Anatomy Of A Song #2: Take A Chance With Me

Yeah, I was at this thing until 3:15 last night. Several things become apparent: the final modulation is not going to be the old whole-step standby- it'll be a major third. Why? Because it's where the melody wants to go. I keep hitting the modulation section and intuitively singing the melody up a major third. So be it. The fakeout stutter thing should work quite nicely, even if it'll involve some engineering shellgamery which I generally try to avoid.

I'm still thinking about the drum track. I'd love to use real drums but it's just impractical. What I need to do is get Dave Barrett in here one day and just have him play many grooves and fills at many tempos. Otherwise it's serious household disruption and hours of mic placement and compression settings and eq for little gain. Also, whenever Dave and I work together it's the same thing, whether it's a four hour session or a ten hour session- we spend all the time getting a beautiful tone and then hit the track in one or two takes in the last ten minutes.

So I'm using the kitchen sink. Almost literally. Bells, timpani, congas, loops, machinery, editing, all that. I want to see what will happen if I let a bit of 2006 in there. All the lush stuff that I'm thinking of might be best offset with some cruddy, mono distressed drum stuff like a low budget hip hop song. Sometimes the only reason my stuff is retro is because I put stuff through one filter too few. Fuck, I like instruments and ensembles, you know?

An absolutely amazing countermelody for the chorus has presented itself. I mean amazing. It's a long, arching phrase that hits the downbeats where the melody bounces off the offbeats. It's one of those magical lines that reminds me of the perfection and sophistication of "Warmth Of The Sun". Lyrically it underpins the hook phrase, "...well I could try..." with a four-bar cascade of "...try...try...try...try...try...try...try..." etc.

The ultimate test will be to deploy it gracefully. Maybe it will only happen on the last modulated chorus! Do I have the discipline and the craftiness? Can I think of baseball scores for that long before, well, you know?

In the meantime, I have to splice and chop and time match and get Wrex'n'FX drums to sit with the Wrecking Crew offset timpanis and sleighbells and all th' usual.

Oh, I was introduced to bass player Tony Franklin from Bad Company and The Firm and Jimmy Page today and I had no idea who he was. What an utter a-hole I am. I mean, I was curteous and all that like I am with anyone, but really now. What a walking BJ I am sometimes. He was with th' SWR rep, traveling around doing Fender/SWR clinics. Nice guy. I guess I sort of like the bass line from "Feel Like Making Love", you know? I've played that crap. He bends the major thirds up from minors and it's pretty nice.

Ah, what the fuck. I mean, I'm Bobby fucking Lightfoot and I overlook the occasional ignorance of the public as far as recognizing my achievements.


Blogger XTCfan said...

Otherwise it's serious household disruption and hours of mic placement and compression settings and eq for little gain.

Well, turn the gain up then, silly!

10:17 AM  
Blogger Ben said...

Ooh, a major third modulation - that's rare. The only song I can think of off hand that does that is "Needles and Pins," though I'm sure there are others. Way more classy than a whole or half step. How're you gonna pull it off - go to VII, which becomes the new dominant? Or are you gonna just go "hnjcug" and jump? I guess it all depends on the melody. As for the chorus countermelody, I wouldn't hold it off until the last chorus - I'd start it the second time through the chorus, but that's just me.

I'm digging this series.

11:39 AM  
Blogger Kevin Wolf said...

Who'd a thunk it? Songwriting suspense.

BTW, sadlbgz says "hi," Bobby.

12:56 PM  
Blogger Bobby Lightfoot said...

'Fan! What was I thinking!

Glad this is working for you, Ben. Maybe I'll iTune "Needles" and see what they do. I can't think of a major third mod anywhere m'self.

I'm actually *very much* going "hncug" on this. An apterer description I cannot identify. The trick is to introduce a final, downplayed chorus in the home key, play the first 4 bars and let it clatter into a whole new chorus in the new key. It's a question on studied disarray. I can *hear* it at this point.

Of course I'll hit th' countermelody in the second chorus. I was just fantasizing.

12:59 PM  
Blogger fgfdsg said...

If it was me - foreshadow the final chorus countermelody with a hint of it on another instrument the second time through the chorus. I understand though - i like to hold back all the other harmony parts until that final go through.

Speaking of the 'tripping' effect into the modulation of the final chorus - here's something I do a lot and i've been listening for examples in other writing and have come to the conclusion it might be possibly unique, and i'm trying to stop doing it because often I've done it.

On the 2nd repeat of the chorus, loop back into a 3rd repeat for two or three bars, so the listener thinks they're just getting another chorus. Except it suddenly becomes the middle 8 - but the melody and lyric leads out of the chorus melody and lyric as an *extension* of it. It sounds smooth as honey and oh so classy.

The closest thing I can find to this is the 'strange fascination' section of Bowie's 'Changes'. I like how the coda of 'Over the rainbow' comes out of the bridge as well.

3:53 PM  
Anonymous roxtar said...

Let me add my note (HA!) of appreciation for this series. I only know enough music theory to be dangerous, and when I was in the radio and record business, all music was divided into two classes: songs with hooks and crap. Thanks, Simon for the refresh on "Changes." I've only heard the song a million times, but listeing to a musician discuss music brings a whole new perspective. It never occurred to me until your comment that the entire middle eight (strange fascination) section is ever so subtly sneaking up on the restatement of the chorus. Do the ch-ch-chs as a rhythm underneath and the chorus comes flying out of your mouth like a big gulp of spoiled mslfftqo!

11:03 AM  
Blogger The Viscount LaCarte said...

Nice guy. I guess I sort of like the bass line from "Feel Like Making Love", you know?

Don't feel too bad. That wasn't even him. That was Raymond "Boz" Burrell.

4:41 PM  

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