Picture if you will, a major second interval on the top two strings anywhere
above the 15th fret, and then play it.
Chances are, any musically minded listener
within earshot (yourself included) will chime
in and complete the rest of a classic TV theme.
But what if I told you that “DO-do-do-do,
DO-do-do-do” was actually “do DO-do-do-do,
Are you ready to enter a musical Twilight
Zone—literally? Our penultimate “Where’s
one?” puzzle comes from the instantly recognizable
opening riff from the third season of
one of television’s longest running series, and
the story behind it comes from studio giant
Tommy Tedesco, who, along with Howard
Roberts, played on the original 1962 recording
session. The now-iconic T.Z. Theme, which
inspired numerous knockoffs and tributes,
from The Marketts’ “Out of Limits” (which
also featured Tedesco on guitar) to the Manhatten
Transfer’s “Twilight Zone/Twilight
Tone,” and was re-imagined by the Grateful
Dead in 1985, came from the mind of French
composer Marius Constant and was reportedly
the very last submission to be auditioned
before a next-day deadline.
Melodically speaking, this is one clever
mofo of a motif. It’s fairly easy to figure out
the correct notes—we’ve got a repetitive 3-4-
3-root lick in the key of E (G#-A-G#-E) topped
with a b5 (Bb) pedal tone. But played together
as steady eighth-notes, these combine to produce
the three most dissonant intervals in
the chromatic scale—a major second, a minor
second (followed by another major second),
and a flatted fifth—giving the intro its characteristic
Rhythmically speaking, well that’s a whole
’nother story. Everybody—and I mean everybody—
who has heard this figure reckons
that it starts on the downbeat—beat one—
as shown in Ex. 1, which has been notated
with hybrid picking for easier playability. The
problem is…that’s completely bass-ackwards.
This is where Mr. Tedesco sets the record
straight. At G.I.T. in 1978, Tommy recalled
that on his chart, the guitar figure began
with an eighth-note pickup on the and of beat
four, and not on beat one, as notated—this
time on the top two strings only—in Ex. 2 .
(The tricky fingering also raises the possibility
that Roberts and Tedesco split the lick
into two parts.) This simple rhythmic displacement
turns all of the downbeats into
upbeats and vice versa—a revelation bound
to blow many a mind.
Of course, this only matters in an ensemble
context—played as a stand-alone line,
it makes absolutely no difference how you
hear it. It just is, and that’s exactly how it
should be…in the Twilight Zone.
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