Music Tip #2: Music Is A Conversation
I once had an amazing music teacher who used to teach kids music theory way too advanced for their years. Why? Who knows. He could've been bored by the standard student stuff you learn. Did you know when you pay attention in school you learn stuff and can possibly use it many years later? Wow! #sarcasm
And, I am, as a dork listening, probably the single student in my large class remembering this stuff, going to share my secret I learned one day from him.
Music is a conversation – and not literally. Do not think of this as a conversation where we bring up important issues in our music, such as Mackelmore covering LGBT rights in a hip hop song, which while awesome, is not what I am talking about.
Music is a conversation in which it could be you talking to yourself or talking to others and being ignored. You could have a fight. Three people can argue, or the whole orchestra can argue. You can explain to someone how much you love someone, only for your parents to step in and say it's wrong. Any converation you have can be written in the form of instrumentation!
What's a really famous song I had for homework back then?
OK. The Indiana Jones theme. I loved that my music teachers were obsessed with themes, and my partciular teacher I discussed at the beginning of this post was all about the film scores.
The Indiana Jones song starts out with a brief solo. Some guy is saying, "Da, da-da-da. Da, da-da-da." Basically, "I just woke up this morning. I'm so tired." We're assuming away here. If that solo were a human voice, it would say that.
At the same time, percussion in the back snaps back. This could be the mom and dad saying, "Whatveer. Get up, loser. Roll out of bed."
Of course, in our example, the guy is tardy. He's me. He can barely wake up for eighth grade because he spent all last night hanging out of town and doing stuff not involved with studying at all. He sleeps so late, all he has time for is a cereal bar and quick shower. No McDonald's McFish today for breakfast. Cereal bar. Meh. Off to school. Oh, he's late! Whoops!
After this, we skip ahead in the tale as the main line we know to this day comes in. "La-la-la-lahhhhhh! La-la-lahhhhhh! La-la-lahhAHAHHH!! La la laahhhh lahhhh lahhhHAHAHHAHAHAHHH!" This line repesents the school principal telling him off like, "Boy, you are going to get detention if you are leate one more time." The principal is angry. Or the truancy officer. And really brassy, bossy, loud, mean. Like the solo playing the lead.
As other instruments join into the lead narrative theme playing, this could be teachers and the secretary telling him off.
In some variations of the song, like my homework, the song switches into the love theme mode. This can represent you, the guy who slept in, He can, here, be pleading for himself not to be in detention. And maybe a teacher happens to bump into him in front of the principal as in, "Wait! This is a good kid. Don't give him detention. He needs another chance."
When people write songs, the problem is that they write flat songs as in only one conversation going. If someone is metaphorically tlalking to themselves in the song material conversation, it needs to include thoughts and wondering.
Too often, composers and songwriters leave all this out and forget the drama and storytelling. And that is what good music is all about!