegan’s Gone, Red Staggerwing, If This Is Goodbye, Let It All Go, The Car Was The One, Miss You Blues, Go Love
24 in E MAJOR (E-Dur): Real Girl, Eastbound Train, If I Had You, So Far Away, Walk Of Life, Why Worry, The Bug, Heavy Fuel, The Way it All Starts, In The Heartland, Cannibals, The Last Laugh, Gravy Train, The Next Time I’m In Town, The Ragpicker’s Dream, Everybody Pays, Our Shangri-La, Whoop De Doo, Beyond My Wildest Dreams, Heart Full Of Holes, Monteleone, Remembrance Day, I Used To Could, Today Is Okay
19 in G MAJOR (G-dur): Angel Of Mercy, Two Young Lovers, When It Comes To You, Freeway Flier, Irish Boy, The Road, Father And Son, Potato Picking, The Long Road, Annick, Metroland Instrumental Theme, Drooling National, Golden Heart, Don’t You Get It, Tall Order Baby, The Other Side of the Moon, Who’s Your Baby Now, Daddy’s Gone To Knoxville, The Fizzy And The Still
23 in C MAJOR (C-dur): Portobello Belle, Hand In Hand, Love Over Gold, Wild Theme, Boomtown, Metroland, We’re Going To War, I’m The Fool, Nobody’s Got The Gun, One More Matinee, My Clame To Fame, Beachcombing, Donkey Town, All The Roadrunning, True Love Will Never Fade, Secondary Waltz, Hard Shoulder, You Can’t Beat The House, Piper To The End, Haul Away, Don’t Forget Your Hat, Corned Beef City, Hot or What
17 in D MINOR (D-moll): Sultans of Swing, Making Movies, Single Handed Sailor, Tunnel Of Love, Expresso Love, Telegraph Road, The Man’s Too Strong, Fade To Back, Think Fast, Comfort, Joy, Silvertown Blues, Your Own Sweet Way, Why Aye Man, You Don’t Know You’re Born, Sucker Row, Punish The Monkey
16 in E MINOR (E-moll): News, Follow Me Home, Private Investigations, Private Dancer, Ride Across The River, One World, My Parties, A Fistful Of Ice Cream, He’s the Man, Down Day, A Walk In Paris, She’s Gone, El Macho, Camerado, Hill Farmer’s Blues, Summer of Love
15 in A MINOR (A-moll): Six Blade Knife, Southbound Again, Once Upon A Time In The West, Where Do You Think You’re Going, On Every Street, Planet Of New Orleans, An American Hero, Tralala, No Can Do, Rudiger, Speedway At Nazareth, Say Too Much, A Place Where We Used To Live, Behind With The Rent, Before Gas And TV
14 in B MINOR (B-moll): Down to the Waterline, Lions, Millonaire Blues, Iron Hand, Just Instinct, Je Suis Desole, Baloney Again, Florin Dance, Let’s See You, Back To Tupelo, Don’t Crash The Ambulance, I Dug Up A Diamond, We Can Get Wild, Madame Geneva’s
14 in A MAJOR (A-dur): Setting me Up, Communique, Solid Rock, Industrial Disease, Twisting By The Pool, Brats, Meeting Under the Trees, A Love Idea, Working On It, Darling Pretty, Sailing To Philadelphia, Vic And Ray, A Night In Summer Long Ago, Time In The Sun
11 in F MAJOR (F-dur): Romeo And Juliet, The Ceilidh And The Northern Lights, Stargazer, Badges Posters Stickers T-Shirts, What I Have Got To Do, Quality Shoe, In The Sky, Good As Gold, Redbud Tree, Yon Two Crows, Seattle
7 in C MINOR (C-moll): Prairie Wedding, Sands Of Nevada, Fare Thee Well Northumberland, Scaffolder’s Wife, The Fish And The Bird, Border River, Early Bird
8 in B MAJOR (B-dur): Calling Elvis, Sons of Scotland, Four in a Row, Quiet Theme, Stand Up Guy, Get Lucky, Got To Have Something, Radio City Serenade
5 in G MINOR (G-moll): Money For Nothing, You And Your Friend, Marbletown, Boom Like That, The Trawlersman’s Song
4 in G-Sharp MINOR (G#-moll): Brothers in Arms, Stretching Out, Training, Rollin’ On
4 in B-Flat MINOR (Bb-moll): In the Gallery, Junkie Doll, Postcards From Paraguay, So Far From The Clyde
3 in F-Sharp MINOR (F#-moll): Wanderlust, What It Is, Two Brothers And A Stranger
8 in E-Flat MAJOR (Eb-dur): The Rocks And The Water, All That I Have in the World, 5:15 a.m., All That Matters, Privateering, Dream of The Drowned Submariner, After the Beanstalk
3 in D-Flat MAJOR (Db-dur): This Is Us, Cleaning My Gun, Pulling Down the Ride
4 in B-Flat MAJOR (Bb-dur): Done With Bonaparte, Hard Cases, Gator Blood, Blood and Water
3 in C-Sharp MINOR (C#-moll): Lady Writer, Your Latest Trick, Kingdom of Gold
2 in F-Sharp MAJOR (F#-dur): Old Pigweed, Home Boy
1 in E-Flat MINOR (Eb-moll): The New Laird, Bluebird
1 in F MINOR (F-moll): Small Potatoes
1 in A-Flat MAJOR (Ab-moll): Right Now

