Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Black Keys "Tighten Up" Song Analysis

Reader Jimmy Keenen requested a song analysis of the Black Key's "Tighten Up," so here it is. The song is from their 2010 Brothers album and has been featured on a variety of television shows and commercials. Like all song analysis, we'll look at the song form, the arrangement, the sound and the production.

The Song
"Tighten Up" is an odd song, form-wise. It has an instrumental hook that acts as a chorus, and the end of the song is a different feel altogether, almost like a different song. That said, the form looks like this:

Intro, Verse, Interlude, Verse, Chorus, Verse, Chorus, Verse, Chorus - (new feel) Intro, Verse, Chorus, End

You'd think with a song that only has a vocal on the verses and only two sections that repeat that the song would be boring, but it's not, and a lot of that has to do with arrangement. The fact that each chorus is played differently with a different length, along with an odd bar or two thrown in for good measure before and after the choruses, and you have the formula for keeping the listeners attention.

The Arrangement
Although the form of "Tighten Up" might be a bit unique, the arrangement follows a more traditional pop technique of adding instruments as the song goes along to develop the dynamics and keep the interest level high.

On the second verse a guitar line enters to make it different from the first. A bar of quarter note bass is added at the end just before the chorus. Not only is the form of the second chorus different, but you have two guitars playing the octave melody line on the right side and a guitar playing a much more active chordal figure on the left. The third verse is back to the basics while the last verse has the organ playing a pad.

The drum pattern is pretty different and not what you'd expect, which is why it works so well.

  * The Foundation: Synth bass and drums

  * The Pad: organ in 3rd verse

  * The Rhythm: Tambourine

  * The Lead: Vocal, guitar, whistle, synth

  * The Fills: guitar line

The Sound
The sound of this record is as interesting as the form and arrangement. The tambourine that plays through most of the song and establishes the rhythm is lightly flanged, while the drums are pretty much dry and in your face. The synth bass is all low end and doesn't come across on small speakers as a result, but it's not meant to, as it fits the song exactly how it sounds.

The vocals are slightly distorted on the first half of the song and have a bit of a room reverb with a very slight delay double. The guitars all lay nicely together as they have different sounds and are panned away from each other (except for the lead line that's doubled with an octave higher guitar), while the guitar riff at the end of the song is modulated with a flange or resonator.

The Production
The song was produced by Danger Mouse (Brian Joseph) and it's a very cool marriage of hi and lo tech. To me, the arrangement is a thing of brilliance. I love how the choruses change, with the melody line basically stuttered. I love the odd bar thrown in between verses and choruses. These are the things that make music interesting and unique. It might not seem it on the surface, but "Tighten Up" is a great lesson in production.

Send me your song analysis requests!



----------------------------------
Help support this blog. Any purchases made through our Amazon links help support this website with no cost to you.

You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Don't forget to check out my Music 3.0 blog for tips and tricks on navigating social media and the new music business.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Story Of "My Sharona"

Remember the song "My Sharona?" The hit song from 1979 by The Knack has been played around the world virtually every day since to the point where everyone, regardless of age, knows the song.

Ever wonder who Sharona is or what the song is about? My friend Ralph Simon relates the story in this video. He should know. He was the executive vice-president of Capital Records during the time when The Knack reigned over the charts. He has since gone on to become one of the founders of the mobile entertainment industry (some consider him the father of the ring-tone business) and named one of the world's top 50 executives by Mobile Entertainment magazine.



----------------------------------
Help support this blog. Any purchases made through our Amazon links help support this website with no cost to you.

You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Don't forget to check out my Music 3.0 blog for tips and tricks on navigating social media and the new music business.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

There's More To Sound Than Hearing

We always think of audio as strictly a function of one of our senses, but as many of us know, there's more to it than that. When we can feel the vibrations from bass frequencies we intuitively believe that the sound is much more powerful than when we can't feel it. But perhaps there's more to it than that.

