Monday, 16 July 2012

Simple vs Complex

As I said in my last post, Toto's "Falling In Between" is a great example of a song that is complex and remains fun, and I like it because it succeeds on so many levels. The point is that I would like it even if it wasn't complex, but it moves up a notch because it also appeals to the professional musician in me.

Let's look at two songs today that I really like, one simple and one complex. There are dozens I could choose from (make that hundreds) for either category, and if you haven't heard either of today's songs, I'll provide links so you can check them out. Remember my basic philosophy regarding music as stated in my first few posts. You may like, love or hate the following songs, but you aren't allowed to pass judgement on them, or on me for liking them. Musical "snobbery" is not welcome here.

For my simple song today I'd like you to listen to Sticky Situation by Danko Jones from the album Sleep Is The Enemy. (The song link is on YouTube, and the album cover used is wrong.) I first heard of this 3-piece Canadian band 10 years ago when I heard a clip from a song called Lovercall on a TV show called "New Music" (I think that was the name of the show). It was just a fluke, but I'm glad it happened. They've been a favourite of mine ever since then. Their music is mostly fast, and usually riff-based, meaning the guitar & bass often play a melodic line rather than just chords or repeated notes. Their lyrics are usually nothing to write home about, though there are a few exceptions. Sticky Situation is a typical Danko Jones song, simple to the point where I could probably have played along with most of it on the second listen, but it's a lot of fun. It's great for playing in the car, and has energy to spare.

For a more complex song, let's go to another 3-piece Canadian band. Many of you have already figured out I'm talking about Rush. There are many Rush songs that fit into the complex category, and many that are great fun as well, with plenty of songs that combine the two. For today, I'll just look at the introduction for the song YYZ from the album Moving Pictures. If you've never heard it before, go listen to it before continuing reading this post. The introduction consists of converting the letters YYZ (the code for Toronto's Pearson Airport) to Morse Code, and playing the dashes as 8th notes with the dots as 16th notes. The Morse code for the letters is dash-dot-dash-dash for Y and dash-dash-dot-dot for Z leading to a 5-beat pattern that would look something like this: -.--/-.--/--.. so the song begins in the time signature of 5/4. On top of that they choose the notes C and F#, called an augmented fourth or a tritone in music theory. After this intro the instrumental piece is a little more straightforward progressive rock, but it's the creativity of the introduction that  hooks me right away.

Two songs, one simple, one complex, and both are great songs to listen to. If you are a fan of one but not the other, that's okay. In fact, that's great. Our own musical tastes are unique, and I'm just getting started here. I've only mentioned 3 songs by name in six posts of this blog, and they've all been rock songs. I'm a huge fan of big band jazz and lots of other styles as well, so stay tuned for plenty of variety. If you stick with me I hope to help you find some music that you haven't heard before, and to gain an appreciation for the way particular pieces of music can appeal to one person and not the next and still remain valid pieces of music. Keep an open mind, and feel free to leave a comment.

No comments:

Post a Comment