Insidious Rhythm in ‘Lights’


Well, there’s a lot that I’d like to write about “Lights,” but the transcription is taking me a bit longer than I expected, so here’s one interesting thing I’ve noticed so far:

I don’t know about you, but I thought the guitar simply repeated the same phrase (or musical “sentence”) throughout the song.  However, there are actually two guitar phrases, similar yet surprisingly different considering how inconspicuously the second one pops in.

The first guitar phrase is of course the one that starts the song: E-G/C/C/C/C-A/D/D/E/E (the slashes indicate the barline).  Thus, we have a 9-bar phrase, a pretty unconventional length in music (multiples of two being most common for phrase length).

The second guitar phrase comes in at 1:43: E-G/C/A/A/G/G/D/E.  I’ve bolded the “C” bar, because it’s in the time signature 2/4 instead of 4/4 like the rest of the song (that is, there are 2 beats in the bar instead of 4).  Thus, we basically have a 7.5-bar phrase, which is even more unusual!  This phrase also appears at 1:58, and then again towards the end (“We’d like to take the sights”), where it replaces the first phrase straight through to the end.

Restraining myself here, I’ll just point out: notice how the opening of the second guitar phrase seems to be mimicking Paul’s vocal line at the beginning of the song.  That is, Paul’s melody for “All that I see” at the beginning is E-G/C/A.  He gets to the “A” much quicker than the guitar at that point, which Daniel mimics in the second guitar phrase.

OK, back to transcribing this fascinating song!

Love to all,



~ by megwilhoite on July 26, 2010.

8 Responses to “Insidious Rhythm in ‘Lights’”

  1. Thank you! ^_^

  2. Nice analysis. Have you seen Sam’s blog?

  3. Thanks, Calvin! I hadn’t seen Sam’s blog before — cool to see his perspective on music, NYC, etc.

  4. Nice!!! Please analyse always malaise!!! :-DD

  5. thanks for the suggestion, ant! I can’t wait to buy the album!!

  6. […] and “Lights”. It’s a very interesting website about interpol and their music. Insidious rhythm in Lights Tags: […]

  7. […] elements are more nuanced than in the usual rock song). The only exception, in my opinion, is “Lights”, which is more of a “slow burn” track; the song very gradually builds to the climax, and we […]

  8. […] What’s also cool is that we got a foreshadowing of this freedom in metrical and formal structure in the last album, with “Lights” (see my post on that song). […]

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