#1
I'm wondering if their is something like an x-mas scale, or other common element(s) that can be employed to make a song sound x-massy?

Ken
Bernie Sanders for President!
#2
To learn the x-mas scale, you have to take guitar lessons from Santa Christ, and have him deem you worthy of learning his ancient ways. I hear he's pretty picky about his students though.
.
#3
as you may have guessed from the post above this one, the answer is no.

why don't you take a look at some simple common christmas songs (deck the halls, jingle bells, or maybe even lennon's happy xmas if you can deal with a couple of modulations) and analyze the melodies and harmonies? see what you come up with.

you should find that there is nothing inherently "x-massy", as you put it, about the music once you remove the lyrics and orchestration. those are the "elements" you're talking about. sleigh bells and other such things, combined with the christmas-themed lyrics, are generally what give christmas songs their sound. it's kind of like a caribbean track. there's nothing inherently caribbean about the three or four chords that are being used. sometimes the melody has proprietary elements, sure -- but mostly it's in the rhythm and the orchestration (steel drums, etc.).

out of the three that i gave you, the only completely diatonic one (at least in the melody) is jingle bells. i would suggest starting there. strip the song of everything but its basic musical content, and analyze it.
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#4
Many times the feeling of the song is not only due to the notes and chords used. People focus too much on notes and chords. Yes, they are part of the feeling but there's so much more to music than just notes and chords.

As AeolianWolf said, it's more about the instruments used. And of course the lyrics.
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#5
the only real melodic idea that floats up a lot (not even all the time though) is resolution from 7 to 1. But that doesnt hold for every song, its mainly the instrumentation
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#6
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#7
Christmas lyrics and sounds like bells, tambourines, strings etc but mostly I'm thinking all those old christmas songs feel christmasy because we've learned that those are christmas songs and have heard them all during out childhood, in a sense our legit memories of christmas kinda get woven into the memories of these songs and in a sense they merge and thus, we get the christmas feelings from the songs
#8
Yup, its called Ionian mode, it is cherful and happy seriously almost all the christmas (happy) songs are in this mode, the rest of the sound comes with the instrumentation and all that music crap
#9
You need to include
The sound of sleighbells
Children, either singing or just featured in the lyrics
Something that makes the listener feel sympathy did those in need
Nostalgia
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#10
Quote by HellDio
Yup, its called Ionian mode, it is cherful and happy seriously almost all the christmas (happy) songs are in this mode, the rest of the sound comes with the instrumentation and all that music crap


It really has nothing to do with modes... The Ionian mode is just your major scale. G Ionian = G major. Almost none of any well-known christmas song uses a particular mode, hell 99 procent of all music isn't even modal.

But as said above, what makes a X-mass song is the instruments used and Christmass themed lyrics.
#11
all the lyrics about santa and guff like that tends to skew the listeners' ears, really.

the more folky ones tend to be in a major key, but i can think of several offhand which are minor too, so it just depends.

if it gets really annoying the third time you hear it, that probably helps as well. alongside christmassy instruments like bells.

EDIT: also even very different styles of music sound christmassy- off the top of my head swing (let it snow), rock n roll (rockin around the christmas tree), march (little drummer boy, sleigh ride), classical/baroque (joy to the world), modern classical (all those rutter ones that classic fm insists on playing all the fricking time ). So yeah, i think the lyrics have a lot to answer for, really.
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Last edited by Dave_Mc at Dec 13, 2013,
#12
Lyrics that get stuck in your head.
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#13
Think you gotta look more at the instruments used and the general arrangement rather than the structure of the song. Pretty sure you could "Christmasize" basically any song just by adding jinglebells, vibraphone to certain parts of the melody, background organ, triangle/tambourine, choir, etc then play it for someone random and they'd think it's a Christmas song.
#14
Quote by krm27
I'm wondering if their is something like an x-mas scale, or other common element(s) that can be employed to make a song sound x-massy?

Ken

To paraphrase Bill Clinton, "that depends on what you call Christmas music". The bottom line is there's two distinct kinds. First there's religious music that actually attaches to the birth of Christ, and then the are secular, "carols", which aren't much more than pagan celebrations of the winter solstice.

"Hark the Herald Angels Sing", is little ditty by none other than Felix Mendelssohn", who also wrote, "The Wedding March". He got around quite a bit, and at a very early age. "Hark" can be found in virtually any Christian Hymnal, along with many other faith based carols.

Secular music addresses itself mainly to the "joy of winter", with a little guilt and bandwagon propaganda thrown in, to coattail the religious aspect into generating a spend, give, receive, equals happiness and well being circular response, that would vindicate Pavlov's entire life's work..

