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479033 Posts in 16170 Topics by 2931 Members - Latest Member: peterhollens October 31, 2014, 03:52:59 PM
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51  Non Smiley Smile Stuff / Smiley Smilers Who Make Music / Re: Harmony is my Achilles Heel on: October 26, 2014, 06:23:21 AM
EoL, when you say singing harmony from scratch (but not singing along with someone else), is what you mean having an existing melody to sing along with, but just no other harmony? So in other words, inventing a harmony part where there isn't one?

Yes, you can do that. I think there are two basic ways, both of which would require a certain amount of time and work on the would-be harmonist's part. (There just isn't an easy way. Even people to whom it comes "naturally," in my opinion, put in a lot of time unknowingly through their formative years through listening and their environments.) Which might work best depends on one's learning style.

1. The "books" approach. You can learn music theory. With a basic understanding of theory, and particularly an understanding of counterpoint, you can very easily come up with harmony parts for pop songs. I mean, very easily. They might not be brilliant innovations when you're learning, but getting competent harmony parts is not at all tough with the typical 3-to-6 chord song. There are some simple choices and some basic things to avoid to make harmonies sound good. You don't even need to hear songs to come up with these parts, you could just look at the paper and work it out (fast) by understanding the structure.

2. The "ears" approach. This has the same basic result, but is for those who don't want to look at lined, dotted paper, or think about which notes are in what chords, and which degrees of those chords those notes are, etc. But it requires one really key element: ears. You need to be able to hear not only what notes are consonant (versus dissonant) to the melody you're purportedly harmonizing over, but you need to have good enough pitch to know the difference. (A fourth might be a perfectly acceptable harmony choice, but if you're singing off pitch, you might think it isn't...) Sometimes especially closely voiced harmonies can be really exacting. Space cures many ills. With this idea, you would just play around, maybe just with a phrase or a verse as opposed to the whole song, to find a pitch or two that sound good. Try it on a few extended notes in the melody, not fast-moving passages. Once you get a few notes, you have a starting point. Then you can try to follow the melody, more or less, but from that starting harmony point you established. You can't literally mirror the melody a few pitches up--that would be a key change--but rather follow it more or less diatonically (that is, within the scale/key). This is a trial-and-error method that would be based on your experience with similar styles of music and your ears.

Method 1 above is far, far more exacting and I'd say simpler. It doesn't literally require written music: if you have a guitar or piano handy and know the song, you can simply just identify your melody and the chords, then go from there.

If you think it would help, I can put together some basic counterpoint rules for you.
52  Non Smiley Smile Stuff / The Sandbox / Re: National Basketball Association ('14-'15) on: October 26, 2014, 06:08:54 AM
Shaq gets on my nerves, too. As a player--especially in his college and early pro years--he was phenomenal. One of the few guys to whom I can think of no obvious predecessor or successor. Before he got bulky as he aged, he was absolutely unique in terms of combining size, speed, and strength. He was athletic like David Robinson in that he could run and jump, but he had so much power. Early Shaq was an absolute freak of nature. (Lebron is the other guy who I think of as almost entirely unique.)

Those early Orlando teams always mattered more than they should have to me because the Magic entered the league the same year as the Wolves, so it was like a measuring stick thing. The big difference early on was that the Wolves hired Bill Musselman, who wanted to win every game no matter what. So in Year 2, we squeaked 29 wins out of a really bad team, but it meant leaning on guys like Tony Campbell, Ty Corbin, and Sam Mitchell for absurd minutes and not developing younger guys. After that, Musselman was fired, reportedly for not playing then-rookie Gerald Glass. (Glass, a small forward out of Ole Miss, was undersized in terms of height and oversized in terms of belly and butt, a sort of Mark Aguirre style guy.) Glass was out of the league within a year or two (I know he spent some Pistons time, Verlander...on the bench.) and Muss went on to S. Alabama, whom he led to the tourney, I believe. Fabulous, if very quirky, coach. He passed away about 15 years ago.

Orlando then started its absurd lottery luck while we always picked lower than our record would suggest. Every stinking year. Shaq, Mourning ... Laettner. Chris Webber, Shawn Bradley (then considered can't-miss), Penny Hardaway, Jamal Mashburn ... JR Rider. Glenn Robinson, Jason Kidd, Grant Hill ... Donyell Marshall. It was only in 1995, when McHale and Saunders were in charge, that we gambled and won with the #5 pick, that "6-foot-12" scrawny high school center who became our Hall of Fame small forward, Kevin Garnett.
53  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Brian Wilson - \ on: October 25, 2014, 05:26:14 PM
Who is Peter Hollens? Is he less threatening than Frank Ocean?

