----- Original Message -----
From: "Russ Hamm" <[log in to unmask]>
> Eric -
> Perhaps you or someone else could help elucidate a mysterious passage from
> Bob Dylan's "Chronicles: Part 1" where he writes about a revolutionary
> system taught to him by Lonnie Johnson, the great blues and jazz
> Dylan writes (p. 157) that his guitarmanship was electrified in the 1980s
> when he learned how to play "based on an odd- instead of even-number
> system" that he learned from jazzman Lonnie Johnson: a "highly controlled
> system of playing and relates to the notes of a scale, how they combine
> numerically, how they form melodies out of triplets..."
> "Popular music is usually based on the number 2 [...] If you're using an
> odd numerical system, things that strengthen a performance begin to happen
> [...] In a diatonic scale there are eight notes, in a pentatonic scale
> there are five. If you're using the first scale, and you hit 2, 5 and 7 to
> the phrase and then repeat it, a melody forms. Or you can use the 2 three
> times. Or you can use 4 once and 7 twice [...] The possibilities are
> endless [...] I'm not a numerologist. I don't know why the number 3 is
> metaphysically powerful than the number 2, but it is. Passion and
> enthusiasm, which sometimes can be enough to sway a crowd, aren't even
> necessary. You can manufacture faith out of nothing and there are an
> infinite number of patterns and lines that connect from key to key..."
> Is this a baffling to you as it seems to me?
> Russ Hamm
Well, I'm not Eric...and I'm not well studied in music theory...but
I think I see what he MIGHT have been referring to...
In a standard diatonic scale there are seven notes. These (and their
chords) are often referred to with numbers...in the key of C, "the
four" is the G chord (C is 1, and F is the fourth note counting
up from C)...and "the five" is five notes up, or the G chord
(actually G7). I suspect the paragraph above refers to solos...
so 2, 5 and 7 would be D, A and B (quite possibly Bb, since the
half-tone interval between B and C would be jarring?). Beyond
that I retire in favour of someone more musically knowledgeable...
Steven C. Barr