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Song Club - Song for January 09

Discussion in 'Words and Music' started by critch, Jan 5, 2009.

  1. critch

    critch Aye lad, I knew you had it in you

    My Little Masterpiece - Blood Songs

    Within this song are contained both musical and lyrical motifs which I hope to highlight with in this essay(!) both obvious and also hidden within the arrangement. I will first start by analysing the guitar melody, vocal melody moving on to the choice of instruments, and finally, lyrically.
    The guitar melody starts imediately on the third of the scale. Not at first sight relevant, but it means within the first note one is aware that it is in a major not minor key. Major of course being the choice for the light-hearted happy mood conveyed within. Dropping then to the first and rising back up to the third via the second as a passing note, establishes the key reafirming the major in the mind of the listener. The embelishment at the end of the phrase rotates around the third, again emphasising the harmony of the key.
    Nick's guitar playing is one of his primary musical tools, yet the guitar in this song is kept relatively simple, avoiding many of his trademarks. It is light, clear and airy, and although chordal in nature, the melody is emphasised.
    One of the dominant aspects of the chordal structure is the choice to go straight from the root to the 5th - avoiding the 4th. The 1-4-5 being the basis for most popular music in the last century and the benchmark of The Beatles early work. Missing out the 4th can leave an strange ambiguity between major and minor, however the emphasis placed on the third early on avoids this, however a sense of mystery and longing. The continual change from 5th back to the root - a perfect cadence, adds an urgency to the arrival of the next phrase. The eventual arrival of the 2nd, used in place of the 4th, adds an unexpected warmth back into the song.
    Vocally, the song is demanding. Using a great range, much of which sung in falsetto, gives a sense of youth perhaps reflecting the subject matter within. The vocal melody floats high above the harmonies for the most part, with only the percussion and the odd keyboard generated bell-sound coming close in pitch.
    The arrangement of this weighs heavily on the guitar with percussion in an almost tribal dance fashion sits lightly behind. An almost inaudible bass line adds depth without being overpowering. The keyboard "bell" also appears now and then with an echo of the "heartbeat" from Blood Song. The guitar has a spanish feel to the style.
    Lyrically it is quiet specific. It is obvious it is about his daughter and the love he has for her. It contains quite a few puns on various phrases, eg, barking up the wrong family tree. It also anticipates the future, her leaving as they wave good bye, although this of course also reflects that each stage in growing up is learnt from parents who then watch as their children can do it without needing help anymore or even simply waving goodbye as they attend their first day at school. The lyrics are also very idealistic, buttercups tickling feet is a romantic idea, but not something that most have experienced.
  2. HarperPR

    HarperPR My destiny offers me up like a lamb

    Nice song to choose and your appraisal well thought out.:m3:
  3. critch

    critch Aye lad, I knew you had it in you

    Aha! My A-level in music wasn't wasted after all!
  4. HarperPR

    HarperPR My destiny offers me up like a lamb

    Stick the lyrics in will ya, nice to look at whilst we ponder on the intricacies of the song....
  5. pete c

    pete c I've got a zappy little nappy

    What instrument(s) do you play Critch? You sound like you know what you're talking about. unlike me....
  6. critch

    critch Aye lad, I knew you had it in you

    I play the Piano Pete. I did GCSE and A-Level music as well. I'm not amazing, but I'm good enough to con people that I'm good! I also dabble at the guitar, but I really don't play it enough to get anywhere!
  7. NoCelebrity

    NoCelebrity Aye lad, I knew you had it in you

    First, let me apologize to Critch for not replying sooner. I read your post, but have been busy with so many things since my brother died one month ago.

    I was so happy to see your approach was both so visceral and technical and a different perspective than I could produce. Not that I disagree. Rather, your POV gives me the spark of interest to listen more closely to a song and with new understanding.

    I had my most formal training in piano. But I prefer to play guitar and sing and occasionally write/compose when inspiration strikes.

    I always try to take apart songs musically in different ways. How is each song built and how obvious, complicated, or contrived are the progressions? How do we all feel an emotional content for melodies without some sort of reference book to tell us what the notes and chords mean?

    Most of my earlier songs are dominated by Major chords. Major Chords are the reason for a diatonic (12-note) scale, from which we further derive major scales (the white keys on a piano, C major scale), blues scales (including 1-4-5), film sountracks, tonus diabolicus(?), and so on. Our scales are all based upon a simple mathematical construct, yet they convey so much more beauty and emotion. Major chords (1-3-5, AKA "power chords") sound best in general, especially when they stand alone. But songs usually need more, and Nick has offered it here.

    The "Blood Song" idea is an allusion to so many things tied together in this SOTM and album (emotion, music/rhythm, family, humanity).

    It sounds to me after limited listens that Nick has done a wonderful job of "progressing" his melody in this Song Of the Month. It's not monotonous repetition. It is thoughtfully and artfully composed, a pleasure to listen to!
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2009
  8. HarperPR

    HarperPR My destiny offers me up like a lamb

    Nice to see you back, NC!

    Yes, I thought this a good choice by Critch, and although a song Nick does include in his live set now and then, a song that is often overlooked.

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