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  1. #1
    Senior Member FunnyDigestion's Avatar
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    Default Uniquely structured music

    Music with unusual structure is endless fascination for me. You can play 4 beats of an E into an F# for all eternity & it's never completely drained, but when you take a strange melody & enmesh it in a 5/4 rhythm or something, people can't help but stop & think a little.

    The common rhythms came out of biological fact, like biped walking generates 2-based marching meters, 2/4, 4/4, etc. & the heartbeat / sexual rhythm generates 3-based meter (think about the pattern of a heartbeat, ba-BUM-(stop)-ba-BUM-(stop), & the intoxicated sexual writhing you can get into is a 'swung' 3-based pattern, etc)... so it's interesting to think what can happen to one's mental & bodily functioning when music is tweaked into unusual structures.

    What could a 5/4 rhythm mean in biological fact? Most people hear it & they're confused, but after you get used to it you find yourself in a more expansive world, like the musical circle of awareness is larger & encompassing more creative space.

    'Math rock' is cool yeah yeah etc but I'm more intrigued by the subtler stuff, where the music isn't literally diagrammed into sequences of odd meters & tempo shifts & that. I like free jazz, Frank Zappa, Penderecki, Boulez, etc. but there are very few people who can take a populist pop-music mentality & combine it with experimental structures, working in that hidden realm of thinking..... where the mind is imperceptibly bent to an other reality.

    I'll give an example to start, the band Animal Collective. It's so retarded that they're culturally boxed-in to this 'hipster'-hunting he-said-she-said cutlure-war bullshit when their music is so fucking unique &, as far as I know, unprecedented. Aside from being the first 2000s band to go full-on into pop music from a completely experimentalist, post-verse-chorus-verse mentality, they do all kinds of theoretically interesting shit with melody, rhythm, timbre, vocals, you name it really.

    Like the song "My Girls", which people make fun of cuz blar de blar, hipsters etc, that song does something extremely unusual which is that its chorus resolves to the 7th note on the scale. That's extremely rare, I don't think I can think of any other radio song that does it. The first 3 or so minutes hover around the tonic chord, the kind of 'at-home' feeling using the 3rd 5th & 1st notes, but then the chorus moves into the 7th which creates a surprise feeling of mystery & romanticism. The 7th when used a certain way is the mysterious, romantic note in the major scale so to have that as the resolution in the chorus is particularly cool.

    Also this song:

    [YOUTUBE="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C985uGVnso0"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C985uGVnso0[/YOUTUBE]

    Avey Tare, one of the Animal Collective guys. This song is doing some incredible shit. First of all, the structure is something I've never heard before. Notice how it starts out kind of dead, mashed into some swampy morass region, like a feeling-dead-inside type of depression, & piece by piece comes alive into some emotions, & ends with a peaceful feeling. Pretty sweet, & the melodies themselves are pretty sweet & unique.

    But the rhythmic shift at 2:38. It's a definite change in meter & tempo but sounds natural (almost to the point of being unnoticed) because the basic rhythmic pulse is identical. The song starts with a beat in 3/4, so you get 6 8th notes, 12 16th notes. Then that divides by 4 to get 4 groups of 3 16th notes, so you get a 4/4 beat with triplets instead of 8ths. So the meter & tempo change while the basic rhythmic pulse is identical. It sounds a lot more complicated in math than how it sounds, which is pretty natural, but it took me a while to figure out what was going on.

    Awesomeness to the nth power on that shit.

    What's some uniquely structured music you know about? Tell me a thing or two, I like hearing perspectives.
    Last edited by FunnyDigestion; 01-26-2012 at 03:59 AM.
    RCUAI
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    "Man is free, but his freedom ceases when he has no faith in it."

  2. #2
    jump sleuthiness's Avatar
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    Dude, rad

    thinking of you

  3. #3
    Senior Member FunnyDigestion's Avatar
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    The most unique melodist I can think of is Kurt Cobain. He may be the only pop musician to have done things melodically that literally no one had done before in music. Some of his songs are nearly impossible to analyze & make sense of even though they seem so simple. Which of cousre gets a lot of imbeciles to blibber-blabber about how they "can't play their instruments" (lol, who gives a fuck).

