Duke Ellington and the Instincts of Infielders


Denny is learning how to play the blues. The vehicle I have chosen is Duke's famous "C Jam Blues", a classic 12 bar with a dead easy melody and as much swing as a dude can possibly pack into 4/4.

As we read through an original melody Denny created to go with this song, we entered into a long discussion of "E" the third degree in the key of C. It should be an E natural. Until it shouldn't. Then it has to be an E flat. Then it does that again, finally it wants to be an E natural again. He played it while I comped. I comped while singing variations. I changed chords to fit his melody differently. He heard the differences! And he approved. 

Score for teacher man!

But as we wound down he asked "Now, how on earth do musicians keep track of all this? How do you KNOW when it's an E flat or an E natural? Do you calculate it? Do you 'just know'??


Great question. Essential question. How indeed (Many people give up right about here. They say it's 'nature'. They say it's 'talent'. I hold back the tirade I wish to vomit out at such silliness.)? We learn things one at a time. We learn facts and skills. We then put them together. After we get really good at them, we kind of 'forget' about them. But that's not really it is it? We just let them slip to the back of our minds, trusting they will come back and work for us when we need them to. What was my example for Denny? 

Infielders: Batter hits a grounder to Third Base. Third baseman gets in front of it of course. But what else happens? Shortstop and Left Fielder are probably moving to cover him. First Baseman goes to his base to await the throw. Everyone else is paying attention in their own way. How do they keep track of all this? How do they KNOW when to move and where? Do they calculate it? do they 'just know'??


Double play for Songdog!


PS. I have to share this too: Smithsonian article about Duke Ellington AND baseball!

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