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From aol.com!MiklPorter Wed Jul 6 22:54:52 1994
Date: Wed, 6 Jul 1994 22:54:21 -0400
Subject: Three Quarter North (by Northwest)
Happily, you've picked an easy Kottke and an especially good one for
beginning study. As Leo tellingly reveals on "My Feet Are Smiling", a major
portion of his compositional technique is to take "a lovely, simple melody
and drive it into the ground." This is his self-effacing way of saying that
much of his writing is just theme-and-variations. Nothing ignoble about that.
Much of Beethoven's writing could be described the same
way, but WHAT themes and WHAT variations (in both cases.) Once you've figured
out the gist of a theme in most Kottke tunes, you can work out the
variations, or ones of your own, by successively closer and closer
approximations (as your skills increase.)
The 1st position chord patterns that both 3/4 and 4/4
"North" are based on are among the most-often used in popular music. It could
be played C/F/G or D/G/A just as easily, but the version on "Shout Toward
Noon" is A/D/E.
("North" itself is a simplified cousin to Mona Roy/Ray.)
Begin with an A chord, hammering-on the B string with your 3rd finger and
playing the bass on the open A string. Two measures of this, then your
melodic transition to the D chord is produced on the B string by hammering-on
for five notes (open B,then hammer-down 3rd finger on the 2nd fret,slide it
to 3rd fret,2nd fret,3rd fret.) As you finish the fifth hammered note,
re-form your other available fingers to complete the D major chord so that
you can pluck the other notes of that chord simultaneous to finishing the
Now it's back to the A chord, playing the melody on the
hi E and B strings (and the chord for 2 measures.) Forming an E chord with
your first 3 fingers, but having the pinky available for the walkdown, go hi
E, pinky on 3rd fret/B string (D note),2nd fret,open string-just follow that
major scale down, reaching the tonic final
note of A (G string/2nd fret) as you simultaneously pluck the other notes of
the A chord you've formed around it. (Yes, that means do it now.) Now it's
time to head back up the scale, first by going G string/2nd fret,open B
string,B string/2nd fret, D chord. Then D chord/A chord/E chord in easy, but
Return to the D chord, and this time go E chord/A chord.
You complete the theme the way it began, since you're at that A chord. Go
back to the top of this letter and follow the pattern to where it says
"follow that major scale down etc." When you reach the tonic A chord, you've
finished the theme. The rest of the song is just repeats and variations, but
always the same theme in the same key. Sometimes the keyboard carries it
while Leo noodles contrapuntally, sometimes the opposite. The only difference
for 4/4 North is that it's played faster, and in his old machine-gun
relentless right hand para-John Fahey style of picking. Happy practicing !