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Why the World Would End Without Symmetry (and song structures)

Everything around us has some sort of structure.

Nothing in this world exists without a shape or a pattern. The whole world as we know it would end. In fact, there’s this magical number: 1.6180339887… and it has been given a few names. Golden Ratio, Golden Mean, Divine Proportion, Fibonacci numbers and can be found in art, music, architecture, the human body and nature. It is literally beauty translated into math;
Read more about it here:
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The tree leaves, water, rocks, the solar system, our machines, computers, are all following patterns of all sorts of mathematical shapes and equations.
Nothing in the world exists without a shape or a pattern. (1)

Form and Structure in Music

The fundamentals of our musical system is related to the patterns that occur from the Golden ratio:

Musical scales are related to Fibonacci numbers. (Gary Meisner)

”The Fibonacci series appears in the foundation of aspects of art, beauty and life. Even music has a foundation in the series, as:

  • There are 13 notes in the span of any note through its octave.
  • A scale is composed of 8 notes, of which the
  • 5th and 3rd notes create the basic foundation of all chords, and
  • are based on a tone which are combination of 2 steps and 1 step from the root tone, that is the 1st note of the scale…”

 by http://www.goldennumber.net/music/

Back to the basics. I’m not going to bore you to death with maths… You can start songwriting having no particular shape in mind but studying the way song structures and musical patterns have been evolving throughout the centuries is a must if you want to become a competent songwriter.
Music has been around since the dawn of human civilisation; it is older that speech and writing combined and the first kind of musical instruments ever invented where percussive instruments.
Music was one of the first ways of human expression so lots and lots of song forms and patterns have been tried and tested over the millenniums.
The arts and sciences use the same patterns and share many principals with music.
Let’s take architecture for example. The first Pyramid builders in Egypt made mistakes, reevaluated, rethought about their structures and then improved upon their experience. It’s all about making something look good or in musical context making something that sounds good. What we are talking about here is symmetry. At the same time, something really beautiful (at least according to our views as species) is actually asymmetrical. The Parthenon in Athens is world famous for this exact reason. It is the most accurately designed “asymmetrically symmetric” building in history. You can find many other magnificent Greek/Roman temples and buildings throughout the  mediterrainian, Europe, Minor Asia and the Middle East but none of them equal the architectural mastery of the Athenian Acropolis and this is down to good maths, geometry, centuries of trial and error and … a lot of effort (and money).
The problem is that something that is 100% symmetrical is boring. We need to spice things up or we will end up with something looking/sounding very robotic and soulless.
The problem is that something that is totally symmetrical is boring
Taking it back to music and songwriting:
Musical pieces and songs are made by different sections. It is universally agreed to use the Latin alphabet to quickly describe different musical parts. Simply, ‘A’ is part number 1 of a song, ‘B’ is part number 2.

Basic popular song structures:

A-B-A-B (verse-chorus-verse-chorus)
A-B-C-B (verse-chorus-bridge-chorus)
A-B-C-A-B-C-C (intro-verse-chorus-intro-verse-chorus-chorus)
A-B-B-C-A-B-C-D-C-C (intro-verse-verse-chorus-intro-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus-chorus)
And so on.
Other sections that can be used are:
Break 
A part of the song where there is a rest or even a drum groove on it’s own. It’s role usually is that of a bridge)
Outro
These are strange things… It could be an intro that is somewhat different from the beginning intro of the tune, or a chorus that keeps repeating until the song fades out, it can be anything really… As long as it clearly gives us an understanding of  the popular Disney quote: “that’s all folks”
Let’s just take the basic first one:
A-B-A-B. Two different parts repeating one after the other. Nothing too exciting about that. Even if both parts are absolutely phenomenal they will still sound a bit boring after a couple of repeats so what we want to achieve is variation by introducing different elements.
Here is a very good website with lots of info about songwriting, lyric writing and song structure:
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Variety can be achieved even with this very basic A-B-A-B structure.
We can start experimenting with variations on dynamics. For example first A and B sections can be performed quieter. Then gradually bring the volume up performing the second half louder. Or we could even have very quiet (whispered) A sections and loud B sections. Variations of volume can create a lot of tension and emotion when used ingenuously.
Another way to experiment would be instrumentation. For example: first A and B could only be performed by piano and vocals and then second A and B could have more instrumental variety i.e guitar, bass and drums. There is a lot of room for experimentation and an almost infinite amount of possible variations even if we are using such a basic song structure.
Back to the song structure paradigms. If you noticed, there’s a bridge section in some of the examples.
A bridge (also called middle 8) is a unique section of the song that appears only for one round during the song, making the music more interesting by breaking it’s monotony.
it’s what James Brown is shouting to his musicians. “Take it to the bridge”. Awesome behaviour…
Every song is a unique entity so you should always try and experiment with different versions of its structure; you will find the one that works best. It’s all about architecture. Melody, structure chords and arrangement.
It's all about architecture. Melody, structure chords and arrangement
Let’s take one of my songs for example:
It is the first song out of the E-MUTE EP Too Proud to Say Loud.
Clock Moves Forward:

