Origin Song

A song written about a loved one passing away. It’s something most of us have experienced at some point in our lives so it’s widely relatable.
I didn’t want to be too specific with making the song about my situation so other people would be able to relate to the song, but I feel verse 2 needed some kind of personal experience/specific memories to add another layer to the story of the song.
The song ends on the last verse, rather than going back into a final chorus. This is because I was really struggling to work out how to end. But then I thought, it’s an ongoing journey for people. You never truly forget a loved one and the emotions come in waves. So I think leaving it on the verse, takes people to a place, but doesn’t comfortably summarise the song with the chorus, I feel like it makes the journey and story of the song a bit more real & in touch with reality.
Verse 1:
The freshly picked flowers
Lay delicately across the stone
As we stand around
In the unkept garden
We can see her joy in the colour
But the weight on the day prevails
Chorus:
As we remember
Sometimes the memories become muted
As we remember
All of life’s nows become haulted
Life will go on but
you will never leave
You will never leave
Verse 2: 
So many stories to tell
She would send us up to bed
As she drunk baileys with mum
She’d drive over in her little white poppy car
with a box of chocolates having half eaten each one
Chorus
Last verse:  
The flowers have begun to droop
As they lay scattered
caught in the weeds
Stood alone with the silence of the garden
So much harder to hear her laughter
but quietly comforted by her love
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Write your own protest song…

At the age of 13
You opened the gates to the “real world”
When we saw the red number
Or we heard the bird tweet
Our eyes would light up
And we’d feel more complete
You get people on your side
with sly tricks and promotions
You imprint in our society that we cannot live without you
Younger & Younger
Stronger and stronger
The lure of connection
only to trap you in isolation
You say your the tour guide of our generation
But you leave them at the destination with no way home
It’s down to us to take back control
To detach ourselves back into the grounded world
If we spend enough time there
I hope we’ll realise it was all a dream

Protest Song Research

‘I GIVE YOU POWER’ Arcade Fire (ft. Mavis Staples)

  • Name of musician(s)/band etc

Arcade Fire colab with Mavis Staples

  • Reason behind protest and subject

The band shared the track, in the final hours of Obama’s presidency. Win Butler, frontman said “It’s never been more important that we stick together and take care of each other.”

  • Reason you picked the artists/singer

I listen to their music a lot in general and like them as a band. They are interested in the world and stand up for what they believe in, creating change with their music. For example, they continuously work to support Haitian people. One of their songs ‘Haiti’ highlights the time in their history when 30-60,000 Haitians were murdered. Win Butler has also been a vocal supporter of Barack Obama and the band has performed various free concerts for him over time as they have supported each other with their political endeavours.

  • Date

January 19th, 2017

  • Location

Made available to Tidal subscribers first & then released everywhere

  • Historical significance

May not have had an obviously world changing effect to the immediate eyes, but it did get a lot of recognition as it was Arcade Fire’s first release in two years at the time, so the fans were eager and waiting. It was a clever move as yet is a protest song, but it was also Arcade Fire’s latest single, so even if people for some reason were not interested in the politics behind the song, they gave it a listen. The song gained a lot of interest and exploration into the meaning of it whilst all the money raised by the song was given to ACLU (The American Civil Liberties Union), the first line of defence for people’s rights in America.

  • Connection with contemporary events

The song is inspired by current politics, the events of which impact our futures hugely, especially the citizens of America with Trump as their leader.

As all the proceeds of the song go to ACLU, Arcade fire and the band are obviously interested in/were worried of the effects Trump would have on human rights in America. Within the opening months of Trump’s presidency, he undermined reproductive rights, used religion to discriminate against LGBT people and religious minorities, trampled on the rights of immigrants and worked to deepen the racial inequalities at the heart of the American criminal justice system. The timing of the song’s release (the eve of Trump’s inauguration) and how relevant and true it is now, is a testimony to Trump’s idiocy during the presidential campaign.

 

Arcade Fire also shared a new piece of cryptic imagery on twitter that’s an infinity sign with a copyright symbol inside. In a video sharing “I Give You Power,” the imagery is used again with the date Jan. 20, 2017, next to it which notes Trump’s inauguration date, or possibly more. Along with the main ‘I Give You Power’ track, the band also released an instrumental version of the song – Could this be an attempt to encourage others to use the ominous music as a backing for their political pleas and shouts?

 

  • Sample of lyrics with appropriate analysis including evidence from newspapers or important events

Sample of lyrics:

 

I give you power (power)

Where do you think it all comes from? huh?

Who gives you power? (Power)

Where do you think it all comes from?

