ALL ABOUT THE MUSIC -- the Other Half of the Songwriting Coin

ALL ABOUT THE MUSIC -- the Other Half of the Songwriting Coin

Welcome to the All About the Music thread, where you will find discussions ranging from songwriting process and musical influences to detailed posts about time signatures, chord progressions, and key changes. And anything in between.

This thread began when I was feeling more than a little lonely here on DCO, thinking I was the only music nerd out there who wanted to discuss all that technical stuff that seems so mysterious to so many fans about David's music. At which point I realized that there was, oddly enough, no thread in which to do that.

Any topic of discussion that relates to the music is welcome here, including that about other band members and their musical contributions to the recordings and/or performances, past, present, and future. Lyrical discussions are welcome as well, as long as, again, they relate to the music. (For more detailed lyrical analysis, I direct you to our sister thread, All About the Lyrics. Our other sister thread, All About the Voice, is also available for discussions about David's vocal instrument -- although cross-posting here from the latter thread is not frowned on, either.) And any question, however simple, is welcome. I don't think anyone claims to be an expert here; certainly not me -- but I think we can all learn from each other about what it is about David's music that fascinates, and entertains, and affects us all.

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Resources
The various resources provided below are a compilation of the many informative links that have been provided by the denizens of this thread, as well as several informative blogs compiled by said denizens and other DCO members. If you find anything incorrect, or if credit must be given to an otherwise uncredited contribution, please post in this thread or PM me and I will make the necessary changes. Also, any further contributions to this list of resources are not only accepted but encouraged. Thank you to all who have done so already. This list could not have become nearly as comprehensive without the devoted assistance of many.
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Musical Execution

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David Cook Discography, Sheet Music, Lyrics, Chords, and More

    Discography and Libraries
  • David Cook Unofficial Discography by QTTaquito provides all known credits to all known songs DC has written
  • David Cook Unofficial Discography by Cowriter by QTTaquito (the companion discography to the one above)
  • TLM Discography by FoolsApril64: a list of all songs on TLM, along with all other songs and known collaborations written in advance of that album, as well as all known writing and performance credits.
  • Album Writing Credits for DCTR, including non-DC-written songs, by BethRiot
  • Pre-Idol Video Library, compiled by LadyBirdSF, contains links to videos of all DC's pre-Idol music, from Axium to Analog Heart to those unpublished songs we actually know of.
  • Axium Resource on LiveJournal, contains information on the band's history, as well as a discography and links to download various songs.

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On songwriting, recording, and production

    Songwriting
  • Youtube video some smart aleck posted about his songwriting process (by Mitch Friedman)

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    David About the Music: Comprehensive musical interviews and playlists (Thanks, David! We love this! Keep it up!)
  • The Musical Interview Archive contains links to all articles containing pertinent musical information.
  • David Cook -- Musical Likes and Influences -- A comprehensive list of songs that David has mentioned in various interviews or other media, compiled by G*Marie; an excellent resource, including the additional songs appended in the comments.

And, per request, Because at the end, it really is all about the music -- an open letter -- my blog post, which I hope DC reads at some point, informing him that while we'd love to talk about the music, we'd appreciate any nuggets of information he'd consider throwing our way as he sees fit.

Comments (2305)

OK, Perhaps I was thinking of John Lennon.

Actually, the way I recall it, Paul was the only one of the Beatles who could read music, originally. I remember John saying that, that Paul was the only one who could read music when they got together. But now when I look it up on wiki, I see that Paul says he never learned to read music. So I don't know why I remember it that way.

THanks for this thread guys. Clearly I am not observant enough to make intelligent contributions here, since I tend to focus on the feel of a song as a whole, and miss a lot of the small details which add more layers. For example, today was the first time I heard the cello in Declaration. I'm not hearing things, right - that is a cello?

Anywhoo, I do have a question. Any thoughts on the synergy of musical arrangements and lyrics? For example, I flove how the plucking guitar notes on Pecking Order echoes the theme of the song. And today when I listened to Mr Sensitive, I noticed for the first time how the guitar in the opening sequence has the same staccato feel to it - it connected the two songs to me in a way I had never realized before. And a way, they do cover similar lyrical themes, don't you think?

Also interesting to me is how the live performances of Mr Sensitive have evolved to the point where the chorus has an almost derisive feel to it: " I-i-i- would like to introduce mr Sensitive" *subtext circus freak*. Still trying to reconcile that to my initial take on the song, so would like to hear your thoughts on that.

And the real question I wanted to ask - we've talked a lot about change of POV in his lyrics here and elsewhere. I was wondering whether the musical arrangements echoed that. I mean, there's clearly the bridge on KOTN that signals the POV. But I haven't really noticed a change in the musical arrangement thereafter to reinforce the changed POV. As I say, non-observant. But does anyone else perhaps pick up on stuff like that (in KOTN or other songs)?

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Innocuous comments like that are how it starts. Then a year later your soul and free will are in a box in Cook's basement. (tm Wheeziev)

Hoaloha, I second your thought about how people self-teach themselves music.

I think part of it is talent. Their brains work differently than mine, that's for sure. The other is motivation. With motivation people teach themselves a lot of things. A lot of artists, and I mean in all creative fields, are self-taught. The best thing about being self-taught, I think, is that you are not bound by something other people have drummed into your head. Often the most innovative are self-taught, because they did not "know" any better. Nowadays, with the internet and all, the self-taught have a lot of resources. I give a lot of credit to the old musicians who really created genres of music (blues, jazz, etc).

Regarding music and math, I think if you go into music theory, there is a lot of math there. However a lot of musicians approach music by ear and feel. Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney, for example, supposedly could not read music (not totally sure if it's true). I think you can understand beats and chords and notes on an instinctual/experiential/"see, hear and learn" way without a formal mathematical explanation.

