Monday, September 14, 2009

Chord progressions and the spinal cord...

Why do certain chord arrangements slay me so? Why do certain songs cause the world to disappear and the nerve bundles to interlace and ripple in waves - like tall grass blowing up my spine? It's a full aesthetic arrest, mon.

I have an intuitive sense of musical structure, but who can really say why certain progressions work so well? What are the relationships between the chords? Sure, basic music theory provides scads of analysis and math, but how do certain strings of notes combine to create such dramatic emotional responses in humans?

What amazing wars we would have if certain musical arrangements could be used to level an army into passive brooding. Weapons of mass captivation.

At the moment, I'm particularly interested in the chordal structure of James Bond themes. They don't "slay" me so much, there's way too much commercial noise and gaudy baggage that comes in tow for them to really sink in. I'm more fascinated by their musically manipulative ways and chordal seductiveness. I'm talking about the significant ones: You Only Live Twice. Live and Let Die. Nobody Does it Better. Goldfinger. I'm beginning to understand the underlying template, and discovering songs with similar chord bombs that could easily work in the Bond oeuvre. David Bowie's "Lady Grinning Soul" is a great example (and a great song).


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