Sunday, June 5, 2011

Feist "My Moon My Man" Song Analysis

Reader Darryl Millette requested a song analysis of Feist's "My Moon My Man," a song from her third album The Reminder. Feist has been a critic's darling for some time, especially after Apple picked up her "1234" for an iPod Nano commercial in 2007. "My Moon My Man" was also used for a Verizon commercial, and later again on the television show Grey's Anatomy. Like all song analysis, we'll look at the song itself, the arrangement, the sound, and the production.

The Song
"My Moon My Man" is unusual in that the chorus is used only once at the end of the song. The form looks like this:

Intro, Verse, B Section, Interlude, 1/2 Verse, B Section, Interlude/Bridge, Chorus, Outro

The first Interlude is an instrumental version of the B section, while the 2nd one acts more as a bridge in that it's different from the rest of the song even though the underlying feel and chord changes are the same.

The song is built on a single repeating line that changes only slightly in at the end of the B sections, which means the arrangement has to be very strong to hold the listener's interest.

The Arrangement
The arrangement for this song is very simple, which is it's strength, but it also follows all the practices common to a great arrangement. The verses are very simple while the B sections are a lot bigger sounding thanks to the multiple vocal harmonies and the entrance of additional instruments. The chorus is differentiated by the Feist's cluster harmonies. The 2nd verse develops a bit from the first as a very mellow flute-like synth enters. Here are the arrangement elements.


  * The Foundation: Bass, drums and piano bass notes doubling the bass

  *  The Rhythm: Double time piano chords in the B section,

  * The Pad: A very subtle synth on the left side of soundfield during the B sections.

  * The Lead: Lead vocals and electric guitar in the interludes

  * The Fills: Nothing here acts as a traditional fill, but the occasional flutter synth arppegiation fills in a spot here and there. 

The Sound
Any ambiance in the song is subtle but it's there. While the piano and the drums rely on their own recorded room ambiance, the vocal and interlude guitars have a timed reverb to give them a bit of space and depth. The vocal is a bit spitty from overcompression, probably because Feist's vocal was soft, as is her style.

The Production
It takes a lot of skill to take a song that's built around a single repeating 4 bar line and make it interesting. What makes it so is the constant tension and release; soft to loud, complex to simple. I especially liked the clustered harmonies with the harmonic extensions at the end. That's not easy to sing and Feist did a great job.

Send me your requests for song analysis.

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4 comments:

joes said...

hi,

great song - great analysis

the vocal was recorded through a vox-amp,
this is way it sounds so 'crappy',
but I really love the sound of this lofi-approach.

here is the article (SOS) were the engineer explains his way of working:
http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/apr08/articles/insidetrack_0408.htm

bye!

Darryl said...

Thanks so much for the great analysis, Bobby! I too agree that the skill shown in the arrangement is very impressive.

And joes - thanks for posting that article. That's a fascinating look at the development of an excellent album!

Fred Decker said...

Dear Bobby,

I drove my family to my in-laws over Memorial Day.

Trying to analyze songs on the car radio--not only arrangements, but also verse, chorus, bridge, climb etc. makes for a (geeky) car radio travel game.

Fred Decker

Bobby Owsinski said...

Hi Fred,
It's a good practice. You can learn so much about what makes a hit that way.

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