For those with a formal classical music education, yes there is a correlation. I think it has to do with the ability to focus on detail, comfort with abstract symbols and analytical way of thinking. I have no musical or math skills myself (struggled through calculus, and now can barely do simple algebra), but my daughter took band in school and also did quite well in math. BTW, I once asked her if they memorized the pieces they play, and she laughed out loud at the idea. They sight read music (notes) as well as I sight read English. But people have learned to speak since the beginning without knowing grammar or how to read. So I think it is the same for music.

In my internet travels, I came across this resource on musical injuries. Has a lot of references to hearing, voice and various instrumental injuries including guitar, mostly over-use injuries. It made me think of David and the band. They are playing a very strenuous tour schedule, and I hope they are taking care of themselves.

http://eeshop.unl.edu/music.html

Yak and sky and oyy- Why, thank you, thank-you, thank-you! I feel so special! Sometiimes I think that I might be "reaching" - as with "recitative" in terms of how far is too far ? Are we seeing more than is there? I dunno. I doubt that David said, "Well, let's write Souvenir with a recitative feel." Although, I don't doubt he knows the term since it is a way of singing common to Broadway music. ( Think of Richard Kiley's original performance of "The Impossible Dream" or any songs that Richard Burton "sang" in Camelot.)

hoaloha: Self-taught musicians pick up music probably from a combo of how their brains just work and intense motivation. Funny thing about the math and music - I am musical, but I was just sufficiently competant in math and science. So, I don't know. Could be that since I am also left-handed, my brain just doesn't follow that trend anyway!

( Talking about someone innately musical, and just need a micro-squee off topic, I am off to see Paul McCartney at Citifield in Queens, NY today - and I bought outrageously expensive tix and will be real close. My Beatlemaniac dreams come true - nearly, as I know I will never meet him. See ya later!)

Normanthecat your description of triplets is a thing of beauty. There's something there for all of us, the simple 1-2-3-1-2-3 guitar feeling description and the almost incomprehensible to me Wikipedia reference. I think I got it. Thanks.

How the hell is anyone self taught in music? You folks are spoon feeding me how to listen to music, I can't imagine writing it without oodles of education. You don't pick this stuff up by osmosis do you?

ETA: Changed my avi for the day because you guys are making me feel a little c***y. I feel like I'm peeking at some of the cards in David's arsenal... and I like it.

jayelgee1: I loved what you said about Souvenir. I think you said better than I did. I did not have the words to describe what I meant but you did. Thanks.

--
Now we are looking back, through wasted photographs
Blank pages filling up our past.......Souvenir
sky1234

yaminac, This:

3/4 TASTE every MO-ment and LIVE it out LOUD
6/8 TASTE every moment and LIVE it out loud

is a brilliant piece of teaching. It instantly showed me the difference, which otherwise I could not decipher. No way is your post a thread-killer!

And thanks for the scientist's observation about music and math; I've always thought that if you had facility with one you likely did with the other. I have it with neither, being extremely word-oriented. But love the discussion here about the music underlying, giving form to the words (just went and checked out the NYU Souvenir, jlg). I've always felt I wasn't musically interested/oriented. David woke me up to what was underneath and I am very glad. And this thread is giving me the course in music I never took. Thanks all you informed folks.

Kitunen, I wish you'd posted a warning with those Science Today links; I followed one and could.not.pull.myself.away from that site for over an hour. Good stuff!

Professor Yak, you can teach me how to count to twelve any time! Especially with martinis. As one of the instigators of the scary guitar talk, I'll freely admit to being a total geek about music stuff, and I really enjoy anything technical anyone wants to share about the process of making, or listening to, music. I also enjoy the less technical musical conversations, and I hope there's always enough room on this thread for both!

So, speaking of technical, here's my take on DCTR time signatures. It's all 4/4, I think, except for Mr. Sensitive, Lie, A Daily AntheM, and TOML, which are in 6/8. (ETA: Oh. Yak said that already. Well, erm... yeah. What she said.)

Barbasol, I think, is in 4/4, the way Cook counts it off at the start of the song. My guess is that the 1-2-3-1-2-3 feeling comes from the bass and guitar parts' being written as triplets, which guitarists (probably all musicians?) learn to count as "trip-a-let-trip-a-let..." (Does that make sense, or should I skip right to the chocolate martini next time?)

Kitunen - thanks for bringing those Science Daily articles over! Music and science have both been a big part of my life, and interests, so this stuff gets me all giddy. I once proposed a scientific study of how the sound of a certain singer's voice affected the listener's physical condition. Because it does, and I sure wish I understood how that happens. Is it the music that elicits a certain brain response, which in turn creates some physical change? Or is it the actual physical properties of the sound waves that affect the physical body? It's interesting to think about.

So I think I understand now why Souvenir has not produced the same effect on me as Sky and others. I was bored by it musically, and I really did not get a feeling of anger when I listen and or watch him play it live. Some people got that immediately, but maybe he just didn't look or sound angry to me, so it just didn't synch up for me for a bigger effect. It's a real subtle and sarcastic anger, and I get it now. But still not a favorite. I think the acoustic version grabbed me more, because his vocals take on an entirely different tone, yeah, a sadder rather than angry tone. That version worked for me. It's so interesting to me how different people react to songs - how some can grab somebody the first time but not be felt at all by another. I think I need that marriage of music and lyrics, and I want to know what the singer is feeling. My husband couldn't care less what the singer is saying, and just likes songs for the music. Drives me nuts sometimes, but hey, that's who he is.

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Love is gathering...

jayelgee - By Jove, has anyone told you lately that you're brilliant? This - While it is melodic, the verse is almost like ""recitative " - which in opera and classic song forms is when the lyrics are nearly spoken. I literally ran back to the NYU Souvenir video to check out your observation. Of course, "recitative"! A series of chords over which exposition of story line occurs. The music merely provides a barebones framework to get the words across - rephrased, the music is subjugated to the words. Maybe one chord change each measure, with logical harmonic choices that set up more predictable resolutions. The music doesn't stand on its own. Its all about the words.

