People often underestimate various aspects of music. The tune is all good and well, and for about ninety percent of people its the main thing that they hear and pick up on, the way that they communicate the song with others and the way that other people are able to understand their passion for it. And there is nothing wrong with the tune. Most songs we hear especially on the radio and the like are designed that way, so that the tune is something simple and consistant that we can pick up on, and to be honest in a lot of songs the tune is the most well formed and precise piece of the music. There is a reason that it is often the tune that fits into those common chords, meters and the expectations that I laid out in my previous post.
But there is so much more to music then just the primary tune that we hear. So much more goes into it. In fact through my musical experiance at my choir, with instruments on my own, and just standing in the kitchen and messing around with songs, seeing what I could do to them in so many ways, I would argue that the tune of the song is generally the least importaint part of it. Yes, sometimes the tune carries one emotions so inexplicably strong or consistant that it seems wrong to mess around with the parts of it, or that no matter how you mess around with it it always still seems to carry the same message and emotion. But these songs are rarer and fewer between then people might think. With those songs, the notes are often the most importaint part of it. I plan on doing another piece on that later down the line. There will be minor and major parts to it (hint hint for anyone with music theory in their background)
But there are three other parts that are so importaint to music pieces as well, one of which I will talk about in my next post: Harmony, Tempo and Tone (which will be covered later)
One thing that I often tell people who think they know everything about a particular song is to go and listen to it again with headphones on. I dont even have particularly good headphones, cheap 30 dollar ones from the nearest Officeworks, and no, not buds, I own headphones that cover the ears which is good as they partially work as sound cancelling that allow you to focus more on the music. Its amazing how much more that you pick up with headphones to be honest. The things that artists put into the backgrounds of their songs subtly often have a far greater impact then you know. Its why sometimes they sound hollow when people are singing it just by themselves. Quite often when I sing a song I often get strange looks and cautious comments that I am actually singing it wrong, and that its not right. More often then not when that happens Im singing a harmony part, one of the underlying tunes that you can hear so much better with headphones and oftentimes I like the sound of those parts more. It also makes these songs fun to sing with friends as you can sing the harmony, while they sing the melody and all of a sudden it sounds a million times better
So thats the challenge I set people. Get some headphones that can divide up sound pretty well, put a few songs you like on your playlist and to try and pick up one of the other parts. The good thing about headphones is that the parts of the song get divided up between the two speakers. Bass will often be heavier in one, as will all the various tracks that the harmony parts sit on, and the tune will sit somewhere quite different. Its often interesting to identify which headphone that the tune is coming through and to actually pull that one OFF your ear, leaving you with nothing but the bass and harmonies.
Mind you, this doesnt work for all songs, not at all, some songs are simple and kept that way on purpose. Ive included two interesting songs for this method below though
Ideally I would recommend getting these songs from a CD or itunes, as Youtube doesnt seperate audio tracks very well so this method doesnt work as well, but you might still be able to get a sense for it
Josh Pyke - New Years Song Josh Pyke- New Year's Song
Josh Pyke - Forever SongJOSH PYKE: Forever Song
Many Josh Pyke songs are actually excellent for this example. Instead of singing or playing along to the melody, try and pick out one of the parts overing underneith
Other songs of his I recommend are: Memories and Dust
, Middle of the Hill
& The Summer
Tempo is the pace at which we sing or play the particular piece of music. The speed is you will. Rthyhm is something quite different, being the parttern that the notes take, how long they are held out. No double I will go into that more later. But tempo is more important then you would imagine. I cant really provide any examples for it at all as its just something that you have to play around with and find out about on your own.
But we hear it all the time when we speak, someone who speaks faster is generally seen as being more excited and happy, someone slower more sad. And really speaking is just another way of producing sound, and thats all music is, sound to a particular cadence and tonal set. Speaking can be another form of music, why else do we refer to people with beautiful voices as having a musical voice?
Grab a song you like and experiment with speeding it up or slowing it down in various ways, at various parts. Of course because you know the song youre going to know how you feel about it, but if you can do it well you might find those songs that can sound so different in the way that they are paced out. Less songs can be changed around with this, but it is interesting to play around with and especially with choral songs in particular, over recorded pieces that you hear on the radio, and some band songs etc, the tempo can mean a great deal more. More energy and life, while slowing a song can drag and become quite miserable all around.
Play around with these two and see what you can come up with
Ill be covering tone in my next entry into this blog
So thanks for reading and as always, more to come...