Possibly the least threatening human being on this planet.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0NmKp5A8i3M

I'm interested to hear the collaboration just because, well, BW. (Wish I were in the UK, as it's not avail yet here.) But I'm not especially excited about Hollens going into it. Maybe I'll be pleasantly surprised, though.
54  Non Smiley Smile Stuff / The Sandbox / Re: National Basketball Association ('14-'15) on: October 25, 2014, 08:30:33 AM
I think it's tough to lump individuals' situations into one storyline. Kobe is difficult, no doubt. And maybe some people--ahem, Dwight Howard--chose to leave or not join in the first place largely because of Kobe. But plenty of aspects of that story have already been publicly challenged as demonstrably inaccurate. Ramon Sessions was one guy they said left because of Kobe and he publicly said he actually was trying to sign a long-term deal there, and they didn't keep him. I think plenty of not-quite-max guys who would be offered long-term deals to live in LA and play for one of the two or three most storied franchises in the game would absolutely take it, even if it meant putting up with Kobe for another year or so.

To your final point, he is definitely not prime Kobe anymore. That's no knock on him, just the reality of the body. Jordan wasn't Jordan near the end, either. And trying to prove he was in Washington hurt that franchise. It would be best for the Lakers, and Kobe's dignity, if he would accept that he's a (very good, very smart, very skilled) complementary player now. But that's easy for me to say. I doubt Kobe's worried about what I think about his dignity.
55  Non Smiley Smile Stuff / The Sandbox / Re: Pet Peeves on: October 25, 2014, 08:15:11 AM
I think everyone is always annoyed at everyone else's slang. Slang is always stupid (except to whoever uses it). New, old, whatever.

I recognize slang.

Congratulations.
56  Non Smiley Smile Stuff / The Sandbox / Re: National Basketball Association ('14-'15) on: October 25, 2014, 08:14:54 AM
As for predictions, I think a mostly healthy Wolves team could finish ahead of LAL and Utah in the West. And of course depending on what teams suffer what injuries, that could even change further.

The east is so tough to pick...except Philly. Worst team in the league. By far.

Detroit could be a playoff team, they could be among the worst teams. New coach, new system, several new players. We'll see. There is some legitimate talent.
57  Non Smiley Smile Stuff / The Sandbox / Re: National Basketball Association ('14-'15) on: October 25, 2014, 08:12:06 AM
Wolves finished off their preseason with a win, a comeback over Chicago. JJ Barea had a big role in the 4th quarter comeback, leading to the local press to speculate he may end up on the final roster yet. (See, we have 16 guaranteed or partially guaranteed contracts, and teams are allowed 15. Rookie wing Glenn Robinson III has the sole partially guaranteed deal--about $200k guaranteed--and is stuck behind a glut of wings (Wiggins, Brewer, Budinger, Martin, Muhammad, and Hummel), so he seems like an obvious cut. However, he is a Flip pick, he has great upside, and Mo Williams was brought in by Flip to play ahead of Barea (brought in pre-Flip) to back up Rubio. So the signs had been that Barea might be that odd man out.

He's got a Napoleon complex, so frankly I do hope we find a way to move Barea. He's got value ... I just don't care to see a 5'9" SG in a PG's body try to prove he's the best scorer on the floor when, even in the moments when it's true, that doesn't help a team win. You're not winning many games with Barea leading you in scoring.
58  Non Smiley Smile Stuff / Smiley Smilers Who Make Music / Re: Harmony is my Achilles Heel on: October 25, 2014, 08:00:34 AM

What I mean is they weren't even notes, just slight variances in pitch.  I'm talking very, very, very small bends in the pitch.

There's notes, guys... that they  don't tell you about.  They're in between the notes that barely exist.


That should be obvious to anyone who isn't stupid. What western music considers to exist are 12 notes. But those are just points on a continuous line of ascending or descending pitch. A fretless stringed instrument or voice makes that apparent. The whole of blues exists powerfully because of the idea, how it treats thirds and sevenths. Thelonious Monk used to say he played so many minor seconds  (as if flubbing the note) because he was trying to get the note in between the two.

