Mar 24

Any of you that have written a few tunes will attest to this. My wife tells me from time to time that I don’t have to analyze every song. Sometimes a song is just a song. Ah yes, I remember those days when I heard music like everyone else. In some ways it’s a skill you can’t get back. Sort of like when you can watch a magic trick and be amazed by it. Once you know how a few tricks are done you sort of look at magic differently. You look at the performance, you look at the slight of hand, the misdirection, etc. You’ve lost that youthful innocence in a way.

With music, when I listen to a new song, especially one that I know I’m going to like because I’ve established in my mind that I like the artist, I hear the intro, the changes, the build up or pre chorus, the chorus which I like to call the payoff, then I listen for the repeats. How many verses after the first chorus before the next chorus? Is there a bridge? What comes next? Finally, I listen for the outro. Did it resolve? Did I feel like I wasn’t missing anything?

It’s a shame sometimes. I guess a song can be just a song.

After I’ve heard the tune a few times, I’m starting to hear the lyrics (unless I’ve already done that in my first few listens, in which case I could be onto the music at this point). I find myself not just hearing them, but hearing how they were phrased. How do the syllables flow into one another? How was the lyric laid over the music? Was it written like a story not focused on rhyming, or was it just another freaking Hallmark Card? :-&

It’s this tearing apart of song that turns me on. Call it musical forensics, because to me it’s the science of songwriting. I know, I know, it’s an art not a science, but in every art there is a scientific component that makes it all work. It ain’t all just magic kiddies. ;-)

I can probably guess where I get this from. When I was first starting to play guitar my friend Adam Phillipidis suggested that I try my hand at writing. Well not knowing the first thing about it, I decided to learn song formatting by taking songs I liked, then rewriting lyrics to them. Not like Weird Al Yancovic or Allan Sherman before him..(that’s right Weird Al, I got your number dude) ;-) What I did was write my own lyrics to a song I already knew. Then I’d shelve the lyrics for a while, months sometimes, so that when I pulled them out to try and fit chords over them, I’d have completely forgotten what the initial song was. This way I wouldn’t fall into plagiarizing anyone.

So, if you don’t realize you tear songs apart too, pay attention to the next new tune you sit down with. See if you don’t do it too. Oh yeah, one more thing to leave you with: If you find you didn’t do it before and now you find yourself doing it and music is no longer magic, well… sorry kid. We all gotta grow up sometimes.