Watch the Lonely Blue Angel online guitar lesson by John Stowell from Modern Chord Melody
Lonely Blue Angel - Breakdown
As with many of my tunes, this piece starts with a simple melody and some repeated motifs that tie things together compositionally. The opening phrase in 5/4 has notes that are all contained in a basic E minor scale, and has kind of a bluesy feel. As a result, I try to contrast that vibe with a bit of abstraction, hence the odd meter. The open low E string is used as a pedal; a combination of my pick and remaining three fingers allows me to balance the notes of the chords, subtly accentuating the top (melody) note. My right hand technique allows me to easily isolate notes on non-adjacent strings as well. I'm going for a pianistic effect, and I use this technique when comping behind a soloist as well; I've also found applications when executing inner voice movements inside a chord.
This tune began with the idea of taking two basic inversions of a major 7th chord (one of them lydian) and moving them to different places on the neck, all in relation to an E minor chord. The resulting sounds and colors (Em 6/9, Em 9#5) make for some subtle harmonic moves that sound unusual and accesible at the same time due to the simple melody. I think that this tune is quite singable. In fact I've performed and recorded it with several vocalists, and Cheryl Hodge has written a nice lyric that fits the music very well.