Ok, I'll admit straight up that this is kinda a drunk post, so I apologize beforehand if this is a little weird, but this is something that I've been thinking about for a while and couldn't think how to articulate until now when I'm inebriated and a certain song brought it to the front of my mind.

Is there any kind of analysis that you can do strictly on a textural level? I was just jamming out to King Crimson's Book Of Saturday (tried to put a youtube link but could only find covers and shitty live takes) and was mesmerized by the textures they created with that song. On the verses it's mostly single notes and dyads out of whatever chords the guitar is playing in the higher mid range, a strong vocal melody in a similar frequency range but with a stronger timbre and slightly lower (with incredible lyrics) and the bass guitar all by it's self in the low register. There's also a violin that comes in between verses to take up the vocal slack. There isn't a pad, the only high frequencies are from the sibilant consonants in the lyrics, no drums or cymbals, there's nothing really loud about any of it - the music just has a very subdued, wistful kind of feel to it that has very little to do with scales, modes, chords, or rhythm and more to do with the general texture of the arrangement, which to me is amazing since it's mostly just one guitar, vocals and a bass. To me it sound very minimalistic for "rock" based music and is more potent because of it.

I guess what I'm talking about is like the EQ of the arrangement, if you know what I mean. Is there any way to talk about these kinds of things structurally, or is this a part of music that will forever be entrenched in the world of emotional adjectives that can't be quantified?
Last edited by The4thHorsemen at Mar 4, 2015,
I think you're just talking the finer points of arrangement and instrumentation at this point.

Although as something of an expert on all things Crimson, Fripp and Cross probably improvised the guitar and violin parts.

That band really transcends what "rock" music is. Listen to it as if the guitar, violin, bass, and voice were a string quartet, and the arrangement sounds much more "normal."
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
Yea, I just meant arrangement and instrumentation with all of that. It' s an area I've been trying to get better at lately and I guess last night I was wishing for a way to talk about that kind of thing in the same way we can talk about intervals and chord functions. Looks to me like I was having fun typing lots of words.

I know they tended to improv a lot, but not so much on that particular song, except maybe the solo section in the middle.

Yea, I absolutely love King Crimson - and wow, I never really thought of it that way.
You'd be surprised. Fripp and co. have made claims that everything is a first take. Now granted, they rehearsed the music a ton, but part of the ethos of that band was/is to remove creative filters and keep all the arrangements fluid.

It's the same reason that even though you hear what is often very complex harmony, a look at Fripp's notated music (super Crimson fan here) reveals only triads on the chord part. Fripp wanted to give everyone maximum freedom all the time.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
I started to try to explain to you that there was no way it was improvised and then I listened to it again. I also listened to a live performance.


It's precisely arranged, there are recurring themes and similar things happen at the same points in the song, but it's still improvisation, just with a very good idea of what it should sound like, what order things happen, etc.

Edit: It seems some of the newer King Crimson is more pre-planned? I just looked up a live version of Level Five and I think it's exactly the same other than Belew's solo which is basically just him playing with his whammy bar and bending the neck and sounds almost the same as the album.
Last edited by The4thHorsemen at Mar 4, 2015,