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  • Morse was born in Ohio in 1954, and eventually moved to Georgia where he attended high school. Once learning the piano and clarinet, Steve Morse became interested in guitar, and formed a small group called the Dixie Grit. Most of the bands material covered popular groups of the sixties, including Led Zeppelin and Cream. The Dixie Grit played local coffee shops and sometimes school dances. Steve Morse commented on how the town they lived in “loved and hated” the Dixie Grit. Most of the crowd they played for in the coffee shops enjoyed all their music. When they played at dances, they were hated because the music they played was not acceptable at the time for a dance.Image from:
  • While in the 10th grade, Morse was expelled from his high school for refusing to cut his hair. He then enrolled at the University of Miami’s School of Music to expand his knowledge of music. From his studies, he formed the beginnings of his first major group, the Dixie Dregs.
  • Throughout the seventies, the Dregs had a tough time getting record companies to give them enough attention to put out an album. They were finally able to get a contract through the well known Allman Brothers, who were able to talk their record company into signing them on. In the late seventies, the band had released 3 albums, and only toured through the United States, except in 1979 when they were invited to perform at the infamous Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. Throughout the eighties, there were many changes for Steve Morse and the Dixie Dregs. Primarily an instrumental band, their record label wanted them to become more appealing and invite guest musicians and singers to record on an album. The sales changed very little on this new approach, and eventually the Dregs disbanded. Image from:
  • In the mid-eighties, Morse began working on a solo career. Two albums were released, and he took his music around the world. Most notably, the Steve Morse Band performed as an opening act for the very well known rock trio, Rush. In 1986, Steve was invited to join the rock group Kansas. Morse played on two albums with Kansas, as well as touring for each album. Although he left the group after the tour for the second album, he rejoined Kansas during their 1991 tour. To break away from music and the spotlight for a time, Steve became a commercial airline pilot. Although he was only a professional pilot for a time, once going back into music, he occasionally flew the band himself between shows.
  • In the mid-nineties, Steve Morse joined with the well known hard rock group Deep Purple, most well known for their song “Smoke on the Water”. As a fan of the music, Morse was able to easily fit in with the songs, and was able to convince the rest of the band to play songs as they originally did on the albums.  Throughout the nineties and up through today, Morse has toured with Deep Purple, and released 4 studio albums. The Steve Morse Band also released 4 albums in the last 10 years, and have constantly toured. When touring with the Steve Morse Band, the group is complimented by Morse’s other band, the Dixie Dregs. Steve and bass player Dave LaRue play for both groups each night on tour. Image source:
  • “Runaway Train” (3:06) “Runaway Train” was released on the album Coast to Coast in 1992, as the Steve Morse Band’s third studio album. The album was released under Steve Morse’s own record company, Dregs Music, BMI. On the album, Morse works alongside Dave LaRue on bass and Van Romaine on drums. The name of the album, Coast to Coast, comes from how everything was recorded. Morse notes that the album was started in California, with the drums and most bass tracks completed in his garage. Partway through the album, Morse moved to Florida, taking all of his recording gear with him. The remainder of the album was recorded in his new home in Florida. This album has a very wide range of music. “Runaway Train” is a very unique piece on the album, as the sound has a country/bluegrass theme, honoring his past from living in the southern United States. Image source: “StressFest” (3:50) The song “StressFest”, released on the album bearing the same name, shows Morse’s ability to play heavier songs. LaRue and Romaine both appear again on this 1996 release, this time completely recorded in Steve’s home in Florida. The writing of this particular song effectively demonstrates Steve Morse’s change in sound, working more with hard rock sounds rather than more southern tones. Just two years before this release, the guitarist became a member of hard rock group Deep Purple, which is most likely the main reason Morse moved towards the hard rock sound on the album.Image source:
