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post #7 of (permalink) Old 08-02-2012, 09:19 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Rorschach View Post
Using a narrow definition. I'm not exactly sure what would qualify as good music? It would likely sound alien and dissonant to our ears because it seems the definition is whether or not it uses any pre-defined "rules" about songwriting. The entire history of music is based on pitches separated into 12 equal (on a logarithmic) intervals that scale between multiples of some frequencies. It's only with the advent of modern music "synthesis" have there been limited use of frequencies outside this domain. i.e. pitches that would be considered out of tunes, usually 5 or 10 cents.

Is all music bad because it's only operated in this narrow spectrum of sound?

The point being that the use or lack of use of certain elements doesn't make music (or its songwriting) inherently good or bad. The use of a "mold" doesn't make something inherently good or bad. A very unoriginal and derivative piece of music could very well be much better written than something entirely experimental.

What? Jazz was created by negroes who "learned" classical music. They used many elements of it, adding, not ignoring.
This is a huge discussion in and of itself but ragtime borrow heavily from African and Caribbean music traditions which use elements that simply were not present in European music. I'm sure music traditionalists thought "swing time", for instance, was garbage and even to this day, it pretty much remains relegated to genres ranging from what could be considered avant garde through non-mainstream. Nor were they ever incorporated into Classical music.

We now can study the "blues scale" in terms of Western music notation, but it was invented outside of it. It is notated in what we consider a pentatonic and heptatonic scales and Western music (at that time) predicated on octatonic scales exclusively. This is a common difference between Western music and the music of the world; Eastern Asian music, for example, is almost predominately written in what Western music now calls pentatonic scales.

Jazz differs in many other ways (use of 3rd intervals primarily instead of perfect fifths) and shoehorning its tendencies back into a Western perspective doesn't necessarily make it derived from Western Theory.

So as it relates to the main point, this doesn't somehow make Jazz songwriters inherently "better" than Western music writers just because they aren't using a Classical foundation. I don't necessarily agree with this notion that something being anti-derivative makes it better.

I don't understand what you mean about the arpeggiator and all... I think we're saying kind of the same thing?
Originally you claimed that there is "no real melody" in the original arrangement but it's there. It has to be because the piano arrangement only uses elements present in the original; there's no new music added. He's simply emphasizing it by making absent other elements. The arpeggiator module is just a way to shortcut and program music (instead of writing an entire scale, you assign a root and it generates the notes of the scale or arpeggio based on the rhythm and key you tell it) and I bring it up only because it could be possible that those melodies that the piano arrangement emphasizes were written incidentally.

Yes, I agree, but also that depends on the listener. It's not something objective and measurable, like harmony and voice leading, for instance.
Nothing really important about music is objective; the objective elements are just the tools to understanding what is possible about music (i.e. what has already been done). Music, by it's very nature, is about breaking some of those rules and in doing so, communicating ideas.

Again, I don't understand what you mean. First of all, I completely agree with the first part of the sentence, but then you put focus on the listener... The listener might hear or not the song as a whole independently of how the composer sat down and put it together... Again "it depends on the listener".
It simply means that if you sit down and listen to music for only the technical, objective elements, the presence of certain tools, you can't enjoy it for what it is. Lots of music is written only to be as complicated as possible and incorporate as many different musical elements as possible. Take Yngwie Malmsteen's guitar work, for example. Very technical, yes, but in the end it's just but a bunch of arpeggios in different modes written in a straightforward progression. When you just listen to it, it doesn't sound interesting or resonate with the listener.

Music is ultimately the expression of an idea to the listener by use of sound. If the writer forsakes this and uses music as a means to simply write more technical music, that makes him a poor songwriter.

The fact that the listener can determine if something is either good or bad is highly debatable... What i won't argue with is that the listener can say if they like/dislike something. But something being liked, and something being good... two completely different things.
Because music is just the expression of an idea, if the listener takes away very vivid and detailed idea, even if misinterpreted, the songwriter has achieved what he was supposed to. The more people the songwriter connects with on this level, the better his music is. People tend to connect with music they like exclusively, but not always.

Do you really think that Blink 182 and Skrillex are far appart regarding innovation, risk and creativity?
This particular song by skrillex repeats the same chord progression like 10 times..!
Those elements are only one aspect that songwriting might address. My point was that you said that the elements of the melody were not obvious in the original arrangement - this point had more to do with the context of how many different music ideas are interlayered simultaneously. To take that out of context and think it to be a more broad look and comparison of their musical creativity is dishonest at best.

I always like the comments about repetition. Music is a balance between chaos and order, repetition and progression. To imply something might be better or worse because it located at a particular point along this spectrum is kind of silly. It'd be like saying I don't like Kirk Hammett's guitar work because he writes a lot in E minor. Most of the electronica genre stems from a groundwork where music performances were measured in days and hours, not minutes and seconds. Old, old trance (like from the late 80's and early 90's) is *very* repetitive but very rewarding because it works by slowly layering and adding elements. It's kind of like watching a time lapse of the world being born.

I probably should clarify that this wasn't necessarily to discuss whether or not he is a good songwriter in any absolute sense, but rather, to look at elements of his songwriting that people might find surprising.

edit: I appreciate your thoughts in this discussion and would like to hear what else you think about the topic or music writing in general.

Last edited by CheeseForSteeze; 08-02-2012 at 09:28 AM.
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