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The turring, purring turtle dove

I should perhaps have saved this bird for the Christmas edition given its pride of place in the “The Twelve Days of Christmas” the familiar gift accumulation song of 1780, thought to be French in origin that has the generous benefactor...Show More Summary

Two cuckoos flew over no nest

Early evening walk (31st May 2017, farmland south of Rampton, Cambridge, relatively close to the Guided Busway), hoping to catch sight of our local fen edge barn owl (Tyto alba), but could hear a cuckoo (Cuculus canorus) in a field beyond a hedgerow…call seemed to be getting closer…at which point two males flew over our … Continue reading "Two cuckoos flew over no nest"

Classic Chord #20 – Brown Sugar

For the 20th rock Classic Chord in the series, I thought I’d go for Brown Sugar by the Rolling Stones. Now, as you guitarists will mostly likely know, “Keef” (as in Keith Richards) does not play in standard EADGBE tuning, he (usually) plays in open G tuning, (D)GBDGD. The parentheses around his bottom string, because … Continue reading "Classic Chord #20 – Brown Sugar"

Close to the sedge (warbler)

We often take a walk through RSPB North Warren, the bird and nature reserve immediately north of the Suffolk town of Aldeburgh. There is a fresh water marsh there with quite an array of little egrets, duck, geese and on a recent visit a pair of spoonbills (Platalea leucorodia). Heading from the hide nearest Maggi … Continue reading "Close to the sedge (warbler)"

Defining the sound of summer

Squealing swifts, the double vocalisations of the song thrush, the romantic ruminations of the robin, the chiff-chaff of the chiffchaff, the yaffling of the green woodpecker, the startled stutterings of the starlings, the warblings of the warblers, the cuckolding cuckoo. Show More Summary

Classic Chords #17 – Yes, Würm turns

The classic Yes track Starship Trooper (from 1971’s The Yes Album) comes in several parts just as any good prog rock and/or classical music should. Parts i-iii  are “Life Seeker,” “Disillusion” and “Würm.” It is that latter section that is the focus of my latest Classic Chord on Sciencebase.com. Show More Summary

Wheatear, corn bunting, and tits

Flying visit to Ma-in-law-on-Sea – Needed an ornithological escape on a flying visit to South-Kens-on-Sea to visit ma-in-law. Thankfully, there’s a bird hide overlooking the marshes not 10 minutes walk from ma-in-law, just up the Thorpe Road past the (in)famous Scallop sculpture on the shingle shore. Show More Summary

Classic Chords #17 – The Würm that likes to say Yes

The classic Yes track Starship Trooper (from 1971’s The Yes Album) comes in several parts just as any good prog rock and/or classical music should. Parts i-iii  are “Life Seeker,” “Disillusion” and “Würm.” It is that latter section that is the focus of my latest Classic Chord on Sciencebase.com. Show More Summary

Classic Chords #16 – Writing is on Oasis Wonderwall

Perhaps one of the most reviled of busker songs is the 1995 Oasis hit “Wonderwall” from the album  (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? The song is namechecked by Scottish band Travis in their first single “Writing to reach you” when singer...Show More Summary

Classic Chords #15 – Shining Floyd

I grew up on Pink Floyd…well I say that, not sure anyone who spends their time obsessing over music and guitar chords has ever really grown up. Either way, I used to obsessively listen to “Dark Side of the Moon” and worry about that line “then one day you find, ten years have got behind … Continue reading "Classic Chords #15 – Shining Floyd"

Classic Chords #14 Who is Townshend?

The Who’s Pete Townshend was by turns a maestro on the acoustic guitar and a wall-of-sound man on the electric. Stacks of amps and speakers, his windmilling right arm, the leaps and kicks and, of course, the smashing up the guitars and hotel rooms in equal measure, allegedly. On the acoustic there was the high-speed … Continue reading "Classic Chords #14 Who is Townshend?"

Classic Chords #12 – Message in a Bottle

The Police were a post-punk, new wave band, but the power pop trio all had jazz backgrounds. It’s not surprise then, that they used motifs from that world in their pop songs. ‘Message in a Bottle’ from the band’s second album, 1979’s...Show More Summary

Classic Chords #12 – Brass in Pocket

UPDATE: I’ve had some Twitter debate with Richard Perkins of Bath Guitar School who half tongue-in-cheek points out that this chord might more formally be called an Aadd9. The note B is second and ninth in the scale of A major and personally, if I’d been playing a C major chord with an added D not on … Continue reading "Classic Chords #12 – Brass in Pocket"

Classic Chords #11 – Mad Punk

My band C5 rehearsing Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” last night and trying to get that Nile Style guitar part as close as possible to the original song. Basically, the chords are Bm, D, F#m, E, with the usual Chic cleverness of not playing whole chords and doing something neat with the transitions, so there’s a […]

Classic Chords #8 – The Nile Style

Ever since I first figured out how to do those funky flicks of the wrist to get the disco guitar sound I’ve attempted to get close to what Nile Rodgers does in terms of those chops. Everything from the late 70s Chic and Sister Sledge stuff to Bowie’s Let’s Dance and the Daft Punk reboot of 2012. He, […]

Classic Chords #7 – The Manics A Design for Life

I have a confession, I’d never knowingly heard the Manic Street Preachers until I picked up a set of headphones in an HMV back in the Spring of 1996 and listened to Everything Must Go, which had just that week been released. It grabbed me from the off, it was like post-Rush prog but with a gritty […]

Classic Chords #5 – Rush Limelight

As I mentioned, in Classic Chord #1 in my early teens I was chasing the dream of being the next Alex Lifeson, picking out the pseudo-classical intros to songs like “Panacea”, “A Farewell to Kings” and “The Trees”, later “Broon’s Bane” from Exit…stage left and rocking out (on a nylon string guitar!) to “Working Man”, […]

Classic Chords #4 – The Caged Chord

Composer John Cage (1912-1992) is perhaps most famous not for the music he wrote but the silence. In the piece known as “Four minutes, thirty-three seconds”, 4’33”, which is ostensibly in three movements Cage instructed musicians, with any instrument or any combination of instruments and presumably voice to not play their instrument(s) for the during […]

Classic Chords #3 – The Hendrix Chord

There’s one chord every wannabe rock guitar hero has to figure out at some point…we all listen to Jimi Hendrix, we all marvel at what he’s doing with that Strat, whether plucking it with his teeth or setting it on fire. But, what is it he’s doing exactly to get that E-major power chord that […]

Classic Chords #1 – The Hemispheres Chord

One thing I noticed as teen teaching myself to pick out the wondrous chords played by Rush’s Alex Lifeson by ear was that he used a lot of chords where the top two strings, the B and the E string were left ring while a moveable chord shape, often a B major shape or more commonly […]

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