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Opeth's song writing... naive???

Discussion in 'Opeth (Archived)' started by Botfly, May 13, 2005.

  1. Botfly

    Botfly "I Am"

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    Fellow Opethian's, I'm here to propose what churns in the caverns of my cerebral cortex.

    Is Opeth's song writing naive, or is the absence of major chords an intended effect, to create this "unique" sound.

    For classically trained musicians, when creating a melody, to bring "closure" to a melody usually a major chord is inserted in a chord progression. Thus far, the only songs I know of to contain major chords is "Harvest" and the "Pull me down again..." part in The Drapery Falls, although, it appears to be used either foolishly or innovatively, but it all depends on the view Mikael has in his song writing. Either he looks at it as "why do you have to use major chords in a chord progression, everyone does that, I want to do something unorthodox (respect knuckles)" or he doesn't really know how to form proper chord progressions and uses them out of spite, possibly like in Harvest where he plays the same root note as minor and then major. Are the intentions to be unorthodox or is it because he doesn't know the orthodox formula for a chord progression? Oh, and the the use of major chords doesn't really count in The Drapery Falls because it's part of the key it's played in; the major chords are not used to close the melody.

    I recall watching some thing about dissecting The Drapery Falls and when he was talking about the eerie acoustic part about 2 or so minuts in the song, he said he didn't know what one of the chords he was playing, but they use that chord in alot of their songs. This, to me, indicates he has a mediocore knowledge in music theory, and maybe indicating a randomness in the chord progressions he writes, which is immature. As my second grade teacher said "You got to learn the rules before you break them" referring to poetry and grammar.

    Disproving facts strongly welcomed. :)
     
  2. Sanzen

    Sanzen Noonish Is My Robe

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    Not wanting to come off like a fanboy here, but I really doubt that someone with Mike's technical ability (I'm talking riffs, solos, rhythm patterns, etc) is ignoring the "proper" way to use major/minor chords. Just because certain chord progressions tend to end on a major chord doesn't make it a cornerstone of music theory - Opeth, musically, is a very minor sounding band. like most sad or depressing sounding music, there are few major chords to be found.

    I don't think it's a matter of Mike thinking to himself, "Hmm, maybe I should use these chords once in a while"....and on the other side, I don't think it's a matter of simply trying to be different. It's just the very nature of Opeth's sound. Listen to any piece of music that sounds "sad", and you'll find an absence of major chords. In western music, minor = sad; case in point: "Lick my Love Pump", in Dminor: the saddest of all keys.
     
  3. Botfly

    Botfly "I Am"

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    You can still get sad/depressive/scary music whilst using a major chord in the chord progression, an example of creating a scary or creepy riff like in Mostly Autumns "Lord of the Rings" based album... the very first song with the "kind-of-growling", they close the chord progressions with a major note, and it sounds good, too.

    Anyways, I'm just still contemplating whether or not their song writing is innovative or naive...

    EDIT: Also, I don't deny the talent they have. Mikael and Peter have very impressive fret board fingering, and Mikael is a genius of a guitar soloist, but chord cohesion is a whole different thing. Sometimes it seems random and other times is perfect like the acoustic break in Bleak right before it goes into the "Help me Cure you" part, but that could be a matter hours of tinkering and experimenting with notes you're not exactly sure what they are but sound good together... I dunno, I'm indecisive...
     
  4. Nuk3m

    Nuk3m AKA Porn-Fingers

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    ..........i had a music teacher who told me there were no rules with music....."There are no rules in music" He was a straight forward teacher who got alot of theory into my head but made sure i knew that i dont have to follow it all. I stand by what he said to this day. Sure guidlines in music are good but to go into such depth as u have sorta takes away from being unique and just going with emotion.

    I know id rather be able to put emotion into my writting then "maturity" or "orthordox". btw dude ...FUCK FORMULA!!
     
  5. Botfly

    Botfly "I Am"

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    I completely agree with those points, but to play without knowledge before hand, and to actually know and understand what you're doing makes a big difference in whether or not your songwriting is naive or innovative. Although, I find most of the emotion of Opeth in the singing, rhythms, guitar soloing and the key the song is played in. Not usually chord structure.
     
  6. Demoke

    Demoke This is the Almighty:

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    Maybe he sounds naive and it could be that he doesn't know a lot about music theory. What matters is: does it sound cool?
     
  7. Sinistas

    Sinistas Life Hangs Motionless

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    I guess my songwriting is immature because I don't know music theory. Damn, I might as well put the guitar down.
     
  8. Richaod

    Richaod New Metal Member

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    Opeth's music itself never comes off as very straight; there's a lot of subtlety, and the general feeling is describable as somewhat chaotic. It's undoubtedly a more unorthodox thing, because if Mikael was actually aiming to create a more melodic death-influenced style, he would've developed it a hell of a long time ago. Opeth have written enough albums to know their own capabilities.

    You're definitely overanalysing if you've actually listened to all your Opeth songs to find out if they have major chords or not...
     
