Guitar Lessons by Chip McDonald - July 2018

Monday, July 30, 2018

D'Addario NYXL Strings

 This is only obliquely a "review", more of a drive-by set of impressions, so caveat emptor.

 I've had a set of their NYXL .009's on my work guitar for about 2 months. My initial impressions were that they felt more typical of their cheaper XLs, nothing too different from a string tension or textural feel. I very quickly forgot there was anything "different" about them at all, to the point I haven't really thought about it until their intonation started getting weird about a week ago.

 Sound wise they were about like their cheaper XLs as well.  I believe my take was that perhaps D'Addario went more for an angle of trying to make a string that was basically undetectable as being different from their normal XLs, where as with the Ernie Balls they did have an atypical tension and surface sensation.

 Like the Ernie Ball Paradigm "long life" strings, when they start to go bad they do it differently than "normal" strings.  When the Ernie Balls go bad it seems like it's almost amazingly fast.  I come to work one day (teaching guitar if the reader doesn't already know...) and suddenly they won't stay in tune, won't intonate, and are not pitch stable.

 The D'Addarios seems to have started going bad a week or so ago, but in a much more normal, slower fashion.  However, in a weird way - it's almost like maybe they're "bad" at different lengths of the string, or something has gone wrong at a certain point that makes certain notes more out than others?  A very strange behavior - part of the string has lost it's properties but not another, perhaps?  Deceiving, because you think it's in the ballpark with the octave of one note, but half of the notes are out.

 They seem to have kept their sound the whole time.  Very tricky - the intonation starting to go slightly bad combined with the sound staying more or less "fairly fresh" means I think I've been fighting them for over a week, spot-retuning constantly.  Yes, now that I think about it - I have spent a lot of time tuning over the past week or 2.  I almost forgot to mention, a did break the high E maybe 2 weeks ago.


 The Ernie Balls last a bit longer.  They also seem to be more pitch stable than "normal" strings, which is a bonus as far as I'm concerned.  On the other hand, they feel a little bit more taut (which makes me think "are they really something odd like a half-size heavier?).  When they go bad, they really go bad, out of the blue.

 The D'Addarios are more "normal" in all respects, but at first glance seem to not last as long.  That normalcy in feel/tension might be a bigger plus for someone over the Paradigms. 

 The Ernie Balls are $15 on Amazon, seem to last a fair bit longer, and seem to be more pitch stable (more so than normal) versus the D'Addarios at $17 on Amazon.   The pitch stability would make me choose the Paradigms on that alone, but they're also cheaper and last longer.  I think Ernie Ball wins this round, unless D'Addario can drop the price to maybe $10-12?  I know they don't want to hear that.....  


 The thought just occurred to me that long ago I tried the Optima gold strings, who advertised a similar spiel: longer life, but not with the specific claims these brands do.  My take on them was that they did last a little bit longer - just a little bit, and they did seem to intonate better but were also noticeably stiffer, particularly on the wound strings.  Much more than the Ernie Balls. They were only about 25% more expensive IIRC, but I didn't think they lasted that much longer and the stiffness was bothersome.

 The reason I bring this up is that now I'm wondering if they didn't use a different specific alloy, or a different quality control, perhaps similar to what Ernie Ball is using?  I believe Optima was just pushing the gold coating as being more corrosion resistant and durable, but not the metal alloy itself?  The metallurgy of the Ernie Balls seems very remarkable, I was very surprised by them, but perhaps the D'Addarios lasting longer-than-normal combined with a more typical feel is just as remarkable?

 In both cases I'm profoundly surprised by just how much longer both strings seem to last/sound good/intonate relative to their cheaper versions. I was expecting something of an experience more like what I had with the Optimas long ago.  I have NYXLs on another guitar at home, and will put a second set on my work guitar today, but unless one of those surprise me with their durability I'll probably end up being an Ernie Ball user after staying with D'Addario for a very long time.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

The Fragility of Initial Conditions


I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear - From Frank Herbert's Dune Book Series

