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The Vanilla Version

your mother

As you grow old and weary of this world, you begin to realize certain people in your life, like your father or Vanilla Ice, were right about everything. In this classic ’90s clip, five-time platinum rapper Robert Van Winkle explains to you about the birds and the bass lines.

Mr. Van Winkle has a valid point here although it gets taken largely out of context. He never plagiarized Queen or claimed he didn’t sample their song; he was merely showing off the superiority of the Vanilla version. Compare the two bass lines below by clicking the scores on and off.

Deacy Version

That’s the familiar Queen line. Nothing all that special. But listen for the little bitty change that makes everything not the same.

Vanilla Version

The Vanilla version features the extra pickup beat at the end of the first bar. How a quaver can make all the difference! Not only that, it contains the Queen bass line in the second bar. But now the small variation provides some much needed emphasis.

Now I’ve never been a fan of “Under Pressure”, so I’m not going to link it here, but you know the tune: It’s the one with Bowie and Mercury having a fuck-about in the studio. There’s some scatting and shit. It sounds like it belongs in a John Hughes movie.

However, “Ice Ice Baby” is one of the greatest songs ever written. It’s hip; it’s real; and the rhymes sound as fresh today as they did in 1990.

While “Under Pressure” features a ridiculous “I V IV V” chord progression played on top of the vamping bass line, the Vanilla version will have none of that. DJ Deshay kicks it old school with straight-up pentatonics. Unsatisfied by rock samples, Deshay throws in his very own anthemic funk line when the verses get going. Kick it one time, boyyyyy.

* * *

According to an article written by Queen guitarist Brian May, the infamous bass line was the basis for the entire song and written by bassist John Deacon.

But what we got excited about was a riff which Deacy began playing, 6 notes the same, then one note a fourth down. Ding-Ding-Ding Diddle Ing-Ding, you might say.

However, when the band returned from a “lunch” break, there was some confusion about how the bass line went. Too many other kinds of lines. Too many beads as well. Deacy could no longer play it. So Bowie plucked the bass from Deacy’s hands and played it proper.

This was a funny moment because I can just see [David Bowie] going over and putting his hand on John’s fretting hand and stopping him. It was also a tense moment because it could have gone either way. Deacy did not take kindly to being told what to do, especially by physical interferences while he was playing! But he was good natured, and it all went ahead. Then we began playing around – using the riff as a starting point.

Did Deacy accidentally start playing the superior Vanilla Ice version of the bass line? I’m afraid the story and the bass line will remain shrouded in mystery, much like Brian May’s Wonderguitar crafted from lightning-stricken cedar.

It may not be true of sex and ice cream, but as far as bass lines go, the Vanilla version is the best flavor.

Women’s Melodies

Casa del blanco

A very musical weekend was had by all in our nation’s capital. Since America[1] doesn’t have herself a proper opera house, she goes in for those large outdoor musical festivals like Woodstock ‘99, Occupy 0’11, and the three-day Toby Keith concert rocking the past weekend in D.C. And as a drummer, I couldn’t help but jam along at home!

There were the usual American protest songs heavy with down-beats (like a psychotronic dance craze), four of which were on the floor, and they all seemed to be set to a faster tempo than the usual 120 BPMs (as if to forgo the cut-time clock-beat, because we all know clocks have been reporting fake time). The tempos were undeniably faster all around the world, often resulting in a shuffle or full-fledged funk. Of course, the pitches were higher too, because of all the women.

Everyone was armed with musical weaponry of some kind. The protestors employed plain chants of the LeBeoufian persuasion[2] and seldom ventured into old-school pentatonics. A dozen different genders performed call-and-answer routines just like the equatorial birds do (except it’s not supposed to be sexy here). And the State responded with sound cannons (for whoop whoop is the sound made by police) and the memers had their Shadilay’s and USA’s. It was as though everyone was in a yooge musical number, or a Girl Talk-style mash-up.

‘90s-rockers—-3 Doors Down—-headlined the event but were publicly shamed into performing their 2000 hit “Kryptonite”. Many alt-rock fans who held out for the Trump campaign-trail promise of generic, electric guitar-tapping (like it was in the Reagan-Eighties) were sorely disappointed by actual songs with words.

