Session 3 ‘The Elements Of Music’


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Session 3 of my musicology series

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Session 3 ‘The Elements Of Music’

  1. 1. Research Skills Musicology Session 3 – The Elements of Music Dr Paul Carr
  2. 2. Group Presentations
  3. 3. Overview of last week
  4. 4. Meaning in Korn • Identifies a ‘gap’ in the market – textual analysis of Metal. • Starts with an overview of the band and Nu Metal – briefly comparing it to other Metal music. • Indentifies problems with categorising music. • References academic articles and band interviews.
  5. 5. • Discusses the interrelationship of the lyrics and the music. • Dialogic approach – various techniques, including album covers etc. • Psycho analytic • Draw up an interesting table which links musical sounds to specific meanings (42) • Embodied approach also – Phrygian mode
  6. 6. • Relates specific intervals and sounds to characterises of a person. • For example Bass = sexually abusive Father, and vocals/guitar = child • Style Codes = how specific sounds etc are culturally specific. For eg a ‘Wah’ sound can mean various things for Hendrix and Funkalelic.
  7. 7. • Polysemic Meaning • Analysis is context specific • Identity – is it personal or linked to factors such as gender, sexual orientation, race, etc? • What does the music mean to audiences? • How does this change between genres? Eg Prog rock emphasis on complexity, Nu Metal on Textures etc.
  8. 8. • If we enjoy ‘Hey Daddy’ – do we indentify with the molester?
  9. 9. Discussing ‘The Elements Of Music’
  10. 10. What are the ‘Elements’? • For Example • Timbre • Texture • Harmony • Dynamics • Melody • Rhythm • Mix • etc
  11. 11. • We can discuss/describe how these elements function independently within the music either diachronically or synchronically – ‘embodied’ meaning. • We can link them to our own and others’ ‘designative’ meaning (as in Korn) • We can discuss how they are prioritised to indoctrinate interest and meaning in the music. • We can discuss how they impact the Form of the music • For Example:
  12. 12. Musical Form – General Points • The vast majority of popular music has a specific structure. • Common terminologies we use in popular music include Introduction, Verse, Chorus, and Middle Section/Bridge. • Most popular music consists of 2 or 4 bar phrases, so the sections are often divided into 8 or 16 bars. For Example: • “Ain’t That A Shame”: Fats Domino: Verse 4: Chorus 8 • “Ticket To Ride”: The Beatles: Verse and Chorus 8 bars long • “Clocks”: Coldplay: 4 bar sections • “Valerie”: Amy Winehouse: All sections 8 bars long
  13. 13. Listen out for music that does not fit with this structure • For Example: • “Yesterday” (7 bar Verse) • “Yellow”: Coldplay 6-7-7 bar Verses – 8 bar Chorus
  14. 14. • Sections usually contrast with one another melodically to sustain interest, but also harmonically, texturally, lyrically, dynamically and rhythmically (or any other ‘element’). • Listen to examples below, how do the above factors change? Valerie Melodically Harmonically Texturally Lyrically Dynamically Rhythmically War Of My Life Melodically Harmonically Texturally Lyrically Dynamically Rhythmically
  15. 15. How Rhythm Can Delineate Form • “Jail House Rock” Elvis Presley (Stop Time) • “Ain’t That A Shame” Fats Domino (Stop Time) • “The Pretender” Foo Fighters
  16. 16. How Harmony Can Determine Form • Look for changes of harmony between sections. Although most use different harmonies between verse and chorus, others use the same. For example: • “Stand By Me” Ben E King • “CandyLion” Gruff Rhys
  17. 17. How Melody Can Determine Form
  18. 18. How Instrumentation/Texture Can Determine Form • “Hold The Line”:Toto • “Sloop John B”:The Beach Boys • Note how the last example consists of only one section, so variety of texture is vital)