I give you power

I can take it all away

Watch me (take it away)

Watch me (I can take it away)

Watch me (take it away)

Watch me

 

The song is an encouragement to the listeners and fans; they do have power and any extreme power Trump seems to wield at this present moment in time will only last for a short time. The American people can decide again who they want in power at the next vote.

Trump is a prime example of a politician who likes to abuse their power, and this song a statement to demand that this stops.

I think ‘I give you power’ is a statement of the American people. Rather than oneself plainly declaring ‘I give you power’, it’s the voice of a nation declaring it. And the nation as a whole, does have enormous power.

 

Win Butler confidently asserts his stance and power with his menacing vocal ‘Where do you think it all comes from, I can take it away, watch me’. He’s warning Trump. He’s showing who is in control. A powerful statement when it’s widely presumed that Trump is in control at the moment. It’s an exciting proposition which listeners will take kindly to. The short, bold statements only add to the confidence of Win Butler.

  • Song Form and explain why you think that form is used 

The song does not have a typical song structure. It’s very repetitive, with subtle variation throughout.

I think the repetition is to make the point clear and to let it sink in.

It reminds me of a protest march (Thelma film?) and the phrases/short statements that would be repeated throughout a march.

In the first small section there are no echoes/repeats of the phrases, but from the second section, the echoes/repeats happen after every line. I think this is to represent ‘the people’. To show a progression from Win Butler standing on his own perhaps, to seeing a body of people rise up together in confidence for something they believe or against someone they disagree with.

The song ends with a very strong, unnerving ‘watch me’. They’re not just joking around, they’re ready for a fight. Ready to threat.

  • Relevance of the lyric: is the message convincing?

The song is a clear, declaration and warning amongst a sea of confusion, frustration and fluctuating statements associated with Trump, in the past and currently. I think the underlying confidence, verging on arrogance, in the song is very relatable to many young people in our society. Fed up and underestimated, I think they strongly relate to something like this as it’s honest, straight to the point and they get to step into a confident, challenger of Trump rather than a fearful and timid young person who has no say because they are never listened to. It provides opportunity and excitement. And the band stay true to who they are, following on so well from their last album Reflektor, this song was a great next step to engage all their current fans whilst having an impact.

ST1 Lecture 1 – Lyrical Re-Write of a Poem

A Ballad of Dreamland

Algernon Charles Swinburne 1879

 

I hid my heart in a nest of roses,

Out of the sun’s way, hidden apart;

In a softer bed than the soft white snow’s is,

Under the roses I hid my heart.

Why would it sleep not? Why should it start,

When never a leaf of the rose-tree stirred?

What made sleep flutter his wings and part?

Only the song of a secret bird.

 

Lie still, I said, for the wind’s wing closes,

And mild leaves muffle the keen sun’s dart;

Life still, for the wind of the warm sea dozes,

And the wind is unquieter yet than thou art.

Does a thought in thee still as a thorn’s wound smart?

Does the fang still fret thee of hope deferred?

What bids the lids of thy sleep dispart?

Only the song of a secret bird.

 

The green land’s name that a charm encloses,

It never was writ in the traveller’s chart,

And sweet as the fruit on its tree that grows is,

It never was sold in the merchant’s mart.

The swallows of dreams through its dim fields dart,

And sleep’s are the tunes in its tree tops heard;

No hound’s note wakens the wildwood hart,

Only the song of a secret bird.

 

ENVOI (an author’s concluding words)

 

In the world of dreams I have chosen my part,

To sleep for a season and hear no word

Of true love’s truth or light love’s art,

Only the song of a secret bird.

 

The author is creating a world that is set apart from the ‘noise’ of the current world. Like a dream or a figment of his imagination. This is where he hides his heart and wants to stay.

A ‘nest of roses’ suggests a warm, cosy, home. A place that you always return to. Perhaps the roses mean a sweet aroma & the beautiful colours & delicate texture of rose petals. The way he describes this ‘nest’ portrays a cocoon of separation from everything else – a retreat. So for ‘a song of a secret bird’ to awake his heart in this place, must mean something very particularly special?

He explains through the poem that nothing can remove him from this dream state, ‘only the song of a secret bird’. He is able to block out the noises and feelings of the world, yet somehow, this bird’s song still seeps through to his heart in this dream state.

In the last paragraph of the poem, the poet concludes what he has chosen. He wants to live in this ‘world of dreams’ for a time, with no influence of the outside world but the song of the secret bird. This to me is quite an innocent conclusion to the story of him and this love. Or at least at a glance seems innocent. He wants to be separate from everything else and only hear this love song in his heart.

‘Hear no word’ – unrealistic? Has he spent too much time in this dreamland that his love will not/may not be real because he’s blocking out something? Not hearing something?