That said, music without harmony is boring as hell to me. My mind just isn't suited for it. Eastern cultures whose musics focus more on that kind of melodic variance just don't interest me, personally.

59  Non Smiley Smile Stuff / General Music Discussion / Re: 2014 New Releases on: October 24, 2014, 04:01:57 PM
I didn't mind Driving In My Car. And she is charming, I'll give you that. Not the best singer, but not the worst. Cute, charming, likable ... enough to get by, which of course also leads certain sorts of people to spew venomous hatred after a while. (Humanity is a classy bunch.)

I started listening to M Ward around Transfiguration of Vincent. While he's never struck me as a great, he's really good. I think maybe a better collaborator and producer than artist, still, there is a lot to like. I actually actively disliked his last solo album, though (Wasteland Companion).

60  Non Smiley Smile Stuff / General Music Discussion / Re: 2014 New Releases on: October 24, 2014, 03:52:29 PM
Some intelligent, charming, and devilishly handsome chap posted in the Beach Boys forum that the new She & Him album is due out on Dec. 2. It's a covers album recorded live. I'm somewhere in the ballpark of interested--but not excited--about it. I liked some of their first album in particular, mostly because I didn't really know who Zooey Deschanel was (but did know and like M Ward), that kind of indie geek chic wasn't really omnipresent yet, and some of the songs were surprisingly good. (I love "Sweet Darlin'.") Since then, meh.

But I trust in Ward, and both of their hearts seem to be in the right place when it comes to influences, so I'll be curious to see what makes the track listing.

In any case, I can't believe I posted this. I'm obviously trying to stir things up by discrediting somefuckingbody or other and being a fuckall apologist. Something like that.
61  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: *Merged* Brian Wilson current album thread on: October 24, 2014, 03:43:12 PM
This is not directly related to the upcoming Brian Wilson album. Rather, it's a link to some info about the upcoming She & Him album, which is of course a band comprising apparent new-BW album collaborators Zooey Deschanel and M. Ward. Their upcoming album, due Dec. 2, is reportedly a covers album of classics recorded live. Two trailers are embedded in the below link.

Personally, I recommend working hard to twist this information to the evils of autotune, modern music in general, or how Mike Love f***ed up the reunion. But that's just my record-breaking twaddle. Presumably talk of the She & Him album itself will find its way to the general music forum. Hopefully there will be bickering about the motives of those posting. I love that sh*t.

http://pitchfork.com/news/56240-she-him-announce-covers-album-classics-share-dusty-springfield-cover-stay-awhile/
62  Non Smiley Smile Stuff / General Music Discussion / Re: 2014 New Releases on: October 23, 2014, 04:53:47 PM
The Jessie Ware album kind of lost me in the middle but the song Tough Love has me fully hooked. Love the nods to Little Red Corvette. 

Listening to this now--1st time--and enjoying it a lot. There have been 2-3 songs that warrant consideration among the year's few dozen best. Generally speaking I'm not a fan of the influence of 80s pop soundscapes on current music but a lot of it works here. I think eventually talent--in material, performance or both--overcomes those sorts of things.

I want to call out (at least) one song from this album specifically because it's kicking my ass repeatedly these past couple days. "Keep on Lying" is really wonderful. On my first listen, the instrumental introduction almost had me laughing over my gag, or gagging over my laugh, sounding like some horrific preset on a discount-store keyboard. As I said, I'm not fond of the '80s vibe in so much modern pop... But the verse vocals had my attention, at least minimally.

The background vocals in the pre-chorus, :45ish, are nice. And then--HOLY SHIT--that refrain! The suspensions do it for me. They really do. This song is wonderful. Ware is a really good singer, and this is fabulous. A vocal tour de force.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F09pr1RaiKE
63  Non Smiley Smile Stuff / The Sandbox / Re: Pet Peeves on: October 23, 2014, 03:18:45 PM
What's up with "back in the day."  I wouldn't call it a Pet Peeve or anything... I just don't get why people accept something they know is silly and use it.  Does it help them they feel like they belong -- belong in an increasingly stupid, backwards evolving society?


Shouldn't it be "back in the good old days."  That's what people used to say, I believe.  As in... "back in the good old days, we said sh-t like 'back in the good old days.'  We just used good language, so people could understand what we meant."

How 'bout back in the night?  Does that work?  "That's how we used to do it back in the night.  B-tches."