© 1965 and 1984 Frank Herbert

Initiate Guitar Student Litany

"I haven't played a note before in my life".
"I played around with it when I was younger but never learned anything"
"I had an uncle that showed me some chords when I was little, but I forgot them"
"I don't really know anything"
"I don't know if I can play or not"
"I don't have rhythm, I may be wasting my time"
"I bet you never taught someone as old as me"
"I know a few chords but that's all"
"I tried to learn but I couldn't"
"I can't move my fingers fast enough"
"I don't think I'm strong enough"
"I don't have any patience so I don't know if I can learn"
"I had this laying around since Christmas but I haven't tried it"
"I had this all of my life, it was my father's guitar in college but I haven't picked it up until now"
"I don't think I'm very musical"
"I don't have any idea what I'm doing"
"I know how to play this chord but that's all"
"I don't know how to tune it or anything"
"I bought this years ago but never tried playing it"
"I tried piano when I was a kid but gave it up"
"I have small fingers, I don't know if I can play"
"I tried years ago but put it down"
"I played clarinet in school but never anything else"
"I played recorder but that doesn't count"
"I don't know if I'll be any good or not"

 For starters - pun intended - I'll be the judge of all of the above, and more along those lines that I've heard. Buried in most of these responses I've heard to the question "have you played an instrument before?" is of course self-doubt.  The problem is, YOU don't know, literally.  You WON'T know, at least for a few weeks at a minimum, maybe even for a year or more.  Because...

 If you've not really played the instrument, or an instrument before, you're a "beginner".  Before you learn to write you have to learn to hold the pencil, use the eraser, form the letters.  You can't make a judgement call on how good of a novelist you'll be if you literally can't read or write yet. 

 You'll be a beginner for probably longer than you want to be (of course), and unlike every other guitar teacher on the planet I'm not going to say otherwise.  Except, if you TRY to do things "right" you WILL get better.  You can't help but to get better. 

 You'll be a rote beginner until you pass a certain threshold where you gain some control over each finger, and can allow that to turn into muscle memory.  That takes more time than most people in reality want to take, it's very frustrating for MOST people initially. 

 It's something everyone passes through.  The initial, nascent phase of playing is a period where despite what I'll tell you in lessons that you're on track, you'll think and feel it's not working. 

 At which point I have to say as the expert in the room, "you don't have any experience in which to make that call".  

1) Learning to play an instrument, for real, is something that requires more concentration than 99% of the people I encounter have ever had to do, continuously before.

2) Learning to play an instrument requires integration of many different human elements, mental and physical, on a scale you've never had to do before.

 Which is why everyone should try to learn to play an instrument!  It fully engages your mind, and might help you learn a skill that actually can be applied to other life experiences.  Concentration, focus, kinesthetic awareness, mind management. But at first, you don't know if you're "getting it" or not!  The first phase is very steep if done properly, but always pays off.  Any shortcuts will be a hindrance maybe forever.  The first phase is intimidating only because of the fear of failure. 

 I wish I could take Frank Herbert's fictional "Litany Against Fear" in it's totality, I fear a lot.  From having watched thousands of people learn to play something I know they thought they "probably" couldn't do I've lost a lot of fear relative to basically anything involving a learning process.  

 But you don't know if you can "play the guitar" until you try, and try for real.  Know that some people are completely, literally shocked by what has to be learned/accomplished; people that are professionals in other fields.  It doesn't mean they can't do it, it means their life experience has not given them the ability to contrast the process with anything they've done before.  In some cases, even after this "first phase" I'm referencing is past, or long, past, the vastness of what playing an instrument, becoming a musician incorporates can suddenly intimidate some people.  In this situation appreciating the cultural significance of the undertaking, and acquiring that sense of proportion I've alluded to can be an immensely satisfying thing.  Be a fully realized human!

 It's a challenge, but almost everyone that is a "beginner" that comes to me tends to say the same thing, and has the same doubts and reticence about TRYING.  There is no reason for that!  You won't know until AFTER you have tried.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Infinite Monkeys, A.I., Chaos and Music

 I was into computer programming for fun as a kid.  I think there are a lot of programming parallels that explains human thinking/psychology very well, regardless if it's the underlying process or not.

 Computers are all about acting on data in some form.  That's all humans are as well.  We are constantly parallel processing, re-writing hash tables, trying to make a new cyclic redundancy check that encompasses All We Have Experienced.

 We are constantly making linked lists to other humans, whose own hash tables are constantly being updated and rearranged. 

 We are never fully updated and sorted.  Unless we have reach satori, or some lofty Buddhist ideal of non-think: stasis.  It's the run-time impetus to SORT SORT SORT SORT that makes us human. 

