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Watch the Slippers online guitar lesson by Chris Buono from Funk Fission

When I was at William Paterson College in the early 90’s (before it was awarded University status) I studied theory concepts under the brilliant tutelage of Prof. Hugh Aiken. While the professor filled my burgeoning musical mind with plenty of valuable information, along with a fair amount of bad jokes, one statement was branded into my brain: “theory is hindsight Buono, let you ears be the final judge.” That’s by far one of the most significant statements ever said to me—thanks, Hugh!—and it applies big time to Slippers.

Part of the mystery behind Slippers is the intended use of the chords especially the initial six-string shebang I play at the get-go. After all that’s been presented throughout this course, your newly developed chordal knowledge, as well as your cultured ear, should identify that chord as an Em7(4/11). But alas, it’s not—this time around anyway. Slippers is based out of the tonal center of A, not E and honestly; it took someone else to point that out to me. You see, I had lost sight of Prof. Aiken’s message and let my brain do the listening so to speak. When I played the constructs of Slippers to bassist Steve Jenkins and asked him to compose a line in Em, he wrestled with it for a few minutes and then picked his head and said, “how about this?” and played a groove in Am against it. It was perfect—thanks Steve! Later in the day it hit me—Hugh was right once again, theory truly is hindsight.