Play The Changes With One Scale

play the changes Feb 13, 2019

Start Early, Bloom Late

I didn't drink coffee for about twenty-five years. Well, with the exception of two weeks in Italy when I drank espresso every afternoon, because after eating truck stop pasta and drinking red wine from a pitcher, it was the best way to stay awake and enjoy the buzz. And you want to feel alert while going 150 kilometers an hour down the autostrada with a sixty-something-year-old folk singer behind the wheel, getting you to the next hopefully-not-cancelled gig.

I had my reasons for this insane, self-imposed abstention. The last time I drank coffee on any regular basis, I had a job proofreading numbers for one of the big bond-rating companies in downtown Manhattan. Every afternoon, I would go down to the deli for a 16-ounce coffee and a ten-dollar muffin, and by three pm I would be so wired, I spent the rest of one afternoon folding reports into paper airplanes and trying to land them in the airshaft of the Woolworth building.

My supervisor was not amused, but this was the same lovely, patient woman who'd come across a cartoon I'd drawn my first afternoon as a temp and accidentally left behind on my desk at the end of the day. It showed me slumped comatose over my work, no longer able to keep my lids up while comparing tables of annual rainfall in the state of Kansas from 1983 through 1987. Coming in the next morning, I saw my career-ending cartoon – doodled on the back of official company memo paper, no less – taped up to the glass wall of this supervisor's cubicle. I knew, that second day on the job, that I had landed on some pretty soft velvet, and made the most of it for the next 14-odd months, until I snapped for good.

So the coffee, not so much. Until I moved studios a couple of years ago, and suddenly there were not one but two espresso machines in the kitchen area. I thought, "what's the worst that can happen?" And now, uncountable little frothy cups later, here I am, blooming late as usual. Which is why I don't feel so bad about the fact that, after talking about it for about at least two years, I finally recorded the first interview for the new Fretboard Confidential podcast yesterday afternoon.  Roy Book Binder was extremely patient about the logistics involved, and with three more interviews scheduled over the next couple of days, I think it's as safe as it ever is to say this latest piece of the Fretboard puzzle is slowly falling into place. I hope to start presenting Season 1 sometime this spring; stay tuned for further developments.

Speaking of slowly unfolding schemes, there's a new Youtube lesson available today on playing the changes. Officially, it's called "Play The Changes Using One Scale," which has kind of a zippy, internet-scam sort of vibe to it, but which also really does describe a way of looking at using one basic collection of sounds to address all four chords in a swing or jump-blues style version of the twelve-bar blues. You can watch it above, or see it on my channel at the link below:

Play The Changes With One Scale