Side note: you all know I adore Neal, but that twangy motive he plays throughout the entire chorus does nothing for me.

But I have a new appreciation for the compositional structure of Souvenir. So cool. I love this thread.

QueenJ I don't believe we have a definitive list of time signatures for the various DCTR cuts. Everything sounds pretty much like its 4/4 to me, except the 6/8s in Mr. Sensitive, Lie, A Daily AntheM and TOML. Any of you percussion folks want to check it out?

Yak - For me, Souvenir is just the most amazing song. While it is melodic, the verse is almost like ""recitative " - which in opera and classic song forms is when the lyrics are nearly spoken. I say "almost" like it because David sings it, but the lyric is very conversational. I am very taken by the chorus melody and David's intensity as he sings it. The lyrics are brillant. This was the one song I got the best video of at NYU and he delivered it superbly. I am happy that he is thinking of putting it on the next cd. As much as I love Avalanche and Lie and IDIFY, Souvenir is my favorite. It just does something to me.

In that radio interivew, the fan's questions were the absolute best. That male dj just couldn't take a woman bieng intelligent and well-informed, could he? Pity.

So tonight, took out my guitar to give a whack or two at some of The Songs. As we have been talking about Lie, I spent some time on it. I do fingerstyle, as well as rhythm, so I gave it a fingerstyle treatment. Slowed it down, fingerpicked it and tried to wrap my voice around it nicely. I find David's songs challenging maybe because they are so not written for the female voice. (Which is also why his ABMB was so amazing as he was able to translate that song into his so very male voice.).

David's phrasing is also so distinct. It's part of what makes him so unique. ( Like Dylan - you can cover his songs, but noone can phrase like he does. Unreal.) So when I try to sing his songs, finding my own way to accommodate that phrasing is a challenge, too.

And, as we discussed for days, nevermind when he decides to play in D# and make all the chords comparably difficult. I will just transpose as I go up or down a half step. I can't get my fingers to stretch as far as those chords require.

Kitunen and YAK, thank you for the 6/8 time signature explanation. I get it! Seems to be that David's lyrics and emotion need more room to play around between the beats. Seems like a good thing. QueenJ, I'd love to read a time signature discussion.

Those articles! What are we going to do when Kitunen graduates and no longer has to snoop around the internet for homework assignments? I know, let's tie her down and keep her in school. Dr. Kitunen has a nice ring to it.

ETA: Kitunen look into this Music Thought to Enhance Intelligence, Mental Health and Immune System and take heart.

I'm sure this has been posted and discussed before but what are the time signatures for the all the DCTR songs? Might be interesting to compare and contrast?

kitunen, what have you done? How will I ever find my way back to DWoP again? That science site is awesome. Reading the article about a mathematician being the first one to figure out the opening chord to "Hard Day's Night"? Love it! In the article he says, “Music and math are not really that far apart,” he says. “They’ve found that children that listen to music do better at math, because math and music both use the brain in similar ways. The best music is analytical and pattern-filled and mathematics has a lot of aesthetics to it. They complement each other well.” QueenJ, I TOLD you you were a natural.

Just to expound on kitunen's explanation of the difference between 3/4 and 6/8 for hoaloha, this might help. Think of 12 beats - and say them in these 2 patterns, emphasizing the bold numbers by clapping (the technical word for the bold beats are "downbeats"):

3/4: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

6/8: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Let's use TOML as an example:

3/4 TASTE every MO-ment and LIVE it out LOUD
6/8 TASTE every moment and LIVE it out loud

Can you feel the difference - the 6/8 has a little more "swing", vocally you can play between the beats more, the phrasing is lengthened, and the 3/4 is a little choppier, keeps you in tighter reins. I believe most contemporary songs with the "waltz" feeling are written in 6/8.

And Professor Yak puts down her baton and picks up a chocolate martini.

ETA: If this post doesn't kill this thread, nothing will.

I'm in the process of trying to find an article about some sort of study for my stats summer homework. Well, while poking around Science Daily, I found a couple of articles that I think are relevant to the current discussion.

Why Musicians Make Us Weep And Computers Don't
I thought that this one in particular was relevant to the current topics regarding the emotionality of music. It could be applied to the differences between the studio versions and live versions of DCTR tracks...and maybe offers an explanation of why a lot of us tend to like the live performances better than the studio tracks. Also of note, the study indicates that our brains can interpret key changes and other musical variations even if a person has no demonstrated musical ability whatsoever.

Guitarists' Brains Swing Together
This study took pairs of guitarists and examined EEGs of their brain waves while they were playing together. The EEGs showed synchronized patterns, and the article offers several explanations of why this might happen. In this study, each guitarist was playing the same part. I'd be interested to see what kind of results they would get if they gave each pair two parts...coordinating lead and rhythm parts, for example. Not the same, but complementary to each other...could be interesting.

hoaloha, I actually know something about time signatures from percussion, which left me sorely lacking in other areas that I wish I was better at now, like actually reading music...heh. IIRC, 6/8 is 1 and a, 2 and a, 1 and a, 2 and a...and so on, 3/4 would be 1 and a, 1 and a, 1 and a...and so on. Depends on the pattern I think. I'm guessing there's a better way to explain that/type it out, and that somebody will be able to do a better job than me, though (haven't played percussion in three years...heh.)

ETA: Capt. Cha, don't make me hurt you!
...ugh.
...I'm not spamming! I'm trying to contribute!
--
We are the music makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams.

I love this thread. I'm here every day gratefully reading every post. My enjoyment of David's music has increased drastically. I used to like a song if I liked its melody. Now I know better.

Thank you musical peeps for sharing your knowledge with musicaly uneducated me and others like me (I know you're out there, DCO has taught me so.) I follow every link and spend all kinds of time nosing around what else is offered there. Who knew there were vocal coaches and voice lessons all over youtube? You did. Thank you so much for including so many examples. They are a huge help.

