Steely Dan
StratMan2604
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#1
28th February 2012
Old 28th February 2012
  #1
Gear nut
 

Thread Starter
Steely Dan

I often listen to the two studio hermits' work and wonder how on earth they make those bloody complicated chord progressions sound so good and... Commercial? What are you guys' thoughts?
#2
28th February 2012
Old 28th February 2012
  #2
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Tinderwet's Avatar
I think you can make most any chord progression work when you have a good melody on top of it.
#3
29th February 2012
Old 29th February 2012
  #3
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Steely Dan gets flamed here far too often. Seems some around here have no clue what their music is about, or how cool the structure and execution of it actually is. Their progressions are a nod to Donald and Walter's fondness for jazz and blues, their choice of players is a huge show of respect to many of the all time greats of Jazz, Motown, R&B, funk, etc. The fact that their music has had commercial success is a tribute to it's greatness, it is not created in a targeted "formula" for that success. We are lucky that they exist, they have really brought something to popular music that it sorely needed over the years.
#4
29th February 2012
Old 29th February 2012
  #4
Banned
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Beyersound View Post
Steely Dan gets flamed here far too often. Seems some around here have no clue what their music is about, or how cool the structure and execution of it actually is. Their progressions are a nod to Donald and Walter's fondness for jazz and blues, their choice of players is a huge show of respect to many of the all time greats of Jazz, Motown, R&B, funk, etc. The fact that their music has had commercial success is a tribute to it's greatness, it is not created in a targeted "formula" for that success. We are lucky that they exist, they have really brought something to popular music that it sorely needed over the years.
You're right. I don't. Can you post some of his BEST work? I'm not being facetious, I just what to hear what all the hoopla was about.
#5
29th February 2012
Old 29th February 2012
  #5
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guid0's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Beyersound View Post
Steely Dan gets flamed here far too often. Seems some around here have no clue what their music is about, or how cool the structure and execution of it actually is. Their progressions are a nod to Donald and Walter's fondness for jazz and blues, their choice of players is a huge show of respect to many of the all time greats of Jazz, Motown, R&B, funk, etc. The fact that their music has had commercial success is a tribute to it's greatness, it is not created in a targeted "formula" for that success. We are lucky that they exist, they have really brought something to popular music that it sorely needed over the years.

You will get no argument from me about the Dan. They are a huge reason why I am still doing this after 30 odd years.

You have to admit though that a lot of their stuff has not "aged" very well.

Like the chorus for Dr. Wu or the backing vocals on big black cow...I could go on forever.

A lot of younger slutz are probably put off by this purely because of the sonic idiosyncracies of what used to be "hip" almost 40 years ago.

I know some of the material just makes ME gag today although I was nuts for the stuff when I first heard it.
#6
29th February 2012
Old 29th February 2012
  #6
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Muser's Avatar
 

Not a band I listen to a lot but I think they are a great band.
There's a lot more in there than meets the eye.

Babylon
The kid will live and learn
as he watches his bridges burn
from the point of no return

#7
29th February 2012
Old 29th February 2012
  #7
Banned
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Muser View Post
Got it. Added to my "sex music" collection.
#8
29th February 2012
Old 29th February 2012
  #8
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well granted, he does mention a threesome in there somewhere.
#9
29th February 2012
Old 29th February 2012
  #9
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Beyersound's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Liquid360 View Post
You're right. I don't. Can you post some of his BEST work? I'm not being facetious, I just what to hear what all the hoopla was about.
It's not a him, it's a them. Originally a band led by Donald Fagen and Walter Becker, it morphed into those two alone using the best session players on the planet many times hand picked for just one part on one tune. The origin of the name is interesting as well.....
#10
29th February 2012
Old 29th February 2012
  #10
Banned
 

Yet another thread in which people ascribe an internal characteristic of cringeworthiness to the Dan ? (yeah, been there, done that )

I wonder if they really do possess such an 'awkwardness' or 'corniness', or is that just a contemporary reaction to music which has it's guard down, is very exposed and vulnerable, and very explicit & literal with it's lyrics. If they only used metaphors, symbolism and ambiguous phrases, would they induce less of such a reaction ? What if they operated from a polarized, 'Us vs. Them' mode/perspective ? Would they be 2012 cool then ? I really wonder about this.

