Do you agree with Quincy Jones about this?

Gonna open a new thread about this (I didn’t read all the other thread…)

“That’s true about rap, that it’s the same phrase over and over and over again. The ear has to have the melody groomed for it; you have to keep the ear candy going because the mind turns off when the music doesn’t change. Music is strange that way. You’ve got to keep the ear busy.”

Maybe someone has some music history knowledge to hit us with but just from experience I don’t know that this is true.

Probably the brain craves repetition a lot more than variety but it’s more apparent to you that you don’t like it when a bad loop repeats too much. A bad song that changes more may be even worse but you perceive the variety and give it more of a break in your judgement.

In other words my intuition is that more songs are made worse from the pressure to complicate them than from the desire to keep them simple (and repeating).

My opinion is that more than song structure, the problem with music today is there should be more instrumental solos/improv. Takes some pressure off the main melody. It’s a variety treat for your brain that is forgiving to even the simplest progression. Or vice versa I guess. I’m reminded of Frank Zappa. In some of the most complicated songs (e.g., Inca Roads) he would like to take a break from the craziness and do a guitar solo over two major chords repeated. Really ties the song together. I mean, you could do a little solo break on hip hop. Pop rock used to do it all the time. And skill didn’t matter that much.

Just spitballin here, dudes

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Comments

  • 94 Comments sorted by Date Votes
  • Agree with much of what you say SealTeamSick. There is still lots of creativity about, it’s just not getting on mainstream radio.

  • KLF wrote a book called The Manual (1988) in which they come up with some nice and similar findings you describe.

    The Manual (How to Have a Number One the Easy Way) is a 1988 book by "The Timelords" (Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty), better known as The KLF. It is a step by step guide to achieving a No.1 single with no money or musical skills, and a case study of the duo's UK novelty pop No. 1 "Doctorin' the Tardis"

    Jamie Reynolds of Klaxons admitted in an interview to reading The Manual and stated that he "took direct instructions from it.... Get yourself a studio, get a groove going, sing some absolute nonsense over the top, put a breakbeat behind it, and you're away! That's what I did! That's genuinely it. I read that, I noted down the golden rules of pop, and applied that to what we're doing and made sure that that always applies to everything we do. That way, we always come out with a sort of catchy hit number."

    You can download a copy here: http://www.tomrobinson.com/resource/klf.txt

  • edited February 13 Vote Up0

    I like monotone things, they can be quite hypnotic.
    I mean he is not talking about changes is sounds he means chord changes or whatever, so simply no.
    you can repeat a strong theme forever without that its getting boring.
    thats to old thinking for my taste, I need to do all these jazzy chord changes to keep it interesting ...
    I like music that is kind of an endless state
    lots of really good techno is based on a single note or two or 3

    if you would look at the notes, it would say nothing is happening here, its just 3 notes,
    but that isn't true
    so forget all that

  • edited February 13 Vote Up0

    @mannix said:
    KLF wrote a book called The Manual (1988) in which they come up with some nice and similar findings you describe.

    The Manual (How to Have a Number One the Easy Way) is a 1988 book by "The Timelords" (Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty), better known as The KLF. It is a step by step guide to achieving a No.1 single with no money or musical skills, and a case study of the duo's UK novelty pop No. 1 "Doctorin' the Tardis"

    Jamie Reynolds of Klaxons admitted in an interview to reading The Manual and stated that he "took direct instructions from it.... Get yourself a studio, get a groove going, sing some absolute nonsense over the top, put a breakbeat behind it, and you're away! That's what I did! That's genuinely it. I read that, I noted down the golden rules of pop, and applied that to what we're doing and made sure that that always applies to everything we do. That way, we always come out with a sort of catchy hit number."

    You can download a copy here: http://www.tomrobinson.com/resource/klf.txt

    lol KLF couldn't play a melody or harmony to save their lives.
    they had a guy come in and play something for them ^^
    they showed him we did this, and then the guy played something that actually worked, lol

  • The thing that he didn’t quite get about rap is that for many people the lyrics take centre stage. QJ talks of it like a typical muso, you get the beat and the hook and the lyrics will kinda work themselves out. I used to think that when I was 18.

  • @supadom said:
    The thing that he didn’t quite get about rap is that for many people the lyrics take centre stage. QJ talks of it like a typical muso, you get the beat and the hook and the lyrics will kinda work themselves out. I used to think that when I was 18.

    The thing is many musicians underestimate The Words, and it's true that many listeners do too, but for most the vocal (even if made of mumbo) is central to their experience (or the memorability) of any song...

  • edited February 13 Vote Up0

    @JohnnyGoodyear said:

    @supadom said:
    The thing that he didn’t quite get about rap is that for many people the lyrics take centre stage. QJ talks of it like a typical muso, you get the beat and the hook and the lyrics will kinda work themselves out. I used to think that when I was 18.

