Skip to content
Some words on compo...
 
Notifications
Clear all

Some words on composition

10 Posts
6 Users
0 Likes
2,814 Views
Ignar Hillström
(@ignar-hillstrom)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 5349
Topic starter  

Some time ago I've been asked how I write my music. Having given that some thought I've concluded it's pretty much impossible to give a specific step-by-step method that I can apply to the songs I've writen. As such I've decided to just give an overview of the different aspects of music and how I think they influence each other and how it can be used to convey different musical messages. I'll briefly cover the three stages of creating a song after which I'll ramble a bit about the repetition vs variation and tension vs resolution concepts, song structures, basslines, melody, harmony and it's effects, color and musical space. Hope anyone reading this will find something of use in this monologue. I figured maybe more could benefit from it so here it is. Those with their own views and philosophies, speak up!

Composition, Performanc and Production

Creating a song consists of three stages: composition, performance and production. How these stages are defined depend on the kind of music you're attempting to make. A classical symphonic work is a clear example where each stage is distinct and seperate from each other. With music based on improvisation, like the blues and jazz, the composition and performance part overlap. Electronic music on the other hand, like synthesizer soundscapes, can merge all three stages into one. Being aware of the function of each stage for the song you;re working on might be of help when considering how to apply some of the concepts that I'll cover in a minute.

Repetition vs Variation

One of the most important aspects of all music is the Repetition/Variation Ratio. For some reason or other our brains are wired in such a way that we can not just hear each note as it's played but also hear how it relates to what came before and after. Because of that we as listener can identify different sections or parts of a song which in turn allows us to anticipate what will come next. Playing with these expectations is basically what writing a song is all about. Each musical genre has it's own set of 'rules' regarding just how much variation is needed and how it should be done. On one extreme you have musical styles like speedcore that have very little variation and on the other side you'll find music like atonal free jazz where repetition is practically absent. When composing you should try not think about genre conventions but being aware of the concept and working of repetition and variation will help you tremendously.

Just as people are able to anticipate verses and chori in songs they can pick up melodic and harmonic movement and, based on that, anticipate what will come next. In general if the individual parts and general structure of your song are too predictable it'll sound bland and boring. On the other hand, if you don't meet the musical expectations of your audience your music will be perceived as mere chaotic noise.Which can be fine on itself if that is the effect you;re after, but more often you'll probably want to sit somewhere in the middle. Just how much variation is enough is something you'll need to find out for yourself. Each element of your song will have it's own Repetition vs Variation Ratio and these ratios combined make out the overal Repetition vs Variation Ratio of the song. It is no problem if one aspect is too varied or repetitive as long as the overal ratio is what you want it to be.

Tension vs Resolution

A second important aspect of music is harmonic and melodic tension and the resolution of it. All western music is based around a central note and the 'home chord' build upon it. Some chords that share notes with this home chord sound fairly neutral. For example, if you play a song in C-major both the E-minor and A-minor chords sound relatively harmless when played after a C-major chord. Other chords sound very dissonant and unsettling, for example G-dominant and B-diminshed chords in the key of C-major. The tension this creates results in a pretty unpleasant sensation for most people but by resolving the tension in a 'sensible' way it'll work out as people anticipate the joy of resolution when enduring your dissonant adventures. However, different people have different tastes when it comes to just how much tension is enough. In the more exotic subgenres of jazz there can't be enough while most people appreciate 'cleaner' and more direct resolution.

So in nutshell your quest as a comoser is to write a song with enough tension and resolution to keep it interesting in a predictable but not too predictable way. All parts of your song should serve the purpose of creating the right balance between repetition and variation and between tension and resolution.

Song Structure

Music consists of themes, as few as one and as many as you need. Each theme with the music that goes with it is called a section. The concepts of repetition vs variation and tension vs resolution should be applied at this level as well as on lower, more detailled, levels. At it's most basic there are three choices at every point: either repeat a theme, vary upon it or come up with a new one. Varying upon themes is not of importance at this level and will be covered later. If you don't plan on adding a lot of variation to one theme you'll need atleast one other theme. This theme should be independent enough to be perceived as fresh but relate to the preceding and following theme(s) enough to make them appear as part of one great song instead of a collection of mini-songs.The key thing is to decide what the point is of the second theme and how that translates to music.When you've settled upon the athmosphere the section should have applying the idea to music is easy when you approach both parts from the bottom up: the bassline and melody.