I think everyone is always annoyed at everyone else's slang. Slang is always stupid (except to whoever uses it). New, old, whatever.
64  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Brian and Bubbles? on: October 23, 2014, 03:17:38 PM
Hopefully things won't turn into a greasy horror show.

Is Ricky going to be manning the concession stand?
65  Non Smiley Smile Stuff / Smiley Smilers Who Make Music / Re: Harmony is my Achilles Heel on: October 23, 2014, 07:47:15 AM
I love this stuff and would be more than happy to try to tackle any other questions you might have, whether general "big picture" stuff or more specific ones.
66  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Did Al Jardine ever sing falsetto? on: October 23, 2014, 05:35:26 AM
Just listened to the In Concert version and I'd be willing to bet--well, approximately nothing whatsoever--that Carl isn't on that highest note either in the "shore" or the other backgrounds. But these guys' voices drive me crazy, as anyone can sound like at least one other person at any given time, so it requires following parts over time, not just spot-listening. But then if you factor in whatever overdubbing is done after the fact, it makes it harder yet and puts you back at the first problem (of people sounding alike).

So in closing, I have offered nothing of use. You're welcome.

Well, neither have I.  I'm only playing something back in my head.  I can't refer to the CD to know if I'm hallucinating it or not.

Right, I was being self-deprecating. I did listen to the song on CD to check, and was useless. That was my point/joke. Possibly not very successful...

But see, I can self deprecate too!  No one gets it when I do it, either...

Damnit!

67  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Dennis Wilson Questions on: October 22, 2014, 06:52:57 PM
Wasn't the Betty Ford Clinic a well known and popular rehab clinic in California back in the late 1970's - 1980's? Too bad Dennis couldn't get there.  Time just ran out I guess. 

If I can have only one Beach Boys solo album it must be Pacific Ocean Blue.

Founded late 1982. Other programs existed prior to that one.

You can have more than one Beach Boy solo album.
68  Non Smiley Smile Stuff / Smiley Smilers Who Make Music / Re: Harmony is my Achilles Heel on: October 22, 2014, 06:49:12 PM
Having given a quick listen to the Neil Young and Beatles songs you referenced, I hope I can add a little more to the differences in their approaches to harmony.

The Neil Young song, as guitarfool2002 said, takes the most basic and foolproof approach to a harmony line: thirds. To reiterate his point, this just means that whatever key (or maybe across keys if you are more complex, and instead using chords outside the main key) the melody is, the harmony is a third above it. That is, literally two steps up within that key. So C-D-E as melody has E-F-G as harmony, if we're in C major. In A major, that would be A, B, C# and C#, D, E, respectively.

Because it is so solidly within the key, that background can almost blend into the background. You almost don't have to hear those notes to hear those notes, if you know what I mean. Notes can be implied, because you're hearing them by their obviousness. Fifths (the "third" above a third) are notorious in this respect. If you're not raising or flatting a fifth, it almost goes without saying. This is a jazz arrangement trick that avoids muddying up voicings. But the Young tune also does indeed have the harmony mixed low, so as to just supplement almost subconsciously.

The difference between that and "If I Fell" is that the Beatles tune doesn't just follow the melody a third (or any other interval) above. Rather, it is a counterpoint. What that means is that it gets into a whole other kind of harmony that complements the melody. There are formal rules to counterpoint--though I'm pretty sure no Beatle knew them explicitly--that aren't worth getting into. But basically they are things like you don't move two notes the same direction into a perfect interval, you don't use parallel fourths or fifths, etc. I would explain if you cared, but no doubt you don't! Point being, this kind of harmony emphasizes contrary motion (I go up when you go down and vice versa) as well as the kind of similar motion that the aforementioned "thirds" technique uses. If you skip up from C to F, I might go up as well, but from G (the perfect 5th) to A (the major third), or some such thing.

Further, the harmony voice in the Beatles tune is mixed far louder: it is really a presentation of equal voices intended to be heard that way.

As guitarfool2002 mentioned, the Robinson/Miracles "Mickey's Monkey" is really not harmony, but just call-and-response. Singer presents melody, backgrounds repeat it (in octaves, which are kind of harmony, but not really...).

What those three examples show, though, are a diversity of options for harmony vocals: a harmony that follows the melody's contours; a harmony that is contrapuntal to a melody; and background vocals (that might be repetitive, or different altogether than the  melody). The best vocal arrangers find ways to combine elements of all these techniques, even within songs or verses/choruses. Half a line is two parts in thirds, the second half features a counterpoint harmony, and the next line has the harmony in a response or otherwise altogether separate part (a descant, for example).