A love without ‘true love’s truth’ – surely would be quite shallow? Or maybe his love is not reciprocated? Or maybe his love is just a memory that his dreamland evokes? He doesn’t want to lose the memory of his love because it means something to him and so he

Re-work the content as a workable lyric and song structure:

Verse 1:

I hid my heart in a nest of roses

Out of the sun’s way

Hidden apart

In a bed softer than the white snow is

Under the roses

I hid my heart

Yet it doesn’t want to rest

Awake it stays

Whilst all else sleeps

 

Verse 2:

Lie still I said

As the wing begins to settle

And the leaves shield the bright rays of sun

Life

Still

For the wind of the warm sea dozes

And the wind is unquieter than you may be

Does a thought within me stay

as a wound throbs?

Does it still nag me like the ache of a tooth?

Am I still hoping against no hope?

What opens my eyes from sleep?

 

Chorus:

Only the song of a secret bird

Reaches me in the deepest of spaces

Only the song of a secret bird

Speaks to me when all is muted

Only the song of the secret bird

Only the song of the secret bird

 

Verse 3:

This sweet and fertile land

Where the love is watering the land

The fruits that grow and the plants that are nurtured

No one else can know

In the dreamer’s mind

The swallows dance

Though laying in the wild’s grip

No call of the wildlife disturbs

 

Chorus:

Only the song of a secret bird

Reaches me in the deepest of spaces

Only the song of a secret bird

Speaks to me when all is muted

Only the song of the secret bird

Only the song of the secret bird

 

Last verse:

In the world of dreams

I have chosen my part

To sleep for a season

And hear the silence

Only the song of a secret bird

 

Outline how you have achieved this to make the lyric relatable:

Re-arranging some of the lines – to me, some of the lyrics are very precious and I love the way they were formed. However, because I wasn’t used to some of the language used, or some of the sentence structures, I thought spacing the sentences out a bit in the song and changing some of the wording, would really place more understandable emphasis on each line.

Although I didn’t want to take the charm away from this beautiful poem and how it was written, I think if I did not simplify any of the sentences or move the words around slightly, portraying them in perhaps a more obvious way, it would be too complex for a song?

I think in listening to a song, if the lyrics/sentences are too complex in understanding, it can actually take away from the song and isolate the listener. Creating a cut off? Meaning it might not be easy to interpret and therefore be relatable.

For the chorus of the song, when reading my lyrics back, I felt they could be slightly vague. However, I wanted to leave some room for the listener to feel comfortable and used repetition as a means to emphasise the focus on the secret bird, but also, leave lots of room for interpretation as to what or who the secret bird is. I think the chorus answers a lot of the questions posed in the verses, but then projects another depth of questions that is left with the listener just like the poem. There is also a lot of repetition in a lot of music now which almost creates a safety blanket with the listener; it’s something they’re used to and their brain recognises, so they find it comforting and enticing as opposed to new and unnerving.

 

Outline your reasons for the structure related to the context of the song:

I started with two verses which then went into the first chorus. I didn’t put a chorus straight after the first verse as I think the foundations of the story/song were still being layed. I wanted to suggest a bit more before answering with ‘only the song of the secret bird’. In the original poem, I noted that this was the answer to the end of every verse. And therefore as a song, I wanted this to be what all the verses/questions were leading up to in each chorus.

Quite simply, most of the focus is on ‘Only the song of the secret bird’ as it repeats with little else. I don’t usually like a lot of repetition in chorus’ in particular, however, I think as the rest of the song is quite an abstract/complex metaphor, having the simple chorus would help keep the listener engaged.

I wanted to separate each verse (apart from 1st and 2nd) with the chorus to give the listener a chance to absorb and think about what was being said. In the poem, each paragraph seems to escalate in its complexity, so I felt with the song, I should try and keep this progression, to provoke some thought, but because of this it needed some light to the shade.

I decided to leave the final line of the song the same as the final line of the poem, as it concludes very well the whole story line. It keeps one guessing and thinking about this secret bird.

Oh Wonder ‘Ultralife’ – Music Video Analysis. Lecture 1 | Task 1.

The video for the first new single ‘Ultralife’ of Oh Wonder’s latest album, sees Josephine and Anthony blissfully bouncing through an upper middle class American neighbourhood in the suburbs. The video sees them journeying through a series of surreal prospects with an heir of invincibility and euphoric tone.

The first ‘pocket of invincibility’ is seen with an elderly man from the neighbourhood starting his morning routine by placing a sweatband on his forehead with a smile. The shot then focuses on the same elderly man skipping excitably outside. The shot pans from his shoes to his head as he is clearly jumping on cloud nine and supposedly brimming with health. The rays of the sun interfere slightly with the lens of the camera creating a hazy effect. This moment is the epitome of ‘anything is possible when you put your mind to it’.