Bassline

In (western) music the two most impotant musical aspects of a song are the melody and bassline. To allow the listener to anticipate (and as such 'understand') your song the bassline, which is the foundation of your song, serves two purposes. It should suggest a meaningfull harmonic progression combined with the melody and contain a recognizable melodic and/or rhythmic movement. The listener should be able to guess with a reasonable ammount of succes what and when the next note of the bassline will come. An example of rhytmic movement would be playing a note on every first and third beat. An example of melodic movement would be playing the C-note exclusively.These two factors together decide what the Repetition vs Variation Ratio of the bassline is. If it is too repetitive, for example a constant drone of one note, you'll have to make sure you compensate accordingly with the melody. More often then not you'll want to establish a solid ending by ending on the tonic.

Melody

Providing 'rules' for writing melodies that will work in every genre is impossible and as such I won't even bother. Hwever there are some principles that are worth mentioning. Firstly, melodies should make sense on it's own, melodically. The driving force will be the tension vs resolution concept, almost in the same way as harmonic tension functions. The tension should be audible when the melody is played on it's own without any accompaniment.

There are also certain principles that apply when placing melodies in their musical context. Firstly the more similar the melodic movement of the melody is to the melodic movement of the bassline the more boring the piece will be. Playing the intervals C-G, D-A, E-B, F-C, G-B and back to C-G will suggest a sensible harmony (C, Dm, Em, F, G) but the similarity make both lines lose their own identity and you're stuck with just a harmony instead of harmony formed by two seperate musical lines. This is called 'parallel movement' and you want to be sparse with it. By giving the two lines different movements you create a much more interesting composition. One note can also have different 'meanings' when placed over a bassline. The note G sounds much different when placed over an Db then when played over an Eb. Just like you can keep a droning bassline under a varied melody you can create a (temporarily) droning melody over an interesting bassline.

Creating 'patterns' will give your melody structure wile keeping it varied combined with the bassline. You can have a very simple structure, by playing just either the G or A note on each first beat. When played under the same bassline as last example (C D E F G) This creates the same harmony while keeping both movement unique. They are also predictable melodically in that the bassline constantly walks up the C-major scale and the melody merely alternates between two notes. The harmony creates the variation and context to give to lines that are very repetitive on their own color and shape. As with the bassline the Repetition vs Variation Ratio of the melody is based on it's melodic and rhytmic components.When needed you can compensate melodic repeitition by varying the melodic content. In the same way you can take the rhytmic structure of a phrase and vary on it with different melodies.

Harmony

Harmony is probably the biggest invention of western society when it comes to music and it plays a vital role in how we listen and follow music. When the bassline and melody are combined different harmonic intervals are created that no melodic line can sound like on it's own. The central aspect is harmonic tension and resolution. Generally this means working from the safety of your home-chord, adding tension by going to increasingly less neutral chords reaching a climax at either the V7 or vii0 chords. At this point the tension is resolved by going back to the home chord, either directly or gradually by slowly moving back to increasingly less tension-rich chords. If you're working with just a bassline and melody you're the same principles apply through 'implied harmony'. The listener will 'read' the progression by unconsciously adding those notes that would make the smoothest progression. If you play an C-Ab interval between a C-minor and G-dominant chord it'll be perceived as either an Ab-major or F-minor by mentally adding an Eb or F note, respectively. The listener will not hear it as a Ab-augmented chord because your musical context suggest an Eb over an E. If you want the effect of an Ab-augmented chord you'll have to play the E, if you want to go with Ab-minor you don't specifically have to play the Eb as it 'makes sense'.

Harmony and Emotion

One of the few things most people can agree on when talking about music is that music must move people. It can make you feel sad or pumped-up. It can be reflective, soothing or unsettling.Music that doesn't do anything to anyone is just background noise. The biggest choice you have to make when setting the mood is chosing your tonality: minor or major. Minor works best for sad, melancholic, reminiscent, longing, depressive etc etc music and major works well for happy, uplifting and energetic music.Making the right choice is vital if you succesfully want to musically convey your message.

As songs based around a minor tonality tend to sound sad so do phrases based around minor chords. A song build on a minor chord yet surrounded by nothing but major sound will clearly sound different then songs using exclusively minor chords. However, keep in mind that the Repetition vs Variation Ratio applies here, too. Using different types of chords will usually result in a more diverse and richer song compared with a song using just one type of chord.

