Song Analysis Practise

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Above is my practise analysis of ‘Modern Love’ by Bloc Party and also my lead track submission.

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Instrumental Task

Group: Ophelia, Will Davis, Rosie Mountjoy

For this task we had to work with people we hadn’t worked with before. In class when were deciding groups, I was meant to go with Ross, but another group approached him to want to work with him and so I went with Will and Rosie.

Before starting the instrumental the three of us discussed as a group what we want to get from the music we were going to write. We all agreed that we wanted the piece to have a lot of emotion and soul. We sat and played our instruments as a group until we found the rough ideas we wanted to work with and then set the phone to record and and improvised around the ideas we had written. We felt by doing this music would feel natural as we would all play what we thought right for that song in that moment. With the addition of the background noise from the room and the guitar amp pulsating due to the tremolo effect Will chose to use I feel that the song holds a lot of emotion and sounds like its very honest which I really like.

If we had more time, to take this further, we could establish a more solid structure to the song – without losing the precious moments of piano stool creaks or the pulsating amp and without losing the expression of improvisation. It could have a lot more expression in certain moments through a sudden shift in dynamics and there could be some real light and shade.

When we had finished recording, I also started thinking of more ideas of ways we could experiment with sounds. For example using one of the small glockenspiels beaters to run along the keys of the piano made a really nice percussive noise which would have suited the track well.

Resource Review Task

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DYQ8nDCJXK8&list=PL1wHeEmBdcWRvv6sZo0T_E_tjSj1AJe_t&index=1

How easy to watch and understand?

  • Easy to watch but not the most captivating speaker – she spoke with quite a monotonous tone and it was half an hour of her just speaking – no varied way of presentation or anything to keep the listener interested like photos, practical analogies or videos.
  • Quite easy to understand – even when the woman was using musical terms or musical theory terms, she still made it understandable to any listener without isolating them. Using the term ‘us’ and ‘we’ rather than ‘you’. She also said that this was ok; it’s ok to be a songwriter without having an in depth knowledge of theory. She was encouraging that there isn’t one particular right and one particular wrong.
  • The woman was making 5 main points. It was hard, however, to keep track of which point she was on and whether what she was saying was a main point, or whether it was a little subheading or small detail. This made some of the things she was talking about a bit cloudy and overlapping.

What knowledge is needed to interpret it?

  • Linking back to the first question, she made it accessible to all. So even if she did use certain terminology, she always explained herself and what she meant in simpler terms.
  • I think one does need some basis beginner knowledge of song writing in order to be able to sit through the half an hour and listen without feeling overwhelmed at the subject topic.

Something you learned and could apply to your own song writing?

  • Trusting instinct – it’s good to listen to others and ask for feedback around your songs, but remember to trust yourself. Don’t rely so much on everyone’s thoughts that you begin to people please at the cost of your own song writing personality.
  • Huge contrast – a lot of commercial songs and successful songs have huge contrast between the different sections of the song: Melodically and harmonically, the frequency and pattern of the chords, repetition, groove etc.
  • How often am I making choices in my song writing without even thinking I subconsciously made a choice. And how many doors is this shutting for me without realising? To maximise opportunity, think everything through.

How relevant is it to your song writing and why?

  • At the beginning of the talk, the woman asked, ‘How many of you have listened to talks and read books about song writing and you’re just starting to hear the same things over and over again?’. This is how I felt. I feel she successfully uncovered some new tips and ideas around song writing. She used a lot of examples of where we may feel stuck in our song writing and unlocked the next level for us without just repeating what everyone else says.

Eurovision Song

Eurovision Song Final Write Up

Group: Rosie, Ophelia, Sarah, Guy

During the lecture where we were set this task, we gathered as a group to discuss possible topic ideas for a Eurovision song. I suggested the topic of terrorism and writing a song that was about fighting and defeating terrorism in the UK but which could also be applied to the other countries across Europe. Everyone seemed to be on bored with this and liked the idea so we started forming ideas.

We gathered in a rehearsal room as a group, Sarah on keys, Guy on electric and Rosie and I looking at lyrics. I suggested the ‘Victorious’ line and the pre and Rosie worked well on forming the verses for the song. Although I felt like the chorus was quite simple, I suggested it because a lot of the successful Eurovision songs have a lot of repetition and chorus’s that belt out optimistic and simple lyrics.