We've even turned Henry the VIII's, "Greensleeves"(*), into a religious carol, "What Child is This".

(*) Keep in mind that "Greensleeves", was Henry's self pitying lament when he discovered he wasn't getting into Anne Boleyn's panties on the first date, as it were.
#15
I love the sound of sleigh bells, even when not in christmas songs, but maybe im getting it confused with tamborine..

also when you said steel drums you were referring to carribean music not xmas music right?

Im not sure if this is relevant but I feel like lots of the christmas song i like have "cannon" type arrangements, I feel like alot of them are written for choral arrangments more than orchastra or instruments. Theres lots of vocal melody type stuff involved in making them christmasy for me

/e Also, generally theres no guitar solo's or anything... its just vocal melody, and bells.
Last edited by blunderwonder at Dec 13, 2013,
#16
One Of my favourite christmas songs is Killing in the name of.... hang sorry walking in the air. This has been mentioned before, but minor key music can conjure the feelings of winter. But then 'pop' songs are about more commercialism. So generally major keys work. I have the sheet music for 'do they know it's christmas.' The Verse is based C F and G major chords but with a lydian mode tinge to it. giving it a bit of a mystical edge?

| F | G| C |C |

then turnaround into the chorus is

|F | G | C |F | Dm | G | C |C | so a IIm V I

the chorus
|C | C | F | G | so I would describe this as a modal shift to C ionian .
the turnaround is in the chorus two but with an bar of F on the end so again moving between C ionian , pure and happy , and F lydian a slight saddness/mystical-ness
|F | G | C |F | Dm | G | C | F|

| Dm | G | C | F|| Dm | G | C | F| is then repeated, This part feel like D Dorian, and is the 1st feeling of something minor. (the words are the 'chimes of doom.')

the Dm|G| C| F C| progression is behind the main chorus tagline ' do they know it's christmas.' so pretty much right in the center of the song is a dorian/minor progression.

The middle 8 of bridge, goes to the relative minor of C .... A minor

|Am | G |Am | G |F| G | C | F C | The split bars of |F and C | and plagal cadences (aren't they ?) , and the IV to I , forms the part of a lot of tradition gospel music.

this cadence is repeated for the feed the world part, the coda.

|C | F C | F C | Dm |
#17
^ Nothing lydian or dorian in that song. It's in C major all the time. Starting with the IV chord doesn't make it lydian. C is the key center all the time. F lydian resolves to F, the verse clearly resolves to C. It's a basic IV-V-I progression.

I think you should stop thinking about modes in such a simple major key song. Modes aren't everywhere and shouldn't be brought up all the time.

I think this is a good example of why modes shouldn't be taught everywhere. When people learn about modes, they think modes are everywhere and turn tonal pieces into modal pieces. The thing is, the vast majority of pop songs are not modal (and by pop I'm referring to contemporary non-classical music).
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Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Dec 14, 2013,
#18
OK, at some point, this topic had to mutate to, "what's your favorite Christmas song".

So, mine is, "Christmas" From "Tommy", by The Who.

Here, instead of the rhythm being formed by the jingling of sleigh bells, slamming a G major barre chord serves up the same message, "bah humbug".....
#19
Even through NOT textbook correct. I find harmony easier to understand and explain with Three types of changes.
Key Changes,
Modal Changes
and Key and Modal Changes.

So C major to D major = key change , no qualms there. (no modal change.)
C Ionian to D dorian = Modal change.... or not !
C dorian to D lydian = Key change and modal change.
#20
Quote by ibanez1511
Even through NOT textbook correct. I find harmony easier to understand and explain with Three types of changes.
Key Changes,
Modal Changes
and Key and Modal Changes.

So C major to D major = key change , no qualms there. (no modal change.)
C Ionian to D dorian = Modal change.... or not !
C dorian to D lydian = Key change and modal change.

But again, there's nothing lydian or dorian in that song. Chord progression that starts with an F chord and uses notes in C major scale doesn't mean it's in F lydian. If the chord progression was just F-G-F-G all the time, you could argue it really is in F lydian. But it clearly resolves to C so nothing lydian there.

C major and D dorian do have very different sounds, even though the scales have the same notes. D dorian resolves to D and C major resolves to C. D dorian sounds a lot more minor than C major. There's only one note difference to D minor. And I would say D dorian is closer to D minor than it's to C major.

It's all about how the notes you play function. In C major C is your tonic. In D dorian C is your minor 7th. In F major C is your fifth. In A minor C is your third. So if a song is in D dorian, all notes get a completely different function than in C major. And in this song they did not get any different function because the whole song is in C major all the time.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
#21
Quote by steven seagull
You need to include
The sound of sleighbells

This. That is all.
#22
Quote by steven seagull
You need to include, The sound of sleigh bells...[ ]...

