Crossroad Blues

Good News for Blue Devils; Blues Harmonica; Gospel Blues; Breau’s Bluesy Deity; Coltrane’s Bluesy Psalm; Saint-Martin’s Principles; Brentano’s Flat Seventh as Jesus; Tonicization; The Blues Effect; Eric Clapton and Peter Green; Good Vibrations; Qualifications Concerning Tensional Symbols

Good News for Blue Devils

“A human being is a part of a whole, called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest… a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.  This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us.  Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”  Al Einstein  

LeRoi Jones: “The term blues relates directly to the Negro, and his personal involvement in America….Blues means a Negro experience.” (Blues People, 94)  “For the developing black middle class, [blues] was simply the mark of Cain, and just another facet of Negro-ness which they wished to be rid of.” (141)  “The blues impulse was a psychological correlative that obscured the most extreme ideas of assimilation for most Negroes, and made any notion of the complete abandonment of the traditional black culture an unrealizable possibility.” (142)  “The idea of a white blues singer seems an even more violent contradiction of terms than the idea of a middle-class blues singer.  The materials of blues were not available to the white American, even though some strange circumstance might prompt him to look for them.  It was as if these materials were secret and obscure, and blues a kind of ethno-historic rite as basic as blood.” (148)  “The step from cool to soul is a form of social aggression.  It is an attempt to place upon a ‘meaningless’ social order an order which would give value to terms of existence that were once considered not only valueless but shameful.  Cool meant non-participation; soul means a ‘new’ establishment.  It is an attempt to reverse the social roles within the society by redefining the canons of value….White is then not ‘right,’ as the old blues had put it, but a liability, since the culture of white precludes the possession of the Negro ‘soul.’  Even the adjective funky, which once meant to many Negroes merely a stink (usually associated with sex), was used to qualify the music as meaningful.” (219)  “It was a lateral and reciprocal identification the young white American intellectual, artist, and Bohemian of the forties and fifties made with the Negro, attempting, with varying degrees of success, to reap some emotional benefit from the similarity of their positions in American society.” (231)

“You start by looking at these sick rock stars.  Whitey playing the blues now – hard guitar.  Elvis, the King, Presley.  And you’re all just getting sicker and sicker by the moment.  Whitey got you in his grip.”  Louis Farrakhan at Mosque Maryam on April 23, 1989 in Chicago.

Most cultures have musical forms that express binary moods of darkness and light, joy and sorrow, ups and downs.  Western music has major and minor keys, flamenco has sad soleares and happy alegrias, and pianist Herbie Hancock observed that there were essentially two genres of jazz: blues and rhythm changes.  Blues is a dissonant genre for it is founded on the dominant seventh chord – in the key of G: G, B, D, F.  B and F form the most dissonant interval in music, called the tritone, sometimes called the devil’s interval.  The adjective blue has been associated with despondency and sadness since the 16th century.  The noun the blues has been with us since 1741.  The blues is a shortening of blue devils, demons popularly thought to cause depression and sadness.  The notion of blue devils has been around since 1616.  

Rhythm changes has an AABA structure in which the B section is typically a harmonic sequence based on the blues chord and the A section resolves to the tonic chord – in the key of C: C, E, and G.  The musical vocabulary of discord and concord is universal in representing pain and pleasure, sorrow and joy.  

The good news is that just as the eye was made for light, so the ear rejoices in the harmonic norm of the major chord given in nature.  Rev. 7:9: “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.  They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.”  White robes represent purity and palm branches represent peace.  “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool (Isaiah 1:18).”  

People of all colors have the potential to purify their souls so they are symbolically white.  Black gospel singer Odetta’s medley of Midnight Special / This Little Light of Mine is an example of tonal transformation, as she moves from the blues sonority of Midnight Special, pleading for the light, to the final triumphant cadence of This Little Light of Mine; the divine light in her soul is expressed in her white garments and in the purity of the final tonal triad.  The gifts of the Holy Spirit and music are accessible to all humanity irrespective of gender or race.  That is the message of Crossroad Blues.  

The three primary colors are analogous to the three notes of a harmonic triad, which is the natural basis of tonal music.  The twelve colors of the color wheel are analogous to the twelve notes of a chromatic scale and to the harmonic cycle of fifths.  Black and white are neutral, achromatic colors that darken and lighten, respectively, colors, thus changing their value; they are analogous to minor and major keys, respectively.

The theme of Crossroad Blues is that spiritual conversion of the soul from darkness to light accompanies a tonal conversion from discord to concord.  The opposing notes of a scale and a chord are the one and the five, and they are analogous to the head and the body, respectively.  The five chord is dissonant, as is the soul dominated by bodily desires.  The one chord is consonant, as is the soul dominated by the head.  The good news is that every body can be dominated by the living Lord and head of creation.  This divine pattern is manifest in the lives and music of guitarists such as Blind Willie Johnson, Odetta, Eric Clapton, and Peter Green.  Crossroad Blues has the potential to inspire those plagued with problems, such as substance abuse, that burdened some of these guitarists, to overcome their struggles and lead better lives.  

Blues Harmonica

A ten-hole diatonic harmonica is commonly referred to as the blues harp.  When one exhales into this harmonica a three note major chord is sounded.  This chord is the key of the harmonica, and the player is said to play in first position when playing in this key, which is inscribed by letter on the top of the instrument.  When one plays in this position the music is described as folk harmonica or country blues, for the resulting scale is a diatonic major scale.  When one inhales into a blues harp a four-note dominant seventh chord is sounded.  The player is said to play in second position when playing in the key of this chord, and the resulting music is called blues.  

One would think that the key of the harmonica, played in first position with a resulting major scale, would be the norm.  The common name, blues harp, for this type of harmonica reveals that this is not the case.  I searched for ‘harmonica lesson’ in YouTube and almost every video began with a lesson in blues harmonica, so blues, played in second postion, has become the norm for the harmonica.  The natural norm of the harmonic triad, a universal symbol of concord, has been replaced with the tense and discordant dominant seventh chord.  

A Wikibooks page states that first position is “also known as “straight harp”.  On a C harp, this will be in C-major, and root chord is the C-major triad.”  The same article states that second position is “also known as ‘cross harp’, having…a driving, unsettling quality.  Another important aspect to keep track of is the tritone interval; in this case, it is the interval between F and B; it is the most tense and unstable interval in terms of western music, but most perfect for blues and jazz.” 

Gospel Blues

Harold Bloom to Charlie Rose: “We have an American Jesus and an American, pentecostal, Holy Spirit which has not much to do with European Christians and their view of Jesus…American Christianity, I repeat, has very little in common with European or traditional Christianity.  In the last few centuries it has exfoliated.  Hamlet, Kirkegaard and Kafka are all deeply influenced by the Jesus of the gospel of Mark.”  Bloom: “There is no Yahweh in the United States.  I mean God the Father is just about gone…It’s fascinating that we have an American Jesus, and he’s always been an American, not a Jew at all, but the Christian right has now so compromised him, that when Hispanics come pouring into this country from south of the border or the Caribbean or further down, like so many African-Americans and like so many increasingly poor whites in the South or even in the Midwest, they’re turning to Pentecostalism, which is the fastest growing religious movement in the United States, which has nothing to do with Jesus really, or Jesus Christ.  It’s all about the Holy Spirit, which is pouring down upon them and they’re all shouting and jumping with him.  I’m not so sure that in the end this will not be a Pentecostal nation.

