"diatonic elaboration of static harmony"
When i was a child, i noticed a curious pattern that seemed to be at the core of several distinct (and powerful) pieces of music. For years, i wondered if this pattern had a name, or anybody but me recognized it. I referred to it as "the pattern from Pachabel's Canon and A Whiter Shade of Pale" since i didn't have a name for it.
I was surprised and delighted one day in 1996 when i was reading the book Idoru by William Gibson. His protagonist, a teenage girl from Seattle, is wandering through a virtual reconstruction of medieval Venice, and is visited by a software personality ("agent") called the Music Master. He appears as a handsome young man in blue robes who gives her recommendations and tidbits of information about music. When we first encounter him, his first word is "DESH". He goes on to explain that this is a common musical pattern, also known as "major chord with descending baseline", citing as examples the same pieces i knew so well!
A short list of definitely DESH compositions:
Pachabel - Canon (midi)
Bach - Air on a G string (midi)
Procol Harum - A Whiter Shade of Pale (midi)
Percy Sledge - When a Man Loves a Woman
David Bowie - Changes
Moody Blues - Go Now
Super Furry Animals - Something for the Weekend
Daryl Hall - Living in Dreamtime
Future Sound of London - Lifeforms/disc 2/track 1
Three Degrees - When will I see you again (midi)
Manowar - Courage
A very large number of pop songs - like the Beatle's 'Penny Lane' - use around the first four notes of DESH.
Some fascinating insights are on the page Does "A Whiter Shade" quote Bach? [was at bachfaq.org, but that site appears to be gone]
There is some Bob Dylan connection:
Quote by Mike Bloomfield: 'Man, the cycle of chord changes that he [Bob Dylan] introduced, that became so widely imitated and used – those were the chord changes that later became When a Man Loves a Woman and Whiter Shade of Pale.'
I made this page because i didn't find any mention of DESH on the WWW. I suspect there are hundreds of such songs out there - let me know!
Feedback so far: