More Boogie Woogie education from darkblack- and the cutest dancing kitty ever

Boogie Woogie Basics
This is the second installment in 'darkblack educates VG about boogie woogie'. The first installment is here.
So, I had found another great kitteh YouTube, of a British Shorthair cat (kitten), with nice musical accompaniment.

And, the music sounded really familiar. It took me back to an email chat that darkblack and I had once upon a time, when I was first trying to learn my way around boogie woogie, when I first found this YouTube:

I have another music question for you darkblack-- boogie woogie reprise! Found a sweet kitty vid I am planning on using. THEN, got to listening to the music. Rang some memory bells from a discussion we had a long time ago about boogie, and then about Emerson and OP (Oscar Peterson).

I've listened multiple times to music on two YouTubes, but just can't make the call- is this the same "tune" in the kitty and Emerson/OP YouTubes? My guess is yes, but not a musician with the "ear".
darkblack responds:
No, it's not the same tune - but it is the same style (boogie-woogie 1-4-5 in musician's lingo) played in two different keys. (F in the kitteh video, and G in the Emerson/Oscar duet).

There are a lot of tunes and interpretations in this style...the right hand usually determines the melody.
wow db, I KNEW you had the ear. At least I got it right that the tunes were "somewhat similar" in style. The "melody" part totally escaped me- listening again to the two vids- yes, I can hear the melody in the kitty vid music, but I absolutely cannot hear it/ find it in the Emerson and OP versions.
darkblack said:
This contrast in style that you have presented us brings up an interesting point, VG...Whether such a natural rhythm can be duplicated by a machine. A cursory listen to the 'kitteh' soundtrack indicates to me that it is a playback of a MIDI file , the 21st century equivalent of a player piano.

When we contrast that with the live performance, right away one might hear a difference. Whether this is one of quality or some other state is relative to the listener, of course.
Would you explain more about how MIDI is used? How it works?
darkblack said:
Essentially, a MIDI (musical instrument digital interface) file is a series of codes that when entered into a playback device (synthesizer, for example) triggers sound samples sequentially within a song arrangement according to time code - 'music without musicians', if you will.

Take a closed 'high-hat' sample from a drumkit, as an example - Music programmers enter performance data that will make the sample of such a high-hat play at a predetermined rate and pattern, with subtle or dramatic variances in pitch and amplitude that are infinitely repeatable. This can then be expanded to other elements of drumkit, and other instruments as well.
I am really interested to know, though, why you thought that the kitty vid soundtrack was a MIDI production. Was it 'too perfect' or lacking in nuance? Or?
darkblack said:
The giveaway for me in hearing a performance is the similarity of samples. The easiest ones to spot are short and repetitious - drums and horn shots - but for me it is indeed the (good word, btw) nuance of a sample that is the tell when repeated.

In live performance, no note is truly the same...Infinite and intangible data such as vibrato, attack, pitch variance and timing are different, even with great and good players alike. This doesn't mar a performance, but rather enhances it due to the sonic interaction created. Some call it swing.

As to questions of 'too perfect' or lack of nuance, while that certainly could be said of MIDI playbacks in the '80's and 90's with the tech limits of that time, the quality of samples and technology available to the user today allows for far much more imagination...The ability to mimic a human performance is quite possible, given appropriate motivation and resources.
Now back to my very first question, where I asked you if it was the same "tune". Upon reflection, I wondered if there was a "good reason" I couldn't pick out the "melody" in the Emerson/OP video, especially in the Ocsar Peterson part- OP was "way out there" (?!) in terms of the "melody".

But, then again, isn't that part of "great jazz"? That the "melody" is danced around, played around, but only overtly played/ stated one or two times, with the dancing around, playing around, being the mastery?

darkblack said:
The deconstruction of melody inherent to a jazz performance could be indeed a topic for multiple posts, but let us see if we can get to the heart of the concept here. In the history of Jazz and improvisational music, recontextualizing melodic content within a shifting harmonic landscape is crucial, and the quality of one's 'on-the-fly' melodic reinterpretation separates the pros from the tyros.

The best examples, of course, are with pictures and sound, and thus I give you a master of the idiom, John Coltrane, with quartet playing My Favorite Things.

darkblack adds:
Note how the 'head' of the tune (the predominant melody over the chord changes) is never played the same way twice in this version. Also, how effortlessly McCoy Tyner and Eric Dolphy manipulate the same material within the performance.
VG: Wow. Thank you, darkblack for having the ear, and the patience to educate me further.

Sometime I'll tell you about my Weather Report airplane experience. ;)


  1. You're quite welcome, VG. It's always enjoyable to discuss music with one as enthusiastic as yourself.


  2. Hey db, I'm trying to remember how we started talking about music... I know it's "your thing" but not exactly mine.

    Hmmmm.... was it something about the Lizard King?

    And something about the Doors concert in 1968.... at the Hollywood Bowl?

    Like, I was there! ;) But I expect it will take a while for us to move from Boogie Woogie to The Doors. ;)

  3. Not with Ray Manzarek, it won't.


  4. some pretty interesting photos of Doors- type instruments here. Enjoy, db.


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