Almost exactly a year ago today, reader Lorefin asked me to look at Roland and Stella — well, here’s Roland!

roland clip

This song presents so many musical traits that feel very “Interpol” to me:

  • A tight, clean texture consisting of highly repetitive riffs,
  • modal mixture (the song is in E minor for the most part, but F-natural appears in a few places [e.g., 0:26] making it briefly in E Phrygian),
  • non-tonic notes (in particular B and C) feature prominently and therefore create a sense of harmonic tension,
  • and the last third of the song presents new material in which the melodic tension increases dramatically.

The song’s form is Intro – Verse – Chorus (“He severs segments”) – Interlude – Verse – Chorus – Coda1 (2:30) – Coda2 (2:58). I love the contrast between the Verse and Chorus, the former being a really dense texture with interlocking guitar lines, the latter being a really unified texture with the guitars and bass all playing almost exactly the same line in octaves. Whenever the Chorus starts in this song I want to start moving my body.

The Coda in this song is so…sexy, if I can get poetic here. Starting at 2:30 Carlos is playing extremely high on the bass in completely stepwise motion (so, the notes are all close together), while one of the guitars sets up a stable large-scale four bar pattern as the other guitar plays a melody with a wave-like contour that both metrically and harmonically pushes against this large-scale pattern. At 2:58 this all sort of releases into a two-bar pattern with a strong sense of forward motion; the pattern repeats three more times verbatim, and we end the song not on the tonic E, but on the sixth scale degree, C.

Those are my initial thoughts on Roland — I always feel bad not including Sam’s drum parts in my transcriptions, since his playing is such an integral part of their sound. Like, there would be no Interpol without Sam’s insanely amazing, disciplined, tasteful drumming. Ever since I saw them live at Bowery Ballroom last year my already high respect for Sam’s playing has increased dramatically.

Anyway! In order of request, next on my list is Stella, C’mere, Obstacle 1, Length of Love, Same Town, and My Desire. I fall more in love with El Pintor the more I listen to it and I can’t wait to dig into those songs.

Until next time!


~ by megwilhoite on July 18, 2015.

5 Responses to “Roland”

  1. Hi Meg, would you share what software you use for your transcriptions? Thanks a bunch.

  2. Hi Christopher! I use Sibelius 5 for my transcriptions.

  3. Thanks!

  4. Hi Meg,

    This Roland thing is great.
    However, I would like to ask you that are you ready to make some analysis on the latest record? For me it was hard to get in because it sounded basic and and a little bit boring. I took a year of off and now I’m listening it again. I think there are some superb things hiding in what first sounds basic. There are many parts in one song and it is surpring how those parts can fit into one song. So, I would like to ask you to pick a song that is musically and emotionally most complex and make an analysis with score and everything (maybe a video too 🙂

    • Hi Leevi!

      It’s interesting that you mention the basic/complexity paradox — another reader mentioned the album sounds minimalist but creates a lot of tension, which I think is a similar reaction to yours (and to mine, actually). I’m definitely psyched to keep analyzing Pintor, and I will try to do another video if I can clean up my apartment enough! 😛

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