 At the same time our algorithm is self-writing and evolving.  Like computers we have limits to our processing power.  It's my personal pet theory that whenever we encounter chaotic systems the math of what we perceive creates a buffer-over run situation, a literal "memory leak".

I'm not going to try to explain chaotic math.  The James Gleick book is kind of necessary for that I believe.  I will say that chaotic systems are often ascribed as being "random", but in reality are near-random.  The math that governs what a flame looks like, ocean waves, cloud formation are examples of this: they're not purely random, you can recognize these things for what they are.  They are chaotic, but definable systems.

 Note that as humans we find these chaotic systems "attractive".  It's my belief these things create something of a "loop" to us.  We attempt to sort the information we are perceiving, which we've labeled in a top level array marked "waterfall" maybe, but we run out of address space to place Everything We Are Trying To Sort.

 As humans we like the resulting sensation of this.  This is our Prime Function: finding stuff to sort.  Maybe God wants us to sort the universe, otherwise there is no point to it being perceived?  When presented with the possibility of perceiving almost at the limit of our awareness, we're in our optimized programming.  We're trying to sort information.

 But we can't when staring at a camp fire or surf at the beach.  Being "hypnotized" by not having enough memory space, and not enough address space.  The trick here being the system having a difference between chaos and what we think as "just noise".

 The creation of music by humans is an inherently chaotic process.  We can't perceive everything that has been done, whether it has or has not. It doesn't matter if the Infinite Monkeys has already recorded it all, we can't take that in.

 What happens with what is left over, unsorted data that should go in the "bit bucket" gets rearranged, and provides what is really an illusion - that we're "creating" something - by starting a new hash table based on that bit bucket left over noise getting blended into actual data.  We "see", or imagine we can "hear" a way to sort near-chaotic scale data - the history of our experience of music - without the cognition that it's already been "sorted" by other people.  The noise introduced by the error of not being able to fully perceive a chaotic system allows us to continue the enjoyment of our Prime Programming: sorting.

 So whether "all music has been written" or not doesn't matter, because as a human you have to make your own hash table and sort YOUR data set.  Whether you produce a new data set that another human perceives as being almost chaotic, that creates that illusion (mystery), is the question.  A question answered less likely in my opinion by taking wrote, "traditionally" procedural methods.

 Likewise a.i. won't produce "new" music we perceive as being human.  The bounding functions will never be like a human - without the a.i. becoming human.  In turn there will always be a strangeness combined with a familiarity, stuck in the Uncanny Valley.  Copying music a human sort algorithm has produced is not the same process that the human used.  The bounding functions have to be identical, and they inherently can't be without the a.i. becoming human.

 Which isn't beyond the realm of technological possibility on day. Maybe.  Regardless, I think we'd have other sociological concerns regarding a.i. before a.i. comes up with a new "Beatles", "Bach" or some such.

 This log blathering was induced by the following... I just replied to a student's comment to another blog, and it went something like this:

Like pi or a room full of monkeys with typewriters eventually every possible expression will arise .You indicated in my first lesson this was the case with music (not counting the infinite sound effect combos with pedals etc). If so what musical tale is left to tell without leaving the human domain? Maybe we're already there and machines will define their own sonic preferences .

I have a problem with the Infinite Typewriting Monkeys conjecture because it only gives a hypothetical excuse to say "all combinations are possible". Which is always the case regardless of what causes the combinations to be instantiated. The multiverse perspective applied to music (or any art, writing) ignores the aspects that the combinations don't matter without:
1) an "audience" to perceive that there are actually nth combinations having been created;
2) humans are walking sorting algorithms.

The monkeys get through writing everything, Shakespeare, Pink Floyd, Frank Lloyd Wright and Renoir, but it doesn't "exist" until it's perceived. The human subjectivity sorting through that is no different than a human sorting it's present-historical data set.

It's the inherent limits of human perception that makes the sorting algorithm the creative part, combined with embracing the near-random aspects of chaos math. An A.I. will not have limits that are the result of organic evolution in the Newtonian world as we experience it. It will not make new music that befuddles our sorting process, except in the sense of making it so diffuse we can't specify it's origin. Having a whisp of an "origin" prevents music from being noise to us, there has to be context.

