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The First Lesson : Tri Seven Five

Magnified molecule of lotus tea



So it came about that Karna, the sonic voyager, was lucky enough to glean a tip from his master, the Maharishi Shawn Lane and so he asked him, "Oh Master, what is the secret of that most sublime of compositions, Tri Seven Five?" At this, the master, having finished his lotus tea, sat up and stroked his beard thoughtfully. Finally, using some magic the student was unaware of, he pulled a nylon string Alvarez out of his hair and played the following:

Tri Seven Five Theme

The student was much wonderstruck at this and asked the master many questions. The answers to these questions are summarized here in the students own language.


The key to the Tri Seven Five theme lies in the tuning of the nylon string guitar and some of the time devices used in the song. The guitar is tuned in tritones throughout, low to high : BFBFBF, the low string being tuned to the B below the standard low E. The main theme employs a seven against five rhythmic figure as a repeating unit. The last section of the song also uses a very interesting juxtaposition of a three against five motif over seven time. Hence the name Tri Seven Five. None of these passages sound forced or awkward. Even when the timing seems a little odd, the passage itself appears a logical continuation of the preceding section, a mark of the skill of the writer. When playing this extraordinary passage, you will notice the same basic chord shapes are moved around the neck to several different positions, generating different sonorities that are woven together to make the theme. Once in a while, to keep the contour of the theme going, a new shape is encountered. The harmonic movement thus generated is appropriately exotic. No sense trying to figure out the chord names and relationships and all. The composer is plainly following his ear and his heart when tying this together. The theme turns around on itself but instead of coming back to the very beginning, returns to the third chord in the sequence and continues on from there to the end and so on, ending on kind of an FMaj7 chord of all things. The effectiveness of this theme and its impact are markedly enhanced by shifting tempos midway from a slow tempo (transcribed in 3/4) to double time (transcribed in 2/4). The theme appears first on the gut string and then is doubled with some strange sitar sound. When it appears next in the middle of the song it is orchestrated grandly with keyboards and everything. Notice how through all the twists and turns the song takes, the thread of continuity is never lost. The solos only enhance the song and are not showcases in themselves. Such artistry is not the stuff of a mere guitar hero/over the top instrumentalist, but the work of an inspired composer. Someday I will include my full song transcription with solos and everything as part of another installment.