WWSP's Shadow of th Marigold

Monday, December 26, 2016

2016 - Ambiguous Key Center?

Looking for a different narrative this morning... not the same old story...

Maybe cosmological? Ecological? Geological? Anthropological? Social? Political? Musical?

I stumbled across a Vox article this morning: "The Music Theory Principle that unifies 2016's Radio Hits." Funny. I have not heard any of these songs. Not on my radar at all. 

My musical tastes point in another direction. We do own one Adele record in our vast collection of music (doesn't everyone on the planet own at least one Adele record?), and although I don't often listen to it, that woman really does have a powerhouse voice, don't you think?

Anyway, what about this grand musical theory? Well, Owen Pallet from Arcade Fire (Yes, we do own a bunch of Arcade Fire records, they are one of our favorite bands, please see Funeral, The Suburbs & Neon Bible, for instance), tells us that 2016 features a bunch of songs with "ambiguous key centers." Which is damn interesting.

Songs are usually in a particular key. G-Major would be a sunny, uplifting kind of feel, A-Minor, sort of sad, introspective. Seems these "hits" kind of waver between key chords, no definitive choice, or in some cases, the chord is just suggested.

And many of the hits of 2016 were these kinds of songs. Now of course, music is sort of like fashion, and one thing influences another, and one hit will inspire other hits. It's sort of like the idea of a viral infection - one germ of an idea, spawns many others. Copies.

Now, as a musician and songwriter myself, most of this is interesting, but not useful. I find it best to "not know what I am doing" when I'm writing a song. Tune everything out. Of course, I am steeped in all the music I do listen to, influenced, by the things I love, but my process is much more intuitive. "Dancing in the dark." Which is probably why I have never written a hit. Kind of working in another field entirely.

It's not exactly incompetence, but maybe, sort of...

And that's cool. But it is also kind of cool when you look at the clutter of the world and sometimes see or imagine some over-arching pattern or theory which seems to fit a certain phenomena. I mean it's interesting for entertainment purposes only. But sometimes entertaining ourselves is essential!

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