The Foghorn Chord in Down to the Waterline

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

9 thoughts on “The Foghorn Chord in Down to the Waterline

  1. “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).”

    Ingo, maybe you could give me some advice on the following. I’d like to improve my music theory knowledge. I know all the standard chords, but I’ve no idea about the ‘mechanism’ behind it, how they are shaped, how it works. For example, I’d like to be able to identify chords based on just the notes like you did above. Do you have some suggestions how to accomplish that? Thank you.

    1. ‘The mechanisms behind’ are not too complicated, you will easily find stuff in the internet about it. I also was thinking about some ebook on ‘Useful music theory for the MK style’ or something, but I am not sure about the demand for it so I for now turned towards other projects first. Let’s see…

  2. few weeks ago I bought the rolling stone “100 best rock guitarists”, and I talked about it on AMIT :,2165.150.html

    the authors says that Tommy Iommi (from Blak Sabbath) was the first rock guitarist to introduce the “Diabolus in Musica” interval in (rock) music.

    I don’t know if it is really the case, as I don’t listen to black sabbath, and I don’t really know any of their tunes.

    I guess it is in some riffs, but not sure.

    I thinks that be bop, and free jazz with Coltrane or Dvais had already introduce “strange” interval, and “strange” notes in their music, I mean notes which are not in the “normal scale. If memory serves, Coltrane was the first one to introduce the 11th and the 13th notes ? (I think somewhat like that is said by Dexter Gordon in Tavernier’s movie “round midnight”)

  3. Cool – I’d been playing it as a two note chord like you, but trying it this way I can see you are spot on!

  4. Ingo, what’s your take on how much effort it takes to copy/emulate some of Marks licks?
    For instance after watching your Waterline vid, I realised I’ve been playing the fast chorus lick wrong for years, so I spent the weekend trying to get it down. I find it hard to believe Mark himself spent time trying to come up with ‘difficult’ licks, rather I imagine he just evolved learning and playing at his own natural pace. What amazes me, constantly, is just how far ahead of the game he was on the first LP!! And just how far behind the competence of the first LP I feel after years and years of trying to emulate it:( kind of makes me feel like giving up occasionally!
    Obviously we should all play for the love of music, but I have reversed my own thinking on the theory of natural talent. I used to think anything could be learnt with dedication, practice and time. But, although I’m sure that’s correct, I’m not sure that it’s time well spent, if it’s not part of ones own natural learning arc. I.e. takes far too long for little reward ?

    1. Fletch, I know what you mean. Even when listening very carefully to the first album everything Mark played seemed so perfect to me, no mistakes, nothing that was not fully developed yet or not precise, just astonishing. I mean he developed for sure within the 35 yes since then, but all the tribute guitar players who try to copy his style don’t seem to come close to even the first album that was recorded 35ys ago! Not that there are not many who can play Sultans so that most people would not notice much of a difference, but I dare to say that still there is noone who can play some of these techniques exactly as him.
      I also agree with you that everything can be learned, unfortunately it often takes very long, especially if you don’t have a clue what exactly he does. But as long as we enjoy the learning itself it does not matter if we learn slow or quick, it is the way that matters, not the quick result 🙂

      1. Glad to know I’m not alone then ! 🙂
        thanks Ingo.
        Its easy to become a bit more despairing when trying to learn songs precisely off the first two records. Marks touch and inventiveness are indeed “astonishing”!

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