Ok, I have a humiliating simple question.
What is the difference between 6/8 and 3/4 (waltz) time?
Why would you choose 6/8?

xoxo peeps, checking out of daveworld for a while, real life calls.... i'm sure i'll be back presently.

sometimes some detox is good, what?

please don't stop the music (music)

min

--
I laugh at myself while the tears roll down....

Wow, so much to comment on.

First off -- Karen, THANK YOU for the interview! And thank you to the fan who actually asked questions we want the answers to! I have added a link to it in the OP -- I think it's very deserving.

It seems that some fans are lyrics people and some are music people, with regards to Yamina's question -- you all are probably not shocked to hear that I'm one of the latter -- it's one of the reasons I've never really gotten caught up in the angst about Windy, for instance. Because the melody isn't as offensive, to me, as the particular lyric is to others.

Minstrel, in answer to your questions:
I would think that all those things would be legitimate aspects of what we discuss here? As long as the entire thread did not become devoted to the wordy side?
Yes, and yes.

Sky, thank you for delurking. I think you make a very valid point, in that the rhythm and the percussion of a song make a huge difference in the emotional tone. In fact, I'd wager to say that that's why there may not be a simple answer to your question about Lie, JLG -- because it's not just the singing that creates the emotion in the song, or the lyrics -- the music can be played differently, too. The drumbeats can be sharper, more staccato -- as can the guitars, for instance. The tempo can go up -- and I suspect that if one were to do both of these things (create a sharper rhythm and speed up the song) the music would, in fact, sound more upbeat and happier -- which would be really strange with the lyrics as they are now. It all fits together -- which is kind of the point that we've been making recently, isn't it?

As for the time signature -- well, 6/8, or 3/4, or whatever the waltz beat is -- to me, it always lends a nostalgic, romantic feel to a song. But that's something that can go either way. There are happy romantic songs and sad romantic songs. Lie is obviously one of the latter, but change the subject matter and the delivery, and you'd have something else entirely. Which is, I think, another thing that we've learned from listening to DC, perhaps starting with Hello -- and perhaps that's one of the secrets of a good arrangement -- knowing what to change and how to create something new.

ETA: Updated because the OP has been updated with the interview link. Also to say, 'cause I'm really feeling it now -- I LOVE THIS THREAD. That is all. <3

ETAA: Regarding Souvenir, I echo Yamina's feelings on the song. The melody is too simple, almost sing-songy in some places. It's not as complicated as some of the other stuff -- and like Yamina, I also would not be surprised if the lyrics came first here, but that's partly based on how I write as well. As I may have mentioned, in my sad attempts at songwriting, if the music comes first I end up with some pretty cool instrumentals (but then I get stuck with bad, bad lyrics) -- and the other way around results in decent lyrics but instrumentation that is not nearly as interesting or complex. Sort of like, dare I make the comparison, Souvenir. (*Ducks the thrown stones*)

Somebody Stop Me! (tm Jim Carrey in The Mask). Great post, Sky..., just because some of us throw terminology around doesn't make our opinions any more valid. I love hearing what you think about Souvenir, because, honestly, I'm just not feeling it. In a different context, minstrel said: But unless music is actually instrumental, or a vocalise without words, to try to strip the function of the words completely away from the music is a mistake, I think. I mean, as an analytical exercise, breaking stuff down into its component parts can be quite illuminating. I adore breaking down the pieces and actually use vocalise as a method to evaluate why I do or do not like a song. Now, I am totally on board with the lyric appreciation for Souvenir - its gorgeous. But I'm not feeling the melody, especially of the chorus. And for me, personally, that "component part" is crucial. For fun, just "la la" the chorus of Souvenir. That melody expresses nothing to me - the layers of percussion and guitar are like, well in the words of Simon Cowell, the bun without the hamburger. I would love to know if on this particular song, the lyrics came before the melody.

So this thread scares me but I am going to post on Souvenir. Now I loved this song from first listen and I am not sure why. I am not a musician and only played drums in the HS orchestra. Took a music appreciation course once. That is it. For me the lyrics are important, if the lyrics suck I usually don't like the song with rare exception. That is why I love David Cook, I love his lyrics. So I love the lyrics in Souvenir, the heartbreak and the anger, the angst. Now the melody fits the lyrics perfectly in this song I feel. The driving beat of the song adds to the feeling of anguish, the song in my mind is almost a rant and the music supports that angry feeling. Take my heart cause you ripped it out, no happy melody here a driving beat that pounds home the point. But the acoustic version loses that and it becomes a different song. Sadder more heartfelt not so angry now the lyrics are the same but because it is acoustic and that angry feeling is gone and it becomes a song about loss and sadness. I love how David changes up songs like this. Okay now that is my foray into the musical realm. Now back to lurking.

--
Now we are looking back, through wasted photographs
Blank pages filling up our past.......Souvenir
sky1234

...and such a sexy eyebrow it is.... And, in today's chapter of Jan's Thoughts About David's Songs While Driving, ( and thinking about this thread)... I was trying to imagine what Lie would be like with happy lyrics, just to test some of our hypotheses. David is so able to put anguished pathos into his voice, how would it sound HAPPY? How would that melody sound with a feel-good theme? I wondered if it could hold up with that juxtoposition or would we hear it differently? Even as 6/8, it is waltz music. Imagine it with upbeat lyrics. What would we get?

Oh, and yak, being a roused rabble is one of my favorite life modes. LOL.

ah, karen, to quote the man himself, thank you SO, so much for bringing that interview. Intelligent fan with intelligent questions about performance, ftw!!!!! Good intel, ftw!!!!! (And she might've even gotten into the question of alternative tuning if the silly DJ hadn't busted in. Hmpf.)

And validating our Dave by letting him know that we are interested in something other than the sexiness of his left eyebrow, ftw!!!! (must. go. start. sexy. eyebrow. thread. NOT.)