Josephine continues to bounce down the road as she leaves a trail of multi-coloured footsteps behind her and a bin miraculously turns into several basketballs. This soon sets the tone for the rest of the video being dreamlike and surreal, establishing the target audience as ‘anyone with a child at heart’. The main, clean, aesthetic of the video implies the duo may be more appealing to a pop fan, or at least wanting to appeal to these listeners just as much as the quirky

The main, clean aesthetic of the video with a pastel, saturated colour pallet reminds me of some mainstream pop videos. For example, the same colours and aesthetic can be seen in Katy Perry’s ‘Chained to the rhythm’ music video. This implies they are encouraging an audience of pop lovers as well as their alternative music loving fans. Although this video may come across as quite mainstream, I think Oh Wonder manage to creatively taint the video with their quirky characters and alternative rhythms and production with their laid back style and relaxed nature within the video.

There are not many characters in the music video, instead, leaving space for interpretation. In particular, there is a small section in the middle of the video in which there are a series of different frames, from the yellow lines on the road bending, to a candy floss cloud in the sky, to a disco ball being cut in half and revealing a watermelon. All these frames are presented very simply, with minimal busyness, I think, to create space for our imaginations as listeners to flourish and complement the feelings encouraged with the music.

In their Ultralife, track by track interview, Anthony and Josephine say how Ultralife was the last song written on their album. Written about wanting to feel invincible. Anthony says how there were 64 drum channels for this one track as they wanted to make it feel as up- beat as possible. The main driving force for the rhythm is the sound of the Indian Tabla, rolling through and on loop, it’s elements like these which I think separates Oh Wonder from your average pop duo and escalates them into the world of experimental alt-pop.

Module Task 5: Performance Evaluation

Here is the video of our final performance on our assessment day. In all honesty I was quite disappointed with how our final performance went. Even a lot of our rehearsals had gone better.

We had a quick time before our performance to go through a bit and when it came to the actual performance we had forgotten to clear our loopers from the practise and so they started playing as soon as we triggered the keys.

In our technical rehearsal the day before, a lot of the equipment we needed e.g. the foot pedal, was being very temperamental and so we had to change a couple of things. We originally had the keys mapped to one of the foot pedals for me to trigger it on and off at certain times, but as the mapping wasn’t working in the technical rehearsal, we had to use the space bar on the computer keyboard to trigger instead, but this did not work how we needed it to and messed up a few other of our already mapped triggers.

This was frustrating as in our final rehearsal the week before, we had managed to get everything working swimmingly, with all the triggers mapped correctly and working at the right times.

With this in mind, it meant at the end of our performance, when we went to press the space bar for the keys to stop, all the other sounds we had created also turned off. The song was meant to carry on for another 30 seconds but as there was an abrupt stop of all our sounds, Rosie had to come in with the song ending ‘help me’ before previously planned.

I think we felt a bit deflated because we had put so much effort into practising, researching and working out a creative/abstract concept which we all really liked. I don’t think it was down to lack of rehearsing, but more lack of time towards the end e.g. I think because quite a few things went wrong in the technical rehearsal that we had never had problems with before (particularly the mapping of things), and the performance was the next day, there wasn’t enough time to properly rectify these things.

Creatively I think if we did it again there are a few things we could change/implement. For example, the amount of reverb became quite saturating at points which we could dull down a bit. And we could have incorporated some of the audio effect racks techniques with the macro controls to manipulate the vocals at varying degrees live. However, I think we did do what we set out to do: to create an experience of schizophrenia that was captivating and different.

I think if we were to do this again, I also would be less afraid to really try a more varying set up in regards to instrument racks, audio effect racks and live looping of vocals and instruments with some experimentation towards automation and macro controls.

Final performance: Stage Plot

Screenshot 2017-05-20 14.32.16

  • 3 mics (SM58) each plugged into individual audio tracks in Ableton (Chloe audio, Rosie audio, Ophelia audio) – specific audio fx and looper applied to each channel in Ableton – very wet reflective reverb audio fx with long delay time applied to all channels – simple delay applied to my channel
  • Keys – pre-recorded midi clip of main song melody with looper applied – keys plugged into Ableton audio track through pre-amp to play some live notes during performance
  • FCB1010 Midi Foot Controller – triggering looper for Chloe and I during performance – also triggering play and stop for pre-recorded keys midi clip
  • Ableton Push – linked to midi track in Ableton with Voice ‘Sirens of the deep’ plug-in applied
  • Roland SPD – linked to midi track with instrument rack in Ableton