Appart from being either major or minor chords can also be decorated with extra notes. Adding the note B to a C-major chord will have it sound dreamy whereas adding a Bb will make it sound dissonant and tension-rich. Adding notes from the scale you're melody is in to your harmony can be an easy way to create a more specific mood. However, as these chords all contain dissonance to some degree you'll want to give the listener a way to anticipate the slightly exotic harmonies. Ths could be done in a number of ways. Consistently adding a specific interval will be picked up unconsciously pretty soon by most. Consider the progression Am-G-F-E. Adding the seventh consistently will enrich the sound in a predicatle way: Am7-G7-Fmaj7-E7. Whether this sound is appropriate or not is ofcourse up to you, a richer harmony need not always be the best solution. Another option is to add a one specific note to every chord. Consider adding the note B to every chord and you'd get Amadd9-G-F6-E. The note will be dissonant with the C in the Amadd9 but it'll resolve with the G chord. And just in the same way the tension it creates in the B6 with the same C note gets resolved in the E. The goal, ofcourse, is to find a note that creates and resolves tension properly while creating chords that make sense under the melody.

Color

Another aspect that's worthy of attention are the colors or sounds you need for each part of the song. Eruption would sound quite different had Van Halen played the bagpipes. At it's most basic you'll need to think of which instrument needs to play which line but on a more deeper level the toneshaping of each note must be taken into thought.Variation is key here, too. If the sounds used stay the same throughout the song the composition must be incredibly strong to keep any attention.Which sounds you'll need depend on both the vibe you want to express with the line and the 'space' that the other instruments leave. Think about what that instrument should express and how that could be translated to sound. On the electric guitar you can play melodies in different places of the neck, you could use a different pickup or play with the tone control.

Also keep in mind that sound is, for many instrument, tied to dynamics. You can't scream at low volume levels nor can a French horn sound mournfull when played fortissimo.Make sure the other instruments support not just the tone but also the volume it brings. Tro to add variation to the sounds you use and make sure you give the user the means to anticipate changes in tone when needed. When you suddenly make drastic changes to the sound make sure the composition works around that and provides musical reasons for it. Extremely slow but gradual changes can be applied to, espescially with modern production techniques. Things like slowly deepening the reverb on the vocals all throughout the song can be hard to detect consciously initially but will have a huge impact on the atmosphere.

Space

Music always exists in a virtual space that everyone constructs mentally while listening to music. Different kinds of music need different types of musical space. As a general rule those genres of music where the production consists of recording a (live) performance as accurately as possible need a realistic and believable space. This means panning each instrument in such a way that the listener percieves the music as if standing in front of the band. A typical setup would be drums and vocals in the middle, bass on the left and guitars on the right. Music where the production is more integrated in the performance and composition aspects can apply more exotic spaces. Instruments can be panned far wider from each other and are free to move as the composition allows.

The musical space a song is in will heavily influence the atmosphere of the song. Happy and upbeat songs will probably benefit from a relatively direct sound as if they were playing in your livingroom. If you're into psychedelic songs you'll want to go for a more distant and open space. Keep in mind that the space in which a music is placed will have consequences on the vibe of individual tracks. Basslines tend to become spongy when placed in larger spaces whereas vocals can sound very sterile when placed in too claustrophobic spaces.- Each track of a song can have it's own space but this seperation will give a very specfic effect that is best used with open-minded reluctance and it creates a tension that is hard to resolve in any other way then merging into one general musical space for the entire song. Such a production would probably draw all attention away from all other parts of your song.

Conclusion

Music balances between repetition and variation and between tension and resolution. Using these principles will allow people to follow the melodies and harmonies, anticipate what will come next and experience enjoyment when those expectations are met often enough. These ratios apply on every level of detail of your song, from the structure of the song (12 bar blues, verse/chorus, A-A-B-A etc etc) down to the smallest phrase and from the harmonic context to the selection of tonal colors and sounds. The listener should be given the opportunity to get adjusted to each element of the song without becoming under-stimulated. By creating a melody that creates a meaningfull implied harmony when combined with a bassline that is interesting enough yet contains enough structure to be digestible with both lines being independent of each other you can control the mood and emotion the song conveys. And remember: the simplest way to say something is usually the best!

