How To Kill Music

Photo by Sanvean.

When you’re learning how things are made, it’s easy to get caught up in reverse engineering.

A songwriting book can tell you:

  • The chorus should start on a note that is higher than the last note of the verse, preferably a major third above it.
  • Your song title should be no more than seven syllables in length, and should appear in the chorus.
  • The first chorus should occur within 30 seconds.

These are aspects of musical architecture. Tools for the construction process. But they don’t tell you why the house was built on the edge of a waterfall.

Sure, you can replace the heart of music, inspiration, with a mathematical formula. Get out your ruler and copy the patterns. You’ll fool a lot of people. (It worked for Rivers Cuomo.)

But without that Eureka Moment, all you’ve got is a Frankenstein Monster. It’s not actually alive.

Those who think they can outsmart the system will make post-modern, ironic arguments for the validity of disposable pop trash. What they won’t admit to themselves is that they still can’t pull it off themselves.

Unimaginative pot-boilers want the magic so badly, that they forget it’s something that just happens.


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3 Responses to “How To Kill Music”

  1. Blake went to the beach and complained:

    That album was probably their worst to date BUT it had some good songs on it i.e. get dangerous, the greatest man that ever lived, heart songs & the angel and the one. Granted its no Blue Album, hasn’t Weezer always been pretty formulaic? (For example “The Green Album: Verse, chorus, verse, chorus, guitar solo that copies the verse melody, chorus, out)

    Either way, I generally agree with you.

  2. frish went to the beach and complained:

    Frank Lloyd Wright built the Kaufmann’s home on the edge of the waterfall so that they could be one with the waterfall. They couldn’t see it very well, because they were right on top of it. But they could hear it. The sound of the waterfall became part of their daily lives, they became one with the waterfall.

  3. dunner went to the beach and complained:

    The problem with the Frankenstein analogy is that a) the Frankenstein monster was alive in the story, b) it implies that hack songs take on a life of their own and c) that hack songs lead to the destruction of their creators (rather than the opposite)…

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