Monday, February 4, 2013

How Are They Connected? A Musical Investigation

In the last couple of days, I've been connecting two songs in my mind, for no apparent reason. (Full disclosure: I've also had Kiss by a Rose stuck in my head, thanks to Spousal Unit's evil ways.) The songs are Wisconsin by Whitehorse and Change by Churchill. 

Wisconsin is rather folksy, with a hint of country twang in the guitar and almost lackadaisical singing in the lyrics at the beginning, despite talking about union busting. The lead singers intertwine their harmonies throughout the song, and the drum set plods along methodically, setting a kind of "marching to our death" tone. My favorite line is tied between "All our pirates are Johnny, not Somali" and "They're keeping Science in the basement/Speaking tongues and making fools."

Change only seems folksy due to the use of a mandolin instead of a guitar - the song is much more pop-driven than anything else. The lead singer goes solo for the first few verses, not enlisting her backup until 1:20. The song as a whole is much more upbeat than Wisconsin, and the lyrics are not nearly as exciting or innovative. Mostly, the song is catchy and she has a great voice.

So why do I feel some kind of connection between these two? The answer hit me yesterday: they're in the same key. Not only that, but they start on the same couple of notes and are even close to (if not exactly) the same tempo. Try playing the Churchill song, and add in the Whitehorse song at 0:48, where the guitar solo starts.

I'm sure there are greater similarities too, but that's about all the language and musical background I have in my arsenal to describe them. But my friend Joe has started a blog called The Taste Tester, where he's establishing a better language for musical description, such as The Saturation Principle (having listened to a type of song so often that a new one of the same kind, even if it's a good song, is uninteresting). He listens to lots of music, and he knows what he's talking about. His descriptions will help you talk about the music you like with greater authority.

1 comment:

  1. Just saw this:

    Looks like they're going to get a major record-company push.


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