As for the lyrics. A separate thread might be fun but I'm not starting one, fer sure. Too much on the plate, already. But unless music is actually instrumental, or a vocalise without words, to try to strip the function of the words completely away from the music is a mistake, I think. I mean, as an analytical exercise, breaking stuff down into its component parts can be quite illuminating. In the end, though, a song is all of its parts.... one hopes, working in synergy.... the music, the words, the arrangement, the performance. I would think that all those things would be legitimate aspects of what we discuss here? As long as the entire thread did not become devoted to the wordy side?

And the guitar tabs were apparently putting everyone to sleep. But I'll post some more, presently, anyhow.

Eye-wink

--
I laugh at myself while the tears roll down....

Friday, July 17, 2009 - 09:14
YaminaC:

And this is why the high school orchestra's concert master and first chairs are all the kids in AP Calc...

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Karen

Wanted to make sure you folks got a hold of this radio interview from yesterday. Two of our own won a meet and greet and were given an opportunity to ask interview questions - proper questions, from people who actually are knowledgeable about Dave's music and performances. At least, until the stupid dj decided it was getting too, you know, interesting, and jumped in to drag it back into average-land.

Anyway, lots of talk about guitars, and setlists, and a little insight into Neal's role as music director:
http://67.72.16.166/kstz/1854383.mp3

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Karen

QueenJ - from your posts, its my opinion that regardless of training (or lack thereof), you have a natural ear for music - you have a keen observation of patterns - it must be the mathematician in you. Did you know that Pythagoras recognized the correlation between length of strings and pitch and that musical intervals could be expressed as ratios of whole numbers? I'm surprised this thread doesn't have more CJT'ers.

cimorene, I'm glad your vision has seen the light of day. This music thread has been a great resource and I hope it continues.

Yak great question, I'd much prefer a great melody and poor lyrics to poor melody and great lyrics but for me lyrics are not the most important thing so this isn't much of a surprise. If I can't get behind the sound and melody of a song I can't listen to it so excellent lyrics would never do me any good in that situation. Following David's music has actually taught me to pay attention to the musical composition more, to notice the subtle changes and amazing riffs. Before I really just internalized a song and made it all about me.

As for Souvenir I know Malloy is the cowriter because I kind am proud of myself that I correctly called this before it was revealed. I was telling some people on another board that it sounded a lot like the aftermath of Lie. And I'm not technical at all to discuss chord changes and time signatures so it wasn't even a thorough analysis trying to match up styles, it was just a gut and an ear feeling. I loved Souvenir from the first listen, something about the attitude and imagery of the song works for me even if the music isn't all that complex.

Lie and LOTM are the only 2 songs with 4 co writers from DCTR. The Swedish team seems to come as a standard pair so I kind of look at them as 1 writer in the grand scheme of things. My impression of the song writing process is that its easier to get a writing credit for helping with the arrangement or melody rather than having a large role in the lyrics. I know some get credit by changing a word or two but my impression is that its best not to have too many fingers in the lyrics. This would be a great question for an in depth interview to know more about the process. I very well could be wrong.

Normanthecat, you made my day.

I always thought that music and lyrics were inextricably intertwined.(change the lyric and change the song) However, most of the time it is the musical part that grabs me first, and I count the vocals as part of the music separately from the actual lyrics. If I understand the lyrics it adds depth to the enjoyment and understanding of the song however I listen to music in languages I don't understand, and I still enjoy it, and I have to admit a lot of songs on the radio are incomprehensible to me. But knowing what the song is about, or what you think it is about, adds to the enjoyment and emotions that the song creates. (much like I finally understood BJ after David sang it). So, I think it is appropriate to talk about both, especially in terms of how the lyrics and music interact, or song themes etc.

I always thought that Avalanche was very much a love song. It's about the redeeming value of love while recognizing the complexities and uncertainties of relationships. It's not courtship or honeymoon, but real life. Relationships have problems but overcoming them strengthens love. It is a sexual song, but sex as an expression of overwhelming feelings of love.

Squirrellygirl, (did I spell that right?) I'm glad that you are supportive of your daughter, and not passing that on. I also did not have a very supportive family and it is a struggle to find yourself and your gifts in that environment. My time has mostly passed, but what I enjoy about following David's career is the vicarious pleasure in seeing a deserving young person blossoming in his gifts and living his dream. (sorry if this should have been in the PB but it's sometimes difficult to segue between different threads)

YaminaC, this:
In some ways, I think there can be an over-dependence on the words to express emotion, without enough appreciation for the music, which provides not only support but often an emotional subtext. I can listen to a song in another language, not understand a word, but be moved to tears. I think David is showing some outstanding vocal and arrangement skills as well as awesome potential in composition, and I appreciate the opportunity to concentrate on that aspect of his artistry.

...was expressed so much more eloquently than I ever could, especially when I should by all accounts be going to sleep. You're as insanely literate as anyone here -- I read no babbling in your post, truly.

Thank you for expressing precisely why I saw a need for this thread. As for lyrics, I've said it in the OP -- I would love it if someone could create a sister thread dedicated to the words as opposed to the music. But I am not that someone -- this thread is truly enough for me to handle at the moment. Hopefully it will take less than another 9 months for it to be created, but we shall see.

And with that, let's get back to the songs, shall we?

Oooo - I love a roused rabble. Lyrics vs music! Words vs notes! Chickens vs eggs! A thought to ponder - would you prefer to listen to a beautiful melody with terrible lyrics or a beautiful lyric with a terrible melody? I love the idea of a thread dedicated to composition, arrangement, vocal choices.

In some ways, I think there can be an over-dependence on the words to express emotion, without enough appreciation for the music, which provides not only support but often an emotional subtext. I can listen to a song in another language, not understand a word, but be moved to tears. I think David is showing some outstanding vocal and arrangement skills as well as awesome potential in composition, and I appreciate the opportunity to concentrate on that aspect of his artistry. YMMV as usual.

That being said, his unusual word choice and point of view in lyrics is fascinating and deserving of its own thread.

