Modulating Solos : The Pat Metheny Swervy Syndrome

“To the end of the world” is a Pat Metheny track. It begins like some empty “jazzy elevator music”, then floats into a nonchalapleasant piano jazz, until (go to 6 or 7′) Metheny wakes up with a long modulating guitar solo :


There it is. It’s my point. I’m listening to this long solo full of swerves and stridence, and my brain is agitated in ambiguity.

  1. Half of it finds it really toomuchy, almost as if I was watching some indecency. I’m like : “OK dude, it’s cool. OK I like it. Good. Please stop now…”.
  2. The other half is amazed and mesmerized (oh, I love this word!), because of the modulations.

Wiki : In music, modulation is most commonly the act or process of changing from one key (tonic, or tonal center) to another.

Well, you know, you feel the music climbing stairs…

Let’s call this ambiguity “The Pat Metheny Swervy Syndrome”. I like it so much. It’s a great skill for Röyksopp or Mike Oldfield, or Puccini. The syndrome is when it becomes a trick, a knack, when you wanna say “Hey! OK! I got it!”.

Stairs of synths is a Klaus Schulze common trick (he knows how to make you wait).


To show you it’s a knack, here’s a soloing guitar guy who is perpetually modulating. Well, he’s good, I suppose! I dislike this music/I love the way he changes colors (imagine this in a fast car). Yep :


You can study Miles Davis‘s career with this spot only. This great musician used this threadbare trick until he stopped it almost completely. Because it became, at one point, “harmonic virtuosity”, acrobatic modulations, crafty bends, speedy warps which, well, could make you forget the melody forwardness (sorry for my English). He went until he killed the idea of progression…

Well, that’s another story. But there’s a tool here : When do you go to good at something? How do you get out?



Thanks for reading!


Ommadawn – Mike Oldfield

Well, in 2017, who remembers Mike Oldfield?

I don’t know. Maybe two or three movie lovers who remember the sparkling notes of Tubular Bells…

In the Seventies, this guy was a strange hippie master. Shy, working alone, playing all instruments, mixing piles of flutes, guitars, Phil Glass like synths in loops, percs and strange celtics incantations in haunting symphonies…

Ommadawn, said Oldfield, is a rebirth music. Therefore a crescendo…

This guitar sound…

I chose casually a “rare 7″ single version” (the real one is around 20 minutes long – I put it on the bottom). It was the good old times of English progressive music (King Crimson, Genesis, Pink Floyd), and yeyyyy, I loved it, on my headphones, in these lonely nights you live when you’re at your parents, 15 years old, haunted by unsaid love, huge “I want” energy, and incomprehension.

I imagine, today, his loneliness…

Thank you, Mike!


Listen loud, focus on elements (voices, bass, etc) :


The whole Face A :

If you really listen and compare with ALL what you know today. Textures, building, structures, sounds, mood, sense of drive, guitar sound, childhood dances, English lights, skies, ecstasy, will, running under clouds, reflections, if you think about how people make music today : what do you think? Who is this Figure in painting, in movies, in novels, today?


The Lost Esthetics of Richard Pinhas

Richard Pinhas is a French musician, “electronic music pioneer and leader member of the legendary Heldon“. He is a sort of musician-philosopher, considerably influenced by Gilles Deleuze. I won’t really present his work here – there are web pages for that – but I’d like to talk about his style.

  • A specific lava sound of guitar (close to Robert Fripp’s)
  • Minimalism and icy synthesizers
  • Cyclical electronics à la Philip Glass
  • Strong machinic KingCrimsonian monsters (Heldon)


A perpetuum modulating electronic crescendo


Synthfloating over ice with machines, then landing within panting beasts


A growing standstill monster


Infernal and methodical crimsonian rush – listen to it loud


I hope I showed you something you’ve never heard. It’s not that easy to explorer, I admit it. I regret this seems to be a lost branch in music. Imagine what rappers could have done with the last one! Imagine what you could imagine with these weirdeities listened in the dark?

Thanks for reading!


Loops over Loops : What are Frippertronics? #Guitar #Fripp #ambient

Robert Fripp is an English guitarist, member of King Crimson. He worked with Brian Eno or David Bowie. Sometimes he has a really weird way to weave notes…

Wiki says : Frippertronics is an analog delay system consisting of two side-by-side tape recorders, configured so that the tape travels from the first machine to the other, allowing the sound recorded by the first machine to be played back later on the second, thus causing the delayed signal to repeat while new audio is mixed in with it. The amount of delay (a few seconds) is controlled by increasing or reducing the distance between the machines.

Voilà. It’s like a painter who would paint OVER his own work, continuously. The music speaks, then goes away, then goes back while the instrumentist plays over it, etc. Today it can be done digitally, of course!

Here’s an example at the beginning of a Peter Gabriel song :

Of course you can visualize the effect, like an eternal balancing loop. If you click towards the end of the song, you’ll hear this “cloud” of looping sounds…

David Sylvian uses it a lot, in the Splendid album Gone to Earth. The balancing decors of Healing place is made of Frippertronics :


Well, you’ll find more on YouTube!

My question is coming : why is it so rare today to hear this good “trick”? And if I enlarge this question it becomes a structure and a tool :

As a creative person, do you know (or would you like to search for it?) someone who invented a good rare way to invent in your discipline? In what area? Architecture? Poetry?

What tool would you pick up in order to use it your way?

What could a musician like Tim Exile do with a set of continuously vanishing loops?

What could be a darker way to Frippertronic? Listen to the guitars-weaving behind :

Thanks for reading!