#1
So...as musicians, guitarists and all, I figure we could start analyzing music. I've been bogged down in job corps (free trade school) so my little bit of knowledge from Mr. Urban kinda got pushed down in priority (I kinda forgot a good bit). The point is I'm asking how to analyze a song.

I see analysis of classic music all the time (there's even an organization for this stuff!)but yet no one really wants to analyze anything here otherwise. I just hope you guys can help me out a bit more in learning how to do this as well as assisting each other in analyzing the way we assist in writing out tabs.
Theory is just...wow. I'm getting a bit over my head by trying to learn so much w/o formal educators

Quote by DBKGUITAR
To be a good lead guitar you must be VERY GOOD AT RYTHM

Quote by MaggaraMarine
My motto: Play what the song needs you to play!
#2
I did some analyzing of song structure recently just to help with songwriting ideas. For instance on Greg Howe "Kick it all Over," here is my basic analysis of the structure

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vt6JMPqU1yg

Intro. Short chordal "stab" with gtr and drums
a) verse theme (twice) leave spaces
b) pre-chorus (twice) change tonality, more minor sounding
c) chorus twice with short turnaround
a) verse theme (once) with overdub
b) pre-chorus twice, 2nd time higher octave
c) chorus twice with variations on turnaround
d) breakdown-rhythm gtr, lead gtr fades in to go to solo
e) solo (similar chords to b section)
e) solo modulate higher
e) solo modulate with turnaround
a) verse (twice) with more overdubs leading to chorus
c) chorus out with lead etc

Interesting how the verse only plays once the 2nd time, to speed up the song getting to the chorus and then how there is no prechorus before the last chorus

I also did it with "The Pepper Shake" and both of them had the same setup for the solo. They both went thru 3 sections for the solo

I also did some Vinnie Moore and Paul Gilbert stuff.

Thats just a very basic analysis for overall song structure. It could obviously get to be way more in depth where you would breakdown how the song builds etc, for instance listing the activity level of the drums and fills.

Where is it busy and where is it "quiet?"

Also one could analyze the tonality of the sections. Where does it change? Where are things harmonized?
Last edited by JohnProphet at Aug 6, 2014,
#3
That's a lot lol. I've always wondered the more complex songs where there are so many layers how to analyze each instrument one by one.
Theory is just...wow. I'm getting a bit over my head by trying to learn so much w/o formal educators

Quote by DBKGUITAR
To be a good lead guitar you must be VERY GOOD AT RYTHM

Quote by MaggaraMarine
My motto: Play what the song needs you to play!
#5
Quote by eric_wearing
The point is I'm asking how to analyze a song.

I don't even know where to start and I can't find any columns or lessons on it. When it's asked in the forums it's usually ignored.
Theory is just...wow. I'm getting a bit over my head by trying to learn so much w/o formal educators

Quote by DBKGUITAR
To be a good lead guitar you must be VERY GOOD AT RYTHM

Quote by MaggaraMarine
My motto: Play what the song needs you to play!
#6
Quote by eric_wearing
I don't even know where to start and I can't find any columns or lessons on it. When it's asked in the forums it's usually ignored.

Well...there's several ways to do it. JohnProphet presented one good way. You could analyze a song/piece note-for-note. Or analyze it harmonically. Or analyze it in terms of musical history, since certain songs/pieces are indicative of the trends in music at the time.

So...be more specific, I guess...
#7
^You're saying a lot without actually going anywhere.

TS: What in particular do you want to analyse/discuss? Keep in mind that the more obscure the work you're considering the less discussion will result. If you want to analyse and discuss a piece of music, or even the way music is analysed then post a piece of music.

You don't want to analyse classical music and I can understand that, though it's helpful to acknowledge that a lot of the music theory that we have was developed to reflect classical music. Though it is still largely applicable to more contemporary pieces.

So what do you want to look at? the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Bruno Mars, Daft Punk, Red Hot Chilli Peppers?

When you find a song that you want then listen to the song several times then a few more times while taking notes.

What is it that draws you in? What captures your interest?

Describe in your own words the song and the listening experience you have when you listen to the song.

Try to break the song into sections (as done in one of the above posts).

Try to identify the songs "tradition" or it's influence (blues, pop, rock etc) - this will help you identify common tricks as well as deviations from what might normally be expected in that "tradition".

Look for contrast. Heavy/Soft, Fast/slow, loud/quiet, light/dark, static movemet/dynamic movement, expected/unexpected etc.

Are there lyrics? Do the words tell a story? Are the lyrics more abstract kind of poetry? Are the meaning in the lyrics reinforced by the music?

If you have a good grasp of music theory then you can start looking more deeply into the music itself and analysing the melody, the harmony, the voice leading, the use of familiar tricks, the use of unfamiliar tricks, rhythm etc.

You don't necessarily need to go note by note. You can end up writing a thousand pages on a single song. What you want to do is try to identify what it is that makes this song work for YOU and focus on that. If you can identify a few key elements in the song that make it work then you'll be able to analyse the song in a useful way without losing the point in too much detail. (which admittedly is sometimes something I do)

If you can't do all of the above at least have a go at what you can do to kick things off. If you select a song that is reasonably well known and make a reasonable attempt at an analysis and encourage discussion then you might get some meaningful input as opposed to the more insipid responses.
Si
#8
It depends on what You want to analyze.

Sometimes I break down songs by bars. I'll lay out all the chords, put in all the repeats, codas, etc. label each section. Mark dynamics. Write out any syncopated rhythms, fills, lead lines if I feel they are significant enough. Then make any other notes I feel are necessary.

Most of the time I'll just dig into certain things I like:
A chord progression, a melody, a drum groove, etc
#9
Some other things that might be worth analysing:

"Chord Palette" or how many different chords are in a piece.

"Harmonic rhythm" refers to how fast the chords change. i.e once per bar, once every four bars.
Harmonic rhythm "speeding up" can give the song a feeling of acceleration.

Listen to your favourite songs again. Look at how songs are built. That big moment at the end wouldn't be as powerful without all the lesser stuff that came before it. Please give us some examples of what you want to analyse so we can discuss em!