shadow-m00ses: are you fucking kidding me. oli sykes isn't a caring person? have you seen any of the stuff he's said about how much he loves his fans and how the letters they send him mean the world to him, and he even plastered his walls with them. completely covered. that man would go out of his way to make sure a fan is alright, i know from personal experience. do some research before judging someone.
How about no?
This week we worked on finishing up the composition and practicing of all of our songs. We finished with Michelle’s song a laid back indie/pop song with fantastic melodic composition in relation to vocals, lyrics, guitar parts and bass. I was filling the role of lead guitarist in this piece playing lead parts over sections of the song where there were gaps in the vocal lines or when there were no vocals at all. It was like playing along to one entire hook, the entire song was catchy and had a very unique compositional structure. The song actually ended on a build up after a chorus, which usually would be the total opposite with a build up leading into a chorus or double chorus then finishing. This song built up over 8-12 bars and finished at the height of a build up leaving the listener wanting for more. I found this to be a very strategic writing element as it would entice people to re-listen to the song. After this song was completed we spent our time rehearsing over the other songs for the upcoming performance.
With the performance now just around the corner we needed to draw up technical sheets and lead sheets. The tech specs, as they were referred to, were our list of needs which were to be given to the sound engineer to make sure we had ample equipment and space on stage to perform with. Our tech specs included P.A system for vocals, keyboards and acoustic guitar, electric guitar amp, bass amp, shakers and a drum kit. Without any of these elements it would make our performance impossible.
Lead sheets were also created by each member of the group containing the structure of each song, any lyrics that were in the song and the chords for the musicians to follow. For my lead sheet, Oedipus, having no vocals meant I had to be very particular on which section was which and had to go into detail about what each instrument did at each section due to the artistic styling of the piece. As acoustic guitar and bass are the tow main voices in the song the chords were worked out from the bass notes and used for the lead sheet. This was decided as the bass has the most impact on a foundation level, harmonically, and any notes above it that may fall in and out of tune are passing notes which are essentially based around the notes the bass guitar would be playing. After drawing up this lead sheet I realized that we had completed our semester of band work and instrumental composition and arrangement and that the performance was just around the corner. With this in mind I arranged two extra practices before the event, one two hour session just three days after our class (in which we practice every week) and one three hour session the day before the performance.
This experience was fantastic and I would gladly do it again. Having an opportunity to write music with people is stress relieving and fun, you also get music out of it too! I found that exploring creative interests with like minded individuals to be a great class exercise and learning experience. We are all supportive of each other’s pieces and are becoming nervous due to the performance as we do not wish to ruin any of our own member’s songs on stage. Now that the goal of this blog has been completed I believe it is time to say that this will be the last blog in this series, thank you for reading!
Modulation is the changing of key in a musical piece. Modulation can be done in a number of ways. During lectures we were shown how to change from the key of C to Gmajor. To modulate to the new key from C one must have a chord sequence running playing a variant of chords from the key of C. The easiest way to change is to move from the tonic chord to the dominant seventh of the new key and then revert back to chord one of the new key e.g C-D7-G. This modulation can be used to add layers to a piece, show off a progressive nature through extensive use, create a feeling or mood within your music and many other things. This was a valuable lesson to learn and something that I find I will have to consider whenever I’m writing my own music in the future.
In relation to band work the group were working on my own song, an artistic piece written for my philosophy module the previous semester. It’s a piece I was really confident in melodically which was also technically challenging. There were key changes and time changes which made it an overall complex piece in my opinion. I chose to use this song as it was still very new to me and I was interested to see where it could go with other instruments thrown into the mix. This song however had a very abrupt modulation from one key to another. It was a very dramatic and interrupted change, separate from the rest of the song up to the point where the change occurs. This was intentional however, as the piece is composed around the life of Oedipus from the Book Oedipus Rex by Sophocles.
This piece was very minimal and contained extremely minimal drum parts, a shaker part, some electric guitar and most importantly bass support throughout. The bass and guitar really worked together on this piece to create a groove and kept a flowing motion throughout the piece even though there are rests before entering new sections at times. For example on the changeover from one picking section to strumming blues section the bass work compliments the guitar in ways that I hadn’t imagined before hearing it. The bass notes really bring out a tone from the piece that really solidified the change and made it seem more pronounced. The electric guitar parts too added various dynamics to the track as it exuded a lead melody in a very subtle way throughout the piece and ebbed and flowed into the song without being extremely noticeable. The shakers created rhythm in the very relaxed piece which I found became crucial to the song, after only hearing them once it was decided they were not expendable and needed to be in the song. The drums provided a very solid beat which the other instruments were able to groove around and work through their melodies, without the minimal drumming the song would have changed in a bad way stylistically and would have been ruined. Overall I am delighted at how the piece turned out and have been considering recording it after we finish up for the semester.