We managed to form a rough idea for the song as we all discussed chord progressions and Guy suggested some nice inversions for the verses.

I got quite excited about the idea of creating a full track for this as part of what makes Eurovision what it is, is the large production and crazy, big songs.  We booked the studio to be able to properly record the vocals etc, and I bought the track I created on logic with me to the studio. I played it to all of the group and they said they liked it – there were no comments asking not to use it.

Here’s a screenshot of the project in logic for all the instrumentation. I used a lot of vocal samples and programmed drums using Ultrabeat to try and really emphasis the moments of build in the song.

eurovision screenshot

We recorded the vocals successfully in the studio. Here’s the full track:

Here’s the backing track:

And here’s the vox track:

Here’s the lyrics to the song:

(the numbers in each bracket at the end of each line represent the syllable count)

Lyrics

 Intro

Dm  C G     Dm  C  G

1st Verse:

Dm       C                G

When we were younger 5

Dm         C            G

And we used to play 5

Dm G     C

On the streets 3

Dm     C     G

It was so safe 4

2nd Verse:

Dm    C            G

Hear it on the news 6

Dm    C                G

A war breaking out 5

Dm            C          G

But you’ll never feel the pain 7

Dm    C                           G

Till it happens in your town 7

Pre-chorus:

F                             G

And as the heat heat heat is rising 9

                  Am                G

We come together as one 7

                    F                             G

And as the heat heat heat is rising 9

                   Am

We come together 5

Chorus:

               F           C

We are victorious 6

Am     G

victorious 4

               F          C

We are victorious 6

Am             G

We are we are we are 6

Victorious 4

F C Am G

F C Am G

Verse 3:

Dm             C               G

A country brought together 7

Dm          C             G

Through sharing grief 4

Dm    C         G

A common ground we stand 6

Dm   C          G

Striving for peace 4

Pre-chorus

Chorus

We wanted the chorus to be ‘Victorious’! This is why we lifted the melody at the end of each ‘Victorious’ in the chorus and we kept the lyrics very simple so Rosie could have freedom with her voice to really let loose and emphasise those big notes.

I was pleased with how the verses turned out because they are easy to sing and the phrasing sits well with the chords and the melody. Although some lines may seem to have more syllables, I think there is a strong coherent pattern established from the very start of the song which helps the prediction of the phrasing in verse 2.

We started the verses on a minor to try and show the serious side to the song and the subject matter, without turning into a slow emotional number. This also meant when we reached the major in the chorus, it felt a lot bigger and momentous. We used personal pronouns such as ‘We’ to highlight the collective nature of Eurovision and tried to make the lyrics as specific as possible using inspiration from recent terrorist attacks in the UK, but without being too specific so they could be applied to a lot of the recent past events across Europe.

We repeated the ‘heat’ in the Pre chorus to help the energy build in the song, increasing the pace on each beat rather than leaving a gap which complimented the build in the instrumentation.

When the song reaches the chorus, you can tell among the lyrics that it’s the chorus, but it’s quite hard to tell by the instrumentation that it’s the chorus. This is because I was very much focused on creating the build into a drop after the last ‘victorious’ at the end of the chorus and it’s therefore hard to distinguish between the pre and the chorus.

The track is also very messy in terms of levels and perhaps too much going on. If we had more time I’d put a lot more work into getting the arrangement of the instrumentation to a good level so it can completely compliment the vocal.

Due to time we weren’t able to record the third verse and we had a small idea in mind for a bridge to repeat ‘Never to be defeated’ and build on that back into another chorus, but I didn’t have time to get the track that far.

Eurovision Revisited

This is where doing the group work became a lot harder. Due to a lot of other things going on at once, it was hard to meet as a group to do this task. Rosie and I had booked a studio session but didn’t have the other things ready to record as planned and so we worked on this task together. It was quite a quick decision on the day and we didn’t communicate well with Sarah and Guy.

Rosie and I sat at the piano with the lyrics and chords to the original version we had done, and we discussed and tried out a few different ways we could alter the song.

Here are some examples:

    1.

2.

3.

4.

We were a bit limited with the experimentation as it was just me at the piano and Rosie’s voice but it didn’t stop us exploring the phrasing, tempo, melody and chord progressions of the song. We focused specifically on the chorus of the song to try different variations, before picking the one we liked most to properly record.

