Production and Text Analysis – and the Elements of Music

I have attached below a 2nd presentation of my musicology class – which focuses on how we can analyze how music is produced in addition to the text (using the elements of music). It starts with a few questions which are inspired by Hanslick’s thinking – which can be over viewed as follows

  • ¨Interesting to compare view to that of Plato and the late antiquity scholars. Greek Modes for example were deemed to contain emotion.
  • ¨Viewed the ‘beauty’ of music as being its formal structure – contained no emotional content within its notes or referred by them
  • ¨Influenced by Kant’s concept of being ‘disinterested’
  • ¨Leads to some interesting questions:
  • ¨Is there a difference between what a piece of music is – and what is known about it?
  • ¨What  impact does our memory and imagination have on our interpretation of music?
  • ¨Is the meaning we hear in the music – or referred by it?
  • ¨Do our opinions and words reflect reality  – or construct our own version of it?
  • ¨What is the impact of the author (composer) on how we interpret music.
  • ¨What is the impact of lyrics?
  • Can music represent ‘real’ meaning

As with last week – have a look through the presentation below – and post any comments below.

<div style=”margin-bottom:5px”> <strong> <a href=”; title=”Session 2 song arrangement and track” target=”_blank”>Session 2 song arrangement and track</a> </strong> from <strong><a href=”; target=”_blank”>Paul Carr</a></strong> </div>


About Paul Carr

Academic working at the University of Glamorgan
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8 Responses to Production and Text Analysis – and the Elements of Music

  1. Ok, this lecture has slightly confused me, thus far, however, it has also broadened my mind to compositional processes – “A song doesn’t involve any sound, it’s all in your head” (to quote Mr Carr!). A Song, then, is primarily your intellectual property. A track, on the other hand, is a song in recorded form (sorry to state the obvious, but I think I’m onto something here! 😀 ). This has, therefore, made me aware of a different paradigm of music, something I used to be, respectively, unaware of – Many artists/song-writers may be composing without realising that writing a song is based around certain conventions, be it that some of them may be known, or not, i.e. The song-writing process, usually, involves lyric-writing, choosing a melody, choosing a structure that isn’t too taxing on the listener, etc. An arrangement, however, is much more specific – It gives the arranger “artistic freedom” (this relates to memory, perception and knowledge of the original and creativity/imagination), in his/her “song-writing” process (the song they’re arranging is probably NOT their intellectual property, but they’re, potentially, making an arrangement as a means of improving their own compositional techniques!). Making an arrangement usually involves changing the song around, based on your own personal experiences and, also, your own compositional techniques that you have accumulated. All-in-all, I have learnt a crucial lesson today, albeit it has taken me a number of years to realise this – A recording of a song is just that, the SONG is in the recording, as is, potentially, the arrangement (if an arrangement of an original is being made), however, the song AND the arrangement constitute the TRACK, hence and, as mentioned throughout the lecture, a COMPOSITION is primarily comprised of 3 parts. Again, I apologise profusely for stating the obvious on many occasions here. It’s funny how just one lecture can teach you a lesson in life, as corny as it sounds?! 😀



  2. Tom Fake says:

    Think I’m going to start… Personally I am struggling to agree with the ideas of Kant’s concept of the disinterested and Hanslick’s ideas on ‘beauty’ in music. I have always known and interpreted music as a subjective art, and to me this is one of it’s most amazing features, to interpret music (through use of imagination, as claimed by Hanslick) in my own personal way, and to make my own connections with a particular piece of music. As a result I think that Kant’s idea makes sense in a scientific and analytical sense but, in truth, I really don’t think that it is possible to be disinterested in a piece of music that you would have a connection with because when actively listening to music, i normally form some kind of connection with almost all pieces of music.

    I am also fascinated by the discrete analytical layers of a record – the Song, Arrangement, and Track. Having never thought about the compositional process in this way it has opened up my mind to different ways of creating a record. I have found that, despite technology making it easier to combine the three elements of the compositional process, I have personally composed my “best” (of a bad bunch!) songs through following the parameters in a linear motion – starting with a simple vocal/guitar basis, and arranging/recording the piece from there. I do think however that for some more modern forms of electronic music it would be much easier to combine elements of the process. I’m interested to know if everyone else carries the same opinions or if they have different methods of composition.

    I loved that we listened to Yesterday, too!

    I look forward to reading Hawkins this week.


  3. It was interesting to me to list the elements of music in order of improtance for a song that would probably be deemed quite simple. This made me realise that songs I have writen that may not be difficult in terms of complex chords, odd structures or timings and simple lyrics, do hold musical worth in other aspects such as textural changes or interesting ways I have mixed the track.
    I’ve just started reading Hawkins and to be honest I’m finding this analysis of the song too similar to the assignment we had to do in Theory last year where I had to listen to ‘Ain’t Nobody’ too many times! I find this way of analysing music to be too clinical and it occurs to me that some of the things Hawkins is noticing about the song may be unintentional to the composer.
    It is interesting to think about whether the composer intended to enhance the mood of the lyrics by creating unresolved tension or whether it was something done naturally without thought, that simply sounded ‘good’.
    Food for thought I guess.