Part of the 21st century mode of social behaviour and interaction is having one's guard up, and having layer upon layer of internal defenses so as to mask the *true* inner core of character and thoughts. Whether that be the sneering pose of Eminem in thug mode, or the rowdy, raucous & ready-to-brawl confrontationalism of Liam Gallagher in his Oasis of easily agitated & hyper-sensitive defensiveness, it doesn't bode well (culturally speaking) for Steely Dan tribute threads.





#11
29th February 2012
Old 29th February 2012
  #11
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Beyersound's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by guid0 View Post
You will get no argument from me about the Dan. They are a huge reason why I am still doing this after 30 odd years.

You have to admit though that a lot of their stuff has not "aged" very well.

Like the chorus for Dr. Wu or the backing vocals on big black cow...I could go on forever.

A lot of younger slutz are probably put off by this purely because of the sonic idiosyncracies of what used to be "hip" almost 40 years ago.

I know some of the material just makes ME gag today although I was nuts for the stuff when I first heard it.
I don't know if I'd say that any of the stuff after the first album hasn't aged well, I certainly like all the rest of it to this day. Good music is good anywhere in the timeline, Beatles, Stones, Steely Dan, Sinatra, Glenn Miller, Beethoven, Mozart, Grieg, etc. The Dan's ancient lyrics are kind of a "culture chronicle", and I like having that reference. Hopefully the younger slutz will listen with a less prejudiced ear and learn how great this music really is (as well as what the best players really sound like!), along with the rest of the current fare offered these days. My 24yr old certainly likes it, no force-feeding was necessary!
#12
29th February 2012
Old 29th February 2012
  #12
Banned
 

Their songs are so totally 'at ease'. There is such a chill vibe going on, and there is no hint of railroaded aggression. There was a time in the 1970's where Steely Dan, Stevie Wonder and others were merging megadoses of soft jazz with rock, soul, R&B and pop. The lyrics were always unshielded, uncloaked, and had no rebellious teenage angst. The songs are so sonically soft, one might even call them wimpy. But this is really the antithesis of the loudness war, isn't it ?

Steely Dan - Hey Nineteen - YouTube
#13
29th February 2012
Old 29th February 2012
  #13
Banned
 

I love the sound of of that chord collage :

A - Ebmaj7 - A - G - C# - B - Bbmaj7 (? it's in between A and Bb !) - G - Bb - G - G add#11 - G add9

(or somethin' like dat)


Do they have a phase or flange effect, or a unique top/melody note of the chord, or an arpeggiando giving them that signature sound ?

Mu major = major triad + 2nd = 1st + 2nd + maj 3rd + 5th = Color me curious.


EDIT : The major 2nd is playing peekaboo with me. Clandestine concealment of chordtones shouldn't be allowed !
#14
29th February 2012
Old 29th February 2012
  #14
love these...



#15
29th February 2012
Old 29th February 2012
  #15
Banned
 

At 1:04 of the 2nd video in the above post, the 'something similar' he refers to is an F#7#9.

Yes, dig the sound of Gmaj7 - F#7#9, followed by Fmaj7 - E7#9, into Ebmaj7 - D7#9 !
StratMan2604
Thread Starter
#16
29th February 2012
Old 29th February 2012
  #16
Gear nut
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by Beyersound View Post
Hopefully the younger slutz will listen with a less prejudiced ear and learn how great this music really is (as well as what the best players really sound like!), along with the rest of the current fare offered these days. My 24yr old certainly likes it, no force-feeding was necessary!
I don't think it has much to do with age. Im 16 and I started this thread. Some of their stuff requires a bit of an acquired taste but I find it unfathomable how anyone could listen to some of their stuff and not be completely carried away. The first time I heard Only a fool would say that I had an epiphany.
StratMan2604
Thread Starter
#17
29th February 2012
Old 29th February 2012
  #17
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by Liquid360 View Post
You're right. I don't. Can you post some of his BEST work? I'm not being facetious, I just what to hear what all the hoopla was about.
All of their stuff is good. Buy an album and listen to it. If you dismiss something after only listening once you can't really judge imho
#18
29th February 2012
Old 29th February 2012
  #18
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Lots of very commercial music uses large numbers of chord changes. It's been mostly out of fashion for a while now, but that doesn't make it a limitation of what can be done. In the 60s and 70s much pop music and even many TV show themes and commercials were made in the same basic style of LA studio pop/funk with orchestral elements (which is the same ballpark as Steely Dan's music).