    The thing is many musicians underestimate The Words, and it's true that many listeners do too, but for most the vocal (even if made of mumbo) is central to their experience (or the memorability) of any song...

    yes but those people can't express that it is the chord change that gives them goosebumps ;)
    this is a very good example for this

    listen from 2.30 to 3.30
    its the change from melancholy to euphoria
    its a really clever arrangement

  • @SealTeamSick said:
    Probably the brain craves repetition a lot more than variety but it’s more apparent to you that you don’t like it when a bad loop repeats too much. A bad song that changes more may be even worse but you perceive the variety and give it more of a break in your judgement.

    One thing that contemporary artists seem to do a lot less is to have musical hooks alongside the vocal hooks. So many classic songs will have a really great musical motif or riff to go along with the killer vocal melody, and I think that maybe having the two together is one thing that creates variety and interest as the instrumental and vocal melodies play off each other.

    Just to give some examples:

    Bad Blood, one of the biggest hits of the decade, very much hip-hop infused. There's no instrumental hook at all, it's all on the vocals and the rhythm, and the main vocal melody is almost nursery-rhyme simple, the melody in the middle eight is probably the best bit of the song IMO, but from what I can tell the song is all built on the rhythm, the dynamics, and the vocals.

    For contrast, another song that uses a relatively simple melody and a lot of repetition, but also has a musical hook to play against the vocal melody, in my opinion it creates a much more interesting listen.

    But many many classic songs of the past would mix a riff/musical motif with a killer vocal melody, across every genre. Sweet Dreams, Sweet Child O Mine, Eye Of The Tiger, Superstition, Satisfaction etc etc the list is endless. Something contemporary music seems to do less and less these days as all the emphasis seems to be placed on vocal hooks alone. Just IMO of course, YMMV.

  • I guess this is the anti thesis to that

    its music, there are so many ways to create emotion, none of them is better or worse

  • edited February 13 Vote Up0

    @Max23 not sure if you were responding to me or to the original Quincy Jones quote, but in the Beck track (which I've always liked BTW) there is the string arrangement to counter the vocals. There's definitely musical melodies as well as vocals.

    Anyway not saying there's a right way or a wrong way to do anything, I was just noting that musical hooks seem to be rarer these days in the really big songs, and I'm a bit puzzled by it.

  • edited February 13 Vote Up0

    @richardyot said:

    @SealTeamSick said:
    Probably the brain craves repetition a lot more than variety but it’s more apparent to you that you don’t like it when a bad loop repeats too much. A bad song that changes more may be even worse but you perceive the variety and give it more of a break in your judgement.

    One thing that contemporary artists seem to do a lot less is to have musical hooks alongside the vocal hooks. So many classic songs will have a really great musical motif or riff to go along with the killer vocal melody, and I think that maybe having the two together is one thing that creates variety and interest as the instrumental and vocal melodies play off each other.

    Just to give some examples:

    Bad Blood, one of the biggest hits of the decade, very much hip-hop infused. There's no instrumental hook at all, it's all on the vocals and the rhythm, and the main vocal melody is almost nursery-rhyme simple, the melody in the middle eight is probably the best bit of the song IMO, but from what I can tell the song is all built on the rhythm, the dynamics, and the vocals.

    For contrast, another song that uses a relatively simple melody and a lot of repetition, but also has a musical hook to play against the vocal melody, in my opinion it creates a much more interesting listen.

    But many many classic songs of the past would mix a riff/musical motif with a killer vocal melody, across every genre. Sweet Dreams, Sweet Child O Mine, Eye Of The Tiger, Superstition, Satisfaction etc etc the list is endless. Something contemporary music seems to do less and less these days as all the emphasis seems to be placed on vocal hooks alone. Just IMO of course, YMMV.

    Interesting observation!

    Something you can hear also in a lot of contemporary pop music: the millennial whoop

  • It’s always the same critisms that strike rap music. Repetition has always been a part of rap music. It’s not like the music back in the “golden era” had a lot of change going on either. Apparently what’s happening now is working because rap is the most dominant genre in the hot 100

  • @mannix said:>
    Something you can hear also in a lot of contemporary pop music: the millennial whoop

    Yes, in Katy Perry's Roar the whoop is almost like a stand-in for a musical hook.

  • edited February 13 Vote Up0

    I don't know, I find that QJ statement lame,
    its like those guitar magazines when you had someone on the cover playing some absurd accord you could hardly play if don't have large hands ^^
    it this my ish so much more sophisticated than yours thing, yawn

    (but I can't stand that trallala you hear on the radio over and over again too, I don't have much interest in mainstream music )

  • Here's a big song with a musical hook, but interestingly the synth melody is played throughout the song, except the middle eight where there is no musical backing behind the vocal. So even though the loop is quite hooky, it gets repeated a lot throughout the track and it's the vocals that change over it. This is definitely a different kind of song structure to what was around 20-30 years ago IMO. In the past you were more likely to get a call-and-response thing between the riff and the vocals.

  • edited February 13 Vote Up1

    @richardyot said:
    In the past you were more likely to get a call-and-response thing between the riff and the vocals.

    you mean this?

    im not sure if you mean chorus vs verse or vocal as variation over the riff?

