Initial thoughts on El Pintor

•September 21, 2014 • 9 Comments

I am desperately trying to analyze these songs, but I keep getting swept up in the music and losing concentration! But here are my initial thoughts:

When I listened through the entire album for the first time a couple weeks ago, my first impression was that it’s much more playful than the rest of their output. There’s freedom in the way the songs are put together. I also noted that it’s an extremely rhythmically complex album. Daniel’s opening riffs in several of the songs leave you wondering where the downbeat is until the drums come in and announce the meter.

I’ve started graphing the structure of the songs, and my impression of rhythmic complexity and freedom in song form seems to be correct: “All the Rage” starts off structurally predictable (though the guitar riff is very metrically unpredictable) at 4 bars/measures of 4 beats each, repeated 4 times. The verse shares the 4 bar structure, but is only repeated 3 times, which is unusual for Interpol. Even more unusual is that the chorus is 3 bars of 4 beats, and again repeated only 3 times—>the COOLEST part being that the last bar of the chorus elides with the first bar of the next verse: The ending of one and the beginning of the other happen simultaneously. Elision is so cool in music.

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).

Ok, back to graphing (assuming that I can stop listening to “My Desire” on repeat haha).

love,

Meg

“NYC” transcription + analysis

•September 7, 2014 • 2 Comments

NYC pic

Hello there! While I await my copy of El Pintor, I thought I’d finish up my analysis of “NYC”, originally requested by Nathaniel (click on the image above to access the full transcription).

Strikingly, the song consists of only two chords, F major (sometimes FM7) and C major, which in Western music theory is the classic movement between I, aka the “tonic” (the first chord of the scale, in this case F major), and V, aka the “dominant” (the fifth chord of the scale). The movement between these two chords has typically been characterized as extremely stable, the leading-tone (E) of the V chord (C-E-G) pulling you right back to the tonic (F). In and of itself, this chord progression between F and C contains no uncertainty, it’s almost somnambulistic.

That’s where Sam comes in. I am a huge fan of Sam’s drumming, and this bit of work just makes me so happy. Against the regular strumming of the guitars he creates significant rhythmic tension by emphasizing the offbeats. Instead of a regular 1-and-2-and-3-and-4-and we get 1-AND-rest-and-THREE-rest-4-AND. In addition to this, as the song builds he creates a beautiful, full sonority out of all the different parts of his kit, creating this rush of sound that for me signifies New York City in this song.

I imagine Paul riding the subway home from a show or a party and then trudging down the sidewalk/pavement very late at night, exhausted and disappointed that he’s spending the night alone, all the while the unpredictable and constant noise of the city that never sleeps enveloping him. I hear the “turn on the bright lights” part of his vocals as some late-night epiphany in which he realizes he needs to take control of his destiny, outlining an A minor chord to slightly push against the overriding F major tonality.

Next up: El Pintor, then getting to the requests I’ve received for Roland, Stella, and C’mere!

Video clips from Bowery show + review

•September 6, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Some clips from the show; I couldn’t get a clip of every song, but I got most of them!

Here’s what I wrote on the subway ride home:

photo

“It was. Amazing. The energy of the band was exalting, they just seemed to be having such a good time. And the crowd was right there with them, singing along with Stella, Evil, even All the Rage. At one point a guy yelled “Play every song you’ve ever written!”, which made the crowd laugh and Paul grin, but we really would have stood there all night had they wanted to do that.

“Sam was his amazing, solid self as always, getting so much power and variety out of his kit, never needing an auxiliary percussionist like some do. Daniel did all his dance moves and hand flourishing, really driving the hypnotic parts of the slow burn songs like Lights. Paul was a consummate frontman, often donning a good-natured smile, and just as solid as Sam in his playing. At one point, after Daniel encouraged us to clap along to the song, Paul shot him a grin and got a really sweet smile out of him. TOTBT was a transcendetal experience, and I felt like my heart would beat out of my chest during Not Even Jail. I sang with ecstasy “got to be some more change in my life” and we all shouted “Stella!” gleefully. I was reminded of how gloriously beautiful the lyrics of TYOAC are. I haven’t been lifted out of myself like that in far too long a time. Thank, Interpol, for a night I’ll never forget.”

And thanks to Christie for joining me at the event! 

Thoughts forthcoming on El Pintor and how it relates to their previous albums!

Pictures from Bowery Ballroom show!

•September 5, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Can be viewed here, video clips and review of the performance forthcoming! It was an amazing show!

