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  1. #1
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    Default Simplicity and Familiarity = Beauty

    I don't know if I really have a question regarding this concept, it's just something I've been thinking about...

    In my observation it is often the most simple and familiar songs/progressions/arrangements that are the most beautiful. Thinking about my own songwriting process, I find it a tendency to focus on originality and uniqueness both lyrically and musically - this approach often results in writers block. Whether it's by trying to create a "never been done before" chord progression (impossible), throwing in altered or borrowed chords, or trying to move a melody around in unexpected ways, I usually find the end result of this writing approach nothing more than disappointing. I have found that most songs (my own or others) that I am truly happy with are made up of the most common and simple progressions and melodies. While I admire the skill required to create songs that are complicated and step outside of the box, they are not usually the ones that stick with me. I know musical tastes vary from person to person, but I also know there are theoretical and scientific reasons behind why a certain progression or interval sounds so good. I mean, that's why we have a "pop' music genre, and why labels in some instances are able to use mathematical algorithms to test how likely a song is to become a hit. That said, I have very little respect for people who write formulaic music with the simple hope of writing a money making "hit". For me music is about expressing what's in my soul and there is no better feeling than when someone else hears your song and it resonates with them.

    So... anyways... I guess what I take away from writing these thoughts out and subjecting you to them, is that we shouldn't be afraid of the four chord songs or the "that reminds me of another song" type melodies. Sometimes the familiarity of those three or four common chords allows you the most freedom to get creative and expressive with the other elements of the song, the melody, a guitar lick, the instrumentation, and etc.

    I am curious to hear if anyone else has an opinion on this concept. I'll shut up now.

    Chad
    Content Producer for JamPlay.com
    [email protected]

  2. #2
    Premium Member palico's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chad.fawcett View Post
    I have very little respect for people who write formulaic music with the simple hope of writing a money making "hit".
    If it works and expresses what you want then use it. If it sounds good to you then it's GOOD. I think we tend to over anysis stuff looking for the silver bullet. When the silver bullet has been in our gun all along unused because we were looking for it instead of shooting for it. I quoted the above line however; becuase this logic, and I will admit I'm guilty of thinking this way sometimes as well, is what hold us back. We are so concerned with not become that person that we are afraid of writting a 'hit'. After all, if I could turn out "hit" after "hit" I wouldn't be sitting here typing this from my work desk, I would be typing it from a tour bus. And how does anyone know if the original (which may not be the performer) wasn't trying to express something? A lot of those "hits" seemed to resonate with lots of people. Althought there are a lot of them I just don't get either.

  3. #3
    Premium Member rarebird0's Avatar
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    Part of the reason pop music in several genres has declined is because the low-hanging fruit that was there for the hit-makers of yesteryear has been gathered up. That is not to say--like the US Patent Office Commissioner did in 1899 that "every thing that can be invented HAS been". What a foolish pronouncement that turned out to be. But since the British Invasion changed tastes for pop music featuring electric guitars, there are few hurdles that haven't already been crossed. That said, it is as you say, that music does not have to be self-indulgent. In truth I firmly feel it should not be and am turned off rather immediately when I hear music that is banal or rambling. I listened to over a hundred jam tracks over the last day and all the stuff the sounded like Pantera, got swiftly disposed of. Songs form the Beatles, Beach Boys, Mowtown, the Kinks, The Who endure all except for young snots who simply don't want to sound like their father's music. When they mature, it often occurs that what does endure is music that communicates character--that is not about someone showing off but instead welcoming the audience into a genuine relationship which you will want to return to again and again. I admire prolific songwriters who really "get" it and don't just create because the bills need to be paid. I don't know how to do it--I'm just grateful for the ones whom have touched me deeply and made such a good impression on my experience. I can enjoy some genres that are built around each player taking a solo, like with blue grass and jazz, but I tend to see that more as stuff to enjoy live than anything I want to listen to for hours on my media. The old forula still work--melody, chorus, bridge, refrain and outro.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by palico View Post
    ...how does anyone know if the original (which may not be the performer) wasn't trying to express something? A lot of those "hits" seemed to resonate with lots of people. Althought there are a lot of them I just don't get either.
    Point well taken. I agree that we can't necessarily know for sure a writer's motive unless they come right out and say it, but given that music connects with us in such emotional ways, I think we do have something like a sixth sense as far as this goes. I think that sixth sense is what defies the formulas and algorithms used to decide whether a song will be a hit or not. There is some pop music that I hate, but some pop music that I LOVE. Those are usually the ones written and performed by the artist - the artist who is invested in their work, and not just with time and resources, but emotionally invested. It has to be more than a product and I think most people can smell it if it's only a product for the performer.

  5. #5
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    Pop music is Pop music. Those chord progressions stick with us maybe because they never go away? I believe simple people like simple music. If you're material and superficial, I'm sure you'd love the superficial and material songs of the modern era. Is it not impossible for an advanced jazz song to be just as infectious? no. Take Five was a gigantic hit. Giant Steps is well known around the world! If your style tends to be more expressive and free than the simple and conforming restraints of the "pop" genre, don't worry about it. Birds don't sing pop songs to one another, but they sure seem to do a great job attracting mates with whatever the heck the song structure or formula is that they're using.

 

 

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