The American Jesus does not have to be sacrificed, for God the Father is seemingly absent.  If the sacrifice of Jesus to the will of his Father is analogous to the cadence of a blues chord to a major triad, then the absence of the Father in American Chrisitianity, as Bloom describes it, is analogous to the dominance of the blues chord in the genre of gospel blues.  Some of its practitioners do, however, switch from blues tonality to major tonality, such as Blind Willie Johnson.  

Breau’s Bluesy Deity

Breau plays G, A, C, Eb, F, G, B, C, F    A, C, A, G, F, Eb, C, A  (F7#4)  “I hear that and it inspires me.  It makes me feel close to God, like I don’t have to go to church and kneel down and say, praise the Lord,’ because this is my way of praising.  This is a gift from God, so when I play, I’m playing for the people, but I’m playing for God, because he gave me this gift.”  The ‘impressionist’ chord Breau plays is an F7 with a raised fourth, an extremely dissonant chord.  The resulting scale is an F7 lydian.    

Felix-Eberhard von Cube refers to the fundamental tone as “the progenitor of the overtones, in the sense that it sends them forth like a series of human generations, so to speak.  Just as the likeness of the forefathers becomes ever more distant and foreign in the grandsons and great-grandsons, the relation of the overtones to the fundamental diminishes as the series ascends toward pronounced dissonance.”  The series of notes Breau plays are the first six or seven overtones of the harmonic series.  His seeming tendency to identify with distant overtones is possibly an expression of this desire not to conform to his earthly and / or heavenly father’s will concerning his life.  His father, Lone Pine, wanted him to play country music, but he played jazz music.   

Breau says the series of notes makes him “feel close to God.”  As God the Father is analogous to the fundamental tone, it is ironic that Breau play such distant harmonics as the flat seventh and sharp fourth.  His words say one thing, but the tones, as is often the case, betray the inner truth – he was high on drugs and far from God.  

Coltrane’s Bluesy Psalm

Guitarist Elvin Bishop states that blues “was invented by people who lived in impossible circumstances.”  Ashley Khan notes that John Coltrane’s Psalm, from A Love Supreme, is “blues in flavor;” Lewis Porter describes how the sax melody follows Coltrane’s poem: “‘Near the beginning where it reads, “Help us resolve our fears and weaknesses,” he skips the next line, goes on to “In you all things are possible,” then plays “Thank you God.”‘” (122, 124)  Another passage of the poem reads: “Thoughts—deeds—vibrations, etc.  They all go back to God and He cleanses all.  He is gracious and merciful.”  Can God cleanse bluesy prayers?  “The Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.” (Rom. 8:26) 

In jazz musician Sun Ra’s opinion, Coltrane had made a very serious “spiritual blunder” by recording and releasing “A Love Supreme”.  It had “opened the wrong doors” into the spiritual world, and Coltrane had inadvertently “insulted God”.  He claimed that this, in part, led to Coltrane’s early death.  Ravi Shankar commented on Coltrane’s music in late 1964: “‘Why is it that I hear this terrible inner turmoil in those shrieks?  It really disturbed me.'” (xxiii)  After hearing A Love Supreme for the first time Shankar stated: “‘Reading the liner notes, I was so surprised by his total surrendering and believing and his love for God.'” (xxiii) 

Like me, Shankar evidently heard no musical representation of divine love.  Apart from the opening invocation it’s nothing but the blues to my ears.  Why were Coltrane’s musical prayers so anguished?  Why could he not move from blues to bliss?  I think it was a root of bitterness.  After the invocation of Acknowledgement the bass riff that outlines the ‘a love supreme’ chant is based on Art Farmer’s Mau Mau.  Coltrane wanted the “last chord [of the entire suite] to sound like [the] final chord of Alabama.”  Mau Mau alludes to a Kenyan uprising against British colonialists and Alabama concerns the burning of a church by white racists (the KKK) that resulted in the death of four black girls.  Coltrane’s Alabama and Psalm share the same key, C-, and grave feel.  

Coltrane based his song, Alabama, on Martin Luther King’s eulogy, which ends: “Good night, those who symbolize a new day. (Yeah, Yes) And may the flight of angels (That’s right) take thee to thy eternal rest. God bless you.”

In my interpretation the third to last sentence corresponds to the following notes.  Good night – 5, 5 – those who – 1, 5 – symbolize a new day – 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, major 3rd.  This last note is the only major third of the whole peice.  It seems to me significant that the major third is absent from Coltrane’s Psalm; perhaps the significance is that Coltrane had not found his new day of deliverance, as David typically does in the Biblical psalms.   Coltrane’s Psalm ends: “I have seen God – I have seen ungodly – none can be greater – none can compare to God.  Thank you God.  He will remake us…He always has and He always will.  It is true – blessed be His name – thank you God.  God breathes through us so completely…so gently we hardly feel it…yet, it is our everything.  Thank you God.  ELATION – ELEGANCE – EXALTATION – All from God.  Thank you God.  Amen.”

King’s eulogy ends with the subjects carried to heaven by angels.  Coltrane’s Psalm ends with the subject, also the author, contrasting God with the ungodly, perhaps a reference to the oppressors of the Mau Mau and the Alabama racists.  The psalmist then mentions the activity of God: “remake” and “breathes through us”.  The result, elation, elegance, and exaltation, suggests that Coltrane wants to be transported as the Alabama victims were.  According to my interpretation he is identifying himself as a victim in his Psalm.  Many Biblical psalms start with a lament of the psalmist, but end with a sense of victory, as music that ends with a cadence.      

Apart from the major key invocation, the suite is bluesy, in my interpretation, as Coltrane is identifying himself as a black victim of a racist society.  “He will remake us”, Coltrane wrote in his psalm poem.  Yes, God could remake Coltrane into a victor over angry, bitter, and troubling thoughts.  The liner notes to A Love Supreme state: “This performance is a humble offering to Him.  An attempt to say ‘THANK YOU GOD.'”  Perhaps the angry and shreiking elements are due to Coltrane’s difficulty in thanking a God who oversees incidents such as the Mau Mau uprising and the Alabama church burning.

Carlos Santana’s Explication of A Love Supreme (7:11): “How you feel is what you are.  If you feel like victory this is who you are.  If you feel like a victim this is who you are.  You can change it, rearrange it, transform it, and illumine, because it’s your reality and my reality.  It’s all about the perception.  The perception of intentions, motives, and purpose.  My intention, motives, and purpose is to remind you [that] you are only two things: light and love….It’s called state of grace….purity, innocence, light, and love.”  “Before being Canadian, Mexican, Apache, Kobanshi [?], Irish, Italian, African, all of it – light and love.”  On one level Santana is addressing the spirit of Coltrane, who had been influenced by Malcolm X’s views of black and white.  The sonic counterpart of light and love is the major triad, the divine gift of sound in nature.