All 24 keys are used. Mark is like Bach Smiley

154 majors and 91 minors.

Hope it can be interesting for someone.


Quote end

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The bridge section between Expresso Love and Down to the Waterline on the Making Movies tour

Posted on 2 CommentsPosted in MK guitar style and licks, Understanding music

This blog post is about the 50 seconds instrumental part that bridged the two songs Expresso Love and Down to the Waterline on the Making Movies tour (aka On Location tour) of Dire Straits in 1980/81. I always admired this part, especially how it transferred the energy of the ending of Expresso Love to the ‘foggy mood’ of the Down to the Waterline intro.

For all who don’t know this part – it is only available on several unreleased bootleg recordings -, here is a sound clip (I am sorry for the bad sound quality). To recapture the mood of this section, you should play it *loud*!
(Note that you can click  on the blue position bar of the player to jump to any part of the clip)

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On the Making Movies album, Expresso Love ends on a 4 bar pattern which is repeated until the song is faded out. This pattern goes like this:




On stage they added  eight bars over a C major chord after this pattern (0:12) . Note that the pattern above already ended on the C chord at the beginning of the last bar, so adding 8 more bars of C should have resulted in 9 bars. Instead, the last bar of the pattern was omitted so that the new part (8 bars of C) started directly after the Bb chord. Doing so the beginning of the new part was highlighted.

Next (0:24) after these 8 bars of C, the chord progression jumps to E major for the next 8 bars. This is totally out of the harmonical context of Expresso Love (which is in the key of D minor), neither does it fit to the previous C chord (If you want to learn more about which chords have a close relationship and which not, refer to this blog post about the circle of fifths). Again, such a sudden transition to an unexpected chord created a moment of surprise. Knopfler – who played the complete song with  a plectrum by the way – added various chord licks over these E chord bars.  The feel and the sound of this part strongly remind me of Bruce Springsteen’s E-Street band of this time – in fact Knopfler was obviously heavily inspired by them around this era (note that Springsteen’s keyboard player Roy Bittan played all keyboards on the Making Movies album).

Next (0:36), they played four bars over the B minor chord (Bm) – which is already the key of Down to the Waterline. Now we understand the role of the previous E major chords as it is the subdominant chord of Bm and thus naturally  resolves to Bm.

At this time it becomes necessary to reduce the high tempo of Expresso Love for a smmoth transition to the Down to the Waterline intro. For this reason, the tempo gradually decreases for the next 8 bars which run over the following chord pattern (0:42).




The last bar features a keyboard bass line of the notes  b – f# –  c# – a which resolves (1:01) to the Bm chord of the Down to the Waterline intro.

Here is the complete chord scheme again:

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