The old standby’s were there, including “Hey Hey Ho Ho” (which I always thought was racist, until I recently learned ho has a nautical meaning) and “Women United”, appropriated[3] from the Spanish tune, “El Pueblo Unido”. Click on the two staffs of the score below to listen. Try to notice the slight rhythmic difference.

Las Chicas Unidas

With the exclusion of the masculine article El, the new version has lost a step. Vanilla Ice would be quick to point out the lack of a pickup beat. The result is a stronger emphasis on the masculine down-beats, while adding plenty of rest at the end of the measure to ad-lib, which is always fun.

However, not everything over the weekend was lifted from Soros-funded songbooks. There were some brand new tunes, such as the popular “Pussy Grabs Back” and “This Pussy Votes”, both of which hark back to Los Doggies’s early-Ween period. (Listen to such yonic classics as “Vulva” and “I’m Just An Elf Who Eats Undergarments”.)[4]

Warning against the dangers of vagina dentata, “Pussy Grabs Back” packs a punch in only a single measure.

This one is funky at faster tempos. Some remixes have placed the “pussy” on the off-beat to give it an even funkier syncopated feel and I commend them.

“This Pussy Votes” follows a retrograde rhythm of “Pussy Grabs Back” almost like they are sister pussy-tracks.[5]

For some reason, the American people don’t clap anymore, at least not at these things. One would expect some clapping on the ones, but clapping has fallen out of favor (for being drummist) and has been replaced with snapping, or better yet, nothing. The lack of any definite rhythm or noisemakers makes it much easier to sample the crowds. Fly my widgets!

Meanwhile, the Elites were chanting things of an wholly different cloth—dark, Latin things set to reverse music. Hails to Satan. Howls to Moloch.[666] Hymns to Lucifer and Los. They played a pipe organ upside down, but the pipes were actually tubes and the organist was a hundred monkeys who stumbled upon Bach. Instead of singing, they farted melodically out of their Anus of Providences. They played mouth-harps with their noses. The remaining members of The Dead were there too. It was good Saturnalian fun.


[1] “America,” is of course the feminine form of Henry (she’s a shapeshifter), and so I will periodically refer to her as Henrietta (when I’m feeling romantic, or Eye-talian), while simultaneously respecting the hell out of her pronouns: Miz, Herr, and Mama.
[2] Yeah, that’s my boi, Shia!
[3] Just as American rock music ripped off the Brits, most of the D.C. melodies were Tavistock rip-offs.
[4] Go ahead—listen if you dare!
[5] Shout out to the late artist formerly known as Prince—master of the pussy-track.
[666] Moloch, whose love is oil and stone! Moloch, whose bread is blood and butter!

Melodic Meme Laughs

In Training Day, Denzel Washington laughs melodically in the same key as the Florida Seminoles War Chant. I can see why they gave him the Oscar for his role. Was he provided the root like Tom Cruise in Top Gun in order to have a pitch-perfect production? Or does Uncle Denzel always laugh in such colorful, sporting ways? Check it out:

Compare with the Seminoles version below. Drag over the noteheads, biddy-boo.

There exists a conspiracy of melodies all around us. The other day I was watching the fake news, and a fake weatherman started forecasting to the tune of the coda of “Hey Jude.” Sad!


The cuckoo has long been a symbol of cuckoldry from Shakespeare to the Disney channel, but did you know this musical bird also inspired the door bell and the bell itself?

Common cuckoo

The common cuckoo calls in major thirds, and almost exclusively in C major. Click on the score below to listen.

Common Cuckoo Call

“Go-koo,” he calls, and the girl-bird returns a bubbly answer.

Actually, the cuckoo changes his interval throughout the season. According to The Musical Times:

The cuckoo begins early in the season with the interval of a minor third, the bird then proceeds to a major third, next to a fourth, then a fifth, after which his voice breaks without attaining a minor sixth.[1]

In June, the cuckoo actually forgets how to sing. The cuckoo cucks himself, as it were.