Well, those, and a ten finger and two feet F major chord on the pipe organ to open, "Hark the Herald Angels Sing". (F0 in the bass). Call me a sentimental, power mad, old fool.

I think the reason the Christians were run out inf the holy land in the first place, was they kept trying to hang jingle bells and sleighs on everybody's camel.
Last edited by Captaincranky at Dec 14, 2013,
#23
Quote by krm27
I'm wondering if their is something like an x-mas scale, or other common element(s) that can be employed to make a song sound x-massy?

Ken

A lot of them are in major keys. A lot of them have a sense of celebration. Those are your common elements.
#24
Quote by crazysam23_Atax
A lot of them are in major keys. A lot of them have a sense of celebration. Those are your common elements.
From the aspect of religious carols, those major keys are chosen for choral accompaniment, as well as average singers anticipated vocal range.

(The generally cut the high note of the melody off at E4, which satisfied the range of the typical baritone, and E5 for mezzo soprano).
#25
I didn't look at this question but I thought it was a brilliant question. I'm learning song writing theory right now so there is nothing much for me to add...except, there aren't too many new Christmas songs out there. The only recent one I can thing of is the Killers "A Great Big Sled." Let me try to analyze why it is a Christmas song by taking away the lyrics, the bells and everything else we associate with a Christmas song. Just joking, but there are far too many grinches here. Who doesn't like Christmas

http://youtu.be/w-nse84xIpE

I can't analyze it yet...yet...but I know there is a musical pattern to Christmas music. I hope I don't accidentally necro this thread when I figure it out. There need to be more Christmas songs in my opinion.
Last edited by antics32 at Dec 14, 2013,
#26
Quote by antics32
I didn't look at this question but I thought it was a brilliant question. I'm learning song writing theory right now so there is nothing much for me to add...except, there aren't too many new Christmas songs out there. The only recent one I can thing of is the Killers "A Great Big Sled." Let me try to analyze why it is a Christmas song by taking away the lyrics, the bells and everything else we associate with a Christmas song. Just joking, but there are far to masny grinches here
I'm mostly just ambivalent about Christmas. Why? I'm a bachelor, an orphan, and an only child. That takes "family gift giving, celebration, and gatherings", pretty much out of the equation for me. What I should do is decorate the "presents" I buy myself year round, just to remind myself I'm a pretty lucky curmudgeon.

What is ridiculous, and extremely annoying about "Christmas", is the constant bombardment of intelligence insulting advertisements visited upon us all. I've distilled a general theme from the pomp and circumstance, and that is, "you giving us all your money makes us very, very happy, and in the spirit of giving the season engenders, giving us all your money should make you very, very, happy as well".
Quote by antics32
I can't analyze it yet...yet...but I know there is a musical pattern to Christmas music. I hope I don't accidentally necro this thread when I figure it out. There need to be more Christmas songs in my opinion.
Nope, it's not a necro. Another quality you might add to a potential Christmas song is, make it anthemic. (Although all the jingle bells do tend to mitigate that a bit). With that said, people do indeed get away with glockenspiels in military marches. God bless us every one....., right.
Last edited by Captaincranky at Dec 14, 2013,
#27
Quote by Captaincranky
I'm mostly just ambivalent about Christmas. Why? I'm a bachelor, an orphan, and an only child. That takes "family gift giving, celebration, and gatherings", pretty much out of the equation for me. What I should do is decorate the "presents" I buy myself year round, just to remind myself I'm a pretty lucky curmudgeon.


I don't want to derail this thread but I've been a bachelor and an only child on Christmas in the past. It does take away the holiday cheer. What I did was planned something special for myself on Christmas. Saved up a little, used a little credit to get something I wouldn't normally get and have a good meal at my favorite restaurant and just talk to all the other people there. I'm fortunate that this year I'm not a bachelor but I know how you feel from previous years.
#28
Quote by Captaincranky
From the aspect of religious carols, those major keys are chosen for choral accompaniment, as well as average singers anticipated vocal range.

(The generally cut the high note of the melody off at E4, which satisfied the range of the typical baritone, and E5 for mezzo soprano).

Yes...
#29
Oh, stupid jumpers help as well.
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

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#30
Since enthusiasm for this thread seems to have waned a bit, I may not be able to offend as many people as I would have liked to, but I'll give it my best, "bah humbug", shot.

