#1
The song in question is "La Mer" by Nine Inch Nails.

Something I have gleaned from years of listening to Trent Reznor's music is that one of his favored devices is the use of modal mixture ie using notes from the parallel minor scale when in a major key. That's definitely what is occurring in this piece, but I don't hear it really "pulling" towards major or minor as clearly as others.

A brief outline of the ideas involved in the song;

The piano intro consists of a repeating figure using thirds. C/e natural, D/F, B flat/D. It would seem that this establishes C major as the key center with b flat as a color tone.

However, listen to the line the double bass is playing; C, Eb, f, Eb, f, Ab, Bb. At this point it seems like there are a bit too many notes being used from the minor to simply conceptualize them as color tones.

At 1:33 the electric bass line comes in but doesn't help too much in establishing a major or minor tonality. It's a blues scale riff (Bb, B natural C, C an octave lower, Eb, G, Bb, B natural, C), and thus could be used over a major or minor key center.

That's about all there is to the piece, it's essentially those ideas repeating while the textures become increasingly dense until everything kind of washes away, leaving only the piano figure and strings playing the intro bass line.

So, what do you think, major tonality with color tones from minor? minor with E natural as color tone?

Here's the link.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UB_GbMQftkA
I couldn't think of a thing that I hope tomorrow brings
#2
I guess one thing I forgot to mention, maybe the melodic improvisation that occurs until the percussion comes in could help point the way towards a tonality. It sounds mostly like C mixolydian to me.
I couldn't think of a thing that I hope tomorrow brings
#4
TS, what is the chord structure, and where do you think the song resolves to?
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#5
Quote by AlanHB
TS, what is the chord structure, and where do you think the song resolves to?

It doesn't really have a conventional chord structure. and I don't know where it resolves, I was hoping someone would be able to elucidate that for me utilizing the information I presented...
I couldn't think of a thing that I hope tomorrow brings
#6
Oh wait no, I didn't listen to that properly at all. To me this definitely resolves to F. The piano intro and the out of tune piano melody that comes in a bit later are both in F. The bit of the bassline that goes F, Eb, F is the bit that sounds most stable to me. I'd say the electric bass that comes in is nothing but colouration, it's not mixed loud enough to have much of an effect on the tonality. But with music like this, different people can hear it in different ways, that's the beauty of it really. Vague, inexplicit music, open to interpretation.
If I had to analyse it as one particular key, it would be F, with minor inflections, but that doesn't really do it justice. The higher instruments are in F, the bass line is F minor pentatonic, they're almost seperate in a way.
Do you listen to much Debussy? I'd assume from the way this piece sounds that it's named after Debussy's "La Mer", so give that a listen if you don't know it. He was a big fan of mixing modes and pentatonics of different keys together, whilst still retaining some sort of (albeit weak) resolution. There is generally no "chord structure" in his music. That's exactly what this piece does, although in a less complex, more minimalist structured way.
Hope this helps

PS Thank you for introducing me to a great piece of music! Is the rest of the album this good?
Last edited by korinaflyingv at Mar 17, 2012,
#7
Quote by korinaflyingv
Oh wait no, I didn't listen to that properly at all. To me this definitely resolves to F. The piano intro and the out of tune piano melody that comes in a bit later are both in F. The bit of the bassline that goes F, Eb, F is the bit that sounds most stable to me. I'd say the electric bass that comes in is nothing but colouration, it's not mixed loud enough to have much of an effect on the tonality. But with music like this, different people can hear it in different ways, that's the beauty of it really. Vague, inexplicit music, open to interpretation.
If I had to analyse it as one particular key, it would be F, with minor inflections, but that doesn't really do it justice. The higher instruments are in F, the bass line is F minor pentatonic, they're almost seperate in a way.
Do you listen to much Debussy? I'd assume from the way this piece sounds that it's named after Debussy's "La Mer", so give that a listen if you don't know it. He was a big fan of mixing modes and pentatonics of different keys together, whilst still retaining some sort of (albeit weak) resolution. There is generally no "chord structure" in his music. That's exactly what this piece does, although in a less complex, more minimalist structured way.
Hope this helps

PS Thank you for introducing me to a great piece of music! Is the rest of the album this good?

Yeah, the album is great. Thanks for the analysis.
I couldn't think of a thing that I hope tomorrow brings
#8
It's funny how you mention C mixolydian.. hardly any music is modal anymore. What tonal center does C mixolydian want to resolve to? F. And it turns out the song is in F major. Hmmm..
#9
Quote by ibz120
It's funny how you mention C mixolydian.. hardly any music is modal anymore. What tonal center does C mixolydian want to resolve to? F. And it turns out the song is in F major. Hmmm..


Shouldn't the tonal center of a C mixolydian piece be C ??? If it's F then it's not modal and it's just a piece in F major but I'm sure we actually agree about that.
#10
Quote by ibz120
It's funny how you mention C mixolydian.. hardly any music is modal anymore. What tonal center does C mixolydian want to resolve to? F. And it turns out the song is in F major. Hmmm..

Womp. Womp. Kids these days, right?

Quote by SuperWeirdoUG
Shouldn't the tonal center of a C mixolydian piece be C ??? If it's F then it's not modal and it's just a piece in F major but I'm sure we actually agree about that.

If it's a modal piece that is in C Mixolydian, then yes.
An example of a modal piece is Miles Davis' "So What" solo section are 16m. of Dm (Dorian), 8 Ebm (Dorian), Dm (Dorian). (Or is it 8, 4, and 4?.. Either way...)
Dig?

However, this is not the case because it has other chords which lead the idea that the piece is in F Major because C in F is the V, which has a pull to I
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Last edited by King Of Suede at Mar 17, 2012,