Author Archives: cleek

Artificial Incitement

The Israel Police mistakenly arrested a Palestinian worker last week because they relied on automatic translation software to translate a post he wrote on his Facebook page. The Palestinian was arrested after writing “good morning,” which was misinterpreted; no Arabic-speaking police officer read the post before the man’s arrest.

Last week, the man posted on his Facebook page a picture from the construction site where he works in the West Bank settlement of Beitar Ilit near Jerusalem. In the picture he is leaning against a bulldozer alongside the caption: “Good morning” in Arabic.

The automatic translation service offered by Facebook uses its own proprietary algorithms. It translated “good morning” as “attack them” in Hebrew and “hurt them” in English.

Listening To…

  • St Vincent – MASSEDUCTION Maybe a bit too shiny in places. Her quirks and charms are still present, but it feels like she’s fallen into the same pit of hi-gloss lacquer that Spoon recently tripped into. I’ll probably grow into it.

    St. Vincent – Pills (official audio)

  • Replacements – For Sale: Live At Maxwells On the other hand… No, this is far from being as much of a mess as I expected, given their reputation. It actually sounds good and they only botch a couple of tunes. I had honestly thought that about 1/3 of the songs on their early records were things they flung together just to fill out a record. But here they are, playing a bunch of those songs pretty much identically to the album version.

    Can't Hardly Wait (Live at Maxwell's, Hoboken, NJ, 2/4/86)

  • Mahavishnu Orchestra – Birds Of Fire It’s impossible for me not to compare this to mid-70’s King Crimson. Heavy prog-rock with a strong 70’s jazz influence. There’s a bit more of the jazz influence here, but it’s that heavy electric jazz-funk-fusion thing of Bitches Brew; it’s not the lyrical horns-n-drums quartet thing of the 1950s. There aren’t any vocals, which is actually nice – they were often the weakest part of early KC. And John McLaughlin is a much more fiery and acrobatic guitarist than Robert Fripp who prefers geometric intricacy over wailing – and what a great tone McLaughlin had! But, I think it’s safe to say if you dig one, the other will at least interest you.

    Celestial Terrestrial Commuters

  • Built To Spill – There Is No Enemy Somehow I missed this band in the 90s. But now that I’ve heard them, a bunch of other ‘indie’ bands of the 90s and 00s have fallen into place in my big mental family tree of bands. Built To Spill is the forerunner of bands like Modest Mouse, Granddaddy, Death Cab For Cutie, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Decemberists, etc.. This is their latest record, and I do like it. But I can’t wait to get into their much-adored early stuff.

    Built to Spill – Things Fall Apart

  • LCD Soundsystem – American Dream As an LCD Soundsystem record, it’s really good. It has everything you want from them: slow hypnotic droney things, uptempo electro-ravers and Murphy’s distinctive vocals. It’s also full of subtle nods (and deep, low bows) to new wave bands of the 80s. New Order, Joy Division, The Cure, and especially the Talking Heads from Remain In Light, are all well represented – some of the guitar solos sound like they got Adrian Belew to dig up his guitar rig from R.I.L. and let it rip. Great stuff.


In Theory

Way back when, in my days of college and keg beer, I had a band. And we had a song called “Both Sides.” It was a gnarly and dissonant thing, played for maximum ouch. For my part, I played a snarling F#♭5 ‘power chord’ in the verses:

--4-- F#
--3-- C
--2-- F#

It’s not actually a chord, since a chord requires three notes (with certain constraints about the distance between them). It’s a ‘power chord’ (root, fifth, octave).

And in the choruses I came up with a cluster of notes that I thought was beautifully screechy and whiny. I played it high up on the neck and moved it around, but the shape is:

--4-- G#
--3-- D
--1-- G#
--2-- E

Here’s the song. The chorus starts about 28 seconds in.

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Mmmm. A-tonal.

The top three strings there are doing the same ♭5 thing as the verse chord (G#, D, G#). And then there’s that E which sounds awkward against all the rest, as intended.

So, I was bored today and decided to find out once and for all, if that little mess has an official chord name. It does!

This site gives it two names: the daunting “D/E Suspended 2nd Flat 5th” (yessss) or …. it’s a boring old stupid lame E7.


The notes in that thing are E, G#, D, G#. But a standard E7 is E, B, D, G#:

--0--  E
--0--  B
--1--  G#
--0--  D
--2--  B
--0--  E

So how can it be an E7 if there’s no B? Isn’t the fifth an import note? A standard major/minor triad is root + third + fifth. In this case, E + G# + B = E major. An E7 happens when you add a D to an E major (E + G# + B + D = E7). So I wouldn’t have thought that leaving out the fifth was possible. But, according to this site, it’s perfectly legal:

Usually one of the most unessential notes of any chord is the fifth. In these chords the fifth is essentially “inert”. It does not contribute to the sense of major or minor, nor does it add any interest (tension, dissonance or sense of forward movement) to the sound. Therefore it can typically be omitted quite safely without affecting the stability or tonality of the chord.

As an example, while a Cmaj7 would normally have the notes C, E, G and B, it is common to leave the G out, keeping only the C, E, and B. This is also true for dominant and minor type chords.

And not only is it legal, it’s quite common for choirs and piano.

Always learning.