I've heard some a.i. music that is very creepy, that one can generalize as being the product of some sort of sorting process of human composers, but without human Newtonian-biological experience it has no context. I think the creepiness is not from a musically relevant source, but that there IS a quasi-biological neural-sim process that has made it that puts it into the Uncanny Valley.

I don't see a.i. created music coming out of the Uncanny Valley without them being human at that point...

... but we're still humans, and the way "music" is presented is still pretty unlimited sans corporate social influence. You do a sort on your musical experience and make a polyglot-collage that tweaks another human's cognition; a mutual-shared intellectual hallucination, "almost cognitive dissonance". That's "art".

Relative to my blog post, if one assumes there is (was) a General Knowledge Base of Pop Music then given what I wrote above, certain combinations triggers the Herd's Sort Algorithm and *should* put certain reoccurring data into a top-level hash table array. The process of hashing combined with ... "human mantissa over run", the human attempt to grasp patterns in the Lorentz-space of a chaotic system is pleasant. Uhm.. Ok, I'm making myself say "wow" looking at that, hahaha...

but I'm serious.

 I know, that sounds like a great example of Stereotypical Spendashery and Garbleflexiveness with "$5 words".  Hopefully it was entertaining if you got this far... <g>


Saturday, July 7, 2018

Do You Own Anything In Music?

 Everyone is presently bent on trying to define in legal terms what means what in relation to who owns what and what defines the part that makes the what someone's what and not derivative of the other what somebody else made.

 I'm not concerned with that; I am but a peasant.

 But in my book (literally: Experiencing Guitar -Chip-McDonald-ebook/dp/B0714P93RS  I present the notion of "owning" chords.

What a crazy notion, are you crazy Chip?

 I don't mean legally, literally owning a chord of course.  What I mean is that what drives me insane about "life in the 21st century" we've passed into discarding common sense in favor of the Abject Official Description of a Concept.

 In actuality (I know I say that too much), we've gone a step into that even further: we don't just require an Official Designation About Everything, it would seem that society today thereafter bases it's valuation on that.  This is (as far as I'm concerned) extremely important, and a watershed moment in Human Non-Development.

 Nobody is willing to come out and say "yeah, it sounds like the Marvin Gaye song and I think he probably knew that and maybe even leaned on that".  Well, except for me!  Everyone else, it would seem, is completely bent on figuring out the "logical, legal" description of why it's NOT like the Marvin Gaye song.

 I'm here to say that IT IS OBVIOUSLY LIKE THE MARVIN GAYE SONG.  As a human with reasonable cognition,  I don't require something to fulfill scientific method or legal jargon in order to present my position.

  I can explain my position in technical detail, but that shouldn't be the point.  As a human with a brain, I don't exist based on procedural algorithmic decision making.  As humans we don't have to do that consciously - that's what we do naturally: think in the abstract.  I've written a lot about the psychology of flitting back and forth between the conscious approach to making art, and the sub-conscious, that is why we are different than the lower animals.

 Unlike in politics, where everything is vague and emotionally driven (which is maybe how one should pursue art?) it seems like with the Sheeran/Gaye debate who owns what is the only thing that matters?

 Instead of what you think matters to you.  

 To me it's the Marvin Gaye song.  When I have taught that song to students, the first time I heard it, I thought "this is "Let's Get it On".  I've presented it as such to students by playing the progression (which is actually inverted...) and asking "does this sound like another song to you?" at which point many, even younger than me (the song pre-dates "my era" as well) will say it does at least, and some can name the song.  All agree that yes, "it's the same song!". 

 In this nascent part of the 21st century, the record of recorded music (uhg) is so vast that as a song/music writer you're mostly likely "ripping off" someone with a chord progression.  The real questions are:

1) is it a song that is so high profile "most" of your audience will realize it?

 2) do you realize it?

 I'm now talking about "relative to my personal philosophy", which is mine alone.  I possess and own it, it's not the hoi polloi's, the mass media's or anyone else.

 To me:

 Jimi Hendrix owns the mid-guitar neck voiced E 6/9 chord when played with a generalized funk rhythm.  When I hear "Been Caught Stealing" by Jane's Addiction I can't help but to think "Purple Haze chord".  When Corgan does it on the Smashing Pumpkin's song "I Am One" I'm thinking "Purple Haze chord" (and I guarantee he does, too...).  And there are a number of other examples where that chord is used with a staccato, "funk" rhythm, SRV and others.