The obvious implication of Santana’s exposition is that light is supreme over darkness, as Sun Ra stated that the sun is superior to the moon.  The human application is not racial (ie: white supremacy), but spiritual – it is supremely preferable to have a bright soul rather than a dark soul.  The ultimate human identity is not as members of a particular race or gender, but as children of God born of his Spirit into the likeness of his Son.

Coltrane: “‘In my late teens, I started breaking away, you know, I was growing up and so I questioned what I thought about everything…I can tell you, it started with religion.'”  Khan: “Whether it is labeled as sacred versus profane, gospel versus blues, God’s work versus the devil’s music, the classic (and still pervasive) African-American paradigm that holds church matters and popular culture in diametric opposition, that separates true spirituality from such music as jazz, held no sway in Coltrane’s self-erected system.” (8)

“Alice Coltrane has said that on one day in the late summer of 1964 [John] came downstairs in his new house ‘like Moses coming down from the mountain,’ holding the complete outline for a new suite….At the bottom of the page he writes: ‘last chord to sound like final chord of Alabama.'” (90)  As Moses never entered the promised land, but only viewed it from afar, so Coltrane never enters the presence of divine love in his suite.  The church has been burnt to the ground.  Alice Coltrane: “It’s like a beautiful city, but we don’t enter.”  McCoy Tyner states: “‘The song ‘Alabama’ came from a speech.  John said there was a Martin Luther King speech about the four girls getting killed in Alabama.  It was in the newspaper – a printed medium.  And so John took the rhythmic patterns of his speech and came up with ‘Alabama.'” (79)

Kahn applies Gary Giddins’ comment on Coltrane’s ‘Chasin’ the Trane’, from 1961, to A Love Supreme: “‘He pushes himself and the blues to the limits of endurance, drawing light from dark, pleasure from pain, liberation from constraint.'” (100)   “‘Perhaps my main fault at the moment is that I have a natural feeling for the minor,’ Coltrane apologized in 1965.  ‘I’d like to do more things in the major…'” (116)  

Writer Allaudin Mathieu: “‘His jazz solo doesn’t have to tell the story chorus by chorus, which is what everybody was doing….Modality was best suited for it, because you didn’t want to be tied into a bunch of changes.  You wanted kind of pan-harmonic changes….In that respect, I think Coltrane is closer to blues shouters, who after all had the same modal strategy – five notes.'” (146)  Trumpeter John McNeil: “‘The pentatonic scale is harmonically ambiguous.  It doesn’t have the harmonic direction that we use in Western music.” (149)

The angel Gabriel said to Mary, “Nothing is impossible with God.”  In 1950 in Normandy, France, in the town of Liseuz, a member of the local Assemblies of God gave a gypsy woman named Duvil-Reinhardt a tract at a market.  She forgot about it until a few months later when one of her sons became desperately ill.  She visited the church and asked the pastor to pray for her dying son.  He went with her to the hospital, laid hands on her son and prayed.  The boy was completely healed.  “Most Gypsies have a hard life, stealing, family problems.  The Gospel has changed the mentality of many Gypsies,” says Rene Zanellato, a prominent prayer leader here who speaks six languages and led Gypsy missions in Russia.  Just as Duvil-Reinhardt and many of her fellow gypsies were transformed from the lament of soleares to the joy of alegrias, so the gospel can transform blue devils to an angelic hue.  

An example of the other form of jazz,  rhythm changes, is On the Sunnyside of the Street.  The bluesy and discordant bridge, “I used to walk in the shade with the blues on parade.  I’m not afraid right now this rover has crossed over,” modulates to the major sonority of the final verse: “Don’t you hear that pitter pat, that happy step could be your step.  Just direct your feet to the sunnyside of the street.”  In the words of reggae singer David HInds, from his song Chant a Psalm: “Rejoice, good tidings I bring you…blow away your bluesy feeling, spirits say take the world off you shoulder.  One foot in the grave is a foolish step to take.  Who sow in tears shall reap in joy….Get behind me Satan.”  Ironically, the song is in a non-celebratory minor key, but that’s another story.  

Saint-Martin’s Principles

Louis Claude de Saint-Martin: “In the first place, that which we know in music under the name of the common chord [accord parfait] is, for us, the image of that first unity that embraces everything and from which everything comes forth.  This chord is single and unique, entirely self-contained without need of any note other than its own; in a word, it is unalterable in its intrinsic value, like unity” (324).  Godwin notes that “Saint-Martin here transposes to the metaphysical level the theory of Rameau concerning the archetypal primacy of the triad” (466, note 2).  “Secondly, this common chord is the most harmonious of all; it is the only one that satisfies the human ear and leaves nothing else to be desired” (324).   Godwin comments: “It was Tartini’s discovery…that every note we hear, unless extremely pure in timbre, contains as harmonics the common chord” (466, note 3).  To Tartini’s and Rameau’s single principle Saint-Martin adds a second.  

“One should not insist, in the sense-picture which I am presenting, on an entire uniformity with the Principle of which it is merely the image, for then the copy should be equal to the model.  All the same, although this sense-picture is inferior, and can moreover be subject to variation, it nevertheless exists in no less complete a manner, it nonetheless represents the Principle, because the instinct of the senses supplies the remainder” (325).

“But it is not enough for us to have seen in the common chord the representation of all things in general and in particular: we can also see there, through further obervations, the very source of these things and the origin of this distinction which was made before time began between the two Principles, and which ever manifests itself within time.

To this end, let us not lose sight of the beauty and pefection of this common chord, which draws all its virtue from itself alone.  We will readily judge that if it had remained forever in its natural state, order and just harmony would have lasted perpetually, and evil would have been unknown because it would never have been born; that is to say, none but the faculties of the good Principle would ever have been manifested, since it is the only real and the only true one.

How then was it possible for the second Principle to become evil?  How could evil have taken birth and appeared?  Was it not because the superior and dominant note of the common chord, namely the octave, was suppressed, and another note introduced in its place?  And what is this note which was introduced in place of the octave?  It is the one which immediately precedes it, and we know that the new chord which results from this change is called the chord of the seventh.  We know. too, that this chord of the seventh tires the ear, holds it in suspense, and demands (in aesthetic terms) to be saved (Des Erreurs et de la verite, par le Philosophe Inconnu.  Edinburgh, 1775.  Reprinted n.p., Le Lis, 1979, 512f; from Occult, 21-2).  “As he develops this idea, the alternation in music of dissonant seventh-chords with perfect triads appears to him as an image of corporeal nature, ‘whose course is nothing but a sequence of derangements and rehabilitations.’” (518; from Occult, 22).

It is therefore through the opposition between this dissonant chord and all those derived from it, and the common chord, that all musical works are born: for they are nothing other than a continuous play – not to say a combat – between the consonant common chord and the seventh chord, or all dissonant chords in general.