Much ado has been made on this blog about the natural evolution of the major third interval in our industrial soundscape, from the influence of the Harmonic series to Big Ben’s Westminster Quarters. But the cuckoo’s C major call is the ultimate inspiration for the Quarters, the door bell, convenience store ding, and of course, the cuckoo clock. He spread his cuckolding ways around the world as a migrant and a vagrant, from Peru to the Bronx.

Common Cuckoo Clock

On the clock, the cuckoo’s call is set to the off-beat. The bong of the bell lands on the beat, preferably at 60 beats per minute in 4/4 time. Cuckoo clocks are commonly set in C major. The world’s biggest cuckoo clock in Triberg is close-by in B major. Show starts at 00:58. From the Black Forest, the birthplace of the cuckoo clock.

I’ve always been fascinated by cuckoo clocks. They make time fun. By drawing my childlike attention to the rhythm of time, with its boom-tick rock beat pattern, the cuckoo clock strongly swayed my decision to play drums. Also, Father said to me, “You will play drums, son.” And like all rock drummers, I have long since synced my heartbeat to clock-time. My heart kicks at an even 60 BPMs throughout the day and it don’t stop till I get enough.

From horse beats to bird tunes, we set nature to a machine and call it music. So it makes sense to honor the cuckoo and his inspiration for the bells, by placing him at the top of the clock—the cuck of the rock.

Also, check out this awesome song by Beethoven that features the cuckoo major third among other musical birds.

[1] Barrett, M. (1897). “The Cuckoo’s Notes”. The Musical Times and Singing Class Circular


EAR OP coming soon.

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Poison Melody

In 1990, hip-hop trio Bell Biv Devoe released Poison. B.B.D. was the first concert I ever saw. Gerardo and C+C Music Factory opened. B.B.D. came on stage in those tubes from the end of E.T. I’m not sure why I was listening to such sexually-charged music in grade school, but songs like “Do Me” seem wholesome in comparison to today’s music.


“Poison” features the classic B.B.D. melody courtesy of the East Coast family. They used this melody everywhere. It’s a harmony of voices bending down and up in a minor key. Here it is in F# minor:

The great thing about this melody is it works for almost any word—Nintendo, Spider-Man, Iesha, precaution, poison.

* * *

Anyway, “Poison” is a great song with a mystic cave zone bass-line. It also has that upbeat shuffle so popular in old school hip-hop.

Never trust a big butt that smiles indeed. Notice in the notation above, the slurs and ties between the noteheads form smiling butt cheeks.

Vai’s Melody

Steve Vai has a melody. It’s his favorite melody. He uses it everywhere. It sounds like something Frank Zappa hummed in the shower and Vai transcribed for electric guitar.

Vai’s melody is made of major thirds. It’s in the key of A above and makes an A Major seventh chord in passing. It first appeared in “Little Green Men” on Vai’s debut album. The melody is found at the very end.

Vai liked it so much he made a whole song out of it on Passion and Warfare. “Answers” is a toe-tapper that opens with a phantasmal beat. At around the 1:59 mark, Vai’s melody takes over and dominates the final minute of the song in various keys.

Gee Steve, why don’t you marry that melody?

* * *

Steve Vai told a story in an interview. He played guitar for two days straight and fell asleep with his instrument. In his dreams, he continued to play guitar. The music he made was more beautiful than any of this world, but unfortunately, Steve Vai wasn’t able to remember it or it was impossible to play. Either way, he got Kubla Khan’d hard.

I would link to the article with the interview, but I’m not really interested in the internet anymore. I like imagination and boredom, faulty memories and synesthesia. Sitting around on the floor like Beethoven in a pile of orange peels. This is what we do.


When I bought Passion and Warfare from Sam Goody in the late ’90s, the cashier convinced me the album was satanic. He said nice-looking kids were the biggest satanists in terms of musical purchases. Anyway, it kind of scared me into not listening to the album for a while.

Now I’m not sure why all music needs to be satanic, but I guess Christian rock is kinda lame. “Devil’s got the best tunes,” as the preacher says.