About Friends in Your Ears and absolute pitch

Yep, another month (or so), another theme. This one is for Friends in Your Ears, which is described as "a podcast where Kathy Campbell interviews podcasters about their favorite podcasts."

The assignment for this one was to be super friendly and upbeat. So, how does one express that musically?

For me, it's all about the mode and key.

If you listen to some of my other themes you'll find that I don't normally commit to something that's entirely major or minor. (The trick here is dropping the third of the chord.) Rather, I tend to leave the mode somewhat vague (though I'm more a minor key guy than major).

I didn't have that luxury in this case. At the risk of reenforcing the idea that major keys are "happy" and minor keys, "sad," I opted for the obvious and went Major, Major, and More Major.

To me, the key is just as important. By way of background, I have (or had), absolute pitch (sometimes referred to as perfect pitch). This means that I can identify any note that I hear, regardless of the source. So, plunk a note on a bouzouki, and I can tell you what it is. Play a symphony and I can name the key (very helpful in those college listening tests). Drive a train by me and I can tell you the notes its horn barks as it rushes past.

And what does that feel like? Back in the day when my pitch was really good (as one ages, their sense of pitch shifts by half a step), hearing a note was like seeing a color. I was just as sure that such and such a pitch was F-sharp as I was that a clear sky was blue. It's that obvious.

Additionally (at least for me), pitches and keys take on a character. E-flat major is very mellow. E minor is a bit edgy. C major is kind of bland. A major is very bright. 

And because this podcast theme was all about friendly and upbeat, A major was just what the doctor ordered. To keep it friendly I composed a melody that wouldn't be out of place in a children's song and stuck to the I, IV, and V chords—not a minor chord in sight.

The instrumentation is just as perky—piano, guitar, glockenspiel, string bass and—thanks to my daughter—ukulele.

(By the way, my daughter just killed it on the recording. She'd never overdubbed a thing in her life yet slapped on the headphones, listened for the click, and nailed her part on the first take. Proud papa am I.)

As with my other themes, you can find this one on the Music page.