Song Theory

November 29th, 2007

The possibilities for a song’s context extend infinitely beyond verses and choruses. Here are some things I’m going to try for my next album:

1. Imagine a vast landscape, seen via bird’s eye view. Mountains stretch out into the distance. A lonely stream trickles past rocky outcrops and tufts of cat’s tails. The remainder of the ground swells with rolling grasslands that become more and more treed as they approach the distant peaks.

This is the theoretical structure of the song, which exists at all times. The song is a linear exploration of this landscape. For example, the song could start at the stream’s level, and follow the steam through a valley for a bit, and then raise up slowly to reveal the entire area, and how the stream trickles down from mountain springs and snowmelt. Or, the song can start at bird’s eye and slowly focus in on a single tuft of grass, and show how the grass’s water supply and attendant wind come from larger forces that were introduced in the beginning of the song.

2. A song is a conversation. Each voice in the song tells a difficult story; perhaps they argue, perhaps they augment. There is a conflict or there isn’t. By and by the conversation quiets or doesn’t, and the song ends.

3. A song is a description of adaption or evolution. An organism is challenged by some difficulty – it must adapt to overcome it, or fail. The song details what happens to the organism as it struggles through its environment.

4. A song is static. It doesn’t move or change; it describes nothing, it does not evolve. It is the Big Freeze, fragments of atoms and quarks at thermal equilibrium, for all time. It is lifeless, yet foreseeable, inevitable.

5. A song is an opinion; an idea is presented, and the song agrees or disagrees with it, and either backs up its claims with evidence or argues from the heart. The idea can be objectively right or wrong; the song is a value system, placed in the opinion’s context. It is the logical result of perturbing a given system.