Maybe younger generations with less familiarity with jazz and jazz influenced pop music see a connection between lots of chords and music being non commercial, but if so that is definitely a recent development.

Just browsing some TV show themes (it would be hard to argue that they aren't commercial), you can see the trend - look at the dates, the number of chords used in each tune, and how many of them are jazz chords:

http://leadsheetmusic.com/multifakeb...ion_Themes.pdf

"Adam 12" (1968) is pretty complex. "Bandstand Boogie" (1954) has jazz chords. Some of them like "Get Smart" look like bona fide jazz charts.

Not that every tune from every era shows this; the Beverly Hillbillies song (1962) obviously uses simple chords as do many others. But the later you get the less jazz chords you encounter overall.
#19
1st March 2012
Old 1st March 2012
  #19
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sventvkg's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Beyersound View Post
Steely Dan gets flamed here far too often. Seems some around here have no clue what their music is about, or how cool the structure and execution of it actually is. Their progressions are a nod to Donald and Walter's fondness for jazz and blues, their choice of players is a huge show of respect to many of the all time greats of Jazz, Motown, R&B, funk, etc. The fact that their music has had commercial success is a tribute to it's greatness, it is not created in a targeted "formula" for that success. We are lucky that they exist, they have really brought something to popular music that it sorely needed over the years.
FLAMED???? HAHAHA!! As Quincy Jones once said, "If you have to explain, REFAIN".....
#20
1st March 2012
Old 1st March 2012
  #20
Banned
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Whitecat View Post


