Music Theory

Over the Weekend (Mar. 31 Edition)

It looks like a pretty good Monday–a lot of new music, videos, and other fun stuff to kick off your week.

We mentioned this on Friday, and today our suspicions were confirmed: The Antlers are about to release a new album!  Familiars will be released state-side on June 17, so mark your calendars now (or just save the hassle and pre-order).  Meanwhile, watch the music video the band released for the lead single, “Palace”–it’s as delicately gorgeous as you would expect, and the band has already done the courtesy of providing the lyrics for you on their Tumblr.

Stereogum has the premiere of the single from former member of The Walkmen Peter Matthew Bauer, the festive “Latin American Ficciones”.  It definitely evokes the spirit of his former band, especially in the insistent trebly guitar, with a nice spare percussion backing track.  This follows on the heels of the recent new music we’ve heard from other former members Walter Martin and Hamilton Leithauser.  It’s unlikely that any of the projects will reach the heights of the best work of The Walkmen, but all of the songs that have been released are rather promising, so fingers crossed.

Everyone should be familiar with Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” right now, but you may not know the “science” behind the hit.  Owen Pallett takes a look at the underlying music theory that makes the song work so well.  He takes a couple of liberties to make it easier to understand for beginners, but it’s a solid look at the underpinnings of the tune.

This actually appeared on my Facebook feed on Friday, but I’m linking to it now because we need more ways to kill time at the beginning of the week.  NPR has a quick quiz of “Name That Drum Fill”, and I think most people should do pretty well.

And finally, last night I had the great pleasure to see album-of-the-year frontrunners The War On Drugs in person at the Wonder Ballroom in Portland.  It was a blistering set, and the new songs really kick live.  We may run a quick review of the show in the next couple of days, but I’m going to pass along a video from one of the highlights of the show: it was when Jim James of My Morning Jacket showed up for the encore to sing a cover of John Lennon’s “Mind Games” with the band.

Catching Up On The Week (Mar. 21 Edition)

We don’t have any real #longreads for you to scroll through this weekend, but there are a lot of shorter interesting articles that are worth your time.  That’s probably a good thing, because I imagine a lot of people will be focused on the NCAA Tournament this weekend; then again, if you were looking for us a source of distraction, we’re sorry.

First, for the music theory enthusiasts out there, Slate did a piece on one man’s quest to determine the time signature of the theme from The Terminator.  If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of a time signature in music, there’s a quick explanation in the article, so don’t worry.  For the record, my initial guess was 10/8.

Not The Terminator, but frightening nonetheless

Not The Terminator, but frightening nonetheless

I was glad to see that one of the conditions of the settlement between GoldieBlox and the Beastie Boys was a public apology by GoldieBlox.  If the case had gone to litigation, there was a potentially an intriguing fight over how parody in certain contexts should be handled under Fair Use.  Complicating matters for GoldieBlox was the fact that they were using the parody for other commercial purposes.  After all this, I hope everyone learned this lesson: always ask permission, and make sure you get the proper license.

There have been discussions recently on the issue of audio quality and the way that digital technology from both the musician’s and consumer’s perspective has had a significant effect on recording (See “Pono”), this article takes a look at how musicians have attempted to push for greater rights and use of live musicians instead of samples.  The piece makes good points about how difficult it is to actually replicate live sounds, and how musicians (especially string players) are often screwed when it comes to compensation.  However, the article fails to account how some artists take advantage of the more mechanized sound and use it to their advantage (See the entire career of Kraftwerk).  I appreciate their intentions, but it’s not the only pathway.

On a similar note, here’s some more disappointing news for musicians: Late Night with Seth Meyers is booking fewer musical guests than the show did under Jimmy Fallon.  Billboard reports that this is by design, as the show believes that Meyers has other strengths.  Say what you will about Fallon’s ability as a late night host (and believe me, I have), I always appreciated that he would often book underground acts and give them exposure, like Titus Andronicus or Parquet Courts.  Hell, Refused even played Fallon’s show.  Hopefully Fallon will do some similar booking with The Tonight Show in the future.

Record Store Day is coming up in a month, and there are several cool releases to look forward to picking up this year.  But while RSD has provided a lot of good exposure to independent stores in the past few years and have provided a lot of foot traffic, this article explains that the type of product being offered often languishes on the shelves and other such factors mean that the “holiday” may actually hurt several stores.

CNN continues to show that they have little idea about how to do anything right.  Deadspin has a piece on how they used an absolutely awful lede in a story about Kurt Cobain.  The original article has since been altered, but the Deadspin staff had fun in coming up with their own versions of other possibly awful openers that CNN could have opted to use.

Finally, here’s a pleasant song for your weekend: Real Estate recently did a live cover of Neil Young’s “Only Love Can Break Your Heart”, and Pitchfork has the video.  It’s one of my favorite songs, and I appreciate the spirit of the cover.