Why should not this law, thus shown us by nature, be for us the image of the univer[s]al production of things?  Why shoud we not find therein the Principle, as we have found above the assembly and the constitution in the order of intervals of the common chord?  Why, I say, should we not touch with finger and eye the cause, the birth, and the consequences of the universal temporal confusion, since we know that in this corporeal nature there are two Principles which are ceaselessly opposed, and since nature could not survive without the help of the two contrary actions from which proceed the combat and the violence that we see: a mixture of regularity and disorder which harmony represents to us faithfully by the assembly of consonances and dissonances of which all musical works consist?” (326).  Godwin interprets Saint-Martin to be referring to “the resolution of the dominant seventh to the common chord” (466, note 7).

“if the ear were offered nothing but a series of common chords it would not be shocked, it is true; but aside from the monotonous boredom that would ensue, we would not find therein any expression, any idea.  It would not, in fact, be music for us, because music, and in general everything that is sensible, is as incompatible with unity of action as with the unity of agencies.

In thus acknowledging all the laws necessary for the constitution of musical works, we can still apply these same laws to verities of another level” (327).  He remarks that if it is the seventh chord “which creates a diversion with the common chord, it is also though this that crisis and revolution occur out of which order must come again and the peace of the ear be restored, because after this seventh one is indispensably obliged to return to the common chord.” (328)

“It is this very dissonance that again repeats for us what takes place in corporeal nature, whose course is nothing but a sequence of derangements and rehabilitations.  Now, if this observation has indicated to us precisely the true origin of corporeal things, and made us see today that all the beings of nature are subject to this violent law which presides over their origin, their existence, and their end, why cannot we apply the same law to the universe in its entirety, and recognize that if it is violence which has caused it to [be] born and which sustains it, then violence too must work its destruction?

It is thus that we see that at the moment of termination of a piece of Music there is ordinarily a confused beating, a trill, between one of the notes of the common chord and the second or seventh of the dissonant chord, which latter is indicated by the bass which usually holds its fundamental note in order then to restore the whole to the common chord or to unity.  [Godwin notes: “Saint-Martin is referring to the conventional eighteenth-century cadence” of a dominant seventh chord resolving to a tonic triad (466, note 11).

One can see, moreover, that just as after this musical cadence one necessarily returns to the common chord which restores all to peace and order, it is certain that after the crisis of the elements, the Principles which have fought over them will also regain their tranquility.  And applying the same to man, one must see how the true knowledge of music might preserve him from fear of death: for this death is only the trill which ends his state of confusion, and restores him to” the common chord (from Occult, 22).

He presumes that his readers “will not consider the dissonances as vices in regard to music, since it is from them that it draws its greatest beauties, but only as the sign of the opposition which reigns in all things.

They will also realize that within the harmony of which sensible Music is only the image there must be the same opposition between dissonances and consonances; but that, far from causing the least fault in it, they are its nourishment and its life; and intelligence will see there only the action of several different facutlies which sustain one another even though they fight together, and which by their reunion give birth to a multitude of results, ever novel and striking.

This has been only a very much abbreviated account of all the observations of this sort I might make on music, and on the relationships which exist between it and important verities; but what I have said will suffice to give a glimpse of the reason of things, and to teach men not to isolate their different branches of knowledge: for we show that they all come from the same tree, and that the same imprint is everywhere” (Des Erreurs, 519; from Spheres, 329). 

Brentano’s Flat Seventh as Jesus

Nineteenth century German Romantic writer Bettina Brentano describes the flat seventh tone relative to the dominant, or blues, chord, as “the divine leader, – the Mediator between sensual and heavenly Nature…and if it were not, all tones would remain in limbo….As it is with Christians, so is it with sounds: every Christian feels the Redeemer within himself, each tone can elevate itself to Mediator, or seventh, and thus perfect the eternal work of redemption from the sensual to the heavenly; as only through Christ we enter the kingdom of Spirit, so only through the seventh, the benumbed kingdom of tone is delivered and becomes Music…and as redemption extends itself to all, who, embraced by the living spirit of the Godhead, long after eternal life, so the flat seventh by its solution leads all tones, which pray to it for delivery, in a thousand different ways, to their source – divine spirit.” [1]

Brentano interprets the role of the seventh tone of the dominant chord in relation to the tonic triad as an analogy of the role of Christ in the redemption of humanity to the kingdom of God.  This analogy is consistent with Zuckerkandl’s description of the function of the dominant (V) chord in relation to the tonic (I): “Since V is the only chord audibly directed towards I, it is by virtue of V only that I can effectively establish itself as the center of action.  Any harmonic motion, in order to express the rule of I, must be ultimately channeled through V.  In this role, then, as the chord that dominates the access to I as I, and on which I depends for the manifestation of its power, V seems quite appropriately called the dominant chord.”[2]
Zuckerkandl’s description of the function of the dominant chord in relation to the tonic chord is analogous to the function of the Son in the redemption of humanity to the Father.  Just as the dominant chord “dominates the access to I” in tonal music, so the Son is “the gate”[3] through which humanity must enter in order approach the Father.  Christians “come to God through” the “one mediator between God and men”, Jesus; through him believers “have access to the Father.”[4]  Thus Jesus states: “I am the way…No one comes to the Father except through me.”[5]  This metaphysical interpretation of the perfect cadence has some affinity with the following statement of Luther: “In music, the leading tone is the Gospel, the other notes the law, and as the law is softened by the Gospel, so the Gospel dominates the other tones.”[6]  The tonal analogy of the perfect cadence suggests that redeemed humanity relates to the Son in his human nature as distant harmonies relate to a dominant chord, and that the Son in his human nature relates to the Father as a dominant chord relates to a fundamental tone.

[1] Bettina Brentano,  Goethe’s Correspondence with a Child,  (Boston: James R. Osgood and Company, 1872), 143.  [2] Zuckerkandl, Sense, 195-96.  [3] Jn. 10:9; New Jerusalem Bible.  [4] Heb. 7:25; 1Tim. 2:6; Eph. 2:18; New Jerusalem Bible.  [5] Jn. 14:6.  [6] From Söhngen, Luther, 95.


Jean-Philippe Rameau states that “‘harmony is contained in the two chords proposed: the perfect chord and the seventh chord.  All our rules are founded on the natural progression of these two sounds.’”[1]  Levy verifies Rameau’s assertion when stating that “two chords, triad and seventh chord, constitute the whole of the material of harmony.”[2]  The reason for the special status which Rameau afforded the seventh is its function as a dissonance in the harmonic motion of what Joan Ferris observes were for Rameau “two fundamental chords, the perfect major triad and the chord of the seventh.  The most perfect progression of these two chords proceeds from the less perfect to the more perfect, from tension to repose.  One calls the first chord of this perfect cadence the dominant-tonic, ‘because it should always precede the final note, and therefore dominate it.’  One calls the final chord the tonic, ‘because everything begins and ends on it.’”[3]  This progression is known as a perfect cadence, which Neubauer notes “is in Rameau’s scheme the elementary and archetypal musical structure.”[4]  Rameau describes this structure as follows: “‘the perfect cadence alone is…the origin of the principal varieties introduced into harmony.  One inverts this cadence, interrupts it, imitates it, avoids it – this is what [harmonic] variety consists of’.”[5]

 Allen Forte summarizes Schenker’s conception of the cadence.  “The meaning of the cadence is this: along with motion toward the fifth (V), IV appears as a corrective, depriving V (the dominant) of its independence and pointing it back in the direction of its origin.  The F [in the key of C] eliminates the possibility of hearing the G chord in the sense of G major, which would require F#” (23).  “The tendency of a tone to move to its fifth…and the tendency of that fifth to manifest itself as a fundamental-these constitute the sum and substance of the tonicization process.(32).  “The true function of the third…is to be understood purely as an expansion of the path from the tonic to its fifth” (35).  “the principles of harmony are purely spiritual-that the scale degree is a spiritual driving force” (36). The fifth “divides the path to the octave and facilitates departure from and return to the fundamental” (45).