    Like the tune "Lithium". The verses have a vocal melody that actually changes key in the middle, it goes from E to C (or E minor, depending on blablabla).. & then the chorus is in E minor with a chord progression in mostly E major, which is the same progression used in the verse.

    Or In Bloom, whose verse is in Bb minor (with chromatic power chords B and A thrown in to create a stoned kind of feeling), which turns on an Eb chord into Bb major for the chorus.

    I think almost every song on Nevermind has some unusual melodic-harmonic thing happening. Smells Like Teen Spirit & Come As You Are I think are the only songs that stay in one key thru-out the song.

    Ooooo yeah On a Plain... this song is fucking amazing. linkies

    [YOUTUBE="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PqZEJhkDS4c"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PqZEJhkDS4c[/YOUTUBE]

    The verse vocal melody is in F# minor, while the chord progression is F major. Then the B-section is in D while the chords are D minor, or C. It gets to the point where the analysis breaks down. Then the turnaround into the chorus ("what should I do") is an F#-G-F melody. Then in the chorus he's singing a C note over a D5. THEN the bridge chords are in C while the melody is mostly in E (with a move to a G note at the end).

    The emotional atmosphere of Nevermind is so fucking original. It's kind of like midway between beauty & nihilism, like a stoned, confused, pained bliss.

    Their early stuff is a lot darker but the weirdness is all thru their music, just more mysterious in the pop songs.

    Crazy tune:

    [YOUTUBE="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66mmAeH8Aj4"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66mmAeH8Aj4[/YOUTUBE]
    RCUAI
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    "Man is free, but his freedom ceases when he has no faith in it."

  4. #4
    Senior Member FunnyDigestion's Avatar
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    In terms of harmonic structure, Erik Satie I think is the guy who came the most out of nowhere & did things no one else had done.

    The Gnossiennes in particular, the harmonic emotion of those pieces is so strange. Satie basically created his own musical vocabulary, out of laziness, alcohol, & lifelong melancholic isolation, so there's no one to really compare him to. He would in fact invent different categories of music for himself to write, based on architectural structures & Gnosticism, scientific theories, classic INTP 5-ish person.... his big artistic theme was alone-ness, like somebody moving unseen thru a grey city.

    The Gnossiennes are like creepy, poetic emptiness. I'm not extraordinarly well-versed in music-listening & don't normally go around telling people what they "have to" listen to, but I usually make people hear these.

    [YOUTUBE="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLFVGwGQcB0"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PLFVGwGQcB0[/YOUTUBE]

    [YOUTUBE="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GEYxo2kwR48&feature=related"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GEYxo2kwR48&feature=related[/YOUTUBE]
    RCUAI
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    "Man is free, but his freedom ceases when he has no faith in it."

  5. #5
    Senior Member FunnyDigestion's Avatar
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    Frank Zappa did a ton of stuff with 7-based meters. One thing he'd go into a lot was flipping the beat after 3 downbeats, so it's like down-down-down, (pause), up-up-up. Like the part at 30 seconds in this song:

    [YOUTUBE="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXCvZ0cWM-w"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXCvZ0cWM-w[/YOUTUBE]

    But Zappa's usually more overt so you're immediately aware that the rhythm is unusual.

    More Animal Collective stuff.

    The song 'Fireworks' which starts in 3/4, plays the chorus, changes to 4/4 for the interlude & then comes back with the chorus stretched from 3 rhythm to 4. Again, can't think of any other song that does that.

    Leaf House.

    About half the songs on Sung Tongs & Feels which are based on a single chord... I think "Kids on Holiday", Pilot, Covered in Frogs, Mouth Wooed Her, Bees, Banshee Beat, & Loch Raven all stay in the same chord the entirety of the song.

    Most of Panda Bear's music has some rhythmic structural invention going on. Like Slow Motion which has a techno / hip-hop beat that's in fucking 3/4 (how many techno songs are in 3/4??????), & goes into a 3-bar sequence at the end ("counting how we show what counts").

    Also Tomboy, which aside from using a 2-against-3 polyrhythm is based on a 6-bar structure. I think the chorus has a 4-bar, 6-bar, 6-bar, 4-bar structure but the rest of the song has a 6-bar pattern. Another song it took me a while to figure out.