If you want to learn to write harmonies, the easiest sure thing is to consider your melody, but use the "thirds' technique. It will work every time. The notes in the chord or scale are by definition appropriate to use in the voices just as they are in the guitar or piano parts. But to make interesting parts, I'd recommend playing around with the other aspects mentioned above, either individually or combined.

This might have been nonsense, and not knowing what if any theory you have, I did avoid a lot of terminology. I'd be glad to chat on- or offline to clarify or supplement. I love theory. I'm, uh, really cool...
69  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Did Al Jardine ever sing falsetto? on: October 22, 2014, 06:18:18 PM
Just listened to the In Concert version and I'd be willing to bet--well, approximately nothing whatsoever--that Carl isn't on that highest note either in the "shore" or the other backgrounds. But these guys' voices drive me crazy, as anyone can sound like at least one other person at any given time, so it requires following parts over time, not just spot-listening. But then if you factor in whatever overdubbing is done after the fact, it makes it harder yet and puts you back at the first problem (of people sounding alike).

So in closing, I have offered nothing of use. You're welcome.

Well, neither have I.  I'm only playing something back in my head.  I can't refer to the CD to know if I'm hallucinating it or not.

Right, I was being self-deprecating. I did listen to the song on CD to check, and was useless. That was my point/joke. Possibly not very successful...
70  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Mike & Carl in Late 1997 Question/Discussion on: October 22, 2014, 02:10:18 PM
Page 286 of the hardcover edition. Doesn't explicitly say whose idea it was or each guy's vote, but says:

"Carl vetoed an offer ... for the group to play a ten-show tour ... Of Pet Sounds. Brian's elaborate studio arrangements would simply be too hard to play onstage, Carl said. And besides, his big brother would never be able to recreate his own vocals onstage. 'He told me he didn't want to see Brian embarrassed in public, and there was no way Brian would be able to do it,' Melinda says. 'I have never told Brian that. But he picks up on things, you know. No one had to tell him anything.'"
71  Smiley Smile Stuff / General On Topic Discussions / Re: Did Al Jardine ever sing falsetto? on: October 22, 2014, 01:54:26 PM
Just listened to the In Concert version and I'd be willing to bet--well, approximately nothing whatsoever--that Carl isn't on that highest note either in the "shore" or the other backgrounds. But these guys' voices drive me crazy, as anyone can sound like at least one other person at any given time, so it requires following parts over time, not just spot-listening. But then if you factor in whatever overdubbing is done after the fact, it makes it harder yet and puts you back at the first problem (of people sounding alike).

So in closing, I have offered nothing of use. You're welcome.
72  Non Smiley Smile Stuff / General Music Discussion / Re: 2014 New Releases on: October 22, 2014, 11:52:47 AM
And the new Foxygen:

"If you can't say something nice..."
73  Non Smiley Smile Stuff / General Music Discussion / Re: 2014 New Releases on: October 22, 2014, 11:29:23 AM
I listened to Stars' new album No One is Lost today. As usually seems to be the case with them, my reaction was: professionally done, wholly unnecessary, and somewhat pleasant music.

I did really like a few songs off their 2007 album In Our Bedroom After the War. And there are certainly some solid songs--or at least solid recordings and performances--here. But mostly I just don't care. It's my fault.
74  Non Smiley Smile Stuff / General Music Discussion / Re: 2014 New Releases on: October 22, 2014, 09:36:24 AM
The Jessie Ware album kind of lost me in the middle but the song Tough Love has me fully hooked. Love the nods to Little Red Corvette. 

Listening to this now--1st time--and enjoying it a lot. There have been 2-3 songs that warrant consideration among the year's few dozen best. Generally speaking I'm not a fan of the influence of 80s pop soundscapes on current music but a lot of it works here. I think eventually talent--in material, performance or both--overcomes those sorts of things.
75  Non Smiley Smile Stuff / Smiley Smilers Who Make Music / Re: Harmony is my Achilles Heel on: October 22, 2014, 09:24:27 AM
I still plan to do something customized based on your specific examples and questions, but in case it helps, this is a link that will allow you to download a pdf of a quick intro to music theory I did a few months ago. You might find it somewhat useful.

https://www.sendspace.com/file/3n9v9o
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