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<  'Ellipse' Discussion  ~  Tidal: Form Analysis

garyewer
Posted: Thu Dec 17, 2009 4:19 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 19 Sep 2009 Posts: 5 Location: Canada
Hello all - Thought you might like to see an analysis I did of a structural aspect of "Tidal." Last year, I taught a Tonal Counterpoint class at my university, analyzing primarily the music of J. S. Bach. One thing that Bach did quite frequently was to construct a small melodic shape, and then use that shape as a "map" for the form of the piece.

I have found that Imogen uses the same technique, whether consciously or not, in Tidal, and have described it in an article on my site, http://www.secretsofsongwriting.com (It's at the top of that page, or near the top, depending on when you're reading this.)

Cheers!
-Gary Ewer
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TómasAlexander
Posted: Sat Dec 19, 2009 10:02 am Reply with quote
Joined: 16 Nov 2009 Posts: 331 Location: Edmonton, AB, Canada
This is brilliant sir!! I can easily say that I will be spending a great deal of time on your website. That info is GOLD!

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TómasAlexander
Posted: Sat Dec 19, 2009 10:03 am Reply with quote
Joined: 16 Nov 2009 Posts: 331 Location: Edmonton, AB, Canada
Not to mention the fact that you're from Nova Scotia which puts you tops in my books. My family hails from the Annapolis Valley.

_________________
"The best days of our lives, coming right up if we can just get through this one..."
"After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music." - Aldous Huxley
http://www.myspace.com/tomskander
http://twitter.com/Tomskander
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Ken's_Odyssey
Posted: Mon Dec 21, 2009 4:44 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 06 Nov 2009 Posts: 29 Location: Toronto, Ontario
This is a fascinating subject. But I’m unschooled in tonal counterpoint and the have only the most basic music understanding. I certainly do admire the song Tidal, so with respect, I have a question. There is an instrumental (guitar and/ or keyboard?) portion starting at the 7 second mark and again at the 48 second time point and repeats later again that I’m curious about. The entire song is fantastic in so many ways; there is so much happening. If you’re fortunate enough to have the deluxe album version (2 disc) the sequence is easier to isolate on the instrumental disc. OK, it seems to work with variations on a part of the scale. One note in the chord seems to be held while the others are reworked. If I were to guess (please be patient with me here) it might be a major chord , to a minor, to a diminished sequence. Is this an example of what tonal counterpoint is?
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Ken's_Odyssey
Posted: Thu Dec 24, 2009 9:48 am Reply with quote
Joined: 06 Nov 2009 Posts: 29 Location: Toronto, Ontario
Don’t you just hate it when someone runs into a room all rosy cheeked with feverish excitement…blurts out something…then runs, voice trailing, out the nearest exit?
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SteveD
Posted: Thu Dec 24, 2009 10:17 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 28 Oct 2009 Posts: 290 Location: Canada
garyewer wrote:
Thought you might like to see... my site: http://www.secretsofsongwriting.com)


Hi Gary:

Your website is excellent! Lots of great information there! Thanks for the link and also the analysis of Tidal.

I signed up for your newsletter, and look forward to having more time to browse through the various articles. I may well be purchasing your ebook(s).

Quote from your website:

"There are two reasons why chord progressions fail:

1.CHORD COMPLEXITY: Songwriters try to use too many chords.
2.CHORD CONFUSION: Songwriters use chords haphazardly without considering how chords like to move."

I definitely am guilty of #1, and I've noticed another related problem when I write in progressions: I need to extend how long the chord changes last, as having too many quick transitions makes it hard to add a good vocal line later.


Thanks! Steve
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DavidB
Posted: Mon Jan 04, 2010 10:54 am Reply with quote
Joined: 02 Jul 2009 Posts: 1203 Location: London
Thanks for the article. It is quite a long way down the page now - the date is December 16.

I see that you don't like long complicated chord progressions. You might have fun with David Bowie's 'Life On Mars'!
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SteveD
Posted: Mon Jan 04, 2010 4:41 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 28 Oct 2009 Posts: 290 Location: Canada
DavidB wrote:

It is quite a long way down the page now...


I see Gary has made a lot of updates to his website since Dec. 16th: Great stuff!


DavidB wrote:

I see that you don't like long complicated chord progressions. You might have fun with David Bowie's 'Life On Mars'!


The problem with my writing is that I really do like long complicated chord progressions, but I use them too often when a simpler progression would work better. Less is more sometimes...