  1. The first variation we tried was a slowed down ballad style. I started with some higher octave piano and we really slowed it down which also meant Rosie had more time to sit in the vocal and run freely on the ‘Victorious’.  On the third line of the chorus Rosie altered the melody to run down at the end of ‘Victorious’ which really complimented the piano. We left a lot of space in this alteration and it opened up a lot of room for emotion to be felt through the song.

2. In the second variation we kept the speed up slightly but altered the chord progression to start….

And altered the melody to run down on the Victorious.

It sounded ok but the chord progression sounded quite naff and samey with nowhere really to go. This hand in hand with the change in melody to sink rather than lift, meant the chorus lost its power and energy and sounded quite mundain.

3. In the third variation we wanted to emphasise the ‘We’ rather than the ‘Victorious’. So Rosie elongated the ‘We’ and was a lot more sharp and staccato in how she sang the victorious, really pronouncing the S which made it sound like a statement with a lot of conviction. The elongation of the ‘we’ shifted the meaning of the song to focus on the community and joining together of nations through Eurovision, rather than just focusing on being victorious.

4. The final variation saw us create a much more staccato, high energy version. I played the chords with a bit more bite and staccato whilst sustaining each third chord and Rosie sang again with more precision of each pronunciation and S sound. This was the first variation where there was no emphasis on a particular word. It would lend itself quite well to a high energy, dance, dubstep track.

We decided to go for variation one – the ballad like version.

Here’s the recording below:

It’s a very rough recording.

Here’s the chords:

Intro

Am  G  F   Am  G  F

1st Verse:

Am       G                F

When we were younger

Am        G             F

And we used to play

Am G   F

On the streets

Am     G    F

It was so safe

 

2nd Verse:

Am    G            F

Hear it on the news

Am    G                F

A war breaking out

Am            G          F

But you’ll never feel the pain

Am    G                           F

Till it happens in your town

 

Pre-chorus:

F          G

And as the heat is rising

                  C

We come together as one

                    F            G   

And as the heat is rising

                   C

We come together

Chorus:

               C          

We are victorious

F

We are victorious

                      C

We are victorious

F

We are victorious

Am G  F

Am G  F

Verse 3:

Am             G               F

A country brought together

Am          G             F

Through sharing grief

Am    G         F

A common ground we stand

Am   G          F

Striving for peace

Things to note:

  • Vocal is most prominent in the mix – this is not a mistake – the kind of vocal where you can hear a pin drop – could imagine a country singing it on Eurovision coming from a place of pain and experience but being able to sing with hope
  • Piano is very simple – partly because I didn’t have lots of time to practise a part and we recorded the vocal and piano together in one take due to time restraints – but I didn’t want it to fill up too much space
  • I added some strings to the track in logic – mainly playing single sustained notes to lie underneath the vocal and to draw out a particular part of the melody which was nice – for example on ‘a common ground we stand’ the E of the A minor chord is the sustained strings note which carries a contrasting minor feel to the major chords in the rest of the phrase.
  • I used a descending chord progression for the verses to contrast with the ascending chord progression in the pre – I think this creates a nice sandwich with the chorus as the chorus is a very steady chunk of the song with minimal chord changes staying in the same area – I actually just played the C and G notes with my right hand continually throughout the chorus and emphasised the change of chord with the strings playing the root note (the C and the F).
  • We took the repeated ‘heat’ out of the pre and instead just sung it once as it makes it feel more genuine and fits with the feel of the rest of the song. It no longer needs the repetition to build the energy of the song.
  • The melody of the verses didn’t change too drastically but the timing of the phrasing did. There is an elongation of each of the words in the verses and a slight pause, whereas before there seemed to be more of a hurry.
  • When recording this version we didn’t feel like we needed to include the bridge we had vaguely discussed for the original Eurovision song as it was gentle and I think we would have just been adding it for the sake of it

 

If we had more time:

  • There would be a lot more instrumentation to show the real light and shade of the song – I can imagine it being performed with an orchestra with a lot of varying textures and the prominent passionate moments would have lots of layered strings and perhaps a lot of the brass section at these points also. The real peaks of the song and builds of the song could have some orchestral bass drum and cymbal crashes to accentuate these moments. Whilst the quieter moments could have some subtle woodwind and light violins.

Location Song

Initial Idea – Research – Reference Tracks?

The first idea I had was very literal. I was going to write about the location of me being sat in my room reading my bible. As I began to think more about this I started to think of how I always feel loved, because God is always with me, so that’s a location in itself; feeling at home in His love.