ETA: Thanks for your kind words, jasmine and swanny - I sometimes feel like a babbling idiot with the insanely literate posters on this thread.

Great stuff, you guys! I think the idea that his particular sound is more a result of physical characteristics rather than training is very plausible. I have no knowledge of how the shape of his skull would affect the resonance of his voice, but am going to adopt the belief that his massive skull is his sekrit weapon. An Yak - your description of Declaration had me yelling Yes!!!

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Love is gathering...

JLG:
cimorene - hmmmm - not to be a rabble rouser, but don't you think that in songs, words and music are inextricably bound, each needing the other for full understanding, each ultimately taking on their form to serve the other?... So, to my mind, to fully parse a song, we need to spend some time parsing the words. JMO.

See, you're actually still within the realm of sanctioned discussion, there, given that you're saying we have to talk about how the words & music relate to one another.

Basically, my only peeve stems from the following context: The WNH has a lovely forum dedicated to music & lyrics. To my knowledge, and I did skim most of the threads, the ONLY discussion was about the words. No mention of vocal stylings, performance tweaks, key changes in the live versions, etc. -- Or at least certainly not until I showed up and raised a bit of a stink there (technically, not in the M&L forum -- it was in a different thread about the relative merits & deficiencies of CBTM around the time ydniW came out) about the lack of actual musical, as opposed to lyrical, discussion. The upshot was that I said, well, I'll go to M&L and start talking there, and hopefully people will join me. But unfortunately, that particular fansite is not as populated with quite as many music nerds as are found here, and I found myself conducting nearly one-sided conversations at several points. Skip forward a few months, and we get to the LKL interview with David's comments about, well, my source of angst, and the Cherry Lane deal, and the concurrent beginnings of a musical discussion on the PB thread -- and there you have the full story of how this thread came to be.

So there's a probably overly detailed account of why I'm focusing on the music on this thread -- because I've gone much too long without it. You all, however, are allowing me to gain enough trust that there are enough people out there who do want to geek out about chords and time signatures that I have no problems if you want to venture into lyrical territory as well. I just don't want us to forget about the music altogether, because I've seen it undeservedly ignored for far too long.

ETA: As for collaboration -- I have as little idea about it as you seem to. Again, just another topic to bring up in the fantasy interview, I guess.

cimorene - hmmmm - not to be a rabble rouser, but don't you think that in songs, words and music are inextricably bound, each needing the other for full understanding, each ultimately taking on their form to serve the other?

As almost all of the songs on DCTR are co-written, how do you think the collaborrators see this? As I don't have the liner notes with me, I can't be exact, but one of the songs cites, what, 4 writers. What goes on there? Is everyone jostling to get their one word or phrase ( lyrical or musical) put in?

So, to my mind, to fully parse a song, we need to spend some time parsing the words. JMO.

Norman -- thanks for the solidarity, at least. If we're both going crazy, at least it's together. Smiling

Seriously, though -- that 80's vibe you're getting? That's Hungry Eyes, from Dirty Dancing. Identical introductory rhythm guitar & drums in the first measure of Souvenir -- no joke. It's quite possibly the reason I hadn't been able to connect with that song at all -- until I heard the acoustic, which I actually really like so much better. But it was weird -- it really seemed different, and I have to wonder about the hall acoustics and the video sound, etc. -- but it seemed almost like the version I linked was stepping away from the 80's vibe a bit, and I suddenly found myself starting to like the song. And I don't think my change of heart is in any way related to the recent acoustic love. I really heard a different song there for a moment. So now I'm confused and irritated and angsting about how I feel about it. Ugh.

And I may be misremembering, but I believe the song was co-written with Zac Maloy. Can anyone confirm?

Oh -- and minstrel? You did read my post at 16:45 today, right? I think the only allusion to actual music was the word "music." Don't worry, folks. I'm a word nerd too, for real.... and as long as this thread doesn't reverse the seeming current lyrics/music ratio of 20% / 80%, I won't get too irritated. (And if it does, I guess I can always ask minstrel to post some more guitar chords?)

Yes, min - live performance is a completely different animal. Almost all variables are active live - from the physical condition of the performer at that moment, the weather and humidity in the air, the temp of the venue ( and whether the chance of swallowing mammoth mosquitos is real), the size and shape of the stage, the condition of the equipment and so on.

Davd's mood, of course, is something we are sensitive to. It can affect his focus, whether he improvises with some new flourishes, phrasing, low or high notes etc. There are nights I have seen on the vids when he can bite off words and phrases with venom and other nights on the same songs he is less fierce.

As we all know, in the studio, these days, they can sample one great note, lift out a bad note, put in the great one and none of us will ever know the difference. That's why I'm still struggling with trying to hear those harmonics y'all were illustrating because to my ear, I hear studio effects.

What is so incredible is how resilient David's voice is night after night. And I can't imagine him being silent all day long each day before show time, can you?

cimorene, I just had the same exact reaction to that video. And then I watched some of the older ones, and, same thing, too - it hasn't changed, has it? It's probably impossible to detect subtle changes from YT videos - there's so much variation from one camera to another, one venue to another, one location in the house to another.

But, I think this may be the first Souvenir video I've watched since DIYA became a concert staple, and I think that might be why I noticed the intro more this time. Something about the intro feels kind of '80s-ish to me - like, I half expect him to launch into "Voices Carry" by 'Til Tuesday, or something, instead of "Hope you had a good time..." Do we know who (if anyone) cowrote Souvenir? Just wondering.

On the subject of Cook and love songs? In the man's own words, more or less: "From the moment I first picked up a guitar and started playing in bands, I never imagined that sign would be held up: 'You were my prom song?' Had to have been a weird prom." (Context, in which Cook sardonically distances himself from Magic Rainbows and Skib sounds dryly perplexed.)

