Cool compositions, song structures, chord progressions, harmonies etc.
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Music Theory & Composition Questions & comments about composition, arrangement, and music theory. Music rules and how to follow or break them.

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Old 05-08-2018, 08:34 AM   #1
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Cool compositions, song structures, chord progressions, harmonies etc.

Dead subforum is dead. How about we all share some neat, weird, or otherwise notable tunes where conventional tonality and structure is ignored or 'misused'. I'll start with an example of the kinda thing I'm thinking of.

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So here we have harmony at an, at times, very dissonant state. Wait- dissonant harmony? That doesn't sound right...
To me, this song shows how dissonance is usable and viable, and not only a bad thing to be avoided as in most pop tunes. Very apparent in the bass register, a big aura of spooky.

The structure of the song is fairly linear and not very pop at all. By linear, I mean it doesn't have verse chorus structure, but instead does a single narrative progression. It has exposition, a gradual increase in intensity, a climax, and a falling action, however the resolution is a cliffhanger.

Not to mention the stunning performance here! But my focus for this purpose is on how dissonant the notes are, even when there is harmony.

Thus is only one example. Composition of course means a lot of things, most literally meaning writing a song and deciding what instruments play what notes and when. My idea of composition is warped in the sense that we, as modern music makers and DAW users, can compose with sounds that aren't instruments or strictly note-based. I started with something that is just funky notes.

Last edited by Tsachi; 05-08-2018 at 08:41 AM..

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Old 05-08-2018, 11:40 AM   #2
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Re: Cool compositions, song structures, chord progressions, harmonies etc.

According to the link below (from Björk's own website), the music was apparently improvised using a game controller and a special "app", that seems to have been available on the website at some time - but appear to have been taken down now.

How exactly the app worked isn't fully explained, but it sounds to me like the scales used are still diatonic and closely related. The tuning of the organ sounds like a it's a modern tempered instrument (with equidistant scale intervals).

The vocal parts seem to stay mostly in the same key throughout.

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Like one of the commenters on the Youtube link you posted, - the organ part also immediately made me think of French organist and composer Olivier Messiaen, who has definitely been a source of inspiration to Björk. One version of her song "Cover Me" directly incorporates a part of the second movement ("Les Bergers") from his organ work “La Nativité du Seigneur" (1935):

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But anyway, If you're not a Messiaen fan already, I can definitely recommend checking out some of his stuff

A personal favourite of mine is the gargantuan-sized suite of piano pieces: "Vingt Regards sur l'enfant-Jésus" ("Twenty contemplations on the infant Jesus") from 1944 - which in my version (a 3-CD set with pianist Anton Batagov) lasts about two and a half hours(!).

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Last edited by Iyashi Sound; 05-08-2018 at 01:47 PM..
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Old 05-08-2018, 03:55 PM   #3
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Re: Cool compositions, song structures, chord progressions, harmonies etc.

this is your post 666 btw. all this talk about tritones. I say we burn tsachi at the stake. Do what must be done.
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Old 05-08-2018, 04:02 PM   #4
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Re: Cool compositions, song structures, chord progressions, harmonies etc.

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Originally Posted by Tsachi View Post

The structure of the song is fairly linear and not very pop at all. By linear, I mean it doesn't have verse chorus structure, but instead does a single narrative progression. It has exposition, a gradual increase in intensity, a climax, and a falling action, however the resolution is a cliffhanger.
The music theory term for this is "through composed" fyi.. if you're wanting to do some research.
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Old 05-08-2018, 04:07 PM   #5
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Re: Cool compositions, song structures, chord progressions, harmonies etc.

Also, not sure if you're into jazz at all, but this is maybe my favorite album of all time

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it's amazing in so many ways that I won't gush about right now, but for one thing, there is a ton of expertly crafted dissonance. To me this album really strikes a balance between being "out" and being listenable. Herbie Hancock's comping on this album is so great. So sparse and perfect.
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Old 05-08-2018, 05:51 PM   #6
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Re: Cool compositions, song structures, chord progressions, harmonies etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tsachi View Post
Dead subforum is dead. How about we all share some neat, weird, or otherwise notable tunes where conventional tonality and structure is ignored or 'misused'. I'll start with an example of the kinda thing I'm thinking of.

So here we have harmony at an, at times, very dissonant state. Wait- dissonant harmony? That doesn't sound right...
To me, this song shows how dissonance is usable and viable, and not only a bad thing to be avoided as in most pop tunes. Very apparent in the bass register, a big aura of spooky.

The structure of the song is fairly linear and not very pop at all. By linear, I mean it doesn't have verse chorus structure, but instead does a single narrative progression. It has exposition, a gradual increase in intensity, a climax, and a falling action, however the resolution is a cliffhanger.

Not to mention the stunning performance here! But my focus for this purpose is on how dissonant the notes are, even when there is harmony.

Thus is only one example. Composition of course means a lot of things, most literally meaning writing a song and deciding what instruments play what notes and when. My idea of composition is warped in the sense that we, as modern music makers and DAW users, can compose with sounds that aren't instruments or strictly note-based. I started with something that is just funky notes.
Well.... that was quite a trip. Beautiful piece full of tasty production techniques and a snappy happy theme.

I didn’t hear much dissonance... other than for effect. I heard C Major. Plucked most of it out on the piano while listening... so I’m a little confused by your example. Maybe I need to listen again and focus on the bass this time...

On the subject of dissonance... a D and an Eb played a half-step apart at the same time is strictly speaking - a dissonance. Play a C an octave lower at the same time and you have a C Minor with a suspended 2nd... still a dissonance but now with context and implied resolution (the D tends to want
to fall to the adjacent C)

So... dissonance is all about context. Set up expectations then do something unexpected. Tension and resolution. The trick is ... if you go too far outside the box (the expectation) then it’s not dissonance... it’s dumb.
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Old 05-08-2018, 06:26 PM   #7
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Re: Cool compositions, song structures, chord progressions, harmonies etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mnkvolcno View Post
Also, not sure if you're into jazz at all, but this is maybe my favorite album of all time

it's amazing in so many ways that I won't gush about right now, but for one thing, there is a ton of expertly crafted dissonance. To me this album really strikes a balance between being "out" and being listenable. Herbie Hancock's comping on this album is so great. So sparse and perfect.
Now that's what I'm talking about... controlled dissonance. Never heard this album but WoW what a gem.

I'm very into Jazz, although as a performer I find it daunting.. but keep hacking at it. The Miles discography is so vast... even though he is one of my favorites it's hard to be familiar with more than a bit of it.

If you haven't heard it, try Panthalassa. It is on the other side of the cusp of moving into Jazz Rock Fusion. Sorcerer is 1967 and still firmly in the "Kind of Blue" style, Panthalassa is 1969. It's leading up to Bitch's Brew. I've heard that Miles' move away from Bebop into Fusion was prompted by hearing Hendrix at the Monterrey Pop Festival. Great story if true...

Hendrix... now there's some fodder for a discussion about dissonance!

Thank you for expanding my Miles...

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