#1
As the title implies, I'm looking for bands/artists that actively use (leit)motifs in their songs.
The only artists I can come up with are Gordian Knot, Cynic and Agalloch (Agalloch doesn't do it as 'intelligently' as the other two, though).
I'm also wondering what your opinions are on using motifs in more contemporary music.
#2
Off the top of my head, Foetus (and related bands - pretty much all Thirwell's stuff) uses them to a certain extent.

The Antlers' Hospice has a bunch.
ultimate-guitar is for idiots.
#3
Quote by Keth
As the title implies, I'm looking for bands/artists that actively use (leit)motifs in their songs.
The only artists I can come up with are Gordian Knot, Cynic and Agalloch (Agalloch doesn't do it as 'intelligently' as the other two, though).
I'm also wondering what your opinions are on using motifs in more contemporary music.


Im not a fan of doing things for the sake of looking clever/intelligent, IMO it can come across as pretentious.

but for artistic reasons, anything is fair game. (or even just for personal exploration/learning).

If it's something you want to try, you should try it. Your the best person to judge whether it's right for your music or not.
shred is gaudy music
Last edited by GuitarMunky at Mar 19, 2011,
#4
The Downward Spiral by Nine Inch Nails uses two motifs throughout the entire album. One is musical, heard most during the end of "Closer" and the acoustic intro on "The Downward Spiral". The other is lyrical, with "nothing can stop me now" appearing on at least "Piggy" and "Ruiner" from what I can remember. Me is smartz
#5
Quote by firetothemax
Off the top of my head, Foetus (and related bands - pretty much all Thirwell's stuff) uses them to a certain extent.

The Antlers' Hospice has a bunch.


Cheers, I will check those out!

Quote by GuitarMunky
Im not a fan of doing things for the sake of looking clever/intelligent, it comes across as pretentious.

but for artistic reasons, anything is fair game. (or even just for personal exploration/learning).

If it's something you want to try, you should try it. Your the best person to judge whether it's right for your music or not.


Agreed, I try to incorporate them in my music, because I like the idea of self-reference, it can greatly enhance the sense of coherence if done right.
#6
Quote by Keth
As the title implies, I'm looking for bands/artists that actively use (leit)motifs in their songs.
The only artists I can come up with are Gordian Knot, Cynic and Agalloch (Agalloch doesn't do it as 'intelligently' as the other two, though).
I'm also wondering what your opinions are on using motifs in more contemporary music.


Perhaps this idea used to some extent on Genesis' The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway? I don't remember that album too well. Another one is Camel's Music Inspired by the Snow Goose, based on characters from the eponymous book (which I haven't read), each character having his or her own theme. Not really sure what others.
#8
Pretty much every band that releases coherent albums (as opposed to albums that are just collections of songs) will have motifs. Between the Buried and Me, The Mars Volta, Mastodon, Nine Inch Nails, Yes, Sufjan Stevens, Rush, Tool, etc.
#9
Motifs are used a lot in jazz soloing.
MARTY FRIEDMAN--"It’s a lot easier to be technical than it is stylized; it really is... But I think it’s a lot more rare to have someone who’s really got their own sound because that’s something you can’t practice."
#10
Hmm, a lot of the motifs with more modern music are used directly, IE, they remain fixed. There's most of the time no changing of rhythm, function, range, expression etc.
Do you prefer this kind of motif over the classical approach?
#15
I think your getting confused.

A motif is a short musical idea that is used throughout a phrase. This could be as little as 2 descending notes, or a dotted quaver + semiquaver rhythm.

Leitmotif is a short theme assigned to a character or place.
#16
Thus far only motifs have been discussed, and would be the most prevalent naturally in, for example, rock or jazz.
You're forgetting that the motif should also reappear, in one form or another.

Best way to explain it, is to give an example. This one is about a song from Gordian Knot's second album, Emergent.

'This is most apparent in "Singing Deep Mountain". There are 3 main "choruses", each one has it's own theme over the same chords. Chorus one - the vocal line (which is hinted at in "Arsis" at the top of the CD) plus the guitar line underneath it. Chorus two - the line found in the piano just prior to the bass solo. The last chorus, all three of the lines are played simultaneously - they all fit together. This time, the vocal sings the first theme and the theme as it was presented by the guitar. Last, Sonia sings the theme presented in the piano.'

Further in the same song, the intro melody is explored further on in the first song, etc etc.
Last edited by Keth at Mar 20, 2011,
#17
Quote by Keth
'This is most apparent in "Singing Deep Mountain". There are 3 main "choruses", each one has it's own theme over the same chords. Chorus one - the vocal line (which is hinted at in "Arsis" at the top of the CD) plus the guitar line underneath it. Chorus two - the line found in the piano just prior to the bass solo. The last chorus, all three of the lines are played simultaneously - they all fit together. This time, the vocal sings the first theme and the theme as it was presented by the guitar. Last, Sonia sings the theme presented in the piano.'

Further in the same song, the intro melody is explored further on in the first song, etc etc.

What you just described is a motive, not a leitmotif. A leitmotif is one specifically attached to a specific character/event/feeling, and its every instance of the motive is used to signal that specific feeling. This works the best in story-driven works, which is why, as I've said, a rock opera would be your most-likely place to look for leitmotifs. For example: in The Who's Quardrophenia, each part of the protagonist's personality (he's schizophrenic with four personalities) is represented by a different musical idea. When one here's this musical idea, it is supposed to indicate "okay, now I know this is the personality that is in control of the main character at this point in the story." That is the purpose of leitmotifs, they are not as much about exploration of a musical idea (though of course, composers will explore them to various degrees), but they are more about signaling dramatic events.

Thus, if it is not used to signal dramatic events in a story (or do a similar thing with emotion in a non-story-driven work), it is not a leitmotif, but rather a motive.
#18
Quote by Keth
Hmm, a lot of the motifs with more modern music are used directly, IE, they remain fixed. There's most of the time no changing of rhythm, function, range, expression etc.
Do you prefer this kind of motif over the classical approach?

I don't know, both serve their purpose. Mozart doesn't do nearly as much motivic exploration as, say, later Beethoven. But I find some of Mozart's music to be equally if not more effective.

Ultimately, what I feel matters is the music's effect, whether they've derived the entire piece from a single idea, or if it is all pretty loosely connected, if it is connected at all, it can be very effective either way.
Last edited by nmitchell076 at Mar 20, 2011,
#19
Doh, I always type motif, instead of motive, so when I type motif, I mean motive, not leitmotif.
I was 100% aware of the difference between motives (got it right this time ) and leitmotifs.
Last edited by Keth at Mar 20, 2011,