Zuckerkandl distinguishes between the qualities of the four tones of the dominant seventh chord and of the three tones of the tonic triad: “As it contains four different tones, the seventh chord is necessarily dissonant; its sound state is always tension, not, as in the triad, balance.”[6] Zuckerkandl’s association of the four tones of the seventh chord with tension and of the three tones of the triad with balance is consistent with Peck’s more general observation of the intelligible significance of the numbers four and three: “4 is the corporeal, 3 the spiritual form…Three cannot be divided and thus designates the indissolvable and incorruptible.”[7] These characteristics are also evident in Jacques Ellul’s associations of three with God, “since God is the Trinity”, and of four with creation, “which was understood in antiquity according to a rhythm of fours.”[8] Thus, Godwin states that “all traditional arithmology assigns the number four to the lower world (the place of the four elements, etc.), and the ternary to the higher word.”[9] In the following pages I will represent the three tones of the tonic triad in its second inversion and the four tones of the dominant seventh chord in its root position as analogies of the divine and human natures of Christ, respectively.
The divine will and center of consciousness of Christ is analogous to the will of the fifth tone of a tonic triad to accept the fundamental tone as its center of gravity.  The human will and center of consciousness of Christ is analogous to the will of the fifth tone to bear its own triad, of which it is the center.  Allen Forte refers to this tendency of a “fifth to manifest itself as a fundamental” as “the tonicization process.”[10]  This process introduces a fourth tone, the flat seventh, which initially manifests the dependence of the consequent dominant seventh chord upon its original tonic triad and consequently manifests the original will of the fifth tone to submit to the fundamental tone.  Earlier I cited Jesus’ prayer, “not as I will, but as you will”;[11] these words are an expression of his human will and center of consciousness submitting to its divine counterpart, much as a dominant seventh chord resolves to a tonic chord in a cadence.  These metaphysical and musical structures are represented in the following table.

English Romantic poet and philosopher Coleridge described a more particular metaphysical principle when proposing that the Christian Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is “the Idea itself – that Idea Idearum [Idea of Ideas], the one substrative truth which is the form, manner and involvement of all truths”; “The Trinity is indeed the primary Idea, out of which all other Ideas are evolved…in which are hidden all the Treasures of Knowledge.”[12]  The following statements indicate that Coleridge regarded music as the ultimate symbol of the Trinity: “An IDEA, in the highest sense of that word, cannot be conveyed but by a symbol; and, except in geometry, all symbols of necessity involve an apparent contradiction”;[13] the exception of geometry evidently extends to music, for Coleridge describes it as “the best symbol.”[14]  This description may be justified by considering that the musical triad is an exception to what Christensen calls “the famous conundrum first proposed by Parmenides and the Eleatics, ‘one’ (unity) cannot simultaneously be the source of ‘many’ (diversity) without contradicting its nature.”[15]

[1] From Tenney, 67.

[2] Levy, Theory, 181-82.

[3] Ferris, 243.

[4] Neubauer, 81.

[5] From Neubauer, 82.

[6] Zuckerkandl, Sense, 181.

[7] Peck, 76.

[8] Jacques Ellul,  The Meaning of the City, (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1970), 197-98.

[9] Godwin, Occult, 21.

[10] Allen Forte,.  “Schenker’s Conception of Musical Structure”,  Schenker Studies,  (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1990), 32.

[11] Mt. 26:39; New International Version.

[12] Coleridge, S.T.  Literary Remains,  Vol. IV,  Ed. Henry Nelson Coleridge (New York: AMS Press, Inc., 1967),  227; Kathleen Coburn and Merton Christenson,  The Notebooks of Samuel Taylor Coleridge,  Vol. 4,  Text (Princeton: Princeton UP, 1990), 5294.

[13] Coleridge, S.T.  Biographia Literaria I (Princeton: Princeton UP, 1983), 156.

[14] Coleridge, S.T.  Lectures 1818-1819 on the History of Philosophy,  I (Princeton: Princeton UP, 2000), 196.

[15] Christensen, 76.

The Blues Effect

B.B King stated: “The blues is an expression of anger against shame and humiliation.”  In the Monty Python film The Rutles, blues is ironically described as “black music sung mainly by whites.”  Harmonica player Sonny Terry sang of “a white boy lost in the blues.”  Guitarist Eric Clapton stated: “An English kid playing the blues – I mean it’s just wrong; it doesn’t fit.”  Guitarist Elvin Bishop describes blues as “good, because it’s therapy.  It makes you feel a little better about things, you know. I think that’s what blues is all about, is recycling bad feelings.  It was invented by people who lived in impossible circumstances, and it was part of their way of dealing with it…It’s sad but true, the white public will accept from young white faces what they will not accept from old black faces.”  

Danny Kirwan, former guitarist of Fleetwood Mac, gave his impressions of blues music in an interivew for Guitar Magazine in August 1996.  MC: What does the blues mean to you?  Danny Kirwan: It’s a black man’s language, something that stems from the the black nature of man.  MC: Can a white man sing the blues?  DK: Well, he can, but he might do himself damage.  MC: How did you come to play that style of music?  DK: What’s there was there.  You get involved in things and that’s it.  I was around and gathered it all up and got involved.  I didn’t think, ‘I want to be a musician’, it just kind of happened.  At first I listened a lot to Paul McCartney – really loved Daytripper – and then I got into older music.  MC: And you learned and got involved very quickly.  DK: Well, there was nothing else I could do.  If you’re a white man you have to learn the blues; you don’t know them.  It’s as simple as that.  The thing is, those black guys play the blues the way they are, because it’s their music.  It developed with them.  But if you understand your brain content and you’re a white man, you can play it if you’re clever.  You see, I was infiltrated to the extent that I picked up a bug – I got into the blues and it got into my system like a bug gets into your system.  But when you’re a kid and you walk around with your family you don’t notice the blues.”

Just as you are what you eat, and you become what you behold, as poet William Blake recognized, so one becomes what one hears.  If there is a blues effect corresponding to the Mozart effect it may be the effect of victimhood.  The blues chord is incomplete in its state of unresolved tension.  Tones have a will, and it is the will of the blues chord to resolve from its tense state to an alternate tonal center, as it is the will of self-centered souls to turn to a higher power.  Mozart’s music epitomizes cadential tonality, in which a dissonant dominant seventh chord resolves to a consonant tonic triad.  Oswald Spengler stated that “the polarity of…(original sin) and Grace…is the final meaning…of music from Bach to Beethoven.”  Blues music does not resolve to a state of grace from its tonal tension, as it is founded on the dissonant dominant seventh chord, something that is unthinkable in conventional classical tonality, akin to walking upside down.  I suppose the blues chord represents the state of every natural soul out of tune with the cosmos and needing to be reborn in cosmic attunement.  