A movie called Touch the Sound, produced by German director Thomas Riedelsheimer in 2004, focuses on the work and world of nearly-deaf percussionist Evelyn Glennie. Not only can she play, but she's world-class!

Below is a trailer for the movie, which you can see in its entirety on Hulu. Thanks for PR maven Marsha Vdovin for the heads-up on this great piece.



----------------------------------
Help support this blog. Any purchases made through our Amazon links help support this website with no cost to you.

You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Don't forget to check out my Music 3.0 blog for tips and tricks on navigating social media and the new music business.

Monday, December 5, 2011

What Gibson Buying Stanton Means

Gibson Guitar has announced in a press release that they’re acquiring the Stanton Group, which includes the well-known Stanton DJ brand, KRK monitors, and Cerwin-Vega loudspeakers. Gibson already has acquired Epiphone, Dobro, Kramer, Steinberger, Tobias, Echoplex, Electar, Flatiron, Slingerland, Valley Arts, Maestro, Oberheim, Baldwin, Sunshine Piano, Take Anywhere Technology, J&C Fischer, Chickering, Hamilton,  and Wurlitzer. So aside from Epiphone, when was the last time you hear anything from most of those products?

What's most interesting about the announcement is that Gibson calls this move is “part of its continued expansion as a lifestyle brand.” I guess my question is, "How does Stanton fit into that vision?" I understand that Gibson CEO Henry Juszkiewicz would like to be more like Apple, but buying a group that features DJ and speaker products isn't exactly a great start in that direction. Plus, with Gibson's track record of instantly burying a company as soon as they buy it, it seems like a moot point anyway.

It would be great if Gibson would just concentrate on the thing they do best, making guitars, but they're not doing so hot on that front either. The robot guitar, digital guitar and Firebird X all had the industry and players alike scratching their heads. One again, it seems like market share and acquisitions mean more to the Gibson powers-that-be than increasing efficiencies on its core product and making better instruments. As outlined in my article about Warner Music Group on my Music 3.0 blog today, music and big money usually don't mix. You have to make a profit to stay in business, but the turning point is when the business becomes more about money than music, and that leads to trouble.

So say goodbye to the Stanton Group - Stanton DJ, KRK and Cerwin-Vega. It's only a matter of time before they disappear.
----------------------------------
Help support this blog. Any purchases made through our Amazon links help support this website with no cost to you.

You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Don't forget to check out my Music 3.0 blog for tips and tricks on navigating social media and the new music business.


Sunday, December 4, 2011

Dio "Rainbow In The Dark" Isolated Vocal

For anyone who ever met him, Ronnie James Dio was not only a great singer, but a wonderful gentleman with a huge heart as well. We all still feel his loss and miss him. Here's an example of Ronnie's great voice on an isolated vocal track from his hit "Rainbow In The Dark" off of his 1983 Holy Diver album.

This sounds to be either the center channel from a 5.1 mix or  a center channel phase extraction, which actually can be a better learning tool than if it were off the multitrack. During the solo section you can hear the guitar solo enter, which is why a tell-tale sign that it's not directly from the multitrack.

Here's a couple of things to note as you listen:

1) Ronnie's voice is pretty compressed, but this is something that he really needs since he had such a  dynamic voice.

2) There's a good bit of a medium long plate reverb on his vocal. It doesn't sound like it's delayed.

3) He doubles the B section of the verse and then breaks into the harmony on the hook of the song. Some of the harmonies have different releases form the lead phrasing, which we probably wouldn't let pass today. That said, it never bothered me before when I listened to the song.

4) You can hear a punch out at the end of the high section vocal section of verse two.

Enjoy.



----------------------------------
Help support this blog. Any purchases made through our Amazon links help support this website with no cost to you.

You should follow me on Twitter for daily news and updates on production and the music business.

Don't forget to check out my Music 3.0 blog for tips and tricks on navigating social media and the new music business.

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...