Thursday, December 13, 2007

Minimal Melodic Movement (a.k.a. Morrissey's singing)

I was listening to "We'll Let You Know" (on Your Arsenal by Morrissey), as this song is the object of analysis in a chapter of my doctoral dissertation, which I am in the process of revising (the chapter only, not the dissertation - I did graduate). Another song that came to mind is "Mr. Brightside" by The Killers, a song where the melodic line seems to prolong the "presence" on a single pitch (whatever that pitch is - I should really take the cloth off of this m-audio keyboard I have here and figure that out). Now, while I don't think it would be a good idea for me to start talking about Schenkerian analysis here, I wonder if I could use some of the language that such analyses use in order to clarify the "one pitch" argument in "We'll Let You Know" (F#, in case you were wondering). Perhaps fortunately, for my own sanity, I don't have my Schenker textbooks here in Montreal. I suppose I will have to take a quick look at my books in Ottawa in order to get into it again.

One of my past professors at the University of Ottawa was big into Schenkerian analysis and popular music. While I don't wish to enter into a proper Schenkerian analysis (one reason being that I don't fully "get" Schenker, although I've taken classes both in undergrad and in grad school, both with renowned Schenker scholars), I think that using Schenker will help me to purge certain pitches from the melody line, leaving the "static" line that I am arguing exists. My melodic line, though not an Urlinie (my apologies to Schenkerian scholars for misuse/spelling), has at least the spirit of an overarching formal structure, just one that is "static." Harmony, though, shouldn't fit into the analysis at this point, something which is extremely important in Schenkerian analysis.

Again, just using the blog as a venting point. It seems that it forces me to think about these things. If anyone has any ideas, please feel free to post a comment. If you haven't heard the songs, they're easy enough to find.

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