Also, chawan? I do believe it was your post that inspired me to finally change my avi. From now on, whenever anyone refers to Cook as "bf," I will assume it's an abbreviation for "bullfrog." And I mean that in the most endearing sense, the same way I love the Massive Alien Skull and everything else that goes into creating the voice, and the music, and... yeah, you know.

Yamina, lol.... you are absolutely right if you take away the words and just sing la la la..... "Avalanche" could be quite the innocuous piece of work. "Lie" is also like that, a lovely little 6/8 lullabye. Only, it's not.

But the words are part & parcel of the song, despite the fact that technically they're not supposed to be here due to the strictures of the OP. (apologizes to cimorene. weakly. cos you know... minstrel is wordnerd, she will never be able to jettison that....)

And the words to "Avalanche" are anything but unambiguous.

As for him being conscious of what he is doing? Oh, I think he is very conscious of the effect those vocal inflections will convey. Not necc "i will do this HERE so they will feel that HERE." But as a vocalist... you learn what works. Eventually it gets to be instinctual, maybe, but.... you learn by experimenting. There is a difference between a roar and a whisper, and letting his voice break on a note (as at 1:25 and following, in "Lie"), or ascend into that scared, childlike head voice for that one note I mentioned above, in "Avalanche?" Or in "Lie," the way he bites off the end of the word "wrong" at 2:32, like a sob? Or (omg) the way he chews up those L's and R's in "Creep" from "Axium/Alive in Tulsa" ("angellllll" and "featherrrrrr" and the hard nasality of the middle vowel on "special," all of which really punches up the bitterness of the focal character)?

That stuff's intentional. Got to be. If it weren't, if it were just a vocal blip on that word in "Avalanche" for instance, they'd have done another take. (Which would've been a shame, cos I sorta flove that bit in "Avalanche.")

Now. Having said that? It'd be good to go listen to some of the stuff from the tewer and see how that is different. The "Avalanche" i have mp3 of, from Macomb, IL, in April... is a lot less nuanced than what's on DCTR.... a lot more mostly-hot. The one I saw in Carrboro (and i looked at the vid a while ago just to confirm my memory) is a more subdued, generally, more reflective. With a choice like that it's hard to know what's a deliberately evocative strategy and what's simply ... tiredness. (esp since everyone in carrboro was singing, loudly, the entire night. at least it was in tune.)

--
I laugh at myself while the tears roll down....

Sorry to interrupt the discussion so randomly, but can someone confirm for me -- am I hearing things, and did DC change the intro to this song a bit, or is it just the sound on this video? My first impression was that it seems like the rhythm is slower and the bass line is heavier. But now I listened to one of the earlier recordings of this song and it sounds the same.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5JBt0fwxIic

Also -- oh, yeah -- he says Souvenir will likely be on the next album he releases. (!!!)

Embarrassed by my Avalanche faux pas earlier, I've been listening to Jenna's stripped down version to see if anything in the music is evoking the trepidation, and in some way pain, that I personally feel in this "love song". I don't hear a dang thing - no traditional sad instrumentation choices, no blatant minor harmonies, nada! Subtracting the lyrics (was it nothing more than noise...), the only indication of fear (and for me, it is strong) is David's vocal coloration. I love Minstrel's interpretation of his vocal choices, but I wonder if it is truly all intentional? Is some of it inherent in David's voice? Remember his surprise that people got a "stalker-y" vibe from his live performance of ABMB? I hear a guy who's known sadness and pain just in his vocal quality.

ETA: sorry - I keep coming back and changing one word here or there

CYE, don't discount the totally random soundtrack choice. Granted, this will not get DC anywhere near Oscar territory, but, well --

I was watching that Cinderella movie with Hilary Duff not too long ago (I'm a sucker for retold fairy tales -- don't judge), when, as she and the "prince" drive off into the great unknown together, what plays? Hear You Me, by Jimmy Eat World. For those not acquainted with the song (no time to YT it, sorry) it's about the death of a loved one. Truly, a WTF song decision.

So you never know. Someone might just like the sound, or the feel, of a song, without analyzing the lyrics, and will choose to stick Avalanche into a romantic scene, or Lie into a "walking down the street in thought" scene, or some other such random placement.

Or, if we're really lucky, DC will get commissioned to write something for a soundtrack directly, putting him in Oscar contention. That's what I would call getting our cake & eating it.

Smiling Ah Minstrel, you saw right through me. Yeah, I prefer tortured.

But this discussion has given me sume insight into why I think so few of the songs on DCTR are really suited for soundtrack music. I't's been puzzling me for a while, because whenever I try to imagine one of his songs in whatever I'm watching, I can't really find one that fits. Except for Permanent.

It's because most of the songs are too multi-layered emotionally. And we all know movies and TV shows like things everybody will get immediately.

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Innocuous comments like that are how it starts. Then a year later your soul and free will are in a box in Cook's basement. (tm Wheeziev)

"straightforward" not required, though it has its virtues, lol.

"not tortured" might be nice. just for a change.

but whether it's love in the depths of hell or the heights of heaven or mired someplace in between?

I will listen.

Eye-wink

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I laugh at myself while the tears roll down....

Cardinal sin here of not reading back all of the posts, but the current discussion is just too interesting to me to not chip in.

a) He talks in some interview about the ambivalence of Avalanche. Give me a few minutes and I'll try to find it. Might have been in Manila

b) I don't think Dave will ever write a straightforward love song. Because he knows love is complex. As is he.

Side note: I don't see a link to the ABC Newsradio interview from around the album release in the OP. IIRC he also talked about his creative process there. Will check and report back

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Innocuous comments like that are how it starts. Then a year later your soul and free will are in a box in Cook's basement. (tm Wheeziev)

Fascinating thread! I found this just yesterday and have read only last three paiges and learned more than I could imagine. I`ve been fascinated of The Voice since the beginning of AI7. Now after reading your insightful analysis of David`s unique voice I want to know even more! .... This is just great! Thank you, cimorene for starting this thread!
I`ll keep reading, have to start from the beginning!

