Friday, August 26, 2016

Makin' It Rhyme


1) Let's start by just reading. Take a look at Shakespeare's Sonnet 18, possibly the most famous poem of all time. A sonnet is traditionally three ABAB quatrains, followed by a couplet. (It's also supposed to be in iambic pentameter, meaning each line has five iambs, but that's a question of meter, not rhyme.) Try reading it out loud so you can really hear the rhymes!

2) Let's do some analysis. Here's an excerpt from Capital Punishment, by Big Pun. (There's some profanity in that song, so if that bothers you probably don't listen to it. There's none in the quoted excerpt, though.) How many examples of internal rhyme can you find?

I've seen child blossom to man,
some withered and turned to murderers
Led astray by the liars death glorifiers observin us
Watching us close, marketing host is here to purchase, purposely overtaxin the earnings

Nervous, burning down the churches

3) Write a poem! I'd recommend some kind of quatrain, but if you want to go longer that's great. Try to work in some internal rhymes too, if you can. And don't forget about your poetic meter! Writing poetry is really the best practice for writing lyrics. It takes all the same skills, but it lets you focus more on them 'cause you don't have to worry about the underlying music.

And that's it! See you next week!

Friday, August 19, 2016

Wrapping Things Up: How To End A Song


1) Let's talk color chords! We mentioned some common color chords in the video, but really any chord can be a color chord if it makes a cool sound. What are some other options? The progression we were using was D-A-Bmi-G, a pretty common, basic harmony. Play around with it, see if you can come up with more chords that sound good after that. If you can't play it, just think about it: What sorts of things would make sense?

2) Listening time! We talked about a lot of different endings in this video. Now, see if you can find examples in the music you listen to! You can look for color chords, Vegas endings, rhythmic figures, even Picardy Thirds if you want, although you probably won't find those... See what you can find!

3) While we're at it, let's talk lyrics and melody because we kind of brushed over those in the video. Listen to the ends of songs you like (with vocals) and see what they're doing with those. What trends do you notice? What different categories can you group them into? And, while you're thinking about them anyway, why do you think those techniques work?

And that's it! See you next week!

Friday, August 12, 2016

32 Bars Unplanned: The Form Of The Great American Songbook


This time we're gonna do things a little differently! This is gonna be all listening exercises. Check them out and try to follow the forms. Not all of them are going to be AABA! You can start by listening to the lyrics: Those'll usually give you a good indication of where the sections are. After that, try following the melodies and, if you can, the harmony. You can even look up charts for them, although be careful, the chords and melodies in any given performance are going to vary from the "official" ones, often quite a bit! Also, check out the intros and outros for these versions: We talked a lot about the form itself, but how you get into and out of it is really important too!

1) Love Me Or Leave Me, performed by Sammy Davis Jr.

2) Old Country, performed by Dianne Reeves

3) Benny's From Heaven, performed by Eddie Jefferson

4) A Day In The Life Of A Fool (Black Orpheus), performed by Frank Sinatra

5) Lullaby of Birdland, performed by Sarah Vaughan

And that's it! We'll see you next week!

Friday, August 5, 2016

Too Many Tempos!

Hi! Let's talk tempo!

1) Let's try finding examples of these in the music you listen to! Ritardandos will probably be the easiest to find, since they're a pretty common way to end songs. Beyond that, try to think of songs you know that might have double time or half time switches in them, then listen to it and count along to see if it really is. If not, is it a different sort of metric modulation? See what you can find!

2) Now let's try playing metric modulations. You can do this on an instrument, or just tap a table. Find a comfortable tempo, then start tapping along. Once you're feeling it, try switching to double time. After that, try half time. Once you've got those down, maybe even try more advance modulations, like the triplet. It'll be tricky, but there's really no substitute for actually trying these things hands-on!

3) Let's get philosophical for a second. One thing I left out of the video was the observation that our perception of double time works kind of like our perception of the octave. Exactly doubling the pace seems to create a sort of equivalence, where we hear them as almost the same thing. Why do you think that is? Is that similarity even noteworthy? I'm not really sure, but I'd love to hear your thoughts!

And that's it! We'll see you next week!