  19. 19. Discussing Texture/Timbre Specifically • Listen closely for the relationships between instruments in terms of: • Frequency (High – Low) • Depth/Distance (amount of ambience) • Stereo Spectrum (Left – Right). Does it change? Do these changes help evoke the mood of the music? • General Volume • Is there any double tracking? • Use of effects) (compression, delay, chorus, etc) • Use of EQ? • Is the texture homophonic or Polyphonic? • How does the texture relate to the lyrics and the emotion of the piece (Texture can be ‘physical’ and ‘rhetorical’)? • How do the individual parts relate to the whole mix?
  20. 20. Example of Texture Relating to the Lyrics and/or Title • Annie Lennox: ‘Walking On Broken Glass’ • Feist: ‘The Water’
  21. 21. Artist Specific Sounds • Specific sounds can immediately inform the listener of who an artist is, and or what a style or tradition is. • For example: • Pat Metheny • Phil Spector • Wes Montgomery
  22. 22. • Try and examine the nature of the individual sound. • For example with distortion: • What type of distortion is it? • How is it manufactured? • How does this relate to the style and authenticity of the artist? • For example:
  23. 23. • Rainbow: “Since You Been Gone” • Saxon: “Wheels of Steele” • Mega death: “Holy Wars” • ZZ Top: “Tush” • Slipknot: “Before I Forget”. • The same type of factors can be discussed for other instruments
  24. 24. Note how sounds can allude toward • A change of style: Compare “In God’s Country” (The Joshua Tree) to “Zoo Station” (Achtung Baby) U2
  25. 25. A Time or Place • “Dippermouth Blues” King Oliver • “That’s All Right” Elvis Presley • “I’m Into Something Good” Herman's Hermits • Specific Live Albums
  26. 26. • They can can also allude to other styles (what Tagg calls a ‘Genre Synecdoche’) • For example: Distortion in Jazz • Violin in Rock • Harpsichord in Rock (The Beatles) • Electric instruments in Jazz or Folk
  27. 27. How Metre Can Determine Form • “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds”: Elton John
  28. 28. Polyrhythm • As well a metre being used diachronically, it can also be used synchronically. Example: • “Kashmir” (Led Zeppelin) Drums in 4/4 • “All I Need” (Radiohead) Drums in 4/4 (Not on Spotify)
  29. 29. General (Somewhat Obvious) Points About Sections • Introduction: content usually used somewhere else in the song. Not always incorporated, but always introduces the song. • Verse: Recurrent harmonic pattern, but different text and texture etc. Usually occurs after the introduction, but sometimes chorus can occur before it (Example “I Shot the Sheriff”, “Rock and Roll Music”) • Chorus: Usually a recurrent harmonic and lyrical pattern. • Refrain: Not a distinct section, but part of a verse or chorus. • Can end or start a section. Consists of a repeated subsection, often with same lyrics. For Example: “I Saw Her Standing There”: The Beatles (After Verse) God Only Knows: The Beach Boys: (note how refrain repeats at end) I “Want To Hold Your Hand”: The Beatles (After Verse) • Bridge: Connects two other sections. • Normally occurs once, if twice, usually has same text. • Sometimes called the ‘Middle 8’. • Bridges can be instrumental: “Nights in White Satin” • Outro: Content usually derives from elsewhere in the song. Always ends song.
  30. 30. Homework • Place the following info on the musicology Wiki (this can be done individually or in your groups) • Examples of pieces with unusual bar numbers in sections • Examples of how rhythm delineates form • Examples of verse and chorus with same chords • Examples of artist specific sounds
  31. 31. • Examples of texture/instrumentation delineating form • Examples of how metre delineates form. • Examples of how sounds allude toward change of style • Examples of how sounds indicate a place or time. • Examples of textures that outline the lyrics and or Title • With all of these questions you need to also ask ‘how’?
  32. 32. • Briefly discuss how some of the above relate to embodied and designative meaning.
  33. 33. • Read Meaning In ‘Zappa’s Galoot Update paper’