Monthly Archives: April 2014

Someone recently rediscovered this concise and coherent analysis of how Don Fagen wrote Steely Dan’s Peg. Especially helpful is the overhead camera shot on the piano, so you can see exactly what the notes are in the piano riffs.

A couple of interesting points:

  • The verse is a 12-bar blues, organized by plagal cadences on the I, IV, and V degrees.
  • Peg sort of defines that breezy late 70s California sound. One shouldn’t be surprised that a lot of it depends on major 7th and 9th chords in open voicings.
  • The riff can be voiced an imperfect plagal cadence, landing on a first-inversion tonic, which means the bass moves down a half-step from ^4 to^ 3. That can make a nice descending chromatic bass line when the 12-bar blues goes from V to IV – watch how the bass moves G-F#-F-E.
    • The interlude discussed in the second video is similar to the verse riff, but instead of a plagal cadence, it’s a half-step descent from a major 9th (G9) to a dominant 7th (F7#9) . This 2-chord riff is  repeated three times in descending whole steps. This is similar to the verse riff two ways: the bass moves down by half-steps within the riff; and the entire riff descending by half-stems mimics the V-IV from the 12-bar blues.

It’s always good to know how the classics were done.



Part 2:


Posted 2 years ago by John Piscitello

This is 15 minutes well-spent, a brief history of film trailers.

Going in before watching, here are the trends I’ve been noticing:

  • When exactly did the “In a world…” voiceover become verboten?
  • Have you ever foreign-language film trailers always avoid dialog?
  • Comedies use pop song cues, medium-sized action movies use sound design cues, but the biggest tentpoles still go the massive-orchestra-plus-choir route.

As it turns out, this Vimeo video doesn’t address any of those questions, but it’s still fun viewing. The best part is seeing the trailers themselves, so skip ahead to around 5:30 when the talk turns to Casablanca. And don’t miss Alfred Hitchcock’s direct pitch to the camera for Psycho (I should like to see Disney make a Star Wars VII trailer like that one).

The History of the Movie Trailer from on Vimeo.


UPDATE: Here’s another good trailer history roundup focusing on the predominance of  SFX “money shots” in trailers, with Independence Day, Star Wars, Top Gun, Spider-Man, and more.

Posted 2 years ago by John Piscitello

No Place On Earth will premiere on History Channel 6pm ET / PT on Saturday, April 25th. The television version contains an additional segment “After the Wall”, which includes a new musical cue not in the theatrical version of the film.

The editors chose the cue from a batch of unused mockups I had created for the film version. It captured the mood of the post-war events so well that we decided to go ahead and record it with a string orchestra:

And here is the trailer for No Place On Earth:

Posted 2 years ago by John Piscitello