The three tones of a chord have been perceived as analogous to the three persons of the Trinity since the fifteenth century.  The Father is analogous to the fundamental keynote, the Son is generated from the Father as the fifth is the first born of the fundamental in the overtone series, and the Spirit proceeds from the Father to harmonize the potential opposition between Father and Son [and there is always potential for that] as the third tone harmonizes fundamental and fifth into a harmonious chord.

The cadence of a fifth chord resolving to the tonic chord of a keynote manifests the Son submitting to the will of the Father.  It is an orderly aesthetic, and order leads to guilt, which in turn leads to victimage.  The metaphysical victim is the Son as the tonal victim is the fifth.  Each of the tones in the chord have an inborn urge to procreate their own chords.  The chord is not a static entity, but unfolds itself in time, taking musical form.  The forms of folk and classical music are expressions of the organic nature of tone.  LIkewise, the Trinity is not a static tri-personal Being.  The Son has two wills and two centers of consciousnesss, as the fifth has two tonal centers: it is centered in itself as the keynote of a discordant dominant chord and it is centered in the fundamental as the fifth note of a consonant tonic chord.  “Thy will be done” implies a secondary and competing will in the nature of the Son.  “Thy kingdom come” is a verbal counterpart to tones in a melody seeking connection and resolution to the keynote.  “On earth as it is in heaven“.

Fats Waller, Black and Blue, 1929

I’m white inside, but that don’t help my case, because I can’t hide what is on my face….My only sin is in my skin.  What did I do to be so black and blue?

William Blake, Little Black Boy, 1798

William Blake’s poem, The Little Black Boy, addressed the second question in a poem: “My mother bore me in the southern wild, And I am black, but O, my soul is white!  White as an angel is the English child, But I am black, as if bereaved of light.  My mother taught me underneath a tree, And, sitting down before the heat of day, She took me on her lap and kissèd me, And, pointing to the East, began to say: ‘Look at the rising sun: there God does live, And gives His light, and gives His heat away, And flowers and trees and beasts and men receive Comfort in morning, joy in the noonday.  ‘And we are put on earth a little space, That we may learn to bear the beams of love; And these black bodies and this sunburnt face Are but a cloud, and like a shady grove.  ‘For when our souls have learn’d the heat to bear, The cloud will vanish, we shall hear His voice, Saying, “Come out from the grove, my love and care, And round my golden tent like lambs rejoice.”‘  Thus did my mother say, and kissèd me, And thus I say to little English boy.  When I from black and he from white cloud free, And round the tent of God like lambs we joy, I’ll shade him from the heat till he can bear To lean in joy upon our Father’s knee; And then I’ll stand and stroke his silver hair, And be like him, and he will then love me.

The narrative in the first stanza plays upon the traditional stereotypes of “black” and “white”, black being the color that denotes evil and sin, – “black, as if beareav’d of light” – and white being the color that denotes innocence and purity.

It becomes clear over the course of the poem, however, that Blake had a deeper message to convey to his reader. “The Little Black Boy” was published in 1789, a time when slavery was still legal and the campaign for the abolition of slavery was still young. In “The Little Black Boy”, Blake questions conventions of the time with basic Christian ideals. This becomes apparent in the third stanza, where Blake uses the sun as a metaphor for God and His Kingdom: “Look on the rising sun: there God does live,”. This line is particularly important, as the reference to the sun not only introduces the running religious metaphor in the subsequent stanzas, but the fact that it is “rising” denotes change.

In accordance with the running metaphor of the sun, the fact that Blake speaks of “black bodies” and a “sunburnt face” in the fourth stanza seems to imply that black people are near God as a result of their suffering – for one can only become dark and sunburned as a result of being exposed to the sun’s rays.  In the final stanza this idea is developed further, as the black boy says that he will “shade him [the English boy] from the heat”, this implies that the English boy’s pale skin is not used to the heat (derived from God’s love) – some critics assert that the paleness of the English boy in this poem is symbolic of the fact that the English were distanced from God as a result of their treatment of the black peoples.

In the 5th stanza, we see all of humanity being united: For when our souls have learn’d the heat to bear, The cloud will vanish… In the 6th stanza this metaphor is continued: When I from black and he from white cloud free, Here, Blake uses the clouds as a metaphor for the human body. These stanzas therefore imply that after physical life has passed, all will be united with God.

The references to color below signify tonal colors and colors of human souls, and not skin colors.

Let us Compare Color and Tonal Languages: Eric Clapton and Peter Green

Eric Clapton’s song, Presence of the Lord was the first song that he wrote all the lyrics to, and could therefore be considered a signature song of sorts for him.  It was written after Cream disbanded, partly because Clapton had grown tired of being coerced into playing commercially driven blues.  In 1966 on Cream’s first American tour in 1966 Clapton recalls an acid trip during a concert when “it was in my head that I could turn the audience into angels or devils according to which note I played. (92)”  The Bach-like chordal structure and melody of the verses in a major key, which he may have associated with his Anglican upbringing, contrast with the rock-like chorus, “everybody knows the secret, everybody knows the score“, and the blues-rock guitar solo interlude in the relative minor key. 

In his autobiography, Clapton, whose father incidentally was Canadian, wrote that he “grew up with a strong curiosity about spiritual matters, but my searching took me away from church and community worship to the internal journey.”  His ‘me and God’ journey is reflected in the pronouns of his song; the classical sounding verses begin with I and the rock sounding chorus begins with everybody.  This personal element is also reflected in the favorite hymn of his youth: “Jesus bids us shine with a clear, pure light, / Like a little candle burning in the night; / In this world of darkness, we must shine, / You in your small corner, and I in mine.”  The I of Clapton’s song is “like a little candle burning in the night”, the place to live of Clapton’s song is like the “small corner” of his hymn, and the everybody of his song is “this world of darkness.”  It seems a pessimistic view of the world; Clapton was content to let his little light shine in a small corner of the fallen world.

It is curious that the guitar solo is in the same key and feel of the rock sounding chorus and is introduced with the lyric “in the color of the Lord.”  The blues rock solo and use of wah-wah pedal seems out of context in a religious song and recalls previous Clapton solos, such as that played in Tales of Brave Ulysses, which lyric also makes reference to color:

The colors of the sea blind your eyes with trembling mermaids, and you touch the distant beaches with tales of brave Ulysses: how his naked ears were tortured by the sirens sweetly singing,  For the sparkling waves are calling you to kiss their white laced lips.  And you see a girl’s brown body dancing through the turquoise, and her footprints make you follow where the sky loves the sea.  And when your fingers find her, she drowns you in her body, carving deep blue ripples in the tissues of your mind.  The tiny purple fishes run laughing through your fingers, and you want to take her with you to the hard land of the winter.  Her name is Aphrodite and she rides a crimson shell, and you know you cannot leave her for you touched the distant sand, with tales of brave Ulysses; how his naked ears were tortured by the sirens sweetly singing.

