Steve Persaud on Geometric Patterns, Angles and the Guitar
It’s been a pleasure to have a chat with my friend Steve Persaud, who is a musician and an educator in the Bahamas. Steve is the author of the book Geometric Patterns, Angles and the Guitar: A ‘Chordological’ Shifting Perspective (Modern History Press, 2023). Previously RTS published the poem Sisyphean by Steve. I hope our RTS readers will enjoy this Q&A and find it useful in their passion for music.
Steve, my first question for you will be whether it’s your first book and how did you like the experience of putting together a book for publication?
Yes, it’s my first book on music, but my poetry has appeared in several anthologies. Putting together this book proved to be demanding as it was rewarding given the research it entailed to ensure accuracy of information. I am now in a better position to deal with future publications and avoid much of the anxiety associated with putting a book together.
When did you start discovering these various angles and geometrical patterns in notes played on guitar?
The idea of angles and geometric patterns was the result of teaching students that playing randomly, one, two, three, four, five notes on the guitar using any shape or pattern would create dissonant and consonant chords most times not known to the students. The general idea was to get them to move away from the conventional chord positions and give a voice to their creativity by allowing them to create their unique chord shapes and patterns which they could use to create their compositions. Moreover, the students were then encouraged to use an online chord application (app) to view the chords they had created.
I personally found it useful to use shapes and patterns in my playing to remember melodic lines (riffs), some in the form of geometric patterns, others in the shape of letters; for example, a melodic line may closely resemble the shape of the letters M, W, T, Z and so forth.
From your experience of teaching music, how helpful it is for guitar learners to have an understanding of mathematics?
Music is synonymous with Mathematics which can lead firstly to an appreciation which serves as a precursor to the understanding of Mathematics. From my perspective, I feel that music theory will help assuage the concerns and challenges one may have with Mathematics when one sees this connection.
Have any of your students discovered something in guitar, or in music otherwise, which you learned from them?
The questions and answers students provide often serve as a catalyst to develop concepts/ideas, no matter how simple or complex they may be; it’s a reciprocal process, and we may be surprised how much we can learn from our students if we pay keen attention to their comments and suggestions.
Can you share some of the local flair in music of the Bahamas and what makes it distinct from American music especially on guitar?
Bahamian music is unique in many ways and take the form of Rake ‘n’ Scrape, Goombay, and Junkanoo which are all well suited for the guitar. One can clearly detect the European and African influences in Bahamian music which has over the years, incorporated distinct elements of American Folk, Rock, Blues, Jazz, Country. For example, the Bahamian guitarist Joseph Spence’s style encapsulates these forms of music using counterpoint to embellish his songs, so there is a definite connection between American and Bahamian music and of course there are differences.
What are some of your current projects and aspirations for future work?
I am currently working on another project which involves using chord progressions to portray or express our emotions which can be seen as an extension of the first book.
Do you have a website or social media pages where interested readers may follow your work?
At the moment I don’t have a website, but I am on Facebook and Whatsapp, and I have an Amazon Authors Central Page. Anyone can access my information by googling my name, Steve Persaud, musician and writer.
Thanks a bunch Steve for sparing us your precious time.
Thank you Ernest for your interest in my work and continued success with your projects.