 Hendrix "owns" it because as far as I'm concerned, he made it the most high profile FIRST.   In MY knowledge base, that's what gets ticked over: if you play that particular chord with a funk rhythm, I'm going to think "Jimi Hendrix".

 I don't care about it's antecedents.  I'm quite well verse in music at this juncture, having analyzed music daily as my job for over 30 years.  In my experience, Jimi Hendrix "owns" that chord.  You can try to write a song with it, in a funky manner, and claim it's YOUR creation, but I'm still going to think "Jimi Hendrix".  Sorry.  I don't care about legal descriptions, what somebody at Berklee thinks, or the status quo on YouTube.  It's Hendrix.  I will stay away from it in my creative process for that very reason. 

  There are other examples in Pop Song Culture.  As far as I'm concerned ascending arpeggiated Add 9 chords belong to Andy Summers/Sting/the Police.  When I heard "Satellite" by Dave Matthews the first thing I thought was "he likes the Police".  Does he?  I would bet he does, but regardless to me the effect of playing an arpeggiated add 9 as a melodic figure is "Andy Summers", he owns it. 

 There is a difference in this example, though.  I like the Dave Matthews song!  Because - there is a creative additional element to it.  In the DMB song the rhythmic grouping is different, the progression is different.  In my way of thinking it's been influenced by the Police.  It's not for all intents and purposes the same thing. 

 And that's the important bit.  All that humans create are built on the what another human did.  In my way of thinking, Sheeran hanging different words with a different melody on top of "the Marvin Gaye progression" isn't a lot of added value.  In the Dave Matthews song the progression is different, the rhythm is different, the melody is different, the cadence of the melody, the time signature, on and on: it's not the same thing.

 Today people seem to need to be told, instead of thinking for themselves "that is or isn't the same".   That's a peculiar aspect of Life in the 21st Century I don't get.  People tend to not have much of an opinion beyond what is expected of them these days, but you're standing on my lawn.

 Puff Daddy, or P Diddy, or whatever he calls himself now, won a Grammy for talking a sentence over the top of Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir".  This apparently had the approval of Jimmy Page, who no doubt made a ton of money off of it.  The thing that's sad is that when that happened, you could read and hear about so many people describing the "genius" of Sean Combs - with no mention of Zeppelin. 

 The year that happened I even had a few people want to learn "that Puff Daddy song".  Which was a wake up call, I was very much in a state of cognitive dissonance that year as I encountered people that seemingly thought that the recording of the original song was somehow either a remix, or something Puff Daddy created and then this guy Jimmy Page was in the video.  Ok.  Great.

 Zeppelin owns the song, Page gets to "own" the oblique riff, John Bonham that rhythmic approach of playing over the bar line, etc. etc.. 

 That is my opinion.  I could write a dissertation supporting my thoughts, but I won't. 

 The crux of the Marvin Gaye/Sheeran dispute is this: does brilliance deserve "eternal" credit?  Are there not certain moments in artistic history where there is one human that actually deserves the credit for something?  In the 21st Century the PC thing to say is that everyone is equally talented, so of course, no one human should get credit for coming up with something Really Great. A philosophical position espoused by people who are Generally Mediocre or Talentless. 

 In my opinion the real travesty of this whole thing is that hardly anybody knows who the Funk Brothers are, or how Motown recordings came to be relative to the musicians involved.  It's Gaye's song, but the brilliant representation of it has a lot to do with how it was played.

 That aside, prior to the 21st century things were more clear cut. Pop music has always tended to be derivative on some level, but there was a line in the sand.  People understood that the Monkees were meant to be a teenybopper rip off of the Beatles; it didn't have to be explained or denied by lawyers or a professor at Berklee.  Ironically there was in the end probably more novelty in the Monkees relative to the Beatles than 2/3rds of the pop music today relative to present contemporaries.  The bar has been lowered.

People have lowered expectations and standards today, and weight other things - media savvy, hair cuts, subtle references to the Pop Sound Du Jour (witness the "Millenial Whoop") (look it up on YouTube if you don't know what I'm referencing).  It's kind of more about "is the artist I'm listening to presently tied in some manner to something else that is also happening in pop culture at the moment?", rather than how the music makes you feel.  Does it sound sufficiently "now"? It's kind of more about a competition to make something that clicks certain intangible switches of conformity. 