My transcription of “The Undoing”

•January 20, 2014 • 6 Comments

Tumblr user desifee sent me a message about “The Undoing” a few days ago, so I decided to transcribe it—it’s one of my favorite songs off the self-titled album and I fell in love with it all over again while doing the transcription. I did this in a fairly short amount of time, so please let me know if you see any typos!

undoing img

Harmonic analysis:

Section 1, 0:00-1:09 and 1:40-2:48: ||: B major/E major/G# minor/E major (each chord played for 4 measures) :||

Section 2, 1:10-1:39 and 2:49-3:17: ||: B major – D# minor/F# major 7 – F# major/E# major/D# minor – F# major/F# major 7/F# major/F# major :||

Coda, 3:18-the end: Same chord progression as Section 2, repeated almost 8 times (8th repeat is faded out just after the beginning of the progression; my transcription stops at the end of the 7th repeat).

Some thoughts:

Section 1 is nice and expansive, the “harmonic rhythm” (i.e., the rate at which the chords change) is super slow, each chord playing for four measures each, and playing a very non-disruptive I-IV-vi-IV chord progression (I hear this section in B major). The texture for me creates a feeling of grandeur, like well-ordered palace gardens, with the synths and the drums adding more volume in the repeat of the chord progression.

Section 2 is much more complex, harmonically speaking the first time it appears, and also texturally speaking the second time it appears. The harmonic rhythm speeds up. Also, it starts out in B major, but with addition of the E# chord, we end up swinging around to F# major (the closely-related dominant of B major). The second time Section 2 appears (2:49)  the vocal tracks begin to stack up: the Spanish lyrics, the “oh”s and the “please” lyrics. We hear a foreshadowing of the “please” lyrics at 1:25 during the first Section 2, but he really starts pleading in earnest during the second Section 2 and the Coda.

The texture becomes even more dense in the Coda, and the vocals add two new short phrases (“all night long” and “I would wait”). The relatively calm expansiveness of Section 1 has become a complex interweaving of several different (and, in the lyrics, increasingly desperate) lines by the time the song fades out.

Also fun to note, there is no electric bass in this song, just a synthesized double bass!

Always Malaise

•November 3, 2013 • 2 Comments

Man, this was a difficult one to transcribe! As I mentioned in my previous post on “Always Malaise”, the production on this album—especially the layering of the synths—is much more nuanced than in previous albums, so the synth part is definitely not 100% exactly what’s on the recording, but still it’s a fairly close approximation. Also, there are some lyrics I couldn’t quite hear, particularly around 3:35 (measure 107); a lot of sites have it has “follow your soul”, but I just can’t hear it that way (the word that’s supposed to be “soul” sounds like it starts with a “t” to me). If anyone has access to the official lyrics, please feel free to correct me in the comments!

click to see full score PDF

click to see full score PDF

Some thoughts

“Always” sections (0:00-0:57, mm. 1-28; 1:32-2:28, mm. 45-72): As I mentioned in my previous post on this song, this section has 7 measure phrases, which is not the common length for a phrase (generally phrases are a multiple of 4). However, the section *does* have the common total of 4 phrases—so, 4 phrases, each made up of 7 measures. This section is more about melody than harmony, so I haven’t attempted to give chord names like I did for the other sections.

“Man I am” sections (0:58-1:31, mm. 29-44; 2:29-3:01, mm. 73-88): Each section has 2 phrases made up of 8 measures (16 measures total each section), and here the harmonies are more explicitly outlined than in the “Always” sections. The first 8 measure phrase contains the progression C-G-Ebm-Gb-Bbm-Bbm-Fsus-F, and the second 8 measure phrase contains Am7-G-Ebm-Gb-Bbm-Bbm-Fsus-F, almost exactly the same as the first phrase except it starts with Am7 instead of C. This progression is very similar to the progression in the

Coda section (3:02-4:13, mm. 89-120): Which has four phrases, also made up of 8 measures, the progression being Em-G-Ebm-Gb-Bbm-Bbm-Fsus-F. Thanks to the main guitar line, the harmonies in this section are crystal clear, as he outlines a triad (3-note chord) in each measure.

The overall drama of the song, as I hear it, is of something nebulous or unknown becoming progressively more defined. We start with a thin texture in which the piano and voice interweave very closely with each other, then the bass comes in and helps to create a clearer harmonic message in the “Man I am” section, this alternation repeats (and the second time Paul starts “peerin’ out of the shade”), and then we sort of burst into the coda, the straight-forward harmonies backed up by the fullest drum part of the song.

There are many more features that I love about this song (the vocal harmonies at the very end of the coda are so cool!) but that’s it for today. Up next? I’m thinking “Song Seven”, love the counterpoint between the bass and the voice!

Rest My Chemistry transcription

•March 10, 2013 • 9 Comments

Phew! Finally finished it! Well, sort of—as usual it’s missing the drum part unfortunately. I’ll post an analysis later, just wanted to get this up here. Notice I “hid” an instrument when it wasn’t playing, so be sure to look at the beginning of the staff to see which instrument it is. Also, if any of you find a mistake in any of my transcriptions, please let me know! Below is page 1, click here to download the PDF of the whole thing.

Rest My Chemistry

Update! Per Fran’s request click here to download the transcription with guitar tabs!