“A Life Unfolds” first appeared on the “The next step” recording from 2001 and then again on the live recording “The Remedy - Live at the Village Vanguard”. The introductions on these two versions are very different from each other. We’re going to be looking at the version from “The Remedy - Live at the Village Vanguard”.
The intro is based on an improvisation with triads, starting off by moving though the cycle of fifths. Patrick Allers send me the transcription you see below.
Download as .PDF
As you can see Kurt moves as little as possible to get to the next chord inversion. After this first part Kurt pretty much just plays with triads for the next 2 minutes. Back in 2005 when I heard Kurt at a masterclass in Denmark, he talked about the intro.
I usually play an introduction to this tune and I think of it totally separately as its own little piece. I feel very free to do anything that strikes me at the moment, but lately I’ve been working with these open triads. I’ve been really fascinated with the cycle of fifths over the last year. One thing that really intrigues me about the cycle of fifths is that you can move through it in ways that, kind of, makes it sound like you’re not really changing. And yet, you can move very far away from where you started.
If you go from G to C, then you’re making G kind of a dominant to C. And if you have a G dominant, you have an F triad over G.When Kurt lands on C, he then does the same thing to move to F using Bb and C triads. So basically he’s improvising over V-IV-I where I becomes the dominant in the new “key”. I've created the image below to illustration what's happening.
Here is the 3.35 minutes audio clip from the masterclass where Kurt demonstrates and talks over what turns into the intro.
- Download as .MP3
Pretty cool - I love how he’s able to put such a no-abstract exercise into beautiful music.
At this masterclass I also had a chance to glimpse the actual sheet that the band was using. Of course I took “a glimpse” with my phone camera too.