Hope this has been of some help and if not sorry for wasting your time all the way to this last sentence. :P


   
Quote
KR2
 KR2
(@kr2)
Famed Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 2717
 

My outlined notes before brain overloaded and/or short-circuited: (I almost made it half-way)

Composition, Performance and Production
3 stages of creating a song
The distinctiveness of these 3 stages varies with the kind of music being made

Repetition vs Variation
Boredom vs Uniqueness

Tension vs Resolution
The amount of dissonance vs resolving the dissonance by going back to “safe” progressions
"safe" referring to the brain's 'pre-wired' expectation of a following note in a sequence

Song Structure
Consideration should be given to options of “either repeating a theme, varying upon it, or coming up with a new one”

Bassline
The foundation of the song with a harmonic progression and/or beat that can be anticipated that works in conjunction with the melody . . . . the more repetitive the bass line, the more varied the melody should be . . . to compensate

Melody (first paragraph missing something . . . . so brain used that as an excuse to abort . . . stopped before permanent damage was done)

Harmony

Harmony and Emotion

Color

Space

It's the rock that gives the stream its music . . . and the stream that gives the rock its roll.


   
ReplyQuote
JoeHempel
(@joehempel)
Famed Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 2415
 

Ken, thanks for the outline, I know the brain about to explode feeling well

Ignar, that's a great explanation of the process that you go through. My question is, and it's really theory related, is what determines the key that you are playing in, is it the first chord in the song, or how the guitar or instrument is tuned, etc.

Thanks for posting all this information though, that's one heck of a post!

In Space, no one can hear me sing!


   
ReplyQuote
Chris C
(@chris-c)
Famed Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 3454
 

Hi and thanks for a good read. :D

A couple of years ago I wouldn't have had a clue what you were saying, but I'm delighted to say that I not only read right to the end with interest and enjoyment, but I understood what you were saying. Good job I have two hands - I can pat you on the back and myself at the same time... :wink:

I didn't see anything to argue with, and it raised and explained some very good points. So I'll just add my take on it, if that's OK.

I always start very randomly - with both musical noodling and improvising around with words too. Nothing will necessarily take the lead, and each element may end up forcing or suggesting a change in another one. But these are the parts that I eventually try and look at:

1. Rhythm
2. Melody
3. Harmony
4. Structure (how to use intro/verse/chorus/bridge/general repeats, or whatever).
5. Lyrics
6. Arrangement/Production. Choosing what instrument/sound/timbre etc for the parts, and how to mix them. I know zilch about this yet and my experience is measured only in minutes. Absolutely fascinating area though. Added a bank of trumpets to an instrumental section last week. Very effective and great fun to do!

I used to put chords and lyrics ahead of the others in importance (mostly because that was about all I understood). But now I'm trying to get the rhythm sorted pretty early in the piece, particularly as I tend to forget what rhythm I used from one day - or even one hour - to the next. :roll: So, for rhythm, I'm experimenting with doing a quick 'scratch' recording of a few bars, just to get the feel down, and then trying to write a ‘reference' drum track fairly early in the piece, even if I might ditch actual drums in the end.

One thing that I have found useful in the quest to understand it all is to buy a book of simple arrangements of songs that I'm familiar with and dismantle it. Go through bar by bar and see why they've chosen the harmonies they have, why things that look odd at first actually work, and what difference it makes if you change it a bit - either for something more obvious, or something less expected. Endlessly interesting thing music...

Thanks again. I'll have another read tomorrow and a bit more of the detail will sink in...

Cheers,

Chris


   
ReplyQuote
Ignar Hillström
(@ignar-hillstrom)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 5349
Topic starter  

Fixed it Ken, feel free to hurt your brain with the rest. ;)

Joe: The 'home-chord' is the chord that sounds the most stable and 'finished', it doesnt need to be the first. In these examples I do use the homechord as first chord, as a lot of popsongs do but you're free to experiment. Why don't you play thee chords in random order for a while: Am, C, Dm, Em, G. You'll probably find that the Am and C-major chords sound 'finished' for some reason, espescially if you play the G before the C or the Em before the Am. Don't get too confused with the why's, I'm sure if you spend some time with it you'll hear what I mean. In the end your ear is what decides what's the homechord, not some theoretic rule.

Chris: we work the same way in quite a few ways it seems. I've spend some time with such books, as well as notation of classical pieces to 'figure' them out for lack of a better word. It's a great way to learn, espescially when you immediately try to write a piece using those principles you discovered. And yup, adding/chaning sounds/colors just to hear how it sounds is what I like about production. You don't have to think too much, it's not much different from a child playing with toys for no reason other then that's enjoyable. :D


   
ReplyQuote
Dneck
(@dneck)
Prominent Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 630
 

A few points to add that I think are important.