    Please post in this thread ppl so I won't be the only person making posts in my thread.
    RCUAI
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    "Man is free, but his freedom ceases when he has no faith in it."

  6. #6
    Senior Member FunnyDigestion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sleuthiness View Post
    Dude, rad
    Fantastic job, post more.
    RCUAI
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    "Man is free, but his freedom ceases when he has no faith in it."

  7. #7
    jump sleuthiness's Avatar
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    dig

    I'm probably into Frank's Jazz from hell thing more than the psych.

    thinking of you

  8. #8
    Senior Member FunnyDigestion's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sleuthiness View Post
    I'm probably into Frank's Jazz from hell thing more than the psych.
    Psych, psychedelic? We're Only In It For The Money is so perfect though. Some of the melodies on it almost make me tear up a little. Zappa was always underneath everything, it's comical to read his biographical account & compare it to people's concept of the 60s. Like getting a secret glimpse of reality. His most unique music is Lumpy Gravy, then 200 motels, his 80s material is too plastic to me.

    I like the song you posted.

    [YOUTUBE="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8uU6MwKVKQ"]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l8uU6MwKVKQ[/YOUTUBE]
    RCUAI
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    "Man is free, but his freedom ceases when he has no faith in it."

  9. #9
    Administrator highlander's Avatar
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    Uniquely structured - I think of groups like:
    - Pink Floyd
    - Yes
    - Enya
    - Bjork
    - Tori Amos
    - Depeche Mode
    - Dream Theatre
    - Jethro Tull
    - Early Peter Gabriel
    - Rush
    - Smashing Pumpkins

    Examples:

    [YOUTUBE="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vxAFk7o42Nk&feature=related"]The Great Gig in The Sky[/YOUTUBE]

    [YOUTUBE=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQHKdVCcodM"]Awaken 1 of 2[/YOUTUBE]

    [YOUTUBE="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T6IJdOcoLLs"]Caught a Lite Sneeze[/YOUTUBE]

    [YOUTUBE="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oj6AsmUAsy8"]Lay Your Hands On Me[/YOUTUBE]

    [YOUTUBE="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Ljy6PTbX9I"]Minstrel In The Gallery[/YOUTUBE]

    [YOUTUBE="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LvU6dttJb-k"]South Side of The Sky[/YOUTUBE]

    Please provide feedback on my Nohari and Johari Window by clicking here: Nohari/Johari

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  10. #10
    Senior Member FunnyDigestion's Avatar
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    I might transform this into the general musical analysis thread.

    I count beats, it's my occupation. If i could find employment at it i would accept very rapidly. I don't really know anything about life or emotion, I just count beats. Count beats, count words, count notes, count time.

    You can learn everything about pop music by counting the beats, counting how the melodies overlay the rhythm.

    Like the Katy Perry song, "Last Friday Night". link Yeah it's super-dumb but bear with me... there's a lesson.

    First, the chord progression. It's the same throughout & never lands on the tonic chord (the 'home-base' chord, position of harmonic rest in the melodic movement). It starts on the 4 chord, ends on the 5-- so you get a reset movement from the 5 to the 4, which creates a feeling of infinite energy-- like an infinite party (fitting with the song idea), infinite running over town doing coke, ecstasy, flirtation, fucking all kinds of hot people etc. Just the usual topics of pop music.

    The melodies are simple A-B-C-level but notice how they overlay the beat. Which is a simple 4/4 beat probably at 120 or 125 bpm. Each line in the verse starts on the 4 beat in the bar, & ends with a little rhythmic stutter-- so the feeling is of the rhythm racing to catch up with the vocal, the vocal melody is running a little ahead of the beat. Then there's the turnaround ("last friday night") & in the CHORUS, the vocal melody begins on the 2 beat. Each line in the chorus starts on the 2 in the 1-2-3-4 count, & also the rhythmic stutter is flattened out to land on the 1 beat. So the melody moves up from the 4 to the 2, generating a feeling of terrific accleration, like someone running wildly over the urban metropolis having an infinite party.

    It's pretty genius. You could probably take over the world with this kind of song.

    & all of it from counting beats.
    RCUAI
    ---------
    "Man is free, but his freedom ceases when he has no faith in it."

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