This may be a musical contradiction of the lyric, for, in reading his autobiography, Clapton lived a sex, drugs, and rock and roll lifestyle in his house, becoming addicted to heroin.  Actually, I think the rock guitar solo is Clapton’s statement that he was not really capable of acknowledging the Lord and living in his presence at the time.  The song is a wish-fulfillment, and it seems to be fulfilled in Clapton’s life now, as he freely turns to his Lord.  The rock solo is a musical counterpart, perhaps, to the Shakespeare’s character who can’t bring himself to his knees to pray.

Clapton describes his prayer position: “I choose to kneel because I feel I need to humble myself when I pray, and with my ego, this is the most I can do.  If you are asking why I do all this, I will tell you … because it works, as simple as that.”  By kneeling Clapton acknowledges God as his key note.

A song that matches the structure of Presence of the Lord is Clapton’s Let it Grow:

Standing at the crossroads, trying to read the signs to tell me which way I should go to find the answer, and all the time I know, plant your love and let it grow.  Let it grow, let it grow, let it blossom, let it flow.  In the sun, the rain, the snow, love is lovely, let it grow.  Looking for a reason to check out of my mind, trying hard to get a friend that I can count on, but there’s nothing left to show, plant your love and let it grow.  Time is getting shorter and there’s much for you to do, only ask and you will get what you are needing, the rest is up to you, plant your love and let it grow.”  The opening phrase, standing at the crossroads, recalls Robert Johnson’s Crossroad Blues, which has been intrepreted by some as a song about selling one’s soul to the devil.  The key structure is the opposite of that of Prescence of the Lord, as the verses are in the relative minor key, and the chorus is in the major key.  The first two verses are in the first person and the chorus and final verse are implicitly spoken by someone, perhaps God, or a spiritual counselor, giving advice.

Tears in Heaven follows the harmonic structure of Let it Grow:

Would you know my name if I saw you in heaven?  Will it be the same if I saw you in heaven? 
 I must be strong and carry on ’cause I know I don’t belong here in heaven.  Would you hold my hand if I saw you in heaven?  Would you help me stand if I saw you in heaven?  I’ll find my way through night and day ’cause I know I just can’t stay here in heaven.  Time can bring you down time can bend your knee.  Time can break your heart, have you begging please.  Beyond the door there’s peace I’m sure, and I know there’ll be no more tears in heaven.

Clapton only wrote the first verse and had a collaborator write the remaining lyrics, which refer to night and day.  The verses are in the major key and use the pronoun you in reference to the singer’s deceased son, Conor.  The verses are in the minor key and use the pronoun I, in reference to the singer.  The major mode, then, represents heaven where the son is, and day, and the minor mode represents a nocturnal state of exile from heaven, which is the state of the singer.  The use of pronoun and mode is the opposite of Presence of the Lord, in which I is in a major mode and you is in the relative minor.  This implies that Clapton no longer saw himself as being in divine presence.

In 2003 Clapton reflected on the composition of Tears in Heaven: “I almost subconsciously used music for myself as a healing agent, and lo and behold, it worked . . . I have got a great deal of happiness and a great deal of healing from music.”

Whatever your standing in life, the most important thing is behaving in ways that help other people. It’s the same with music. I am a servant of the music … and if I get caught up in ego, I’ll lose everything .. it’ll burn and that’s a guarantee.”  In 1987 Clapton presented a session to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting on “handing your will over to the care of God.”  Breau seemed to have tried to live this way as well.  Delaney Bramlett challenged Clapton to start singing: “God has given you this gift, and if you don’t use it he will take it away.”  Similary, Breau’s mother states that he “would always say that God had given him a gift that he had.  And I used to tell him, ‘Lenny, you know, if you abuse that gift you might lose it.‘”

Tonality in the Music of Peter Green

The major-heaven, minor-exile motif is found in songs of other guitarists.  Peter Green’s Albatross is in a major key and his Black Magic Woman and Green Manalishi are in a minor key.  The reference to “my magic stick” has the same symbolic significance as the rattlesnake of Rattlesnake Shake.  The duration of the shake of a rattlesnake and the picking up of a magic stick is relatively short compared to the flight of an albatross.  The title of the UK compilation album Albatross appears on, The Pious Bird of Good Omen, alludes to and quotes from Coleridge’s poem, Rime of the Ancient Mariner.  “The Beatles loved ‘Albatross’ and recorded ‘Here Comes the Sun King’ as a tribute to Pete.” (Fleetwood, 75)  The albatross is a white bird, and its spelling was influenced by the Latin albus, meaning white in Latin, as in albino.  The woman’s magic is black (Green’s white girlfriend is the subject of the song) and the manalishi, whatever that is, is green, and the setting is the black of night.

Now, when the day goes to sleep and the full moon looks, the night is so black that the darkness cooks.  Don’t you come creepin’ around makin’ me do things I don’t want to.  Can’t believe that you need my love so bad.  Come sneakin’ around tryin’ to drive me mad.  Bustin’ in on my dreams making me see things I don’t wanna see.  ‘Cause you’re the Green Manalishi with the two prong crown.  All my tryin’ is up – all your bringin’ is down.  Just taking my love then slippin’ away leaving me here just trying to keep from following you.”

The song was written during Green’s final months with Fleetwood Mac, at a time when he was struggling with LSD and had withdrawn from other members of the band.  “Faced with the band’s refusal to give away all monetary gains, Peter Green decided to leave Fleetwood Mac, but not before writing the haunting ‘Green Manalishi,’ which seems to document his struggle to stop his descent into madness.”  While there are several rumours about the meaning of the title “Green Manalishi”, one referencing a mysterious LSD drug called “Green Manalishi” associated with the drug scene of the 1960s and 1970s, Green has always maintained that the song is about money, as represented by the devil.  Ironically, Albatross made the group the most money and led Green to approach his manager with a shotgun insisting that he not receive any more royalties; this landed Green in jail.

Green has explained that he wrote the song after experiencing a drug-induced dream, in which he was visited by a green dog which barked at him.  He understood that the dog represented money.  “It scared me because I knew the dog had been dead a long time.  It was a stray and I was looking after it.  But I was dead and had to fight to get back into my body, which I eventually did.  When I woke up, the room was really black and I found myself writing the song.”  He also said that he wrote the lyrics the following day, in Richmond Park. Supposedly, he was unable to record Robert Johnson’s ‘Hellhound On My Trail’ following the incident; having conflated Johnson’s hellhound with the green dog-demon of his dream.  This is supported by his discography, in which Green’s sole post-Manalishi cover of ‘Hellhound’ was sung by band mate Nigel Watson.

