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Moving housemartins – Delichon urbica

Swifts, swallows, and housemartins (Delichon urbica) never seem to stop their flight once they arrive at our shores in the spring. Today, there was a whole flock of housemartins gathering on overhead wires in Aldreth, Cambridgeshire, to preen and perhaps make their plans for the long and perillous return journey to sub-Saharan Africa. Show More Summary

Yellowhammer – Emberiza citrinella

Often the way, you’re looking for one bird, when you hear and then spot another. Happens a lot with the yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella). Today, I was walking a short distance along the Aldreth Causeway and could hear avian jostling...Show More Summary

Classic Chords #23 Rush Tom Sawyer

Tom Sawyer is perhaps the best known Rush song. It was the Canadian power trio’s breakthrough hit in terms of sales and popular appeal and was the opener on their 1981 album Moving Pictures. I remember listening to it on vinyl the day it came out and wondering how on earth I was going to … Continue reading "Classic Chords #23 Rush Tom Sawyer"

Classic Chord #22 Elbow Bones

Elbow are a magnificent band, their proto-musical roots perhaps lie in singer Guy Garvey’s admiration of Genesis-era Peter Gabriel although the early elbow song Newborn was, he told interviewers, modelled on a song from “A Trick of the Tail”, namely Ripples, which was post-Gabriel Genesis. Show More Summary

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 […]

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