“Cocaine Decisions” // analysis flashback


Frank Zappa

“Cocaine Decisions”

TAB by JC Maillet (c) 2004

posted April 9th 2004

minor edit Feb 21st 2017



Modal Basis for “Cocaine Decisions” – Very Rough Interpretation

This piece can be cut into four main modal/harmonic movements :

(1a) Modal movement in the fifth mode of the F Melodic Minor scale

(1b) Varition movement in the fifth mode of the Gb Melodic Minor
scale (half step up)

(2) Modal movement in the fourth mode of A Major, ie. in D lydian

(3) Dominant turn-around in the fifth mode of C Major, ie. G7

Some Background on The Fifth Mode of Melodic Minor

(Parent Scale) F melodic minor scale : F G Ab Bb C D E

Triads of the F melodic minor scale : Fmin Gmin Ab+ Bbmaj Cmaj Ddim Edim

… this gives the scale three sets of similar triads spaced a
whole tone apart:

F- and G- … Bb and C … Ddim Edim

7th Chords of the F melodic minor scale: F-maj7 G-7 Abmaj7+5 Bb7 C7 D-7b5 E-7b5

… this gives two parallel structures a whole tone apart:

Bb7 and C7 – two dominant chords (!) and D-7b5 and E-7b5 – two half-diminished
chords, related to the dominant chords which, superimposed, become Bb9 and C9
… and then there’s the super weirdo chord Abmaj7+5 … notice the front end
of the scale almost sounds like the dorian mode except for the maj7 on the F-
chord …

Movements

(1a) modal movement in the fifth mode of the F Melodic Minor scale

The tune starts out with a simple C major triad sound, bass stomping away –
keys mixed way in the back – harmonica playing minor blues licks in C (!) … so
from a general harmonix viewpoint there’s this blues mixing going on throughout
the tune on top of modal permutations … there’s three different types of C tonalities
going on in close viscinity – that’s some Harmonic Mixing in action !

… starts on a lead-in four bars long:

INTRO: || C | C | C | C ||

The first harmonic structure goes something like this …

|| Ddim/C | Ddim/C | C | C || x3

… using the following basic voicings for Ddim/C, C

—————————————————————————-
—–6——-5————————————————————–
—–7——-5————————————————————–
—–6——-5————————————————————–
—————————————————————————-
—-10——10————————————————————–

This alternating structure is repeated three times before moving onto the next
sections … to immitate the keyboards function guitar chords can be played
to follow the melody in some fashion – esp. in bars 7 and 8 of the [A] sections
(see below) …

(1b) slightly varied modal movement in the fifth mode of the Gb Melodic Minor
scale (half step up)

|| Db | EbDim/Db | Fdim/Db | EbDim/Db || x3

This movement uses the 5, 6 and 7 triads of Gb Melodic Minor over Db bass …

Db EbDim/C Fdim/C EbDim/C

—————————————————————————-
—–6——-7——-9——-7———————————————-
—–6——-8——10——-8———————————————-
—–6——-7——-9——-7———————————————-
—————————————————————————-
—–9——-9——-9——-9———————————————-

… on the second pass only two bars of this progression are played before going
to the next section

Db EbDim/C

—————————————————————————-
—–6——-7————————————————————–
—–6——-8————————————————————–
—–6——-7————————————————————–
—————————————————————————-
—–9——-9————————————————————–

(2) a modal movement in the fourth mode of A Major, ie. in D lydian

|| E/D | D | E/D | D | E/D | D || x1

E/D D

—————————————————————————-
——9——-7————————————————————–
——9——-7————————————————————–
——9——-7————————————————————–
—————————————————————————-
—–10——10————————————————————–

… on the fourth bar of this section the triads are inverted up following the
melody …

——————–s-12—-s-12—10–10–10–12–10——————–
—–7—10—12—-s-12—-s-12—10–10–10–12–10——————–
—–7—11—13—-s-13—-s-13—11–11–11–13–11——————–
—–7—12—14———————————————————–
—————————————————————————-
—-(10)——————————————————————–

(3) a modal runaround in the fifth mode of C Major, ie. G7

|| E-/G | D-/G || x1

—————————————————————————-
—–5——-3————————————————————–
—–4——-2————————————————————–
—–5——-3————————————————————–
—————————————————————————-
—–3——-3————————————————————–

Cocaine Decisions – Song Structure

[INTRO]
Cocaine de- …

|| C | ‘/. | ‘/. | ‘/. |

[A]

cisions …

| Ddim/C | ‘/. | C | ‘/. |

go job …

| Ddim/C | ‘/. | C | ‘/. |

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^last two bars emphasizes melody based chording

million … your way …

| Ddim/C | ‘/. | C | ‘/. |

[A]

high class …

| Ddim/C | ‘/. | C | ‘/. |

go job …

| Ddim/C | ‘/. | C | ‘/. |

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^last two bars emphasizes melody based chording

nothing … nose decay …

| Ddim/C | ‘/. | C | ‘/. |

[B]

I don’t wanna … but if …

| Db | EbDim/Db | Fdim/Db | EbDim/Db | Db | EbDim/Db |

madder …

| E/D | D | E/D | D | E/D | D |

la-la-la la-laaaa-la …

| E-/G | D-/G | C |

[C] (instrumental)

| Ddim/C | ‘/. | C | ‘/. |

| Ddim/C | ‘/. | C | ‘/. |

| Ddim/C | ‘/. | C | ‘/. |

| Ddim/C | ‘/. | C | ‘/. |

[B]

I don’t wanna … but if …

| Db | EbDim/Db | Fdim/Db | EbDim/Db | Db | EbDim/Db |

madder …

| E/D | D | E/D | D | E/D | D |

Cocaine de-

| E-/G | D-/G | C |

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^lead-in bar ?

[LAST VERSES / LEAD OUT]

cisions … lawyer …

| Ddim/C | ‘/. | C | ‘/. |

foyer …

| Ddim/C | ‘/. | C | ‘/. |

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^last two bars emphasizes melody based chording

be discovered … coc…

| Ddim/C | ‘/. | C | ‘/. |

| Ddim/C | ‘/. | C | ‘/. |

| Ddim/C | ‘/. | C | ‘/. |

| Ddim/C | ‘/. | C | ‘/. |

| Ddim/C | ‘/. | C | ‘/. |

… 16 or so more times till the end …


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