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  • Talking Style: Mardi Gras Mambo

    Talking Style: Mardi Gras Mambo

    Mardi Gras Day, also known as “Fat Tuesday” is celebrated the day before Ash Wednesday and is the last big blowout before Lent starts and fasting begins. Mardi Gras is actually a season in New Orleans, Carnival Season. Interesting factoid – the word “Carnival” loosely translates to “Farewell to the flesh”. An iconic song played... »

  • Talking Style: Why I Don’t Really Like Playing the Song “Kiss”

    Talking Style: Why I Don’t Really Like Playing the Song “Kiss”

    It’s no secret at this point that Prince is, has been and always will be my favorite “B.A.S.E.” player – him and just about anyone who had the salt to hold the chair in his band. Yes, I’ve got my preferences out of that bunch as well, but we’ll rap about that later! In this... »

  • Talking Style: Quartet Time/Feel

    Talking Style: Quartet Time/Feel

    Sometimes a simple shift in accent or change in the length of a note can really mark a particular style or genre. In this episode, I’m taking a very recognizable Dominant 7 line and shifting accents and note length to demonstrate how the exact same harmonic material sounds different in Blues, R&B and Quartet music.... »

  • Talking Style: I’ve Got To Use My Imagination

    Talking Style: I’ve Got To Use My Imagination

    One of the things that I love about doing this column is that I sometimes find unlikely pairings – like this one. I didn’t know that Bon Jovi’s Hugh McDonald played bass on this extremely funky joint, “I’ve Got to Use My Imagination” as performed by Gladys Knight and the Pips. The song was written... »

  • Talking Style: Bruno Mars vs. Collage

    Talking Style: Bruno Mars vs. Collage

    Like everyone else who was hip to late 70’s/80’s music I was instantly transported back to the golden age of 80’s electro funk the moment that I heard Mark Ronson / Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk”. However, even though the aural aesthetic certainly reminded me of some of the best times of my life and certainly... »

  • Talking Style: New Jack Swing Part 2 – Poison

    Talking Style: New Jack Swing Part 2 – Poison

    Bell Biv Devoe’s “Poison” is one song from the New Jack Swing era of R&B that has certainly stood the test of time. People who weren’t even living when the song was brand new hit dance and sing to it like it came out yesterday. Two really cool things about this bass groove are that... »

  • Talking Style: New Jack Swing

    Talking Style: New Jack Swing

    “New Jack Swing” is an era of R&B that mixed jazz, pop and electronic dance music sensibilities with hip-hop production techniques. The “sound”, pioneered by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis (former keyboardist and bassist for the Time) and Teddy Riley consists largely of synthesized bass lines, swung hip-hop beats created by the TR-808 drum machine... »

  • Talking Style: G-Funk – Part 2

    Talking Style: G-Funk – Part 2

    I want to continue the “G-Funk” exploration in this episode by taking a look at the 1995 cut “Safe & Sound” by DJ Quik. This song is a prime example of having a part from a record re-played as opposed to sampling it. This gives the producer so much more freedom in terms of what... »

  • Talking Style: G-Funk

    Talking Style: G-Funk

    G-Funk is a sub-genre of Hip-Hop that came out of 1990’s West Coast Gangsta Rap. Some characteristics of G-Funk are Parliament-Funkadelic-inspired, with mid-tempo grooves, melodic synths (high pitched “Gangsta Leads”), deep bass, and male or female vocals on the hooks. G-funk often consists of fewer, unaltered samples per song as opposed to the altered samples... »

  • Talking Style: Oh Freedom

    Talking Style: Oh Freedom

    I’ve been wanting to do some Gospel episodes but wasn’t sure where I wanted to start until now. The first song that we’ll look art is the post-Civil War spiritual, “Oh Freedom”. In particular, I’m going to show you some ideas on how to “hear the changes” , an extended Gospel-style turnaround and how you... »