Ok now it’s time for part one of my lesson on the song ”Satellit” by Ted and Kenneth Gardestad. (For a short live clip of this song go to this blog post).
In part 1 we will focus of the music theory side of the song.
Parts Of The Lesson
We will look into triplet/shuffle playing and use the classic Swedish pop song as our ”tool”.
(Read more about the song in this post.)
There are other songs in this shuffle or 12/8 style that you might be more familiar with. One of the most famous might be ”Hold the line” (by Toto).
We will also check out what scales (modes) the different riffs derive from.
Triplets and Shuffle
In the sheet music I use triplets to write down the bass part. (See video – coming soon in Part 2 of this lesson). You can think of an 8th note triplet as three 8th notes evenly spaced where you normally would play just two. One way of describing this could be with the use of the 12/8 time signature. When I describe shuffle rhythm I often use the 12/8 example and the take away the middle 8th note of every group of three 8th’s. For more on shuffle rhythms and a way of playing those see this video.
Either way you should divide the pulse into four beats. In 4/4 it will be four quarter notes and in 12/8 it will be four dotted quarter notes.
Since ”Satellit” is mainly based on triplets (or groups of three 8th notes) I choose to write it in 4/4. Jazz notation: In the case of swing music notation you often use regular 8th notes and write at the top of the score or lead sheet that the 8th notes should be played with swing/shuffle rhythm feeling. That way you don’t have to write out every triplet.
Here’s a pic of the how shuffle notation looks like in 4/4 and 12/8:
Besides the 8th note triplets there are also a couple of quarter note triplets. The same method is used here. You ”squeeze” three quarter notes in the space of two. These triplets are a bit harder to do. But if you play along with the video (in part 2) and maybe the original recording or why not other songs using these triplets I think it can help you get good at this quickly!
Riffs and what scales they are made from
There are two main riffs in ‘Satellit”. The whole song starts with Riff 1. In the chorus it’s time for Riff 2. Riff 1 is also played during the guitar solo and outro.
Okey. What are the scales/modes used in these riffs?
Riff 1 is clearly based on the G minor pentatonic scale. This scale uses five notes from the G minor scale.
G minor scale: G-A-B flat–C–D-E flat-F–G
G minor pentatonic: G-B flat-C-D-F-G.
Riff 1 starts on scale degree 1 moves down to scale degree 7 and then climbes up the scale. Let’s devide the riff into three phrases.
I think this is a nice way to really make the most of this scale. Making up little motifs based on small parts of the scale and the make connections between these motifs using nothing more than notes from the scale!
Riff 2 is really based only on the Bb major scale! And this works really well because the the key of the tune is B flat major. Let’s break it down a little bit.
B flat major: B flat-C-D-E flat-F-G-A-B
If we build chords based on the Bb major scale we get these chords:
Bb major – C minor – D minor – Eb major – F major – G major – A minor b5
In the chorus we have these chords:
Bb major – D minor 7 – Eb major – F11. (F11 is a E flat major triad with F as bass note). As you can see all of these chords derive from the B flat major scale and chords based on that scale. This means the B flat major scale will work throughout the chorus!
On the first chord (B flat major) the riff starts on the 3rd degree (Bb: 3-2-1) and then moves to next chord using the same three notes landing on the D. After this we have a long scalar motion starting on the Eb (the 4th degee of the Bb major scale) moving all the way to the high Bb.
Now we know that Riff 1 is based on G minor pentatonic and the chorus riff is based on the Bb major scale. How come this works? Well it’s because these to keys are related [G minor is the relative minor to Bb major] and use the same notes with different starting points/notes! Check out this picture of the circle of fifth. As you can see B flat major and G minor both have flatted B and E!
Watch the original version with Ted Gärdestad from the Melodifestivalen 1979 (Swedish TV) on YouTube.
Stay tuned for part 2 for a video lesson on how you can play the bass part!