The B-side of the single was an instrumental written by Green and Danny Kirwan, titled World In Harmony.  The two tracks were recorded at the same session in Warner/Reprise Studios, in HollywoodCalifornia.  The harmonic structure of World in Harmony moves from the dominant seventh, D7, to the tonic, G, back to the dominant seventh, D7, to a heavy blues rock section in E7 based on the Hendrix chord, as both major and minor third as used, then back to the initial structure of D7 to G to D7.  In contrast to the middle section in E7, conjuring a world in chaotic disharmony, the D7 and G sections are played in a pastoral, gentle style recalling the tone of Albatross.  This song, then, mixes the two tonal languages of the blues scale, where there are no wrong notes and anything goes, and conventional cadential tonality where the dominant chord resolves to the tonic.  It is curious that the song begins and ends with dominant chord, rather than the tonic, which would be expected with a title such as World in Harmony.  Perhaps this was as close as the group could come to depicting harmony at the time.  Taming the blues chord and scale, as God tames his Leviathan and Behemoth.  Taming the phallus.

“Although Fleetwood Mac enterd 1970 as one of the biggest groups in the world, outselling both the Beatles and the Stones in Europe the year before, we were forced to confront Peter Green’s dis[78]affection and increasing disgust with the world.  I remember how upset he was by the news of starving orphans who were victims of the Nigerian civil war in Biafra.  He used to cry in front of the TV news.  At one point he sent more than twelve thousand pounds to various charities like Save the Children.  Then Pete became fixated on the idea that Fleetwood Mac should become a charity band.  The whole group used to sit around all night in American motels and talk about it until dawn.  ‘Come on,’ Pete would say.  ‘We can keep working, keep enough to pay expenses and live simply, and give the rest to starving people.  We could still be a band, but our lives would be dedicated to something….I don’t need it.  I’d just feel much better about playing this music if we could give what we make to the poor.  There’s so much poverty.  Maybe we could make a bit of difference’…Pete leaned in close and yelled into my ear, ‘Let’s give it ALL away!’  Then Pete began to get a little crazed.  He appeared onstage in white robes and caftans, wearing his hair and beard very long.  A big crucifix hung from his neck.  He did long interviews about his search for God.” (Fleetwood, 79)

Good Vibrations

The Beach Boys’ song, Good Vibrations, features verses in the minor mode, choruses in the dominant seventh, blues, mode, and a third section in the major mode.  The good vibrations of the chorus, over the blues chord, are clearly of a sexual nature: “she’s giving me excitations.”  

The good vibrations of the third section seem to transcend the simple excitement of the chorus.  The memory of the woman sends the singer to a place of elations where he’s “got to keep those loving good vibrations.”  The harmonic structure of this place of elation is the 2-5-1 chord progression resolving to the concord of the major triad.  It is significant the the adjective, good, is used to characterize the vibrations of both the blues chorus and the consonant third section.  This significance is a matter of interpretation, and the reader should be assured that one will be forthcoming.  

I, I love the colorful clothes she wears
And the way the sunlight plays upon her hair
I hear the sound of a gentle word
On the wind that lifts her perfume through the air

I’m pickin’ up good vibrations
She’s giving me excitations
I’m pickin’ up good vibrations
(Oom bop, bop, good vibrations)
She’s giving me excitations
(Oom bop, bop, excitations)
Good good good good vibrations
(Oom bop, bop)
She’s giving me excitations
(Oom bop, bop, excitations)
Good good good good vibrations
(Oom bop, bop)
She’s giving me excitations
(Oom bop, bop, excitations)

Close my eyes
She’s somehow closer now
Softly smile, I know she must be kind
When I look in her eyes
She goes with me to a blossom world

I’m pickin’ up good vibrations
She’s giving me excitations
I’m pickin’ up good vibrations
(Oom bop, bop, good vibrations)
She’s giving me excitations
(Oom bop, bop, excitations)
Good good good good vibrations
(Oom bop, bop)
She’s giving me excitations
(Oom bop, bop, excitations)
Good good good good vibrations
(Oom bop, bop)
She’s giving me excitations
(Oom bop, bop, excitations)

(Ah my my what elation)
I don’t know where but she sends me there
(Ah my, my, what a sensation)
(Ah my, my, what elations)
(Ah my, my, what)

Gotta keep those lovin’ good vibrations
A happenin’ with her
Gotta keep those lovin’ good vibrations
A happenin’ with her
Gotta keep those lovin’ good vibrations
A happenin’

Brian Wilson, from The Beach Boys, once said “We were doing witchcraft, trying to make witchcraft music” and admitted that he was tormented by voices in his head that would distract and torment him.  Records president Larry Waronker claims to have encountered at least five different entities that used Brian Wilson’s body as their home.

Tensional Symbols

Kenneth Keulman comments on the thought of Eric Voegelin: “The constants that we discover to emerge in life are not dogmas or a catalogue of disembodied propositions, but tensional symbols that illumine the character of life as occurring between imperfection and perfection, mortality and immortality, order and disorder, harmony and revolt, sense and senselessness, truth and untruth.  If we split these pairs of symbols and hypostatize the poles of the tension as independent entities, we destroy the vitality of life as it has been experienced by the creators of the tensional symbols” (Balance, 165). 
Therefore, in spite of what Thompson refers to as the “inherited dichotomies and dualisms” of Christology, such as “divine and not human, Christology from above and not from below, Jesus of history or Christ of faith” (205-06), his reference to Paul’s insistence that “it is the crucified one that has been raised (1 Cr. 15.3-4; cf. Phil. 2.9)” (198) suggests that Christianity can only be accurately represented by tensional symbols of the “inherited dichotomies and dualisms” of Christology.  Voegelin’s description of the quest as “an effort to attune the concretely disordered existence again to the truth” (Search, 39) suggests his preference for a musical model to symbolize the tensions which are characteristic of Christian symbolization. 
Michael  Morrissey: “Transcendence can only be articulated in an analogical language replete with inevitable ambiguity.  Such is the nature of human knowing in the realm of transcendence. Within the orbit of faith one cannot move from mythos to logos pure and simple, for reason itself cannot provide the ground for affirming transcendent reality…This view of knowledge and language follows Thomas’ analogia entis, a principle of theologizing which Voegelin adopts.  Ultimately one cannot escape the form of symbol and myth in theology; certitude is simply not available.  Faith must tell its story in the penultimate language of inescapably ambiguous symbols seeking ever-greater adequacy.  There must be respect for the limits of human thought and language.  Besides, what is foundational in Christianity is not knowledge but love.  Creedal statements about the Christ are really a ‘love language’ to denote the significant meaning of the content of Christian faith for the believer”(232).  Love “must be guided by knowledge (noesis not gnosis) if it is not to become a destructive force” (232).  Love and knowledge parallel revelation and reason, pneuma and noesis.
The blues chord is a tonal mark of Cain, until the cadence makes it born again.  Aphorism inspired by Joni Mitchell’s Shadows and Light
“The blood of Christ pleads more insistently than the blood of Abel” — as the Letter to the Hebrews (12:24) puts it — because it pleads for mercy not vengeance.  Bettina Brentano: “As only through Christ we enter the kingdom of Spirit, so only through the seventh, the benumbed kingdom of tone is delivered and becomes Music.”