This week in lectures we looked at string composition. There are four string instruments contained in a quartet, these are two violins, a viola and a cello. These are included because of their differences in register/pitch. Two violins can be used in harmony with each other because of the dynamic range of the violin and the high/low pitches it can reach. The viola is used for a mid section, written in the alto clef, this string is the tie between the violins and the cello (bass). The quickest way to identify the alto clef (other than the alto clef signature) is that “C” is on the third line, so if you are accustomed to working with regular ledger lines and middle C etc, you would start writing there as middle C. String instruments use a variety of techniques like legato, tremolo, staccato, detaché, octave and pizzicato. A common use of strings is to have the lower sections play elongated base notes while the violin(s) play shorter, faster melodies as a sort of lead section.
In relation to the band this week we decided we would not use any strings in our pieces as none of the members could play a string instrument (excluding guitar/bass). Work continued with Jack and Dave’s songs and we looked into another song too. With regards Jack’s song there were some issues with the keys in the backing track being out of time, this caused a huge problem as using a backing track meant we had to be 100% on the ball when performing a sit was, but with odd timing going on in the track it was virtually impossible to play along to. This track needed to be edited so we adjourned work on that song for the week. Dave’s song moved along swiftly and smoothly with no complications. As his song was pre-written it was simply a matter of us each learning our parts for the song and adding our own flavor to it.
The new track we looked at this week was my own song. This was an instrumental piece I had written for a project in the previous semester. It was written as an artistic piece and was very stylistic, not encompassing any particular genre within itself. The piece was originally written to be just acoustic guitar but we began to work on learning it and assigning roles for who would play each part on the song. The group took a recorded version of the song and settled on listening and working on ideas over the course of the week. This concluded our practice and work for the week.
So far we’ve completed: 2 songs (group composition and Dave’s song)
Left to complete: 3 songs (mine, Michelle’s and Jack’s)
Note: There are 5 in the group and there must be one song per person but one person is also allowed to claim the group song as their own based on the work they put into it. Kayleigh, who plays piano in the group took that song as her own as her part is the most memorable form the entire song.
Moving onto new songs this week we began to look at Jack’s song “Jack it up”. This was a straight up modern pop song, synth-laced backing track and backup vocals included! This piece was entirely different to the previous song we had written together, being more upbeat it was a good change and we were all pretty positive going into working on it. While there was no single person in the band playing the keys on this track, there were parts written into the backing track which we needed to work around. To make this work the guitars needed to work in a certain way around the keys parts.
As this song relied on the main melody the guitars in the song (electric and acoustic) were playing simple chords to back up the main notes of the synth lead parts. By playing the basic chords on guitar this allowed the lead track to flourish by arpeggiating notes and giving a wonderful and complex sound to the song.
As a group we decided to look at all of the upcoming songs we needed to learn and how many had already been written by the members of the band. Dave’s song “can’t get out of here” was written as a kind of Brit pop or pop/rock song relying on catchy vocals and a main chorus lead section to hook the listener. To incorporate all of the members of the band in this song the lead sections from the guitar were taken and changed to parts for keys.
What could have been very problematic is that the piano and the guitar can sometimes play the same role in a band. They can accompany, solo, supply rhythm and play melodic material. The potential conflict between piano and guitar is something that is often ignored. All the musical decisions are up to the two members of the group playing keys and guitar when it comes to this area. If each ignores the other, the support that is the function of the rhythm section is lost. Good communication between the guitarist and pianist adds tremendously to the sound of a band. Just like the rhythmic qualities of the drummer and bassist playing together (as mentioned in previous blog) to create rhythm parts and accents, guitar and keys can do this too, a long with a vast array of other techniques to enhance the musical dynamics and compositional layers of the song.
This was avoided by consciously deciding to have the keys and guitar work together in Jack’s song with the same melodies and compliment each other in Dave’s song with alternating melody lines and lead sections.