  • “Busybodies” (2:29) In 2002, the Steve Morse Band released Split Decision. The album included a very wide range of music, including the song “Busybodies”. Again, Morse is on guitar along with Romaine on drums and LaRue on bass, recorded in his home studio in Florida. In the liner notes of Split Decision, Morse says that the influence of “Busybodies” comes directly from Johann Sebastian Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto. He notes that he has a recording of the concerto playing in his pick-up truck at all times, because Bach is a major influence in Morse’s compositions.  Image source: “Flight of the Osprey” (3:19) In 2009, the Steve Morse Band’s latest release, Outstanding in their Field, was the first release since 2002’s Split Decision. The album went back to the sounds of StressFest, and included heavier material. The song “Flight of the Osprey” begins with Morse alone on a nylon-string guitar playing a very classical-style theme. The song then continues with the rest of the band, LaRue on bass and Romaine on drums again. The rest of the song has a heavy and faster rhythm, but the melody/lead guitar changes from a calm beginning to a very fast paced ending. The song also includes a call and return solo section between the guitar and bass. Image source:
  • “Old World” (2:04) With the Dixie Dregs signing onto their new label, they were able to release the album Dregs of the Earth in 1980. The song “Old World” features a duet between Steve Morse on an acoustic guitar, and violinist Allen Sloan. The song is very reminiscent of music from the medieval era, something that could be heard by street performers. Image source:
  • Dream Theater’s latest album, Black Clouds and Silver Linings was released in 2009. Even though the group has never gained much mainstream attention, they are still considered very talented and influential in both rock and metal. With their latest release, the group was able to pass off something that has probably never happened. The album contained only 6 songs, and four of them were over 12 minutes long. The album was placed at number 6 on the Billboard 200. The chart rates the top 200 albums by the number of record sales.The longest song on the record, “The Count of Tuscany” is one of my favorites. The lyrics portray an experience from the guitarist, when he visited a count while in Italy. Musically, this song is also very unique. The song uses a certain structure that will is used throughout the entire composition. Image source:
  • 0:00 Theme A – The song begins with a single guitar, playing an arpeggio of notes, letting them ring out as long as possible. This lets the opening sound full and complete, without any empty spaces in the music. This opening section is important to the song, as it creates a basic structure for the rest of the music. If you listen closely, most of the song will follow the tonal pattern of this opening section.0:29 Guitar Solo – The electric guitar is introduced into the song, with a very heavily distorted sound and plenty of reverb and delay. The original clean guitar from the beginning is still playing Theme A.1:03 Theme B – After the final note of the guitar solo rings out, the clean guitar begins Theme B. notice though, that the theme is somewhat similar to Theme A, but played differently. Harmonics are used to give the sound a different texture. After this section though, the harmonics will no longer be used.1:23 Theme B w/ Full Band – the clean guitar switches to a distorted electric guitar sound. The theme is still played the same, but without the harmonics. The rest of the band has also joined into the song. The drums are doing full scales down the tom-toms, and the bass guitar is holding notes at the tonic root of the section.1:43 Theme B w/ Melody – A new melody is introduced with the keyboards. The rest of the band continues to play Theme B
  • 2:01 Theme B Variation – As the keyboard continues to play the new melody, the rest of the band slightly change the underlying theme. The sound is not as full, and has more of a hard rock feel to the music.2:18 Theme B w/ Solo Spot – The keys and guitar break into a solo spot, both playing a very complex and fast part. To make it even more difficult, it is played as unison, which is difficult for many musicians to even attempt.2:36 Theme A – The beginning theme returns, but with the full band in action. On top of the band, the keyboard plays a very much embellished version of this theme.3:02 Theme A w/ Solo Spot – Another solo spot for the band, and again this is a unison. The arpeggios of this section descend, but each arpeggio starts at a higher root. The bass guitar and drums play a somewhat faster version of Theme A. At the end of this section, the band scales down to transition into the lower registers of the next sections.3:19 Bridge / Theme C Variation – This section acts as a bridge to move into the main song, and also to allude to the music of the first verses. The first part of this bridge is just the chords of Theme C, without any fill-notes for rhythm. The keyboard then joins in with a harmony on top of the theme. After the keys begin, the rest of the band begins playing a variation of theme that resembles it even more. Between chords, the guitarist palm mutes the low E string to give a sense of rhythm, and give more texture to the song. After the variation, the band breaks into a unison again, this time imitating what the keyboard was playing earlier in this section. The music then completely goes silent, providing a break to move onto the first verses.