I listened to Kari Jobe’s ‘The Garden’ which she wrote in response to experiencing real heart break when losing her niece. She said in interview ‘God used a garden in my backyard to help me remember that He is always at work to turn extremely difficult situations into beauty.’

I was inspired by this and wanted to write a song about a picture God gave me about seeing the world from his perspective. I was on a train, feeling quite bogged down and noticing all the grey, large concrete blocks in the skyline of Birmingham, when he showed me a line of colour and said to me ‘this is the line of the world I want you to see… the same world but noticing the colour’.

Despite me being inundated in a uni culture which is quite different in contrast to a Christian way of life, I felt God remind me that I’m at home in His love. Despite being part of this culture, it’s not my home and it doesn’t mean I have to live like everyone else within this culture: there’s two conflicting lines I felt him show me – God’s line of colour and the way of culture.

1st draft:

Verse 1:

                    C

6 You’re the line of colour

                  F                                   C

8 Pushing through the clouds in my mind

C

2 Steady

F

4 Underlying

F       G    Am         Am  G F

8 Higher than the lowest feeling

F      G      Am        Am  G    F

8 Brighter than the darkest moment

F

5 You are my lifeline

Pre?

(But) You have gone before me

You are with me now

You have gone before me

You won’t ever let me down

 

Chorus:

C

6 I am home in Your love

                                             F

8 A house made of vibrant colour

          Dm

6 Your truth and steadiness

G

8 The walls of this sanctuary

                         C

I am home in Your love

                          Am

I am home in Your love

                 F

Home in Your love

Verse 2:

 My eyes are drawn away for a moment

          C                                            F                 C

14 I can see a second line running parallel to You

C

3 Wavering

         F

2 And dull

           Am G F                 F G Am

8 In the shadow of Your colour  

       Am G F              F         G        Am

9 I’m curious of the things unseen

                                     F

7 But You are still my lifeline

                             G

5 Yes You are my lifeline

Chorus

Bridge:

               Am

Has the colour begun to fade?

          G  

Everything seems dull

    F

My mind is so distracted

                                       Am

Yet You’re still at the centre

                      G

Though the shades may have changed

          F

Your truth and love remain

        F

The constant lifeline

 

(repeat and build)

 

Chorus

 

Main observations in response to 1st draft:

  • I don’t think the pre is needed – I think it could be a song in itself – I know what I mean by adding it in, but I think it needs more context and description which I can’t focus on in this song as it’s focused on something different
  • Is the chorus all one? Or is the second half more a loose singing out?
  • Verse 2: turn first line into two lines
  • Repetition of the word dull – could find a better word
  • Perhaps say grace instead of love in last lines of bridge – but don’t want to be throwing words around for the sake of it – what do I actually mean?
  • Pattern of phrasing and syllable count in bridge is very messy
  • Do I need the second ‘Yes You are my lifeline’ at the end of verse 2? If I lose it, it’ll have the same number of lines as verse 1.

 

Lyric Scaffold:

  • Who is singing? Me
  • Who is the singer addressing? God (This is a particular you)
  • What is the overriding emotion conveyed by the singer? Thankfulness, love, hope, comfort.
  • Any other element: idea of the two lines
  • When? Now – present
  • Summarise what the lyrics expresses in one sentence? No matter what, God is always with me – He is my home
  • Song structure: ABABBCCCB?
  • Universal element? Worship song – singing about what Christians believe – relatable to the church

 

1st Draft Lyric Checklist:

  • Have I grabbed the listener’s attention in the first line?

I think there’s an heir of curiosity and intrigue within the first line – who is you? What does it mean by ‘line of colour’?

  • Is the song form I have chosen the most appropriate?

In the context of it being a worship song, I think so. The verses establish the growth of the story whilst the chorus hammers home the main message of the song and the bridge is the place to build and take it to another level to facilitate people in worship.

  • Is the lyric hook in the chorus correct I.e it sums up the key message of the song?

The first line is simple and easy phrasing. Maybe the second line could be a bit simpler in terms of phrasing? And fitting in with the rest of the chorus?… Cutting out the ‘A house made of’ as the concept of home has already been established in the previous line?

  • If there is a bridge, does the lyrics and story change direction sufficiently?

There could be more depth to the bridge? The story changes direction slightly but there is some repetition from the second verse in terms of things seeming dull and also with the chorus ‘your truth’ has been repeated. Perhaps I could make it clear in the bridge what makes it hard to remain on God’s line and at home in his love? I.e. sin which gets in the way etc?

