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music music Monday

Music Monday: What Goes Around Comes Around

Did popular music run out of ideas after the first few decades? Last week I wrote about songs that sound the same. Today, we visit how we hear artists reaching back to sample from the musical buffet of the past. Sometimes it is because an artist is heavily influenced by a certain band, or like fashion, certain styles become trendy again.

Some may say the blues never went away, but some musicians made it more popular again from time to time. Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and more recently Gary Clark Jr. have all done their job at showcasing the first real North American style of music.

Folk and Celtic music had a resurgence in the late 80s early 90s, especially in Canada, with bands like Spirit of the West, Great Big Sea, and The Rankin Family, along with the explosion of folk festivals in North America. Now bands such as The Avett Brothers and Mumford and Sons are carrying on the folk-rock tradition.

When Oasis came out, people drew parallels to The Beatles. I think one of the Gallaghers said that they were what The Beatles would sound like if they hadn’t broken up. I can say that I hear some of that influence.

Do you miss Led Zeppelin? Have a listen to Greta Van Fleet. If you are a purist, then you will definitely have disdain for what they are doing. What are they doing? I think they are doing a fine job of bringing back a unique sound that hasn’t been heard for a while. If music can be reincarnated—here is your proof. 

Grunge. You mean Punk, right? C’mon. Weren’t Nirvana and Green Day just The Ramones? For the record, I like all three. Then bands like Linkin Park, Soundgarden, and Limp Biskit add Rap to their heavy grunge/metal sound, bringing in a new audience.

Disco always seems to pop up every so often. You can hear it in some of the beats being used in dance clubs and pop music.

What’s coming back next? If my love of science fiction gives me any clues, there will be one music station—sanctioned by “The One True People’s Conglomerate”—that is broadcast directly into our aural implant (genetically designed, of course—by robots or our alien overlords).

Theremin Radio: All Theremin, All the Time

 (with the theme from Star Trek in heavy rotation)

-Leon

Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar and The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.
www.linesbyleon.com

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music music Monday

Music Monday: I’ve Heard That Song Before

12 notes. How many combinations can you get? Quite a few. Most of the popular music we listen to is made up of 7, so that makes a few less combinations.

Just a quick theory lesson: Western music – not Country and Western – which originated in Europe, is based on the major scale, which we learn at a young age in music class – or from The Sound of Music. Do, Re, Mi, Fa, etc.

We label the notes from A to G. So if we play the notes in sequence A,B,C,D,E,F,G,A we get the major scale, right? Nope. That give us a minor scale. The major scale starts on C: C,D,E,F,G,A,B,C. Nothing is ever as simple as it could be. Don’t get me started on why instruments like the trumpet play the note C but it is written as a B flat in their music.

All you need to know is that if you want to write a happy sounding song, write it in a major key. Been done wrong? Heartbroken? Write a sad song in a minor key. Can you use both in the same song? Sure!

Anyway, with 7 notes, there are many combinations, but there are still instances where two songs can sound very similar. You probably have experienced that before, hearing a song and thinking that is a different one, or hearing a part and trying to figure out where you have heard it.

Sometimes it’s just a few notes – this is common because less notes=less combinations. Maybe it is a certain beat, or a chord progression. Is this done on purpose or is it accidental? I don’t think that musicians purposely try to copy another, this just invites the copyright lawsuit, and you don’t want that. It can be an homage to close influences – if you listen to a certain artist a lot, then it will influence your writing.

Get to the music, Leon.

OK. When I first heard “Nothing Breaks Like a Heart” by Miley Cyrus, all I could hear is “Joleen” by Dolly Parton. It’s very close. Very.

Wait! How many Miley Cyrus albums do you own?

None. Tell me what you think.

Are there two songs that you think sound the same?

-Leon

Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar and The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.
www.linesbyleon.com

Purchase paperback directly for the author!
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music music Monday

Music Monday: You Oughta’ Tune – Yer Makin’ Me Cry

Sometimes a song will just grab you for several different reasons. Lyrics hit close to home, a melody moves you, or the rhythm makes you want to dance. I listen to a wide variety of music, as I wrote about in a previous Music Monday: Music Monday: So Many Genres.

Here are a couple of recent favorites that may or may not make your list:

Did auto-tune ruin music? Some say that it did. It may be overused by some artists, but there is something about it in this song that makes it effective. If I’m driving when it comes on, I do turn it up.

I was going to use the video, but it was very blinky and strobey, so I didn’t want to inflict that on anyone with sensitivities.

This next song made me cry the first time I heard it. The second time too. Maybe the third. Perhaps the fourth. I can’t listen to it without tearing up.

I can’t follow up a song like that, so I’ll call it a day.

-Leon

Leon Stevens is a blogger, composer, artist, and an author of three books (so far): Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and PicturesJourneys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar and The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories.
www.linesbyleon.com

Purchase paperback directly for the author!