  • 3:55 Theme C – The most notable section of the song is Theme C. The section alternates between two different time signatures, 5/4 and 4/4. This enables the guitar to play a specific pattern unique to this song. Listening to the chords, they appear in separations of 1-3-1-2. Between each power chord is a flurry of muted notes on the open low-E string. 4:22 Verse 1 – Finally, after over 4 minutes of listening, the lyrics appear. Most popular music today would have already started on a second song by now. The lyrics are played on top of Theme C. Several years ago, In a foreign town, Far away from home, I met the Count of Tuscany.4:33 Verse 2 – Again, over Theme C. A young eccentric man, Bred from royal blood, Took me for a ride, Across the open country side.4:45 Verse 3 / Theme D – A new theme is introduced. This time, the main notes move in an upward arch, and then back down, but in a very short time period between lyric lines. Between the arcs, muted notes are used as rhythm. Get into my car, Let’s go for a drive, Along the way I’ll be your guide, Just step inside.4:56 Verse 4 – This verse continues with Theme D, But only one repetition, instead of two as in Verse 3. Maybe you recall, A cannibal curator, A character inspired by my brother’s life.5:09 Verse 5 – Theme C returns, in the same manner as verses 1 and 2. Winding through the hills, The city far behind, On and on we drove, Down narrow streets and dusty roads.5:20 Verse 6 – Again, over Theme C. At last we came upon, A picturesque estate, On sprawling emerald fields, An ancient world of times gone by.5:31 Verse 7 / Theme E – This section moves up on the register a bit, but still keeps the dark mood feel. This theme is repeated twice on Verse 7. Let me introduce, My brother, A bearded gentleman, Historian; Sucking on his pipe, Distinguished accent, Making me uptight, No accident.
  • 5:52 Chorus – This is the closest the song comes to a chorus section. Multiple voices come in on each “I” that starts each section of the chorus, but everywhere else in the chorus, the lyrics are different. I want to stay alive, Everything about this place, Just doesn’t feel right; I, I don’t want to die, Suddenly I’m frightened for my life.6:11 Chorus – A repeat of the last chorus, but all the lyrics are different except for the “I” that appears with backing vocals. I want to say goodbye, This could be the last time, You see me alive; I, I may not survive, Knew it, From the moment we arrived.6:31 Bridge / Theme C Variation – The bridge and variation of Theme C reappear, but with slightly different structuring. After the first repetition of the variation, the keyboards, guitar, and bass guitar all join into a unison of the melody that is played on top of the Theme C Variation. After the unison, the song returns to variation without the muted rhythm notes, and another silence appears to separate the next section of the song.7:10 Verse 8 / Theme C Var. 2 – Another variation of Theme C. this time, similar to the first time it appeared, only power chords are played, without any of the rhythm muted notes in between. On the drums, the bass drum is played to follow the beat, while the snare and china cymbal are played on a different time signature, creating a very complex point-counterpoint feel. Would you like to see, Our secret holy place? I come here late at night, To pray to him by candlelight, Then peering through the glass, I saw with disbelief, Still dressed in royal clothes, The saint behind the altar.7:31 Verse 9 / Theme C Var. 3 – Another take on the C theme, this time played faster using single notes in place of chords. History recalls, During times of war, Legend has been traced, Back inside these castle walls.7:40 Verse 10 – Played just like Verse 9 with variation 3 of the C theme. Where soldiers came to hide, In barrels filled with wine, Never to escape, These tombs of oak, Are where they died.7:50 Verse 11 / Theme E – The E theme could be considered a bridge in the song, even though it appears multiple times before the chorus line. Down the cellar stairs, I disappear, Like the angel’s share, The end is near; Come and have a taste, A rare vintage, All the finest wines, Improved with age.
  • 8:10 Chorus – The chorus has now reappeared, with the same lyrics as the original appearance. I want to stay alive, Everything about this place, Just doesn’t feel right; I, I don’t want to die, Suddenly I’m frightened for my life.8:29 Chorus – I want to say goodbye, This could be the last time, You see me alive; I, I may not survive, Knew it, From the moment we arrived.8:48 Instrumental Bridge – The bridge from 6:31 reappears here, to transition from the lyrical section of the song to the instrumental section. The bridge then transforms into the beginning of the solo sections, with a keyboard section reappearing over the top of the bridge.9:21 Instrumental Section – The previous section continues, but with a much heavier guitar riff, and the keyboards changing to a more synthesizer sound.9:37 Unison 1 – The band now moves into a full unison section, that includes the guitar, bass, and keyboards all playing a similar passage. This is where the group’s full technical abilities are established.9:55 Unison 2 – Continuing with the previous unison section, the keyboard is now playing a more embellished version of what the other two instruments are playing underneath. The section ends with a full scale downwards, both with the tone and tempo, to transition to the guitar solo.10:16 Guitar Solo – The tempo is slowed down from the rest of the song. Although I cannot recognize the key a song is in, but to me, it sounds like the solo is played in a minor key. The notes of the guitar are slowly ascending up to reach the final note of the section. The entire solo is slower, and is not a major show of the musician’s technical ability. It mostly gives a nice transition to the next section. Underneath the solo, the rest of the band is playing a slow, yet somewhat heavier part, continuing with the minor-like key.