1. Unless you are a very strong composer, you should generally try to write your melody first and then write the words. It is much easier to listen to your melody and decide what the emotion of the song is and then right the words accordingly than it is to write your words and then craft the perfect melody for your words. Even worse then being difficult, if you right your words first then you tend to fall into the same old boring AABB rhyme schemes. Where as when you fit words to a melody, you will tend to explore more complicated patterns that may, dare I say it, not rhyme at all.

2. Most importantly, do NOT write your melody on your instrument, write it in your HEAD. You should be humming along your melody and figuring out the next part with your brain. It's ok to fish for ideas with your instrument sometimes, but most people will play something that doesn't sound bad rather than playing what is coherently the next note. Only you can decide what that next note is, use your head to do it. You should be able to write music while your walking, working, and far away from your instrument. The trick is remembering them. True story, Bela Fleck wrote his grammy award winning "big country" when he was not near his banjo. He called his voicemail and sung it into his phone so he wouldn't forget it.

"And above all, respond to all questions regarding a given song's tonal orientation in the following manner: Hell, it don't matter just kick it off!"
-Chris Thile


   
ReplyQuote
JoeHempel
(@joehempel)
Famed Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 2415
 

1. Unless you are a very strong composer, you should generally try to write your melody first and then write the words. It is much easier to listen to your melody and decide what the emotion of the song is and then right the words accordingly than it is to write your words and then craft the perfect melody for your words.

I don't know, I think I may have to disagree with you there. For me it's much easier to let the words write the melody. I'm just starting to write some songs, and am not a poet for sure, so I guess the rhyming patterns don't really apply for me LOL. But the words set the tone. I'm in the middle of one where it just started with words, and then I had a melody that fit perfectly with it and enhanced the lyrics.

I'm not a composer at all, but for whatever reason it works better for me to have the lyrics, and then do the music, but I know that each person is different in that respect.

In Space, no one can hear me sing!


   
ReplyQuote
Chris C
(@chris-c)
Famed Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 3454
 

A few points to add that I think are important.

Hi,

Lots of interesting points in your post - particularly as it seems that I usually work differently to you. My take on it is that most people will end up with a preference for one method or another, and will then drift towards 'playing to their strengths' by mostly doing one thing or another first. Whether this is ultimately a problem or not presumably depends on what your aims are. If your goal is to write similar style of songs to suit a certain market, then becoming a reliable supplier of a particular type of material could be seen as an asset, rather than being in a 'rut'. At this stage, I like to try and rotate things around as much as possible and try coming from different angles rather than mainly from melody, mostly from lyrics, or whatever.
2. Most importantly, do NOT write your melody on your instrument, write it in your HEAD. You should be humming along your melody and figuring out the next part with your brain. It's ok to fish for ideas with your instrument sometimes, but most people will play something that doesn't sound bad rather than playing what is coherently the next note. Only you can decide what that next note is, use your head to do it. You should be able to write music while your walking, working, and far away from your instrument. The trick is remembering them. True story, Bela Fleck wrote his grammy award winning "big country" when he was not near his banjo. He called his voicemail and sung it into his phone so he wouldn't forget it.

Well, that's something I'll have to try more, because it's certainly not the way it works for me at the moment. I don't find that composing with an instrument is in any way restricting. Again, I can see what you mean but I think it depends entirely on the individual. I have always loved improvising. It's not something I try and learn to do deliberately, it's just ingrained in the way I am. I can't imagine NOT doing it. Even if I try and play the same thing, I always end up varying it a little, just to see how it sounds ..... I could play the same three chords ten days in a row and they'd come out ten different ways.

I remember reading something that Paul McCartney said about composing on the mandolin he'd just bought and basically saying that he'd start with a sound and then think "I wonder what would happen if you put your finger there.... or tried that... or..." and that seems about right to me. :) As soon as I hear two sounds it might suggest a third in my head, so then I go looking for it. Sometimes I find it, and sometimes I find something else which I like more so I follow that, and so on. The big thing for me is never to be afraid of failure - a big percentage of experiments don't 'work' in that I don't get something immediately useable from them. But it's all interesting info, and might even work in another context.

