Daylight savings time ends today. Enjoy a little more sunshine every day!
My debut album Symphony for Two was released in 1994. It had 13 original songs including a piano arrangement of Shades of Blue, a jazz/blues ballad about a stormy romance. Originally written on the guitar, my producer James Pett decided on a piano arrangement. He raised it from the key of E minor to G minor.
Allen Cole was chosen to play the piano arrangement in the recording studio. I remember during rehearsals he was working on a grand piano that we'd "borrowed" to save on rehearsal costs. The piano unfortunately had one bum note which happened to be G. There was a funny sound when you hit this key. The kind of sound you get when one of the string pads needs repair. Allen had great fun hammering on it all afternoon, putting us in stitches several times.
Sample of Shades of Blue (piano arrangement).
Recently I decided to pull my original idea for this song's arrangement out of mothballs. Initially I'd intended Shades of Blue to be a deeply melancholic ballad, so it also made sense to return the song to it's original instrument: the guitar. I think the guitar innately has more overtones and subtle nuances. I started in the original key it was written in, E minor.
The key of E has always suited the tone of the guitar, but my vocal coach Pat Hawke had suggested I use my capo and to sing in keys that were best for my vocal range, and she'd taught me it's preferable to arrange a song for the singer, not the guitar. I decided to place a capo on the second fret and transposed it to F# minor. I don't think you can get any sadder than the key of F# minor!
Songwriting gets even more interesting when you delve into the realms of musical keys and their unique characteristics.
Predominantly this song revolves around a jazzy minor ninth chord form, with no fifth, and is inspired by the the classic jazz progression I, VI, II, V.
"I surrender to the summer breeze
That slips in through the curtains
The shadows draw memories
Shades of blue
When you’re gone . . .
When skies are stormy
And lovers part
It rains and rains
I forgive it all tonight
And my heart turns shades of blue
Shades of blue
When you’re gone . . ."
Shades of Blue © Lesley Young (SOCAN) 1994. All rights reserved.
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