  • 11:00 Interlude – Once the final note of the frantic instrumental section fades out, a single synthesizer quietly plays ambient sounds in the background. In the foreground, a guitar with heavy distortion and a lot of delay comes in, playing a melodic and simple melody. Many of the sounds heard from this section are imitations of previous and forthcoming themes of the song. The technical ability of this section is not as noticeable in this section, but many guitarists know the difficulty of what is being played. In order to soften the sound of the notes played, the guitarist must use a volume pedal to create the ‘swell’. If the swell begins to early, a loud pluck is heard, and it is especially amplified through the strong echo of the effects on the guitar. Some of the notes in the Interlude are played fairly quickly, but are still played perfectly and cleanly with the volume swells.
  • 14:17 Theme F / Pre-verse – An acoustic guitar enters alone, playing Theme F. This theme has a similar structure as previous themes, with the same tonal pattern throughout. This theme also is a preview to the final verses of the song.14:47 Verse 12 – Continuing with the F theme, the vocals come back into the song. Could this be the end? Is this the way I die? Sitting here alone, No one by my side.15:02 Verse 13 – Played with the same theme and melody as the previous verse. I don’t understand, I don’t feel that I deserve this, What did I do wrong? I just don’t understand.15:18 Pre-Verse – The keyboard and drums re-enter the song, while the acoustic guitar continues with Theme F. The keyboard plays a triplet of what sounds like a harp on the upper registers, and soon enters with piano chords on the lower registers. The drums enter lightly with a simple pattern on the ride cymbal, with a fill just before the next verse.15:33 Verse 14 – Now with the full band playing, the lyrics come in again. The song is becoming more and more intense as it builds up to the finale. Give me one more chance, Let me please explain, It’s all be circumstance, I’ll tell you once again.15:46 Verse 15 – Continuing with the same beat from the previous verse. You took me for a ride, Promising a vast adventure, Next thing that I know, I’m frightened for my life.
  • 16:01 Verse 16 – The electric guitar now enters, replacing the acoustic guitar. The rest of the band is still playing the same as before, but with even more intensity. Now wait a minute man, That’s not how it is, You must be confused, That isn’t who I am.16:15 Verse 17 – continuing from the previous verse, this one has been extended, adding an extra line on the lyrics. This provides the musicians a way to play something differently, so the parts do not sound the same every single time. Please don’t be afraid, I would never try to hurt you, This is how we live, Strange although it seems, Please try to forgive.16:30 Verse 18 – Again with the more intense version of Theme F, a symphony has been added to the sound, creating an even fuller sound. The chapel and the saint, The soldiers and the wine, The fables and the tales, All handed down through time.16:44 Verse 19 – For the final verse, the music has become very powerful, giving its own emotion to the music outside of the lyrics. This verse has also been extended, with the final line naming the main character of the story, as well as the title of the song. Of course you’re free to go, Go and tell the world my story, Tell about my brother, Tell them about me, The Count of Tuscany.
  • 16:59 Theme A / Final Guitar Solo – As the final words of the lyrics ring out, the band switches back to Theme A, from the beginning of the song. The only difference is now the entire band is playing, instead of the singular guitar. The guitar solo is also very similar to the first solo at the beginning of the song, with a little more embellishment of the melody. 17:28 Vocal ‘Solo’ – The singer returns to the song, now only to add a melody line on top of Theme A. underneath the singer, the band is playing more intensely. A choir and symphony is added on the synthesizers, and the drums are doing more fills as a show of the players’ technical ability.17:55 Theme B – The second theme of the song returns to close everything out. With a choir, violins, electric guitars, and large drum fills, a very powerful feeling is attached to the ending of the song.18:15 End – With the final note, the song comes to a close, as it all rings out, and the calming sounds of the sea come in, the listener is brought back to the melodic and smooth beginning of the song.