This is a very common pop and rock music structure that has been used by songwriters over and over again. The song’s time signature is in 4/4. Watch the video and count the bars written bellow to see where all sections change. It is a pretty simple and straight forward song.
Song structure: 
(Intro-verse-chorus-intro-verse-chorus-bridge-double chorus-outro)
Intro 1: 8 bars
verse 1: 16 bars (two 8 bar circles)
Chorus 1: 8 bars
Intro 2: 4 bars
Verse 2: 16 bars (two 8 bar circles)
Chorus 2: 8 bars
Bridge: 8 bars
Chorus 3: 16 bars
Outro: 8 bars
Intros and outros are very similar to the outro, with the outro being played differently by the drums to make it a bit more interesting towards the end, the first chorus has the same drum pattern with the intro but the second chorus is different. It is a groove that prepares us for the drum pattern of the bridge as it of a similar half time feel. The bridge falls into a completely different key even. The song is in the key of C minor where the bridge chords are C# major and B major giving a totally different atmosphere. Last double chorus is the same with the first, followed by the final section of the song, the outro.
By the way, I have changed the song we play it completely different now. It is much darker and rockier! 🙂
Thanks for reading!
Theo
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These 14 Instagram Music Videos Will Change Your Life

Instagram video no. 1

This is an E-Mute rehearsal clip from the very beginning of the project when we were working on the songs with the first lineup:

Instagram video no. 2

What singers do before they go on stage (me warming up at home)

Instagram video no. 3

Dimitris practising his polyrhythms

Instagram video no. 4

And this is the slightly changed version of the “No Tomorrow” chorus. Love the piano part!

Instagram video no. 5

This is the new “No Tomorrow” intro. I have to play the synthesiser part (right hand) on the piano so had to come up with a new #idea. Add to that bass, drums & guitars and we have an awesome new intro.

Instagram video no. 6

It’s called “double trouble”. (Me and D playing drums)

Instagram video no. 7

Warming up before the E-MUTE rehearsal

Instagram video no. 8

How to keep your musical ideas fresh

Instagram video no. 9

“Oh Woh A Carpet! Finding The Right Balance Between Stick & Surface”

Instagram video no. 10

“Oh woh a pillow!” 🙂

Instagram video no. 11

Sofa drumming!

Instagram video no. 12

Me, a grand piano and my Nirvana tshirt!!

Instagram video no. 14

Work in progress! Bit of the chorus of ‘Miracle’ track ready to be sent for mixing! 🙂

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Instagram

That’s all folks!

Cheers,

Theo, E-MUTE

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10 Fantastic Music Quotes (pictures)

A 10 picture collection of some of the greatest quotes about music out there. Well not really … it is pretty difficult to choose just 10 out of all of the music quotes in this world but hey… Pictures are all made by me.

Enjoy! 🙂

Quote no 1: A painter paints his pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence. We provide the music, and you provide the silence. – Leopold Stokowski

A painter paints his pictures on canvas. But musicians paint their pictures on silence. We provide the music, and you provide the silence. Leopold Stokowski`

Quote no.2 Music is the great uniter. An incredible force. Something that people who differ on everything and anything else can have in common – Sarah Dessen“Music is the great uniter. An incredible force. Something that people who differ on everything and anything else can have in common.”

Quote no 3. Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything. – Plato

Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything. PlatoQuote no. 4 A mind is like a parachute. It doesn’t work if it is not open. – Frank ZappaA mind is like a parachute. It doesn't work if it is not open. Frank Zappa

Quote no. 5 If being an egomaniac means I believe in what I do and in my art or music, then in that respect you can call me that… I believe in what I do, and I’ll say it. ― John Lennon

If being an egomaniac means I believe in what I do and in my art or music, then in that respect you can call me that... I believe in what I do, and I'll say it. ― John Lennon

Quote no. 6 Music is always changing and the changes are unpredictable.  – Billy Sheehan

Music is always changing and the changes are unpredictable. Billy Sheehan

Quote no. 7 Hell is full of musical amateurs. – George Bernard Shaw

Hell is full of musical amateurs.George

Quote no. 8 I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.  – Billy Joel

I think music in itself is healing. It's an explosive expression of humanity. It's something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we're from, everyone loves music. Billy Joel

Quote 9 Music doesn’t lie. If there is something to be changed in this world, then it can only happen through music.  – Jimi Hendrix

Music doesn't lie. If there is something to be changed in this world, then it can only happen through music. Jimi Hendrix

Quote no. 10 I was born with music inside me. Music was one of my parts. Like my ribs, my kidneys, my liver, my heart. Like my blood. It was a force already within me when I arrived on the scene. It was a necessity for me – like food or water.  – Ray Charles

I was born with music inside me. Music was one of my parts. Like my ribs, my kidneys, my liver, my heart. Like my blood. It was a force already within me when I arrived on the scene. It was a necessity for me - like food or water. - Ray Charles

Thanks for reading!

Cheers

Theo, E-Mute
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Alt. Rock Spotify Playlists Can Help You to Rock Your Socks Off Like a Boss

Alternative Rock Playlist Spotify Vol. 6

There’s a great deal of research behind how music can effect us positively and its enormous benefits include improvements on memory, focus, learning and the overall development of the brain, it can improve health, body movement and coordination, it can increase productivity, can relax and improve our mood, it is an essential part of who we are and of what we call human consciousness, it is a reflexion of our society throughout the ages as well as a powerful form of art that can unite us to a global community level very powerfull stuff so what else can we do but keep listening. Alternative Rock Playlist Spotify Vol. 6

Here’s my latest Spotify playlist that will help you to rock your socks off like a boss:

It’s just another glorious  #AlternativeRock   #SpotifyPlaylist  
You will find songs from:
#JuliaStone  
#Paramore  
#Coldplay  
#TheBlackKeys  
#JackWhite  
#TheZutons  
#WeAreScientists  
#Jet  
#Filter  
#Deftones  
#JohnFrusciante  
#Supergrass  
#EMute  
#ModestMouse  
#TheView  
#EddieVedder  
#Mudhoney  
#TalkingHeads  
#TheBreeders  
#ElectricSix  
#TheCult  

Enjoy!

Theo, E-MUTE

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