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Session 3 ‘The Elements Of Music’

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Session 3 of my musicology series

Session 3 of my musicology series

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  • 1. Research Skills Musicology Session 3 – The Elements of Music Dr Paul Carr
  • 2. Group Presentations
  • 3. Overview of last week
  • 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. • 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. • 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. • 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. • If we enjoy ‘Hey Daddy’ – do we indentify with the molester?
  • 9. Discussing ‘The Elements Of Music’
  • 10. What are the ‘Elements’? • For Example • Timbre • Texture • Harmony • Dynamics • Melody • Rhythm • Mix • etc
  • 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. 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. 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. • 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. 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. 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. How Melody Can Determine Form
  • 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. 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. Example of Texture Relating to the Lyrics and/or Title • Annie Lennox: ‘Walking On Broken Glass’ • Feist: ‘The Water’
  • 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. • 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. • 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. 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. 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. • 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. How Metre Can Determine Form • “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds”: Elton John
  • 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. 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. 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. • 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. • Briefly discuss how some of the above relate to embodied and designative meaning.
  • 33. • Read Meaning In ‘Zappa’s Galoot Update paper’

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