I don't think we really need more Christmas carols. Many major artists feel obligated to cash in on holiday spending with a cobbled together "Christmas Album". Many of these unfortunately, track the same methodology as used in their other releases. That is, one decent single, and ten or more duds. Even if you were to manage to develop an ability for abiding the other 10 tracks, most people would view you as strange, if you listened to the album in July.

Christmas is dead anyway. I know this because, I watched Jennifer Nettles and Mary J. Blige, (WTF? (*)), drive a stake through its heart last night on national TV. After more than a minute of ass kissing and overblown platitudes from both women, they offered an abusively off key rendition of, "Do You hear what I Hear?", that resembled two tomcats fighting in a closed 55 gallon drum. Sort of a, "who can out vibrato the other, duel to the death", as it were". That s*** was enough to turn Jesus into an agnostic.

(WTF?)*)) Right, Mary J. Blige performing on "A CMA Country Christmas". Now there's a "spare me the holiday joy" if I've ever heard one.
#31
you guys are like lifetime christmas specials waiting to happen :P I bet you have "welcome mats" that say "buzz off"

On another note though, you'd look pretty silly listening to something like "its a tropical heatwave", or "bama beach" in the middle of december when its snowing, so seasonal music has its merits. If one day I make it into space you can bet the star wars theme will playing.

If you really want to stick it to the man in the red suit, you could always dress up like polar bear and try to scare the kids in your neighboorhood.
#32
Quote by blunderwonder
you guys are like lifetime christmas specials waiting to happen :P I bet you have "welcome mats" that say "buzz off"
Actually, I don't even have a "welcome" mat. But now you're got me thinking about getting one. I'm torn between a couple of very traditional slogans. One is, "No Trespassing", and the other is, "Don't Tread on Me".

Quote by blunderwonder
On another note though, you'd look pretty silly listening to something like "its a tropical heatwave", or "bama beach" in the middle of december when its snowing, so seasonal music has its merits. If one day I make it into space you can bet the star wars theme will playing.
No, here again I'm very traditional, no wearing white, or listening to Jimmy Buffett, after Labor Day... Plus, I really can't turn up John William's music as loud as it deserves, since I wouldn't be able to hear the home invaders at the door....

Quote by blunderwonder
If you really want to stick it to the man in the red suit, you could always dress up like polar bear and try to scare the kids in your neighborhood.
I know, but it's tough to find a polar bear costume you can bleach, and they tend to yellow a bit after only a couple of wearings, especially in the crotch...

Performing artists are people too, and people, tend to not, "be of good cheer", year round. So, like the rest of us, when they start singing,"Merry Christmas", they sound like the rest of us trying to muster up a good spoken, "merry Christmas", very, very insincere doing it...

Oddly, I think Christmas carols, should be left to ordinary folk to sing. High profile artists almost always inject too much personal style on the material. To me, much of it comes across as crass.

But you know, Christmas is the only time of year when everybody believes in God, at least a wee bit. And I think hitting the midnight service in a church of your choice, and singing carols to the sound of an all too rare these days, pipe organ, is about the best you could hope for.
Last edited by Captaincranky at Dec 15, 2013,
#33
I like christmas.

I just don't like getting blasted with carols 24/7.
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#34
Quote by Dave_Mc
I like christmas.

I just don't like getting blasted with carols 24/7.
There's no shame in not liking being inundated with Christmas for at least a month leading up to the holiday.
All it really amounts to is rehashed propaganda, strategically generated by advertising agencies.

The purpose being this, to initiate a behavioral conditioning loop, consisting of, hear the carol, spend the money, reap a feeling of happiness and well being from giving a gift.

It's very simple really, ring the bell and the dog salivates.

It's interesting to note the man credited as being, "the father of modern behavioural psychology", John B. Watson, quit academia, and pursued a career in advertising!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_B._Watson

So, people should be perhaps, deeply offended, by all those jingle bells that you hear in Christmas music. 'Cause ya see, those are pretty much the same bells that Pavlov rang for his dog...
Last edited by Captaincranky at Dec 16, 2013,
#35
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

Quote by T00DEEPBLUE
Et tu, br00tz?
#36
to learn the xmas scale you gotta first learn the Hanukkah scale to build up the basics
#37
The melodic ideas tend to revolve around common, singable intervals. Harmonically straightforward. It's folk music, not much different than pop.
#38
Quote by hanginout
to learn the xmas scale you gotta first learn the Hanukkah scale to build up the basics
And here you go: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phrygian_dominant_scale



Did you need a neck chart on that as well?

And remember, "practice doesn't make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect"....Er, I mean, "bah humbug".....
Last edited by Captaincranky at Dec 16, 2013,