Presentation Presentation Presentation Transcript

  • Steve Morse
    Biography
  • Steve Morse
    Born in Ohio in 1954.
    Grew up playing the piano and clarinet.
    After learning how to play guitar, formed the Dixie Grit in high school.
    The band had a “love-hate” relationship with the town.
    View slide
  • Expelled from school for refusing to cut his hair.
    Enrolled at the University of Miami School of Music.
    Formed the Dixie Dregs .
    ADD A DREGS TRACK HERE….
    View slide
  • Dixie Dregs
    Always had a tough time getting attention
    After releasing 3 albums, the band was able to play at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1979.
    After some changes in the musical approach, the Dregs eventually disbanded.
  • After the Dregs…
    Began working on his solo project.
    Joined up with Kansas for a few years.
    Dropped out of music to become an airline pilot.
    Later, Morse flew his band between gigs.
    ADD KANSAS OR SMB MUSIC HERE
  • Deep Purple
    Following Ritchie Blackmore’s departure, Morse joined up with Deep Purple.
    Easily fit in with his love for the music.
    Continued with his solo project on the side.
  • Steve Morse
    Composition History
  • Composition History
    “Runaway Train”
    Steve Morse Band
    Coast to Coast (1992)
    “StressFest”
    Steve Morse Band
    StressFest (1996)
  • Composition History
    “Busybodies”
    Steve Morse Band
    Split Decision (2002)
    “Flight of the Osprey”
    Steve Morse Band
    Outstanding in their Field (2009)
  • Composition History
    “Old World”
    Dixie Dregs
    Dregs of the Earth (1980)
  • Listening Guide
    Dream Theater
    “Count of Tuscany”
    Black Clouds & Silver Linings (2009)
  • Dream Theater
    Never had any major mainstream attention.
    Latest release topped out at #6 on the Billboard 200.
    Most of the music does not conform to today’s popular music structure.
    More closely follows classical and baroque musical structures.
  • Count of Tuscany
    0:00 Theme A
    0:29 Guitar Solo
    1:03 Theme B - similar to Theme A
    1:23 Theme B w/Full Band
    1:43 Theme B w/Melody - First melody introduced
  • Count of Tuscany
    2:01 Theme B Variation
    2:18 Theme B w/Solo
    2:36 Theme A – return to the opening segment
    3:02 Theme A w/Solo
    3:19 Bridge/Theme C Variation – Beginning of the main themes
  • Count of Tuscany
    3:55 Theme C
    4:22 Verse 1 – Finally some lyrics!
    4:33 Verse 2
    4:45 Verse 3/Theme D
    4:56 Verse 4
    5:09 Verse 5
    5:20 Verse 6
    5:31 Verse 7
  • Count of Tuscany
    5:52 Chorus
    6:11 Chorus
    6:31 Bridge / Theme C Var.1
    7:10 Verse 8 / Theme C Var.2
    7:31 Verse 9 / Theme C Var. 3
    7:40 Verse 10
    7:50Verse 11/Theme E
  • Count of Tuscany
    8:10 Chorus
    8:29 Chorus
    8:48 Instrumental Bridge – Transition into the instrumental parts.
    9:21 Instrumental Section
    9:37 Unison 1 – Guitar, Keys and Bass.
    9:55 Unison 2
    10:16 Guitar Solo – Much slower, calmer.
  • Count of Tuscany
    11:00 Interlude – A break from the heavy and frantic song
  • Count of Tuscany
    14:17 Theme F / Pre-Verse – Notice how it follows Theme A
    14:47 Verse 12
    15:02 Verse 13
    15:18 Pre-Verse
    15:33 Verse 14
    15:46 Verse 15
  • Count of Tuscany
    16:01 Verse 16 – Full band now enters.
    16:15 Verse 17 – Extended verse.
    16:30 Verse 18
    16:44 Verse 19 – Extended final verse.
  • Count of Tuscany
    16:59 Theme A / Final Solo – Return to opening theme.
    17:28 Vocal Solo
    17:55 Theme B – Return to the second opening theme
    18:15 End