Interpreting Stanley Jordan’s “Stairway to Heaven”

Introduction

The performance of Stanley Jordan in “stairway to heaven” was reminiscent of Andy Mckee’s song “drifting” in that both musicians utilized a two handed strumming style when playing yet in the case of McKee he uses a classic wooden guitar while Jordan uses electrical based one.

Overall the performance was truly fascinating, it possessed a dynamic sound that was soft and soulful yet brought about thoughts of happier times rather than the moments of deep reflection soul music brings about. Its timbre was somewhat soft and mellow with what was apparently a quadruple meter with the chords harmoniously coming together to produce a soft yet stimulating sound.

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What is notable about the song itself is that it seemed to possess a rather even “Grave tempo” that was maintained from start to finish with only a slight decrease towards the end of the song itself. Interestingly enough the song seemingly alternated between “Piano” and “Mezzopiano” with the individual notes having an interestingly long duration. It was actually this duration of the individual notes that gave the song its characteristic soulful quality.

I would have to say that the reason Jordan chose to utilize an electric guitar for this particular type of song was due to the fact that electric guitars have the ability to increase the duration of particular notes through amplifiers attached to them. By using the amplifiers combined with the “Piano” and “Mezzopiano” characteristics of the song this created a distinct note duration that was absolutely heavenly to hear.

Interpreting the Song

When listening to the song the audience cannot help but imagine a scene of walking down a country road and thinking about the happier times they had throughout their life. In a way the song is appropriate in that it expresses the idea of what a person would think while walking toward heaven in that they would remember their life for what it was.

They would remember both good and bad experiences and how it culminated into them going to heaven. As for me the music can be described as being similar to bittersweet chocolate in that the sweet tonal qualities apparent in several instances is combined with a deep and somewhat bitter soulful melody.

The song itself seems to embrace the positive and negative aspect of a person’s life and brings it to the forefront of the mind. It possesses a melody that charms yet saddens and as such one cannot help but feel both happy and sad at the same time.

It is at this point that I would like to point out the similarity in playing style and music quality between Jordan and McKee in that the beats in the songs they create as well as the melodies and tonal qualities are somewhat similar with the only difference being one prefers to utilize an electric instrument while the other prefers one made of wood. Both types of music though seemingly speak to ones soul.

It creates happiness and regret, sorrow and delight and the feeling that despite all that have happened within life things will get better in the future.

Conclusion

Based on what I heard I would have to say that Stanley Jordan is a remarkable artist with a great future ahead of him. His distinctive two handed playing style creates an absolutely beautiful melody that based on the audience reaction alone is deeply emotional and helps to sir pleasant feelings in others. On the other hand I would like to mention that I would like to see if he can create music with a more upbeat tone. It would be rather interesting to see this considering how well he played “Stairway to Heaven”.

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