More than one chord

I've started listening to country music.  Wait, all my suburban/urban friends, hear me out.

I took a look at my iTunes playlist.  The newest song there was the closing title from the IronMan3 soundtrack.  I'd given up listening to popular music a while ago.  (When I say popular music, I mean anything accessible, including straight up "pop" and anything they play behind scenes in TV shows these days, as well as alternative, electronica, dance, rap, metal; whatever isn't experimental or concert music). Around 2005 my playlists had Britney Spears, Nickelback, Breaking Benjamin, Black Eyed Peas, Delerium, Sarah MacLachlan Barenaked Ladies and of course old NSync and Duran Duran.

I blame two things for my loss of interest in mainstream English-language music.

First, after I took music theory with Michael Adamczyk I realized how boring and repetitive popular music was.  So although I still love music for working out or singing along while I do housecleaning, it doesn't fire me up like it used to.

Second, I get the sense that a LOT of music is composed on LogicPro or whatever GarageBand-like program people use nowadays and I'm not convinced that younger composers know how to easily change the damn chords.  I sat one afternoon listening to some pop on Pandora and it's all the same chord.  Worse, the songs are all one note.  Don't believe me?  Go listen.  (Okay here's a song from top of Billboard called "Bad at Love":  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdYFuCp3m9k) Oh, sure, sometimes the chorus is two or even three notes.  

Oh, I also hate hate hate autotune.  Case in point: Shakira.  Listen to her Spanish language song  "Ojos Así"... why would anyone autotune that voice?

There are a few exceptions: in dubstep, I liked some of Pendulum, which I attribute to the live drummer that made every measure a little different.  

I liked Eminem's Recovery album, not for the lyrics but I think he's particularly good at using his voice as a percussive instrument;  most other rappers I've heard emphasize their words over rhythm.  I mean, it's beat poetry, I get it, I'm not that interested.

Otherwise I tend to purchase individual songs I find interesting, or have some secondary meaning for me, or that remind me of the video I liked, or that I've found by accident, and then concert music.  And weird shit like the Trololo song.  Don't judge me.

ANYWAYS, for just listening to the radio I can't listen to talk radio as Rush Limbaugh lost his frickin' mind after the 2016 Election and is just boring.  NPR has similarly become unbearable.  Music-wise, Master Chief Steve Downes retired from 97.1FM The Drive so I can't listen to him talk about Cat Chow and Stevie Nicks anymore.  So if i want to hear Chicago radio, and if I'm in the mood, I'll listen to banda (Mexican polka music) on 107.9FM LaLey (laley1079.lamusica.com).  Banda music always sounds happy even if the words are sometimes depressing.  And I can understand most of the commercials (thank you, two semesters of Oakton Spanish!).

In the last month I've started listening to BIG 95.5 FM New Country music (big955chicago.iheart.com).   I have to assume the composers are writing on their guitars, and strumming one chord is boring, so they are using at least 3 chords.  Usually more.  Big improvement.

And the lyrics.  They are so much less "I suck, let's kill cops then get all rapey" or "hey look at my butt and use me also go women power (?)" and more "let's kick up our dusty boots and love each other, whiskey, Jesus, America and pickup trucks."  It feels more positive and less confusing.

Anyway, this isn't meant as a complaint against more mainstream music (or butts).  I think there is some interesting modern stuff.  Over the winter break my son is introducing me to Persona5 on the PS4 and the soundtrack is a really weird mashup of all different styles.  It just doesn't feel inspiring.

I just would love to find a new band that I really loved and could get excited about.  Any language, it doesn't matter!  It would be cool to be anticipating a new album like in the old days.

Okay, I'm gonna go listen to some old Delerium and empty the dishwasher.  I'm living on the edge baby!

PS:  If you know any pop composers, I've included this handy circle of fifths chart.  It can help them learn how to use more than one chord.  Share with your friends.  Let's wipe out monochord songs once and for all! ;-)

 The circle of major fifths is the outer ring (going clockwise).  It will get you back to the first chord you start with(try it!).  You can cheat and take a shortcut; as long as you only skip one section.  Always go back to the chord before the chord you started with but keep all the rest in order.  So if we start with C, always end with -F-C.  But go clockwise from C as far as you like, then end with FC.  It will be great.  Try it!   Do... C-G-F  Aha!  Now...  C-G-D-F-C  Now  C-G-D-A-F-C.   Now laugh maniacally!  (PS:  The inner circle is minor chords).

The circle of major fifths is the outer ring (going clockwise).  It will get you back to the first chord you start with(try it!).  You can cheat and take a shortcut; as long as you only skip one section.  Always go back to the chord before the chord you started with but keep all the rest in order.  So if we start with C, always end with -F-C.  But go clockwise from C as far as you like, then end with FC.  It will be great.  Try it!   Do... C-G-F  Aha!  Now...  C-G-D-F-C  Now  C-G-D-A-F-C.   Now laugh maniacally!  (PS:  The inner circle is minor chords).

 

Today's Norwegian Word:  å slipp  (to let or release)

Used in a sentence:  Slipp ingen inn, la ingen se

("Don't let anyone in, Don't let anyone see" -fra songen <<La den gå>> from the Frozen soundtrack)