Frank Ocean – Pink and White

I’m working on a new music theory course with the good folks at Soundfly, a continuation of Theory For Producers. We were looking for contemporary songs that use modal interchange, combinations of different scales to create complex blends of emotion. Soundfly producer Marty Fowler suggested a Frank Ocean song, which I was immediately on board with.

Frank Ocean - Blond

Frank is one of the freshest musicians and songwriters out there–his song “Super Rich Kids” is one of my favorite recent tracks by anyone. For the course, Marty picked “Pink And White,” a simple tune with a deceptively complex harmonic structure.

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Ashley’s Roachclip

I’m continuing my tour through hip-hop’s most classic breakbeats with “Ashley’s Roachclip” by the Soul Searchers. The drum break at 3:36 is one of those hip-hop workhorses, like “Impeach The President” and “The Funky Drummer” and “Apache.” It seems like it’s always been there.

The Soul Searchers were led by guitarist Chuck Brown, known in Washington DC music circles as “The Godfather of Go-go.” Go-go is a regional flavor of  funk using a heavy swing feel and a lot of happening syncopation in the kick drum pattern. Early in my funk connoisseurship, I would have used the go-go beat as the definition of funk. The beat in “Ashley’s Roachclip” isn’t actually very typical of go-go since it uses straight eighth notes. You can hear a more typical one on Chuck Brown’s official web site.

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