I didn't invent this style. It had been shown to me by Lonnie Johnson, a jazz and blues musician. Lonnie took me aside one night and showed me a style of playing based on an odd instead of even number system. He had me play chords and he demonstrated how to do it.

I had the idea that he was showing me something secretive.

It's a highly controlled system of playing and relates to the notes of a scale, and how they combine numerically, how they form melodies out of the triplets and are axiomatic to the rhythm and the chord changes. I never used this style, didn't see that there be any purpose to it. But now all the sudden it came back to me, and I realized this way of playing would revitalise my world. The method works on higher and lower degrees depending on different pattern and the syncopation of a piece. Very few would be converted to it because it had nothing to do with technique and musicians work their whole lives to be technically superior players.

You probably wouldn't pay any attention to this method if you were not a singer.

The system works in a cyclical way. Because you're thinking in odd numbers instead of even numbers, you're usually playing with a different value system.

Popular music is usually based on the number 2, and then filled in with fabrics, colors, effects, and technical wizardry to make a point. But the total effect is usually depressing and oppressive and a dead end which at the most can only last in a nostalgic way.

If you're using an odd numerical system, things that strengthen a performance automatically begin to happen and make it memorable for the ages. You don't have to plan or think ahead.

In a diatonic scale there are eight notes, in a pentatonic scale there are five. If you're using the first scale, and you hit 2, 5, 7 to the phrase and then repeat it, a melody forms.

Or you can use 2 three times. Or you can use 4 once and 7 twice. It's infinite what you can do, and each time would create a different melody. The possibilities are endless.

A song executes itself on several fronts and you can ignore musical customs. All you need is a drummer and a bass player, and all shortcomings become irrelevant as long as you stick with the system.

With any type of imagination you can hit notes at intervals and between backbeats, creating counterpoint lines and then you can sing off of it.

There's no mystery to it and it's not a technical trick. The scheme is for real. For me, this style would be most advantageous, like a delicate design that would arrange the structure of whatever piece I was performing. The listener would recognize and fell the dynamics immediately.

Things could explode or retreat back at any time and there would be no way to predict the consciousness of any song. And because this works on its own mathematical formula, it can't miss. I'm not a numerologist. I don't know why the number 3 is more metaphysically powerful than the number 2, but it is.

Passion and enthusiasm aren't even necessary. You can manufacture faith out of nothing and there are an infinite number of patterns and lines that connect form key to key - all deceptively simple.

You gain power with the least amount of effort, trust that the listeners make their own connections, and it's very seldom that they don't.

Miscalculations can also cause no serious harm. As long as you recognize it, you can turn the dynamic around architecturally in a second.

Also, you don't need to feel any certain way to play like this. It doesn't run on emotion. I thought of it as a new form of music. Strict and orthodox, the opposite of improvisation.

I'm not that good at math, but I do know that the universe is formed with mathematical principles whether I understand them or not, and I was going to let that guide me."

(Bob Dylan, Chronicals)


A "triplet" is a group of three notes played against even time (4/4).

Often, musicians will say that a crotchet is one beat, however, this is not always correct, as the beat is indicated by the time signature of the music. In other words, a crochet is a signature, and a signature is not just one beat, but a beat in relation to another beat, wth those two beats sometimes in relation to a third.