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Sophisticated and Sensual David - Live Performances: VIDEO LIBRARIES 1 & 2

Regarding Avalanche, I always saw it as a love song that was actually ambivalent, but only if you got down to it and analyzed the lyrics. The melody, though -- it's sweet, almost a lullaby. Again we see the dichotomy.

exactamente, cimorene. thus my comment re wanting to hear an acoustic version. there is a lot of plaintiveness in there, or could be, depending on the interp. you get a female singer in there with a good guitar part? i think it could be a very cool piece of work. maybe a little slower. a little softer. a little less hawt and a little more vulnerable. (shoot, dave himself could do it that way.... it's all IN the music already.... you listen to how he sings the 3rd repeat of the chorus, at 2:54 and following on DCTR, how he flips into head voice momentarily on the word "can't" of "can't remember...." gah. It's way cool, all the terror and the longing of that song is right there, in that moment. But it passes quickly and the character.... whoever it is... puts the armor back on fast, or at least the desperate loudness of the more conventional delivery....)

and yeah, Queen, it's all love songs of one sort or another, DCTR is. But none of the boy/girl ones are peaceful, kwim? Maybe he'll never write one like that; maybe it's just not his taste, regardless of what happens to him IRL. I think he appreciates the difficulty of writing something that's not mawkish. However, difficult is not "impossible." No way of knowing what might happen, should he decide that trustworthy romantic love is something he'd like to address, musically. Time alone will tell (she intones....)

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I laugh at myself while the tears roll down....

I am definitely not a musician or lyricist, but for me, Avalanche is a love song....it just always was, from the first time it graced my ears......it seems like it is more of a new love, whereas Heroes is much more upbeat and seems more permanent......but Avalanche, wow, that for me is also a love song....yes, there is some uncertainty, etc., but the raw emotion......OMG!

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karen "would you sing my song at the top of your lungs..."

Adding a post to mention, now that I've had time to ruminate about the love song discussion...

I don't know if anything DC writes will ever fall into the straight-out "love song" box. It's a characteristic of so much of his newer music (i.e., AH onward) that the themes are multifaceted, and interesting, and aren't just "you're awesome and I love you." I don't think we'll ever get our own version of Crush, for instance. Or if we do, it'll be angsty as anything we've seen.

What I do think is that the poetry will probably mirror this. Or this. Because metaphor aside, DC does have a tendency in his lyrics to see through to the realism of a situation in spite of the romantic haze... and maybe, when he does write that elusive love song, we'll recognize that poetry and music don't have to be completely unambivalent to be perfectly romantic.

As I've said before on other parts here, mainly dwop, I'm not good with lyrics and interpretation. I more take how a song makes me feel and interpret it that way than to look deeply into the lyrics. That said, I love it when everyone else brings that skill to the table and can enlighten me so thank you. So my meager offerings to the current subject are these: Although David has not written a love song per se he did say that the theme of the record is love amidst distance and also in another interview said something like all the songs he's written basically have something to do with a girl. So taking that into consideration aren't they all love songs on some level even if they are not really the "wedding song first dance" level of obvious love in the lyrics?

Also, I don't know that we ever found out for sure that David did not write the lyrics to Avalanche. I don't recall hearing anything like that.

Welcome, Swanny. We'll be happy to have your input whenever you do decide to venture out of lurkerdom.

Regarding Avalanche, I always saw it as a love song that was actually ambivalent, but only if you got down to it and analyzed the lyrics. The melody, though -- it's sweet, almost a lullaby. Again we see the dichotomy.

Seamom, Incipit -- You may be both right. It might just be a general impression from 90's music. 'Cause Red Hot was a complete channeling of Metallica, but later Axium is definitely influenced by Vedder. I also remember thinking Creed was a little similar, too, but they're a more modern band and have likely just been influenced by the same bands as DC. Or I could just be blanking on someone specific. It'll come to me in a couple of weeks at 3am, probably.

As for the PB board, well, lots of the usual suspects from there have hopped over to hang out, here, which is a lovely thing to see -- this thread was kind of born there, or at least its inklings. But I'm happy to see other names that I don't recognize, or not from the PB, on this thread, too. And while pinning does take a while to get done -- we are in consideration, folks, I asked, but don't necessarily expect to hear anything until Labor Day -- I do want to remark on the milestone we hit today. 4 weeks and over 400 posts. I'm channeling CJT here, but that's an average of 100 posts/week and it's been pretty consistent. Thank you to all who have contributed their insightful comments. I've been having a blast reading every one of them.

And on a lighthearted note -- the background music in the latest Pork Beans was from The Last of the Mohicans. What are the odds we can find out who possesses that soundtrack on their iPod from the possible culprits?

Squirrellygirl (not verified):

Answer your question from way down this thread:

"seamom:
Squirrelly, I'm impressed! An F above high C? Were you trained in opera? You must have had years of training along with a God-given talent."

No, at that time I had very little training except for the teachers at school. I was able to sing along with the opera singers on the records that my brother brought home for me...I tried and was able to hit all the notes. (Not anymore, though.) I was offered training by an opera singer who visited our school, but I didn't take her up on it. I was living by myself when I was 17, and going to school, and working and didn't have my mind on being an opera singer. I missed a bunch of opportunities back then, I guess. They didn't have American Idol back then, and with the conditions I was born in, I might as well have been born in excrement. My mom made me attend all of my brother's piano recitals (very long and boring, but I did need to be there for him). I absolutely received no encouragement from my family (except my brother bringing home opera records). My mom never attended (to my memory) any of my concerts that I was allowed to sing solos for, including when I was in high school. At one time, they even got elementary school kids to back me up on Carpenter's "Sing, Sing a Song" -- I remember the feeling of "here I am up here singing a solo, and no one in my family is even in the audience". Strange family I had. I eventually quit singing in school programs.

Can't live in the past, though. I'm more supportive of my daughter, and she never had to deal with that problem.

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Squirrellygirl

United States

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