Very interesting. All this was before my time. From a purely musical standpoint, I must say it's much more harmonically interesting than what's on the radio currently. Perhaps someday the notes you play will become more important than the sounds you use. Right now I feel like it's the opposite. Don't get me wrong, I love weird sounds, but to use them as a crutch becomes self-defeating eventually.
#21
1st March 2012
Old 1st March 2012
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StratMan2604 View Post
I don't think it has much to do with age. Im 16 and I started this thread. Some of their stuff requires a bit of an acquired taste but I find it unfathomable how anyone could listen to some of their stuff and not be completely carried away. The first time I heard Only a fool would say that I had an epiphany.
16 years old? welcome to the real music world young squire! Nice to hear that you appreciate this amazing music. My daughter was a little younger than you when she proclaimed to me that "Caves Of Altamira" (from Royal Scam) was her favorite song. The arrangement of that song, the horn arrangements in particular (the John Klemmer solo and Bernard Purdie's drumming didn't hurt either), are outstanding. You can imagine how proud I was of my little girl who has always listened to just about everything out there, but still chose that SD song. It is younger people like you who give us hope about the future of music, that it will be more than just a sequenced beat with someone babbling over it, something that might actually contain melody, and maybe at least a nice major 7th chord or two.
#22
1st March 2012
Old 1st March 2012
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Liquid360 View Post
Very interesting. All this was before my time. From a purely musical standpoint, I must say it's much more harmonically interesting than what's on the radio currently. Perhaps someday the notes you play will become more important than the sounds you use. Right now I feel like it's the opposite. Don't get me wrong, I love weird sounds, but to use them as a crutch becomes self-defeating eventually.
It seems you're missing the point of this, they are not a crutch, they are used as tools in top notch songwriting, some of the most well liked songs of their time. Just because someone excels at harmonic theory and can execute it in properly a popular song, doesn't make them a douch**ag sellout, or purveyor of Kool-Aid to a cult. It is just good music, well thought out good music. It is your choice whether to embrace it or not (this is a somewhat "free" country), I choose to do so. I learned this music right next to the rock I played as learned the guitar decades ago, it helped me to understand the width and breadth of music to a much better degree.
#23
1st March 2012
Old 1st March 2012
  #23
Banned
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Beyersound View Post
It seems you're missing the point of this, they are not a crutch, they are used as tools in top notch songwriting, some of the most well liked songs of their time. Just because someone excels at harmonic theory and can execute it in properly a popular song, doesn't make them a douch**ag sellout, or purveyor of Kool-Aid to a cult. It is just good music, well thought out good music. It is your choice whether to embrace it or not (this is a somewhat "free" country), I choose to do so. I learned this music right next to the rock I played as learned the guitar decades ago, it helped me to understand the width and breadth of music to a much better degree.
You misinterpreted my post. I was comparing interesting harmonic structure to purely special effect sounds. I was saying the same thing you're saying now.
#24
1st March 2012
Old 1st March 2012
  #24
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Beyersound's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Liquid360 View Post
You misinterpreted my post. I was comparing interesting harmonic structure to purely special effect sounds. I was saying the same thing you're saying now.
Sorry about that, I guess I did get that wrong. Interesting harmonic structure is a great thing, sadly missing from much of today's music. One of the cooler sidenotes, in 2000 Steely Dan actually won the "Album Of The Year" Grammy for "two Against Nature" as an underdog to Eminem. It's nice every once in a while when that structure prevails! Many decades ago, strong harmonic structure was actually a requirement in popular music. Cheers
#25
1st March 2012
Old 1st March 2012
  #25
Banned
 

Quote:
Beyersound
#26
1st March 2012
Old 1st March 2012
  #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Happy Musicfan View Post
At 1:04 of the 2nd video in the above post, the 'something similar' he refers to is an F#7#9.

Yes, dig the sound of Gmaj7 - F#7#9, followed by Fmaj7 - E7#9, into Ebmaj7 - D7#9 !
I didn't watch the video (or know that progression) I played it as
Gma9-F#7#9
(that 2 chord pattern down whole step at a time of course)
with these voicings on geetar

Gma9
1-3-7-9= G-B-F#-A
F#7 #9
1-3-7-#9=F#A#-E-G##(A)

I can see how that lays perfectly on keys also.It has more movement with that one move(using a ma9 instead of #9) than just moving a #9 chord chromatically also.
#27
1st March 2012
Old 1st March 2012
  #27
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One of the things that they said about their music many years ago was that a thing they often employ is stacked seconds, and whenever you would normally play a major chord, play it with stacked seconds instead. Makes guitar players cry, the chord forms are really ugly.
#28
1st March 2012
Old 1st March 2012
  #28
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I love the Dan.
Let me just add that their last effort, "Everything Must Go" (2003) is awesome in my book. I notice it is rarely mentioned, but it has the same great chilled, tongue-in-cheek, funky-smooth vibe of their best work.
Also, it is sonically awesome: it sounds SO good that it is maybe my favourite Steely Dan album from that point the view.
StratMan2604
Thread Starter
#29
1st March 2012
Old 1st March 2012
  #29
Gear nut
 

Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by Beyersound View Post
It is younger people like you who give us hope about the future of music, that it will be more than just a sequenced beat with someone babbling over it, something that might actually contain melody, and maybe at least a nice major 7th chord or two.
Major 7ths? Ohhhh hell yeah! The last 7 songs or so I've written have contained major 7ths, minor 9ths, 13ths or of course add 2's
#30
1st March 2012
Old 1st March 2012
  #30
has all the gear he needs
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beyersound View Post
It is younger people like you who give us hope about the future of music
Yes.

Steely Dan....absolutely esoteric.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Beyersound View Post
The origin of the name is interesting as well.....
Care to elaborate?
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