Meeting Learning Outcomes 01, 09 & 12

The following blog consists of four brief song analyses of varying lengths.

Stay The Night – James Blunt

Genre: soft rock, melodic folk/pop/jazz

Released: 2010, October 25

 Listen to the track here

Stay The Night gives off a cheery, upbeat, happy-go-lucky type of vibe. This is mostly due to instrumentation, rhythm and of course the chords and chord progressions used (obviously determined by the key the song was written/performed in). Instruments such as the acoustic guitar and ukulele have been used. When one thinks of these instruments one usually thinks of relaxed, light, happy and possibly “beachy” type music. Music created by Jack Johnson, Jason Mraz, John Mayer and possibly Ben Harper springs to mind. Though Blunt is usually considered in the soft rock/folk/jazz genre, the obvious influence of the aforementioned musicians can be heard in this song (musicians who lean more towards the laid-back, melodic pop/folk genres). A couple of these artists occasionally include the ukulele in their pieces but all of them heavily rely on and include the acoustic guitar in their music as the acoustic guitar is crucial to the folk and pop-folk genres (Guitarist, 2012). As a group, we decided that there was no question about the inclusion of at least one acoustic guitar track on our recreation of Stay The Night. The genre and general feel of the song could not be achieved without this instrument, whether it be strummed or plucked.

Stay The Night accurately conveys the appropriate soundstage for the emotion produced by the music. It has a feeling of many people gathering in the one place to accompany the musicians, almost like it’s being played in concert or as a giant jam session. One either pictures the ‘stage’ as exactly that or as a beach scene (possibly due to the sound of waves included on the track before the song even starts). The multiple guitars are panned either left or right, with the strummed chords to the left and the melodic picking seems to alternate between sides with different parts of the song. Blunt’s voice is always at phantom centre along with the organ and percussive elements (kick, claps, shaker). The chorused claps in particular contribute to the ‘concert’ feeling. They occur on the offbeat and make it seem as if he’s asked the audience to clap along as he plays. The simple, almost constant kick drum gives the same ‘anthem’ type feel as the claps. Both of these elements have been included in my production music version of this track to help to portray a similar feeling and/or soundstage.

The song is very tonally balanced. The timbre of each different instrument complements the others extremely well to give an impression of fullness or body. The underlying bass guitar greatly contributes to this and its contribution is particularly noticeable in the parts where it’s suddenly added to the mix. The percussive elements and rhythmic strumming pattern of the acoustic guitars during the chorus also add to this a lot. There is also a sense of frequency balance. Though most of the instruments seem to be in the low midrange (excluding the bass guitar and kick drum), their dispersion over this spectrum of the frequency scale is vast, creating a lot of interest for the listener. The dynamic range of this tune has obviously been squashed by the application of compression, however, the different instruments and their relative frequency ranges fool the (untrained) listener into thinking otherwise. For example, the bass guitar seems quieter and is occasionally not even noticeable. The acoustic guitars seem the loudest in the mix even though their levels are only a bit higher than that of the bass guitar.

What’s Eatin’ You – Airbourne

Released: 2007, January 1

Genre: Rock

Listen to the track here

The simple instrumentation of this song contributes greatly to its ‘man anthem’ feel. Very similar to anything ACDC (the kings of this genre) has released, this tune features electric guitars, bass and a simple but hard-hitting (literally and figuratively) drum beat. The catchy guitar riffs, ‘licks’ and solo are also a key contributing factor as well as the effects applied to the instruments themselves. When a listener hears this track ACDC instantly springs to mind. They’ve captured the feeling so accurately, it’s almost as if they’re an ACDC tribute band. I believe they’ve achieved this mostly through the FX thrown on their instruments, such as distortion on the guitars. Electric guitar distortion is a sure-fire way to achieve a mean, macho, crunchy sound because distortion sounds powerful and (I hate to generalize but…) people, especially men who listen to this genre of music like to feel powerful so can easily relate with this sound.

The soundstage for this song is big, like what you’d see in an ACDC concert type film clip (think Thunderstruck). This is aided by the panning of the guitars. The first starts on the left, the second is introduced in the first pre-chorus on the right to solidify the overall sound and reaffirm the ‘man anthem’ feeling. The drums and vocals are all positioned in the centre. Towards the end the vocals seem to be chorused to add to the width of the vocal centre. The guitar solo during the bridge is also placed in the centre to reaffirm it as the main feature of that part of the song.

At times, when the drums are further back in the mix, being covered by the guitars and vocals (mostly during the chorus), they sound dull or deadened, meaning they have weaker high frequencies. The vocals are grainy, not fluid like the typical singing voice.

