Forum Overview :: No Stairway to Heaven
 
Composition or construction of music by Tansin A. Darcos 08/16/2022, 2:15am PDT
Having been a computer programmer for decades, I recognize how sheet music is a set of instructions on how to perform a particular composition and arrangement. Even descriptions of lyrics have similarities to a program, where choruses are subroutines and the general lyrics are straight-line instructions. (Dylan Beattie made fun of this by creating a parody programming language name "Rockstar" so that people can claim they are Rockstar programmers. After he posted the code to the Rockstar compiler on GitHub, people thought he was serious and started reporting bugs in his compiler program.)

But what I want to talk about is the construction of musical compositions, not the design of them. If you've ever listened to a song, it tends to be the musical equivalent of a dish of lasagna, a multi-topping pizza, or a frosted layer cake. There is a floor tune, some basic combination of notes, followed by additional musical elements added as another "layer." In some cases, interesting "spices" can add to the performance, as separate instruments provide a contrasting sound. (It is interesting to mention that subtle flavors in food or alcoholic beverages are often referred to as "notes".)

Let's not forget, the human voice is an instrument. Anyone who disagrees is invited to listen for the "Oh oh, oh oh" tones sung at about 3:27 of the song this message board is reverse named for, "Stairway to Heaven" (the "Flash Mob Cover Version".) I show below, not the original by Led Zeppelin; theirs uses an actual instrument for this part). The voices are being used in exactly the same way as other instruments such as flute, organ, or horns.

Again, the voice used as an instrument is at about 3:27:


This is the original if you want to compare the two. The point I am referring to is at about 6:24 in the original:



I'll give an example of how minor notes can add "spice" to a composition. Here is a song, "Don't Start Now" by Dua Lipa. If you've never heard it, try listening.




Now, if you listen normally, you probably recognized the drum line starting at 0:13, but I'll mention something else. Notice what is played at 0:57. I did not even notice it when it was first played (on radio), and maybe a few times after. Subsequent replays caused me to notice it. A cowbell, at that one point. Once you notice it, you can't help noticing it every other time its used in the song. Yet, as I pointed out, I never noticed when it was first played.

Now, I'm going to look at an entirely different recording. I wish to point out my referencing of this song does not mean I agree with or support its religious message, I'm just pointing things out in the music and how it is arranged. The song is "Do It Again" by Elevation Worship. (Not to be confused with "Do It Again" Steely Dan.)



First, note that once the singing starts (0:24), it is almost a cappella, only the piano, in a single note at pauses, and the organ, but neither instrument is used for the words being sung (the a cappella is even more pronounced at about 5:16.) The significance of instruments rises as the song goes along. Later (starting at about 2:26) the song will build, and the music will come up (more pronounced almost a minute later at about 3:21) then in full force (at 3:44) while singing occurs. The 3:44 point is also where the alternating "rise and fall" piano sequence occurs; four notes on a rising scale, repeat, then four notes on a falling scale, repeat, then the rising-falling sequence is repeated.

Drums are very sparingly used, only a single drum strike at bout 1:41 is the first time one is heard. From then on, the drum is a minor instrument. At about 2:26 the drums become slightly more prominent, but still "low-key." Cymbal strikes are spread out, adding emphasis to the other parts.

Please note, I don't pretend to be experienced in music appreciation, this is simply what I've noticed.


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Composition or construction of music by Tansin A. Darcos 08/16/2022, 2:15am PDT
 
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