Pleasure - Joyous: harmonic analysis

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Quatrix, Mar 23, 2017.

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1. Quatrix

Mar 23, 2017
UK
I've been trying to work out the bass to the song Joyous by Pleasure and there is one part that I think I've transcribed correctly, but I can't work out what is going on harmonically. It sounds great, but it seems to me that the bass is outlining Abmaj7, while the guitar is playing Bb. I wondered if anyone could cast some light on why this works from a theory perspective. It may be that I've just messed up either what the bass or guitar are doing as I'm no expert.

My attempt at transcription is below and that part starts at 1m48s in the song. The figure I'm talking about is outlined in red.

Any guidance would be much appreciated.

Feb 7, 2005
Eastern NC USA
I'll have to look at it later when I have more time. This is just a hit and run post to say WELCOME TO TALKBASS!!!!

3. Quatrix

Mar 23, 2017
UK
Thanks for the welcome. Can anyone help with my query?

4. inanimate_carb

Aug 11, 2016
The only workable way I can think of to explain this is that the chord of the moment created when the bass takes an Ab octave-5-root move with a Bb chord on top is to imply an Ab7#11 9 with a natural 13. That chord, although labeled as dominant, doesn't want to resolve a fifth down. It'll resolve better down a half-step (as seen in this song) or a whole step up (making the Ab7 in "Stella by Starlight" an Ab7#11 to go into Bbmaj7 - bars 7 and 8, I think.) It's an uncommon sound, but appears once in a while. There's one in the intro to "In the Stone" by EWF as well. On a keyboard, play a root, the b7 above it, and then a major triad a major second above the root, an octave higher. In C it's a C, with a Bb above that C, and then a D major triad above that Bb. Root, b7, 9, #11, and 13th. Easier to see than write out, as upper-structure harmony usually is.

As mentioned, this is a possible explanation brought about by the fact that this sound and train of thought has been used in other compositions, but in a more obvious and discernable way. Tl:dr - the guys in Pleasure probably just liked the sound of those particular note choices. I can't recall seeing anything else that's just like this example..

Pleasure bassist Nathaniel Philips is still an active touring player, and in my discussions with him over the years he's mentioned the guys in Pleasure didn't sit around with theory books and manuals. I'd bet they just liked the way this tune sounded and didn't have any grand intent or explanation for it. They preferred to play what sounded good and/or brought about the desired sonic effect at the time, with obvious Jazz influences creeping in. They've chosen to use outside sounds and unusual harmony devices throughout their catalog and this song is within their tradition of doing that.

Last edited: Mar 29, 2017
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5. Quatrix

Mar 23, 2017
UK
Thanks, that's very helpful. I fell into the trap of just looking at the guitar progression as being a fairly straightforward i, VI, IV, ... and then expecting the bass to just outline the same thing, but clearly they are a bit more advanced than that. As you say, they play what sounds good and this certainly sounds good to me!

I've only just become aware of Pleasure and I'm very glad to have discovered them. Nathaniel Philips is a great player. Thanks again for your help.

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6. DWBassThe Funkfather

Listening to the guitar part, it seems he repeats the chord while the bass note changes. As I'm listening to it, my thought is the guitarist couldn't find the right chord to play there (I think that's the section you're talking about). It does sound odd. I would have had the guitarist 'chicken pick' something in that spot, then resolve to the last chord. But that's the theory in me. I also suffer from perfect/relative pitch so that would have bugged the heck outta me. I'm a funk guy and am well aware of Pleasure and know the song but never really 'listened' to the nuances of that particular song until now. I always just focused on the bass parts.

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7. DWBassThe Funkfather

Thing is....that band had virtuoso level musicians playing funk music (with some jazz tendencies)! I'm willing to bet those changes were discussed and worked on and they settled on what we got. I can't wait to hear the new record (if it ever comes out......or did it?).

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8. inanimate_carb

Aug 11, 2016
I think they're still working on it, there were teasers a while back, but there's nothing to be found online. There's some hipster band that by the same name that just released a new album last year, so don't get confused! It's not out of order to suggest Pleasure album has no label support, as much bigger names routinely crowdfund. A self-funded, self-produced album can take forever and a day to release if the group has other jobs, concerns, and activities that are first in line before getting an album done.

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9. Groove MasterCommercial User

Apr 22, 2011
Montreal
Author of Groove 101, Slap 101 and Technique 101
You"re on the right track. The G is only a passing-tone to approach the Ab so it is not a Maj7 but actually an implied Ab13(#11). The only note missing in your voicing is the Gb. This chord is also written Bb over a Ab7. This is a typical chromatic approach from above in a cycle of fifths progression with a dominant lydian chord. The 7 notes of the minor melodic scale are in this chord btw ;-)

Great tune BTW. I didn't know that one from that great band. Nathan Phillips is an awesome player.

Last edited: Mar 26, 2017
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10. Groove MasterCommercial User

Apr 22, 2011
Montreal
Author of Groove 101, Slap 101 and Technique 101
Yes here are all the notes from bottom to top: Ab-C-Eb-Gb-Bb-D-F.

As you can see, the 3 top notes are a Bb triad

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11. NoiseNinjaExperimental-psychedelic-ambient-noise-drone

Feb 23, 2011
Denmark
Music is meant to be listened to not read.

12. inanimate_carb

Aug 11, 2016
The vocal melody centers around Dm minor as well. Remember that the Ab#11 thing is a possible explanation for a chord of the moment that lasts a beat. The Dm guitar line is single note funk material played in the key of the song for variety and ear candy. It's a very common composition/production device.

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13. Groove MasterCommercial User

Apr 22, 2011
Montreal
Author of Groove 101, Slap 101 and Technique 101
I cannot hear your clip but all I can say is that Ab7 is a passing chord and these things happens ;-) It doesn't make that chord a b9 for that. Music harmony is not all perfect. Listen to some Jazz and Blues and in almost every bar there is something not legit but it doesn't matter and that kind of music shouldn't be analyze to its smallest bit Imo.

Last edited: Mar 27, 2017
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14. inanimate_carb

Aug 11, 2016
unsubscribed

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