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Billie Jean


CEB

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I'm driving to pickup gig. Billie Jean is on the menu. I aint played that thing in ages. The internet says it is in Em.

 

The internet is full of **** aint it. I seem to remember it is F# minor. It sounds like F# minor in my head.

 

This will be a Charlie Foxtrot. Pickup gig on piano and Hammond are sort of a speciality of mine. But this synth based stuff is a different animal. I aint played with this band in 17 years .... at least they still do the same songs. LOL.

 

Thanks

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

 

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!

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I've played it in both with different bands. Ask 'em 'which key' they play it in. Not 'what key is this one in?' but 'What key do YOU guys do this in?' like you're the bad ass who could play it in any key if you wanted but just want to help THEM out.

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No, the original is in F# minor. :)

 

If you can cover the two different motifs in the pre-chorus (1st is synth, 2nd is string), the inner synth line (during second verse) and the signature chorus descending string flourish, you'll really sell it.

 

And if the opening vamp runs too long, you can also shoe horn a Cantaloupe Island quote in.

 

 

..
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It's actually tuned between keys but closest to f#m. The between keys tuning is a pain when you want to play along with it. Easy song, really, though with enough different keys parts to make it challenging if you try to cover all of them. Also, the structure is unsymetrical enough that you've got to learn and internalize the whole thing.

Gigging: Crumar Mojo 61, Hammond SKPro

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Adan I was joking about Gbm and F#m do you view them as slightly different pitch wise? That delves into the classical world, that I know nothing of.

You don't have ideas, ideas have you

We see the world, not as it is, but as we are. "One mans food is another mans poison". I defend your right to speak hate. Tolerance to a point, not agreement

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Adan, I recall drum part, as "killer", that would be Ted Riley, and is it a drummer and or a "machine" programming the drum part?

Same question for bass part?

Thanks

You don't have ideas, ideas have you

We see the world, not as it is, but as we are. "One mans food is another mans poison". I defend your right to speak hate. Tolerance to a point, not agreement

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It really is tuned between keys. Pain in the butt, having to retune your keyboard to the track to learn the song. :)

We do it in F#m as well. I have a nice split to cop the main part and the string riffs, and then a little rezzy lead sound for the couple little synth fills.

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Adan, I recall drum part, as "killer", that would be Ted Riley, and is it a drummer and or a "machine" programming the drum part?

Same question for bass part?

Thanks

 

I'm not sure I understand what you're saying but the drums on Billie Jean were by Ndugu Chancler

 

There were 10 years between Thriller and Dangerous (Teddy Riley's production)

 

As far as I've heard, everything was 'played' on Billie Jean, no sequencing. There are two separate bass parts blended.

 

Or were you talking about something else? :confused:

 

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No, the original is in F# minor. :)

 

If you can cover the two different motifs in the pre-chorus (1st is synth, 2nd is string), the inner synth line (during second verse) and the signature chorus descending string flourish, you'll really sell it.

 

And if the opening vamp runs too long, you can also shoe horn a Cantaloupe Island quote in.

 

 

+1 on the signature chorus descending string flourish.

 

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...the signature chorus descending string flourish, ....

 

I picture the 'shape' of that riff as a Dmaj7 arpeggio (descending).

 

...

And if the opening vamp runs too long, you can also shoe horn a Cantaloupe Island quote in.

 

I am SO going to try that that next time :thu:

"I'm well acquainted with the touch of a velvet hand..."
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I think you mean Amaj7 descending arp, starting on the maj7 (G#, at least in the key of E##minor).

 

But in my experience, getting those inner synth lines from the second verse, the string lines during the pre chorus, that's what brings some of the cool to this tune. Some years ago everyone was playing this tune - but copping the extra detail separated you from the pack. Just my 0.02.

 

 

..
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It really is tuned between keys. Pain in the butt, having to retune your keyboard to the track to learn the song.
With songs that are between keys I import the WAV into Audacity and shift it up or down so it is as close to one or the other, in this case F#, then save the altered track as a WAV. I don't have perfect pitch so takes a little trial and error.

 

When I save the WAV file I append the change in cents to the track name, for example -40, and send it to the other band members so we are all on the same page. Saves anyone thinking they have to retune for the song.

 

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Back in the ancient days when 45 rpm records were selling en masse (and AM Radio was still king), ANY record that was unusually long had very little chance of airplay - the station management wanted SHORT songs - so the DJ could still claim that they played xx records each hour - and could still fit in as many commercials as possible.

 

Add to this the presumption that music at a sharper pitch (A > 440Hz) sounds "brighter," and one has the recipe for deliberately raising the pitch and shortening the song - so MANY pop records were made in the old analog way - the recording master turntable could be varied in rotational speed. If the master was cut at 42rpm (example), then a playback at 45rpm meant shorter song and brighter sound.

 

This was mostly before the prog experiments in having a whole 33-1/3 LP record side being one long - long song (or a whole album based on one concept). Besides, the LP prog stuff didn't usually ever wind up on AM radio - too few spaces for commercial messages.

 

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I think you mean Amaj7 descending arp, starting on the maj7 (G#, at least in the key of E##minor).

 

But in my experience, getting those inner synth lines from the second verse, the string lines during the pre chorus, that's what brings some of the cool to this tune. Some years ago everyone was playing this tune - but copping the extra detail separated you from the pack. Just my 0.02.

 

 

It's a Dmaj7 arp on that riff.

Live: Korg Kronos 2 88, Nord Electro 5d Nord Lead A1

Toys: Roland FA08, Novation Ultranova, Moog LP, Roland SP-404SX, Roland JX10,Emu MK6

www.bksband.com

www.echoesrocks.com

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I normally play covers in the original key (unless a singer needs it transposed), but when I worked up this one on the Hammond, I played it in Gm and used the transpose function to lower it to the original F#m, which would need a low B pedal for the bass line, whereas the pedalboard only goes down to C.

 

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Yes that fast little string line always gets some smiles and positive attention from band members and audience alike! I have like a five-part split/layer set up for that song that I keep handy because it comes up in so many bands/gigs. strings/brass layer for the chordal intro vamp / main riff; a little EP to double the bass line under "people always told me, be careful what you do" pre-chorus, sax for that high phrase that also plays in the section, and strings for that little counter-melody that arises in the second verse (that TimWat mentioned I think) as well as that downward lick and a few other distinctive parts.

Rich Forman

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Like others have said, a fun song to play if you can squeeze in some of the synthy frills (and your bass player can groove and your singer can yelp a bit).

 

After the last chorus and the guitar break, on the next "She says I am the one" we hangon the Bm for longer than usual (just long enough to confuse the audience) and then run into "Bright Lights Bigger City" (in Bm). Always goes down well.

 

 

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