  • No, more like this:

  • Or maybe this:

  • edited February 13 Vote Up0

    I get it you mean chorus/verse vs. a more linear thing ?

  • No, not at all. Bad Blood and Shape of You both have verse/chorus/M8 structures. I mean the musical riff playing off the vocal melody.

  • @Max23 said:

    @mannix said:
    KLF wrote a book called The Manual (1988) in which they come up with some nice and similar findings you describe.

    The Manual (How to Have a Number One the Easy Way) is a 1988 book by "The Timelords" (Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty), better known as The KLF. It is a step by step guide to achieving a No.1 single with no money or musical skills, and a case study of the duo's UK novelty pop No. 1 "Doctorin' the Tardis"

    Jamie Reynolds of Klaxons admitted in an interview to reading The Manual and stated that he "took direct instructions from it.... Get yourself a studio, get a groove going, sing some absolute nonsense over the top, put a breakbeat behind it, and you're away! That's what I did! That's genuinely it. I read that, I noted down the golden rules of pop, and applied that to what we're doing and made sure that that always applies to everything we do. That way, we always come out with a sort of catchy hit number."

    You can download a copy here: http://www.tomrobinson.com/resource/klf.txt

    lol KLF couldn't play a melody or harmony to save their lives.
    they had a guy come in and play something for them ^^
    they showed him we did this, and then the guy played something that actually worked, lol

    That’s bollocks, if you’ll excuse my French. Drummond and Cauty both play instruments, but for the majority of the KLF work they used samplers and session players, as this was ‘the new big thing’ at the time.

    They’re not the hottest musicians in the business, but they did have an uncanny knack of tapping into an upcoming zeitgeist.

  • edited February 13 Vote Up0

    @MonzoPro said:

    @Max23 said:

    @mannix said:
    KLF wrote a book called The Manual (1988) in which they come up with some nice and similar findings you describe.

    The Manual (How to Have a Number One the Easy Way) is a 1988 book by "The Timelords" (Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty), better known as The KLF. It is a step by step guide to achieving a No.1 single with no money or musical skills, and a case study of the duo's UK novelty pop No. 1 "Doctorin' the Tardis"

    Jamie Reynolds of Klaxons admitted in an interview to reading The Manual and stated that he "took direct instructions from it.... Get yourself a studio, get a groove going, sing some absolute nonsense over the top, put a breakbeat behind it, and you're away! That's what I did! That's genuinely it. I read that, I noted down the golden rules of pop, and applied that to what we're doing and made sure that that always applies to everything we do. That way, we always come out with a sort of catchy hit number."

    You can download a copy here: http://www.tomrobinson.com/resource/klf.txt

    lol KLF couldn't play a melody or harmony to save their lives.
    they had a guy come in and play something for them ^^
    they showed him we did this, and then the guy played something that actually worked, lol

    That’s bollocks, if you’ll excuse my French. Drummond and Cauty both play instruments, but for the majority of the KLF work they used samplers and session players, as this was ‘the new big thing’ at the time.

    They’re not the hottest musicians in the business, but they did have an uncanny knack of tapping into an upcoming zeitgeist.

    nah, it isn't
    I can play Beethoven on the piano but I can't harmonize shit without scratching my head and fooling around
    so it means nothing if you can play an instrument ... ;)
    i have to fool around and listen and fool around again until I found something that sounds kind of like what I want, lol

  • The KLF definitely were capable of writing killer melodies IMO, alongside the samples (from Voodoo Chile in this case).

  • edited February 13 Vote Up0

    I like klf, but production skills and musical skills are a very different thing
    invite a view session players let them do their thing and pick what you want or select a few samples, its the same thing ;)
    I can't harmonize shit but I have production skills to compensate ... won't make me Mozart ;)

  • edited February 13 Vote Up0

    Vocal melody, which is what makes a song a hit, for Justified and Ancient credited to: Songwriter(s) Jimi Cauty, Bill Drummond, Ricardo Lyte. Ricardo Lyte wrote the rap sections.

  • edited February 13 Vote Up0

    C`mon improvising over a sampled playback isn't the same as coming up with everything from scratch.
    its production skills ...
    not burt barach or Gershwin


    or this guy (I always forget the name something French) its tiersen

  • Morrissey improvised over Johnny Marr's music. Mick Jagger improvised over Keith Richard's music. Does that make them lesser songwriters?

    You've gone full circle and you're agreeing with Quincy BTW :D

  • edited February 13 Vote Up0

    no, I don't ;)
    im just saying that production skills and composing skills are very different things
    and should not get confused

  • edited February 13 Vote Up0

    Sure, but KLF wrote the vocal melodies. That's a composing skill in my book, in fact that's the most valuable composing skill of all. And they play instruments as well, Drummond plays the guitar, Cauty is a founding member of The Orb.

  • edited February 13 Vote Up0

    the orb is all about dub production tricks ;)
    i have the complete backkatalog

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