Category Archives: Jackie King

Expect the Unexpected!

It’s funny how performing for TV is at least a little more tense than many of the other medias. One reason is that they don’t like doing more than one take and, of course, in live-recorded TV shows you usually can’t do more than one take.

I did a Willie Nelson CBS special in Austin once with a live audience and I thought it would be funny to show up right before the show with a sling around my arm just to see Willie’s reaction. When he saw the sling, I quickly figured out maybe it wasn’t as funny to him as it was to me, especially when his face turned pale white. So I took off the sling and started laughing right away, saying, ” There’s really nothing wrong with my arm.” We both had a good laugh. But he got me back… Continue reading

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Let’s Honk!

Hi Friends,

Today I would like to start us on a musical adventure that will blow all of our minds and end – where? Nobody knows.

First let me define a couple of things. There are basically two kinds of music. Tonal and Non-Tonal. Tonal music, Key-center music, and Diatonic music, are all names for music in keys. All music that is composed, played, or heard in keys is called Tonal music. Non-Tonal music is music that has no key center relationship and is not written in keys. There are many systems for writing both Tonal and Non-Tonal music. These are called techniques of composition.

When I was a teenager in Texas, my friends and I would get together and jam. There were a lot of good musicians in San Antonio at that time and we would have a kind of jam session we would call Honking. 

So here’s how you Honk. First of all it doesn’t matter how good or bad, or what level of music or musicianship you’re at. And that’s one of the things that makes Honking so interesting.  

You have to forget every preconceived notion of music you know. Forget about harmony, melody, rhythm, and everything you would normally use to play. The real meaning of the word educate is “to bring forth from within”.

So start playing with absolutely no rules. The hardest part of Honking is to start. Just play something. Anything you want. Loud, soft, one note, lots of notes, etcetera. It is truly improvising free-form.

In those late night Texas sessions we would all start playing together anything and any way we wanted. The result is just pure music. It can be haunting, funny, slow, fast, complex, simple, etcetera – but it’s straight from your soul and it’s amazing what can come out.

Many 20th century composers invented lots of compositional techniques to destroy key center identity: Serial music, Twelve Tone, Pan-Diatonicism, and many others. Honking is probably the most primal form of non-Tonal compositional techniques.

So here’s what I’d really like from you. Join me in this adventure.

I want as many people as possible to just play ten seconds and send it to me. We’ll put it all together and we’ll all be creating music together simultaneously and we’ll be able to see and hear what we get. I’ll add my ten seconds, we’ll listen to and talk about it all and keep going. 

When you take two songs and play them together you get neither song. Instead, you get a third song. Honking is a lot of fun. It’s exciting, and an inspirational music experience.

What I’m really excited about is that this is the first time Honking will be done in cyberspace, world-wide. Wow! This could be the start of something big. (I mean musically of course. I’ve never cared much for the influence of money on music – it can really get in the way of your soul expressing itself.)

So, let’s honk!


P.S. David Underwood and I have a couple of CDs out with a track of two guitars doing a free improvisation together. If you’d like, I’ll make it available to you for free. The rest of it is me improvising over classical music (such as Bach, played by David Underwood, but that’s a whole other technique we can talk about sometime.) FYI, I’ve finally reached a point in my career and life where I don’t have to sell my music. So I’m not trying to sell anything to you here – just offering to share.

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The Ionian Mode

OK…Finally ready to talk and play with you, my friends, on a regular basis, after sparring with my new PC (instead of the friendlier Mac). Got to stop trying to play an E chord on the key pad when trying to type the word E Major – LOL ! 

I should define a few terms that lots of us may not be familiar with, or have a different idea of the meaning. Somewhere back in time Pythagoras, and some others probably (since many people seem to come up with the same idea at the same time) decided to use the Ionian Mode as the formula to create key center music, or music in keys.  

Think there is something to that thing about Pythagoras students playing something on their instruments and stopping an epileptic seizure, then disappearing back into the crowd?! 

Anyway; the Ionian mode is the major scale, which is used to create a key. A key is 7 notes used to make 7 chords and 7 modes. C D E F G A B C is the C major scale or the C Ionian mode. Each note is called a degree of the scale and represents a chord. The fifth chord is called a dominant chord. Someone asked me what a dominant chord is. Any chord that has a letter with a number to the fight of it (usually a 7 is a dominant chord for example C7 is a dominant chord. A dominant chord has a flatted 7th. The dominant chord, the major chord and the minor chord are the only ways that harmony can function in key center music. However, any chord can be used for any other chord if you know which one to use. That’s one thing we will talk about next. 

Now, lets play a game. It’s called pick a card, I mean pick a chord. I’ll name a chord. Then you (and everybody can play)name a chord. Any kind of chord you want just don’t give it a letter name. In other words, any chord at all like minor7, or Half diminished, or 7#9, or augmented 5th. Any type of chord altered or unaltered and I will tell you which one can be used for my chord, then I will tell you why it works for my chord. Like I say  G7 is my chord and you ask which half diminished chord works for G7 and I tell you which one and why. Or you could ask which major7 chord works for G7 or which minor7 or which 7#5 – get it? OK, all of you hit me. Ready? My chord is G7. GO!

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Triune System of Composition

Dear Inda-beings,

I want to talk a little bit about a
system of composition which I have been developing for many years now, which
has helped me and many other people to reach breakthroughs and understandings
about music – harmony, improvisation, and all areas of playing and writing
music. It’s called the Triune System of Composition.

I think of the most important parts
of music as being divided into three’s. For example: rhythm, melody and harmony
are the three essential elements that make music. In fact the word triune in
music means music that has a threefold function.

All music that is played in keys is
called key center, diatonic, or tonal music. The definition of music in keys
is: Major-Minor-Triadic Modality. That means that all music played in keys can
have only two harmonic functions: Major or Minor. This is the basis of
harmonization in key centered music.

Because Dominant chords are so
distinct in their sound, I think of them as a third harmonic function. So when
we play music in keys, which is the majority of the music we play, everything
we play must function as a Major, Minor, or Dominant harmony.

The secret, however, is that they
are all interchangeable. One may use a Major chord for a Minor or a Dominant
chord, or a Minor for a Major or a Dominant chord, or vice versa. You just have
to know which ones to use.

Well here’s the trick: when I play
a Dominant chord, which Major or Minor chord can I substitute for it? Or, in
other words, what Major and Minor chord are the equivalents of that Dominant

Here it is:

C Major is equivalent to A Minor
and D Dominant. Try playing any kind of A Minor or C Major chord or lick
against a D Dominant chord.

Try these variations and play, for
example, a blues scale in A Minor over a D 7th chord or a C Major 7th arpeggio, which is C, E, G, B over a D 7th chord.

So let me know if you have
questions, and some of the things you come up with and I’ll continue next week.

See you soon,


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Creation of Inspiration

I’m sitting on the back porch of a
house on a 500-acre ranch in the beautiful hill country of Texas. It’s outside
of a little town named Boerne, about 25 miles west from San Antonio.

All I can see is gorgeous rolling
hills and trees and I realize how important it is to have a little soul time,
alone to your self.

Your mind just stretches out as far
as you can see – and farther. It takes in so many things you might never think
of or perceive. This is true inspiration and creativity.

We should all make it happen in our
lives on a regular basis. And it can happen anywhere. When thought and feeling
come together, creation happens.

We’re constantly creating.

So let’s create together.


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