Welcome to my blog – an introduction to my work

My name is Meghann (pronounced Meg-Ann), but feel free to call me Meg. I am a music theorist, which means that I spend a lot of time thinking about how music is put together, and how it is that music can affect me the way it does. I’m sure you’ve all had an experience with music where you’ve gotten tingles down your spine, or you’ve had some intense libidinal response, or maybe your experience was more spiritually transcendent. Whatever the specific type, if you’re reading this blog, chances are that music has been a mind-altering experience for you on more than one occasion. But how is it that music can make us feel this way? And how can we talk about our physical, emotional and intellectual responses to it?

~ Some of you have recently been exposed to my analysis of Interpol’s song NARC, and I’d like to use this blog as a forum for addressing some of the questions that you have had as a result of this exposure. For my first entry, however, I’d like to describe the path I took in arriving at my analytical interpretation of NARC.

~ Perhaps the most important thing to understand about music theory is that it is indeed a theory of how music is constructed by musicians (perhaps you are one of these) and communicated to you, the listener (I’m hoping all of you are one of these). Music theory is a way of thinking about music – there is no inherent truth to the claim I make about Carlos’ bass line being “in B Phrygian.” Also important to understand is that there are multiple theories of music. Certain Indian musics, for example, have their own, highly sophisticated theories, and even within what is commonly called “Western tonal” music theory (which deals with a style of music whose origins are traditionally located in Western Europe starting around the 16th century) theorists argue all the time about which is the best way to characterize such-and-such aspect of this style of music.

~ This “Western tonal music theory” is the one from which I draw most of my analytical tools in my examination of Interpol’s music. I have many reasons for doing this, the most basic of which is that I believe that their musical processes have as their basis those processes of the Western tonal style. But this is a whole other topic unto itself.

~ So when I write about the modal qualities and the harmonic content of NARC, I am drawing on a theoretical knowledge of music (one that I have acquired as a result of my particular musical education), and I am using that knowledge to make interpretive decisions about what Interpol are communicating to us via NARC (or at least what they’re communicating to me). And this particular type of theoretical knowledge is one that has a long history, extending essentially all the way back to the ancient Greeks.

~ I hope that this brief description of the path I took to NARC will provide us with a decent foundation upon which we can build a fruitful discussion about this amazing band’s music, and the amazing effect it has on us.

Love from,

Meg


P.S. While I’m guessing that some of you may have quite a bit of Western theory already, if anyone cares to hear me extemporize on the nature of scales, harmonies, etc., let me know and I’d be happy to post something up here along those lines.

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~ by megwilhoite on October 29, 2007.

3 Responses to “Welcome to my blog – an introduction to my work”

  1. hello there. So yeah, after reading about your musical adventure in te Interpol forum, I was interested as to what you were going to write.

    I do have a question. I’ve found with Interpol, that there is a tendency to stick to the same notes and chords. F major starts no less than 5 songs – four on Antics (i think). Is there in fact theoretical genius with the scales and notes used, or does Interpol’s genius lie mainly in the composition of the basic parts of the song?

    hopefully that all makes sense. good work.

    Josh.

  2. this is so cool!I am a 50 year old physician who has a 9 year old son who writes his own piano compositions of Interpol songs;I can’t wait to show him that Interpol is worthy of someone else’s serious inquiry!

  3. My personal belief is that interpols qualities are born out of technical limitations, the guitar anyway. The first album (and greatest by far) is full of the same itnervals and chord shapes.

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