  • Does the chorus reflect the outcome of the verse sufficiently?

In my head it does. But it is all very metaphorical? Is it too hard to interpret/understand? The chorus talks about a sanctuary and home but then the verse is focused on the line? Is it clear that this line is God and his view?

  • Have I ‘driven home the song title message enough so the listen will remember it after one hearing?’

This is one thing I think I have done. ‘Home in your love’ is the title, and that’s the main lyrics in the chorus, repeated many times.

  • Have I managed to move the story on through verses, or am I merely repeating myself in subsequent verses?

Within the second verse, the idea of a second line is introduced but it could be clearer – I’m happy with the first four lines, but afterwards ‘I’m curious of the things unseen’ I think is too vague. I also want to change ‘dull’ to a different word. Could be more specific that verse two is about introducing another line and how I’m torn between God’s line and this line.

  • Have I built a consistent emotional tone throughout?

I think there’s definitely a consistent acknowledgment of a higher power. Placing God in his rightful place within the lyrics? Expressing the tone of thankfulness and love through this?

  • Have I put the singer in a good light? Is the tone overly preachy and moralising, so as to make the listener not relate to the singer?

It depends on the context of the song. I’ve written this song as a worship song for Christian’s to listen to, or people who like worship and CCM. So in this context, it’s relatable and it’s good to explore emotions and looking to God in praise and adoration. However, I can see how for a non-Christian listener, the lyrics could be seen as very strange and perhaps ignorant? But then because, especially in the chorus, it’s almost like a love song, perhaps a non-Christian listener would interpret it in their own way and be able to relate it to a relationship or partner.

  • Can I imagine an established recording artists singing these words?

In all honesty, not at the moment. I know what direction I want it to go in and then I can imagine it, but not just yet.

  • Is the lyric clear?

Not really at the moment – need to bring clarity, be more specific and really pin point what I mean by the metaphor

  • How is my rhyming? Have I ‘forced’ any just for the sake of it that then makes my lyric weaker?

I haven’t really used any rhymes? Could it be something I use to help the flow of the lyrics? Help create a more established pattern?

  • How well have I made the melody and lyric work? Is the emphasis on syllables correct?

No. Not at the moment. Very sporadic syllable patterns across verses and bridge in particular.

  • Have I built the song to an emotional payoff?

I think it evokes an attitude of thankfulness and positivity but from a place of truth and facing reality (portrayed in the second verse and bridge)?

  • Are the tenses in the text correct according to the story?

Yes – all present tense

2nd draft:

Verse 1:

6 You’re the line of colour

8 Pushing through the clouds in my mind

2 Steady

4 Underlying

Verse 2:

6 But there’s a second line

8 Running parallel to you oo

2 Lacking

4 Mysterious

Chorus:

6 I am home in your love 

6 You’re the line of colour

6 Your truth and steadiness

8 The walls of this sanctuary

Repeat verse 1

 Chorus

 Bridge:

7 When your colour is muted

9 And the darkness seems overwhelming

4 Your just as bright

5 You’re just as present

6 Help me to remember

What did I change from the previous draft?

  • I simplified the first and second verse – I tried to really pin them down to what I actually meant to say and I wanted their syllable patterns to match. The subject choice in both verses are completely contrasting but I wanted their structures to be the same.
  • I changed the lyrics in the chorus slightly from ‘A house made of vibrant colour’ to ‘You’re the line of colour’ to really hammer home the point and give the chorus a bit more context.
  • I completely shifted the bridge around, making it about the conflict between the two lines but God’s strength within that and used the last line to really build and link back into the chorus to help the journey of the song and join the sections together.
  • I like to think that the words I have given a whole line to i.e. ‘steady’, ‘underlying’ etc. are emphasised in their meaning through being isolated. The melody over these words would be ‘steady’. It would be ‘lacking’ because at these points musically, there wouldn’t be much going on. And it would be ‘mysterious’ because of these things.

 

I much prefer this draft of the lyrics compared to the first. I think the story of the song is a lot clearer. I have repeated the first verse after the first chorus as that was the initial idea I had for the song – the picture I had – and it’s the positive part of the initial setting of the scene which I want to be more prominent than the second verse. I don’t feel it needs a third verse as I don’t want to overcomplicate the metaphor etc.