Posts Tagged ‘rock music


Escaping boring music

  It’s funny how different types of music can either excite us or bore us. There are so many different facets to appreciating music, so many reasons why we appreciate music and a lot of the time it’s not just the music, it’s the image and the associations and the lyrics etc…

That’s why I’m skeptical about music ‘scientists’ trying to find a formula for why some music is ‘good’ and other music is ‘not good’. Music appreciation is more than just listening to a bunch of notes and ‘aural vibration’, more than just ‘the C chord’ followed by the ‘F chord’ with a nice melody thrown in.

That’s kind of what punk rock proved back in the 70’s -anyone can pick up a guitar, any kid can join a band and rock out. And they became popular not so much for their musicianship but they clicked with their audience. In fact, rather than the puncy rock stars who became separated from their audience, they were part of their audience.

And that’s important for youth -searching for your identity and people you can connect with. I was from the ‘grunge’ generation but personally I connected more with Jimi Hendrix and the 70’s punk bands, and kids today still get into Led Zeppelin and The Beatles.

But now as I’m well into my thirties I’m searching for new types of music, such as traditional Asian music. That’s a completely different appreciation -I don’t have any relationship with the musicians as such because I don’t know who they are, but I relate to the music from living in Asia and getting into things like Taichi.

Since I like songwriting I find I’ve got to keep exploring music to find inspiration, whether it’s bebop jazz, 80’s pop, hiphop, post-rock, Taiwanese indie bands etc…There’s so much out there to explore and learn, and I think it’s important to have an open mind.

Besides, rock just gets boring after a while. Unless the songwriting is good or they’re exploring interesting harmonies or bringing in an outside influences, most rock bands are boring. Especially commercial rock where they churn out the same safe melodies -they’ll be catchy for 15 minutes then thrown on the waste-pile of wannabe hits.


Powderfinger’s My Happiness

Powderfinger. Probably one of Australia’s greatest homegrown rock acts and they definitely write some of the best songs for their style. And so I thought I’d look at “My Happiness”.

It starts out with a guitar intro: acoustic strumming and an electric lead that follows the melody. Then the lyrics come in with imagery of a loved one coming home after a long period -it’s a way of describing it
by seeing the “shadow” and hearing the “click” of footsteps that make it powerful rather than just say “I missed you and love you etc…” directly. As listeners we relate to it because we learn to recognise things like this with people we know really well. But the lyrics also seem to indicate tensions in the relationship as well which draws our curiosity.

So, the verse comes in and builds up to a ripper of a chorus with simple, direct chords, great lyrics and a great melody. One of the great things about Powderfinger is that they can come up with fantastic “anthem-like” chorus from the simplest of chords rather than trying to be two complicated and “arty” (but don’t get their first album). Classic.

So, if you’ve spun a complicated song with complex jazz chords, awkward time signatures and syncopated riffs, maybe just try and simplify it, which can be the hardest thing to do, (perhaps because we feel we’ve put in so much effort it seems wasteful to cut back). But if the song sounds ‘difficult’ or doesn’t seem to flow, give it a try. Alternatively you can start from scratch, pour yourself a glass of red wine and muck around on your acoustic with just basic chords and melody. Remember KISS. I’ve written some of my favourite songs that way.