Unexpected melodies

I don’t know song names. I don’t know band names. I know melodies. And this is why my husband often gets frustrated with me. “But you’re a music teacher! You should know this!”… umm no. I can describe what makes the music clever or beautiful to me and this is enough.

I heard somewhere that the reason young people like formulaic pop music is because their brains at that stage like the expected, the predictable, and as we age the more we like the unpredictable in music. I know I love unpredictable music and as soon as I hear unexpected chord changes or timbres in a song I ask – who is this?

Two bands I can’t get enough of for their exceptional musicianship and love of unpredictable musical structures are ‘incubus’ and ‘Reign of Kindo’. My only issue with either group is their rambling lyrics. I’m sure those who know me will find it amusing that the title of a favorite incubus song of mine is ‘Sick Sad Little World’!

Here are two favourites.

In ‘Sick Sad Little World’ by incubus listen out for

  • – the guitar and drums synchronization, and how they feed off each other in the lead into the verse.
  • – the timbral effects DJ Kilmore adds in the pre chorus
  • – the koto-inspired melody within the guitar solo

(Plus check out the bonus video of Jose Pasillas demonstrating the drumming for Sick Sad Little World in a free drum workshop for fans)

In ‘Till We Make Our Ascent’ by The Reign of Kindo listen out for

  • – unexpected chord changes
  • – ridiculously clear sounding instruments and vocals
  • – multiple layers of sounds that are equally complex yet compliment each other beautifully

(Plus check out the bonus video of them playing a song called ‘Symptoms of a Stumbling’ in the studio)

About Alison Armstrong

Alison Armstrong BMus./BEd. (Queensland University of Technology), Dip. ABRSM (Performance- Singing) I have trained to teach Music (Elementary, Middle and High School) and Drama (Middle and High School). This is my 7th year as a teacher.
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2 Responses to Unexpected melodies

  1. Axel Rodericks - Music teacher in Dubai says:

    Hi Alison, I know how that feels …i too have the same problem…Playing in the band for over 15 years my band mates would get frustrated when they would call out a song …i would look at them with a blank stare…but the moment the intro began it all just came together…strangely i always remembered songs where the keyboard had an intro…I agree that when you are younger the predictable is good…but when it is unpredictable it is better…that is a reason why i love jazz…

  2. Jussi says:

    My relationship with music seems quite similar to yours: I usually don’t remember song names and often not even the artists performing them. And for me, the structure of songs often makes them excellent. That’s why it is often difficult for other people to understand my taste in music when I can easily listen a Sting’s track after a Metallica track and then change to Hans Zimmer or even Adiemus or Yanni. What is also interesting is that I never listen to lyrics and I don’t remember lyrics for ANY song, not any… I remember pieces of lyrics from many songs but never them all…

    For unpredictable tracks I like Sting the most. It is impossible for example to say what Sting sounds for somebody who have never listened to his music. There are so much variability in his songs that it is (fortunately) impossible to categorize his music. Another artist I really like who really can surprise the listener, is a Finnish band called Von Hertzen Brothers, I really recommend them.

    As for the artists you mentioned in this post, I have never liked incubus and The Reign of Kindo was new find for me and I think I will get to know their music better.

    Thanks for nice ideas about the music. Thankfully someone else sees and understands music similar to me!

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