 But that's in my opinion.  Your mileage may vary.  What's your opinion?  Is it actually YOUR opinion, or do you need a chart and polling data to figure it out?  By the way, you're still standing on my lawn.  



Thursday, July 5, 2018

Ed Sheeran vs. Marvin Gaye: Why Everyone Is Wrong.

 Personally, the thing that bugs me about the Sheeran song is that in my head the chorus turns into "I Want it That Way" by the Back Street Boys - uhg.  But here's is one thing that everyone is getting wrong about the Marvin Gaye / Ed Sheeran controversy, with an addendum about chords:

 When Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On" was written, nobody in the room could be blamed for it possibly sounding like an Ed Sheeran song.

 A fundamental difference in my opinion.  Nobody from Ed Sheeran to his producer, his engineer, or anybody in his management or at his record label didn't know it sounded like the Gaye song.  They also certainly can't claim to have never heard it or be familiar with it.  If the song was a demo, something he just knocked out that would be one thing.  I fear that greatly to the extent it's stifling, "is this something else?".  But for Sheeran, that song had to be vetted by a lot of people that absolutely, positively know better.  "Oh gee guys, wait.. did you notice it sounded like "Let's Get it On"?  Bob?  No? Fred?  Oopsie!".  

 No. I'd even go as far as to speculate that maybe, possibly, it was a deliberate thing.  I don't know, maybe not.  But the reader should know that if he/she thinks songs are written to deliberately remind you of other hit songs - in many cases, very cleverly these days multiple hit songs - you're naive.  If your business is to sell music, that is an obvious and easy strategy.  Pop music has always relied heavily on past influences, whether it was made in the 90s, 80s, or even 1780s.  One can make arguments that Bach lifted things from Vivaldi, and in many cases classical composers have merely said "..on a Them By (Composer)".  That's fine - because in reality, humans have to do that at some level.

 So I find it a bit disingenuous, or at least a bit off putting, when someone wants to throw away what is obviously a likeness as if it doesn't matter or count.  Yes it does - what makes it have a likeness to the original song is part of the reason why the original song was a hit!

 But let me address another aspect.  A lot of people are now citing the "chord progressions can't be copyrighted" angle. The problem with is the progression itself isn't the song.  It's how the progression is played.

 3 chords can't belong to anybody.  Songwriting is the art of arranging musical components into a recognizable form.  In that respect I think it's a bit simplistic to fall back on this idea that anything you do that is harmonic somehow doesn't matter, that it's only melody.

 That's wrong.  Because.... A static chord is not the same as a progression.  A progression is harmonized melody.  Furthermore, if you arpeggiate a chord - you have a melody.

 Am G is just two chords.  Can't be copyrighted, right?

 What if you arpeggiate the Am with 1/8th notes and change to the G on beat 4?  

 I think you decided to make this the basis of "your" song - since it's just chords, can't be copyrighted - you'd still find Eddie Van Halen's lawyers at your door step.

 To the non-musically trained lay person, if you take just the bass notes from "Let's Get It On" and ask some random people "what song is this?" you would get the right answer.

 An assortment of chords alone is not a "song".  The way you arrange them definitely is!

 I claim that the rudimentary essence of "Let's Get It On" are the bass notes combined with the rhythm.  It is a MELODY ITSELF.  

 The notes to them are harmonies.  It doesn't matter that Gaye or Sheeran is singing the notes, or that they're decoupled from the rhythmic figure of the bass line: everything is harmony unless it's monophonic!



What Sheeran sings is a melody, what Gaye sings is a melody.  That doesn't mean that what the bass player plays isn't a melody.  The rote prescription that "chords can't be copyrighted" is effectively a useless statement, because chords are never unadorned, un-arranged or embelished.  

 1) what a "musical scholar" at Berklee thinks is immaterial.  Music is not written for him; it's written for people that are presumed to be uneducated in music. 

2) being able to define elements out of context, like in most things, logically should not be used as evidence of anything.  

3) Unless the music in question is MONOPHONIC, everything has to be taken into CONTEXT.

4) the chronology matters.  

 As far as I'm concerned, a single chord - if played with a certain rhythm - should be able to be copyrighted. My next blog post will explain my reasoning on that.