Right Thurr – Chingy

Genre: Southern Hip Hop

Released: 2003, May 10

 Listen to the track here

Chingy’s music is mostly of the “Dirty South-influenced” variety, (Jeffries, n.d.), with a boomy bass kick and jumpy keyboard chords played almost percussively, Right Thurr is no exception. These elements along with the constant lazy claps and whining scratch sound of the chorus contribute to the level of ‘swagger’ so typical of southern hip hop/rap. Southern hip hop emerged during the late nineties, well after the establishment of East and West coast hip hop. It’s ‘dirty’ in the way that the people who were creating it are Southerners, often thought of as hicks or generally lesser folk.  The music and lyrics pertain to where that particular artist is from whether it’s Atlanta, St Louis or Miami. Each city has a slightly different style (Speyer, 2003). According to DJ Deluxx, a DJ who hails from the south, Southern hip hop has such boomy, big bass kicks because the music is made to be blasted through car speakers. The South is a boring place so people ‘cruise’ around in their cars a lot as there’s not much else to do. I’ve applied this to my recreation of Right Thurr by making sure the kick I used is boomy also as this is one of the key elements of southern hip hop.

There seems to be a wide variety of frequencies (within the low midrange) and textures throughout the song. There is the bass of the kick and running bass guitar riff, the ‘tapped’ keyboard chords around the 1kHz range and the synth keys around the 600Hz. The whiney/scratchy synth, smooth bass guitar, claps and female sighs throughout the tune are all good examples of the different, complementing timbres evident in the mix.

Note: an audio timeline in relation to this song has been uploaded to my google drive. Hopefully you can get to it here.

OPR – Gesaffelstein

 Genre: Techno

Released: 2011, July 18

Listen to the track here

Gesaffelstein’s music is unlike any other electronic music I’ve heard. It usually consists of dense, vicious, driving percussion and analog synth clangs (among other sounds). One of the main points of interest in his tracks, particularly in OPR, is the varying texture. OPR features smooth bass warbles, harsh wobble board sounds, chain-chinky sounds, grainy-drone sounds as well as the usual synth claps, kick beats and various high-hat effects. The following is an excerpt from the audio timeline I created in relation to this song. The excerpt relates to the 8 bar intro of OPR and gives a taste of the way in which I’ve analysed the piece:

“8 bar intro featuring synth vocals, whip/crack/wobble sound and claps .

 Synth vocals – Very strong reverb applied from first beat of first bar then gradually fades until disappearing at fourth beat of third bar. Reverb on fourth beat of fourth bar then back to none until fourth beat of seventh bar. Then reverb fades back into strongest level at fourth beat of eighth bar.

 Whip/crack/wobble sound – Starts at every first beat of bars 1-7. Misses bar 8.

 Synth clap – Applied to off beat between fourth beat of fourth bar and first beat of fifth bar. Applied again to offbeat between fourth beat of eighth bar and first beat of the first bar of the verse 1.”

Note: an audio timeline in relation to this song has been uploaded to my google drive. Hopefully you can get to it here.

References

-Aceshowbiz.com. (n. d.). Chingy Biography. Retrieved from http://www.aceshowbiz.com/celebrity/chingy/biography.html

-Brown, A. (2014, May 23). Live review: Gesaffelstein at the Fonda. Retrieved from http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/music/posts/la-et-ms-live-review-gesaffelstein-pummels-the-fonda-20140523-story.html?track=rss

-Gesaffelstein’s channel. (2011, July 13). Gesaffelstein – OPR [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IRiG-7c9A3c

-James Blunt. (2010, September 23). James Blunt – Stay The Night [OFFICIAL MUSIC VIDEO][Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x1yOGhnmYfI

-Jeffries, D. (n. d.). Chingy: Artist Biography by David Jeffries. Retrieved from http://www.allmusic.com/artist/chingy-mn0000773442

-John Taylor. (2011), February 11). Chingy – Right Thurr (Official Music Video) [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2aDHUa35FE

-miceblue, warrenpchi, autoexec, ClieOS, and Gorthon. (2010, July 5). Describing Sound A Glossary. Retrieved from http://www.head-fi.org/a/describing-sound-a-glossary

-Miller, M. (2008, June 10). Dirty Decade: Rap Music and the US South, 1997-2007. Retrieved from http://southernspaces.org/2008/dirty-decade-rap-music-and-us-south-1997%E2%80%932007

-n. a. (2012, November 21). History of the acoustic: folk. Retrieved from http://www.musicradar.com/news/guitars/history-of-the-acoustic-folk-567233/

-n. a. (n. a.) Sound-Shaping::Frequency Spectrum. Retrieved from http://www.bass-guitar-info.com/FrequencySpectrum.html

-NIHILUS MAQUIAVELO. (2014, March 28). WHAT’S EATIN’ YOU-AIRBOURNE [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5qDY4lrfGW0

-Speyer, A. (2003). DJ Deluxx, 2003. Retrieved from http://www.indexmagazine.com/interviews/dj_deluxx.shtml

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