ThankfulOne of the few criticisms I’ve received about this blog that I’m too critical, too “negative.” That was certainly true of the early days, when I issued a Hmph of the Week and never passed up the opportunity to make fun of KanYe West. But given the state of today’s Top 40, I feel someone has to point out that the emperor has no clothes – or in the case of some of today’s artists, that the performer has no clothes.

But there are so many things to appreciate in music – things we rarely stop and notice. For instance, I’m thankful for something as simple as the 12-note chromatic scale – only 12 notes that, when put together in certain ways and patterns, have given us every song created in the Western hemisphere over the past 500 years.

A Thanksgiving

  • I’m thankful for groups such as the Beatles and Queen, who have used those notes to such perfection, layering vocals on top of each other (sometimes to excess) to create overtones and harmonics that actually trick your ear into hearing notes that aren’t actually there.
  • I’m thankful for the descending bass line, for the minor and major seventh chords, for leading tones and suspended chords that create anticipation and make you yearn for resolution.
  • I’m thankful for unheard gems that few people know about. It’s as if we know some secret that most people have not had the pleasure of hearing. I’m thankful that our brains and ears have evolved so much that we can hear and appreciate the nuances in chords so that when one note changes, it can change the feeling of a chord, or even an entire song.
  • I’m thankful for a capella music, for barbershop quartets that stay on pitch and sing complicated arrangements.
  • I’m thankful for quiet music with only a piano or an acoustic guitar for an accompaniment, with a voice whispering just over it. Or an instrumental that can still deliver passion and intensity without the need for words or an emotive voice.
  • I’m thankful for songs as simple as U2’s “Bad”, with just three chords, and as complicated as Basia’s “Time and Tide,” with seven chord changes in the first seven measures.
  • I’m thankful for music that is so infectious that you can’t get enough of it, for a song so popular that you sing with it at the top of your lungs while driving in the car. I love to sing harmony to a solo voice on a song, creating my own private duo.
  • I’m thankful for the oboe, the French horn, the accordion (yes, the accordion) and the 12-string acoustic guitar.
  • I’m thankful for the ability to somehow capture these feelings by writing. And I’m thankful for you, the readers, for occasionally peeking in and connecting with the music I find and appreciate.

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Peter Lee