Thursday, June 11, 2015

Song Structure workshop - Owl City's "Fireflies"

I do intend to continue looking at remixes of Silence, but I'd like to take a detour today.  This one is Verse-Chorus only, so if that doesn't interest you, see you next time.

Owl City has a very bubblegum sound, and I suspect his "Top 40" success and affiliations (a duet with Carly Rae Jepsen, songs in films like The Croods and Wreck-It Ralph, etc.) may lead some fans of electronic music in general to disregard him*.  I do think he's moved toward a more generic radio-friendly sound over time, which I don't care for quite as much, but I absolutely love his first couple of albums.  If it helps, think of him as the new Erasure.

If you don't like Owl City, that really is fine with me, but if you disregard artists based on their popularity, I'd suggest that you may be Doing It Wrong™

We're going to look at his breakout single "Fireflies", which I view as a quintessential example of radio-friendly pop.  It was released about six years ago, so it's not super current, but I don't think the parameters of radio-friendliness have changed terribly much since then.  Regardless of whether you personally have any interest in creating something radio-friendly, I think its useful, or at the very least interesting, to have an idea of what "radio-friendly" actually means.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Song Structure workshop - Delerium's "Silence" (Airscape Remix)

The first remix of Silence we'll be looking at is the Airscape mix (short version), which is the closing track on the European release of Delerium's 2001 release "Poem."  I have no idea how I ended up with an imported version in my collection, but somehow I did.

This is the first track we're going to examine from both Verse-Chorus and EDM perspectives.  Let's start with the Verse-Chorus analysis:


As you can see from the color coding, a Verse-Chorus pattern shows up pretty clearly in the first the first half of the song, but falls apart in the latter half.  We'll see that this is a common theme through the other Silence remixes...a Verse-Chorus structure exists within what we'd call the Intro of the EDM structure.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Song Structure workshop - Delerium's "Silence" (original)

As discussed in my previous post, I'm going to be looking at the song structure of various remixes of Delerium's "Silence".   First, though, let's see what's going on in the original:

Future posts will analyze remixes of this track using both Verse-Chorus and EDM structures, but I think the original song is a purely Verse-Chorus arrangement, so I'm only looking at it from that perspective in this post.

This is what the song's waveform looks like in my DAW, overlayed with different colors to map out the song's components:

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Song Structure workshop: Verse-Chorus vs. EDM

I just learned that EDM song structure is a thing.

Let me back up.  I've been writing and releasing electronic music for a little over a decade.  While "electronic" is an important part of that, my influences and core genres have not been Dance-related.  I'm more in the Ambient, Ethereal, New Age, Chillout, Downbeat arena.

When I started getting serious about electronic music production, I was pretty happy with short bits of music I was coming up with...the sort of thing that I would now look at and say "ah, this will make a good chorus."  The big picture stuff was eluding me: how much repetition of my core idea I should use, how many complementary ideas I needed, and in what order.  So, I got some books on song writing, did a bunch of critical listening to my favorite albums, and developed a pretty good concept of Verse-Chorus song structure.

Occasionally I've heard reference, in relation to an EDM track (i.e., Trance, House, Dubstep, that kind of thing), to "Breaks," "Drops," "Risers," etc.  I've always been pretty fuzzy on what these were, and sort of frustrated that I couldn't mentally square them with the Verse-Chorus model I have in my head.