"Life on Mars" is my favourite Bowie song, and one that I enjoy playing. I believe it was Rick Wakeman who played piano on that one.
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garyewer
Posted: Mon Jan 04, 2010 8:01 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 19 Sep 2009 Posts: 5 Location: Canada
Ken's_Odyssey wrote:
Don’t you just hate it when someone runs into a room all rosy cheeked with feverish excitement…blurts out something…then runs, voice trailing, out the nearest exit?


Sorry about that, "Ken's_Odyssey"... I suspect that comment was for me. I had set my prefs to let me know when someone replied, but never received anything, and so I assumed that no one had actually commented on my post. My apologies!

Regarding tonal counterpoint, that section at 48" of the instrumental part is to my ears more a good example of "inverted pedal point", which features a constant note in an upper part while the chords beneath it change. I hear this fairly constant note "F" in the acoustic guitar while the chords underneath it change (Gm7 - Bb/F - Eb(add9) etc.

Cheers,
-Gary
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garyewer
Posted: Mon Jan 04, 2010 8:04 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 19 Sep 2009 Posts: 5 Location: Canada
SteveD wrote:
DavidB wrote:

It is quite a long way down the page now...


I see Gary has made a lot of updates to his website since Dec. 16th: Great stuff!


DavidB wrote:

I see that you don't like long complicated chord progressions. You might have fun with David Bowie's 'Life On Mars'!


The problem with my writing is that I really do like long complicated chord progressions, but I use them too often when a simpler progression would work better. Less is more sometimes...

"Life on Mars" is my favourite Bowie song, and one that I enjoy playing. I believe it was Rick Wakeman who played piano on that one.

Yes, I actually like long progressions, but anytime I've ever mentioned the problem with long progressions it's more to address a problem when a song seems like "aimless wandering". Long progressions, in my opinion, aren't specifically a problem, but can be, if the listener is getting a bit lost.
-Gary
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DavidB
Posted: Tue Jan 05, 2010 2:56 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 02 Jul 2009 Posts: 1203 Location: London
Quote:
"Life on Mars" is my favourite Bowie song, and one that I enjoy playing. I believe it was Rick Wakeman who played piano on that one.


It's one of my favourites too. And yes, Rick Wakeman did play piano on the original record, before he was famous for other things.

I've noticed that on the more recent live performances, like this one with Mike Garson on piano, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AOo8J_CLCA4 , the key is C rather than the original F, but probably this is to accommodate Bowie's voice rather than to make the piano part easier. I can't imagine that Garson would have any problems with F, especially as the key goes all over the place anyway!

An amusing sidelight, as Bowie pointed out himself, is that the first part of the verse uses the same chord progression as 'My Way', though it breaks away after that. When Bowie was about 20 he wrote some English lyrics to the tune of the French song 'Comme d'habitude', in the hope of getting his first hit record, but at the same time Paul Anka was writing the version that became rather well known with another singer.... When Bowie wrote 'Life on Mars' for the album 'Hunky Dory' he put 'inspired by Frankie' on the sleeve notes, so there is a bit of a private musical joke going on.
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Ken's_Odyssey
Posted: Tue Jan 05, 2010 9:51 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 06 Nov 2009 Posts: 29 Location: Toronto, Ontario
Thank you for your reply. Apology accepted and I withdraw my earlier comment. It is interesting to note that Imogen has employed more than one technical tonal songwriting idea/skill to “Tidal”. Her songwriting toolbox overflows. And I’m happy to have learned a term for this particular musical form. Now I can praise her imaginative use of “inverted pedal point”.

I found this Wikipedia description -- sometimes you can’t trust Wikipedia but perhaps in this case it’s a reasonable place for me to start.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pedal_point



Just one more reason to admire this song.

Cheers,
Ken
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garyewer
Posted: Wed Jan 06, 2010 2:22 am Reply with quote
Joined: 19 Sep 2009 Posts: 5 Location: Canada
Ken's_Odyssey wrote:
Thank you for your reply. Apology accepted and I withdraw my earlier comment. It is interesting to note that Imogen has employed more than one technical tonal songwriting idea/skill to “Tidal”. Her songwriting toolbox overflows. And I’m happy to have learned a term for this particular musical form. Now I can praise her imaginative use of “inverted pedal point”.

I found this Wikipedia description -- sometimes you can’t trust Wikipedia but perhaps in this case it’s a reasonable place for me to start.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pedal_point



Just one more reason to admire this song.

Cheers,
Ken


I definitely agree that her songwriting toolbox overflows. In my opinion, her compositional talents far exceed most writers. An amazingly creative composer!

-Gary
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