  4. Hadi Ahmed says:

    I find Hanslick’s idea of beauty in music to be an interesting topic, with some validity behind certain things he states. For example, he notes that the initial force behind a composition is the invention of a ‘theme’, rather than the composers desire to describe an emotion. While this may not always be true, I do believe that compositions are (when it comes down to it,) made with a focus on elements such as ‘melody’ and ‘harmony’, rather than abstract attempts to translate basic human emotion through sounds. Of course, however, your mood will influence what you consider to be good and bad, when composing/listening. For example, while angered, you may favour the sounds of minor keys and loud dynamics.

    Another area of the lecture that interested me was the analytical layers of a song. I do think technology has a big influence on which path you take, as I find when writing a song based around guitar, I will write the music, then arrange it til satisfied, and then perhaps record it last. Conversely, if I am producing an electronic piece, then I find (as aforementioned by others) these three stages are blended together – the computer forces you into this approach; what you must create needs to be more ‘perfect’ as you go along, while the art of writing a song via guitar, or piano, is more forgiving/allows more room for refinement.

    Interesting lecture, Will begin with Hawkins this weekend.



  5. From the lecture, I found the idea of Perdurantism particularly interesting. I think that where the ‘ontological presence’ of the song lies relies mainly on the type of musical culture that it originates from. For instance, in Classical Music, Religious music and most Folk Music there is no ‘definitive recording’ for a piece of music, it is subject to a number of different orchestras/conductors, congregations or performers.
    It is only in Popular music that this idea of a definitive performance exists really. Even then there are exceptions. For instance if you take a band like Counting Crows who place the emphasis of their work on live performances, encourage the bootlegging of their shows and subject many of their songs to structural changes and long improvisational sections live (many of which get recorded and distributed) there are many versions of most of their songs, with no special emphasis placed on the studio version.
    But I would still say that for most Popular music the ontological presence of a song lies in the studio version, as that is the one that gets listened to more than any other and is seen as the reference point for any other versions performed.


  6. Milosz Niziol says:

    “Very important to realise that Song and Arrangement retain ontological independence. They potentially have specific modes of representation.” – although I do think the ontological presence (as far as popular music is concerned) lies in the studio version, a really outstanding arrangement and/or different rendition can work wonders. I think the best example is Joe Cocker’s arrangement of “Never Tear Us Apart” by INXS – first I heard the original, then Joe Cocker’s version. The original version sounded boring, bereft of everything positive to me, yet the cover became one of my favourite songs right away.
    My conclusion therefore is that rendition/arrangement is very important as it can change a particular song thoroughly. If there was an opera or grindcore arrangement of “Baby” by Justin Bieber, the number of Bieber-haters in the world would decline.

    Still, I think that the ontological presence lies mainly in the studio version as it’s done exclusively by the artist and if they’re dead, it automatically becomes their legacy. There are many covers of the songs I like (there is quite a lot of them) which generally sound better (production-wise, etc.), yet in my opinion they do not hold a candle to the original. The examples are numerous: John Lennon, Dimebag Darrell (Pantera), Freddie Mercury or Bill Ward (Black Sabbath) – although he’s not dead, he did not go on tour with Black Sabbath.
    It may sound like I’m contradicting myself, but if there’s an artist who, apart from being a great musician, is/was a person of charisma, there will be no-one else like them. I respect all Beatles, Pantera or Death tribute bands, but at the same time it makes me sad that no matter how hard they try, they’ll never be half as good as their idols. This is why I think the ontological presence of most of the songs lies in the studio version – listening to e.g. drum solo from “Moby Dick” by John Bonham (died 1980) could be compared to being inside a time machine.


  7. Holly Griffiths says:

    When reading parts of the first chapter, the thing that stuck out the most was when he Hanslick said “Music, we are told, cannot, like poetry, entertain the mind with definite conceptions, nor yet the eye, like sculpture and painting, with visable forms”. In my opinion, this all depends on the imagination of the person listening to music. For example, when I listen to funk (my favourite genre), my imagination tends to go a bit nuts with different ideas. So we may not be able to see these images infront of us, but we can percieve them in our minds.

    With technology changing, I guess in some ways we could ‘see’ music either writen and heard on Sibelius or watching music videos. On another note, I think I’m getting the hang of this ‘deep thinking’ stuff.


  8. Anonymous says:

    In this lecture I found the comparison between the two different versions of Tutti Fruiti a very good and interesting way to help get my head around poietic and immanent text analysis methods. It was very clear to hear the differences and once you relate these to the elements of music it really helps to understand the differences between a song and the track which I had always treated as one before.
    Perdurantism at first seemed kinda scary too (big words, eeeek!) But once I managed to get my head around it thanks to your explanation in that its the song that exists outside of the track we hear.


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