For me, it's always a combination of what happens on the instrument and what happens in the head. If you relied totally on your head the trap would still be the same - that you might only come up with things that are rehashes of other people's tunes and musical ideas that you're already familiar with. If you're not a creative type then it probably won't matter much if you use guitar, head, piano, bagpipes,or editing computer software - the results won't add up to much that's original. But if you do have a knack for it, then you should be able to use whatever is available to you.

Many composers - including guitarists like the Lennon and McCartney - also like using a piano to write. So that's another angle for me - changing instruments. Piano is marvelous for writing on as you can spread a melody across both hands, or play it with just one hand while trying out chords with the other, and so on. I can't imagine ever running out of ideas or possibilities at the keyboard.

But it's whatever suits each of us best I guess... :D

Chris


   
ReplyQuote
Vic Lewis VL
(@vic-lewis-vl)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 10264
 

I don't think any two composers/songwriters work the same way!

I don't even work the same way on different songs - sometimes it'll be a melodic phrase I'll come up with first, sometimes a riff, sometimes a snatch of lyrics - but I do like to work on music and lyrics together. So I'll always want a guitar handy for that reason.

I'm mainly a rhythm guitarist, so for most of my songs I'll be fooling around with lyrics and trying to put chords to them at the same time - I find this helps with regards to phrasing and timing, ie I can tailor the lyrics to the music and vice versa at the same time.

So after a while I'll have verses, choruses, maybe a bridge, maybe a space for a guitar solo - then I'll try linking them together, adding intros, lead lines, etc. I'll probably think of alternatives for certain words or phrases or guitar licks - I'll write them down so I don't forget them. Guitar solos, I'll tab out roughly - I'll never play the same solo exactly the same way twice, but it'll be pretty similar each time - start and end with the same phrases or licks, and use a lot of the same licks as I'm building the solo.

Most importantly, I write EVERYTHING down - every idea, every little nuance, every variation. I'll make a note of all the settings I've used, both on the guitar - which p/u, how much treble - and the amp - which amp model, how much reverb, chorus, gain etc. No good writing a song if you can't play it!

I always have a small notebook handy - an ideas book. If something occurs to me while I'm out, I'll stop and write it down. It's chock full of phrases, ideas, riffs etc. I never throw anything away - I never know when I'll need it.

But you know, even when I've "finished" a song, it's not the end - I'll still fool around with it from time to time. Like any other guitarist, I'll learn new chords, new licks, new tricks from time to time - and I'll think to myself, hmm, that'd sound good in such-and-such a song.....

And one thing I have learned, from experience - if I happen to think of a melody and work on music without lyrics, I know exactly how it'll end up - a piece of music with no lyrics that'll be hanging around for ages looking for some words to connect with. I find it much harder to fit lyrics to music than music to lyrics, but that's just my take on it.

:D :D :D

Vic

"Sometimes the beauty of music can help us all find strength to deal with all the curves life can throw us." (D. Hodge.)


   
ReplyQuote
Dneck
(@dneck)
Prominent Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 630
 

btw I think its totally fine to have your instrument right there while your composing trying different things, thats what I do. I just meant to be sure and think about what your doing, when you listen to really great composers, great improvisors or really great songwriters they always sound like they are in total control. The melody, lyrics, and tone are all coherent thoughts. Even if they don't realize they are thinking about it, some people have a knack for just knowing that an Am would be the next perfect chord, where someone else might play a Dm and although it won't sound "bad" it won't be a powerful or inspiring movement. Some people might not know what a major second is, but they know that they want that next note to be 2 frets up.

When I listen to music I definetly analyze and judge it. I listen to what they are doing and think about what I would do next. In my experience 1 of three things will happen.

1. They will play what I was talking about before, move to a chord that doesn't really make sense (I don't mean out of key here. I actually really like weird music, but sometimes it makes sense and sometimes it doesn't) They did not think about their music, they just played another chord that they knew.

2. They will play exactly what I thought they should play next, they obviously thought it out and came to the same or a very similar conclusion than I did about what to do with their melody.

3. The most fun, they do something so unexpected, genius, and beyond my personal ability that is simultaneously unexpected yet completely correct, something I never would have thought of, but wish I could have. Jaco Pastorius playing America. Chopin.

"And above all, respond to all questions regarding a given song's tonal orientation in the following manner: Hell, it don't matter just kick it off!"
-Chris Thile


   
ReplyQuote