  9. Jon Snow

    Jon Snow asoiaf afaict

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    Calling Mike's songwriting naive is pretty naive.
     
  10. CladInDarkness

    CladInDarkness Under A Blackened Sky

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    You have your answer. Mikael's technical knowledge is very limited.

    I wouldn't call his writing naive though, he does put effort into trying to write what he thinks is a cohesive song, by the sounds of things.

    I'm surprised no one has mentioned the Maudlin of the Well comment about Opeth's music being "cut and paste"
     
  11. Jon Snow

    Jon Snow asoiaf afaict

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    Sounds like they're jealous. I have all of Maudlins of the Well's albums and Kayo Dot's Choirs of the Eye. The only thing they do better than Opeth is being unpredictable imo.
     
  12. JoeVice

    JoeVice Member

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    imo, limiting yourself to the rules of theory is naive. i think that opeth's chord structures are some of the most beautiful in all of music.

    why do you have to know rules before you break them? what if someone picked up a guitar, never listened to any music in his entire life besides what came out of his guitar. he played for 20 years in a dark room by himself....then one day he busts out this music that is like no one has ever heard...chord structures that baffle theorists...but sound absolutely amazing...because they are truly unique. to me, that is mature music...i think it is ridiculous to write a song, and have to work your song around the way that a certain progression is supposed to be...that is childish....the song should be how you want it...and nothing else.

    however, all of opeth's music, in one way or another, can be described by music theory...just because it doesn't abide to theory's extremely basic rules, doesn't mean that it can't be described by theory.
     
  13. Arnold Layne

    Arnold Layne Member

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    Interesting theory joe, music must have started like that, untill it has been refined and refined to what we see today. In the way Opeth have kinda refined there sound with the last few albums, they are a product of thier own musical theory or ideas in a way.

    Another interesting thing (stolen from an idea by David Gilmour) would be to give some guys some instruments and see what music they could come up with, weather it would be good or what. U cant give a man a Les paul and call him Eric Clapton
     
  14. AlexGuinness

    AlexGuinness The Collector

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    I cannot comment on any technical aspect of music or performance, I have always been just a huge consumer of music and I know what I like...

    I think with debates like this you will always get some people that say that things are not being done correctly because it does not fit with the way they think it should, or the way that they have been taught. I am more inclined to make the art link here and say that there is no right or wrong answer, but just schools of thinking.

    I have witnessed many of these debates and the name that always stands out is Hendrix, he seems to either be shit and did not know how to play guitar, or he was a genius that showed what beauty could be found by experimenting with new and unconventional ideas. Never having been into drugs, I cannot offer an opinion as to which is most likely.

    Opeth definitely have an unmistakeable sound and I love it.

    Before all you lot heard of Opeth, the only other people I really knew that liked them were musicians (particularly guitarists). They used to be considered to be a musician's band, I was the exception as I am too impatient to learn to play.

    Also, think of him what you will, but you may recall that a certain Mr. Wilson recently described our Dear Mr. Åkerfeldt as one of the best guitarists in the world...
     
  15. deliverance

    deliverance ecnareviled

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    nice arguments and good discussion here. i have nothing to add really.
    i agree with the concensus that creativity > formula.
    mike has admitted that he doesn't know much music theory, and know names of any chords....but so what? he writes incredibly interesting music, and as Trey said, that makes it even more impressive.
    I also don't believe that Mike thinks before hand, hmm, I'll do THIS to be different, or change this, to sound this way. IMO, He prob just sits down with his acoustic, has some music in his head, plays around and figures it out, and records it.

    carry on.
     
  16. dorian gray

    dorian gray Returning videotapes

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    to add to aka deliverance's post: i read a critique of Mike a couple years ago and the author said something to the effect of, "Akerfeldt has an almost endless knowledge of chords". Yet, I've also read, in Mike's own words, that he doesn't know much about music theory.

    So, if those two statements are true, there you have it. He apparently has been playing guitar for a very long time, has an inherent talent, but hasn't felt the need to "take some classes" or whatever. That's the great thing about music: nerds who get graduate degrees in music fail to ever make an album while swedish man-purse-wearing high school grads can make incredible and interesting music......to our ears, at least.

    ps: this post adds nothing to the thread. sorry.
     
  17. NFU

    NFU I like pie.

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    well, since they are good friends, that might have been a pat on the back for him, rather than something he found to be completely true. but im not saying it isnt. i do think Mike is one of the freshest guitar players in rock music right now...but i can think of quite a few which i find to be much more well rounded and interesting in a simple "guitar player" context. And no, im not referring to any of the standard virtuosos...petrucci can jump off a cliff. Guys like Steve Howe, Reine Fiske, Bill Frisell, Lindsay Buckingham, jeff loomis, and Michael Schenker. To name a few. Maybe its just a preferance of style...but i dont know.
     
  18. NFU

    NFU I like pie.

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    well, i dont think its so black and white. i think it can be in between. i feel one can have little "music theory" knowledge...but simply know a lot of chord possibilities simply through trial and error, or just practice and repetition. Mikael is a good example of this. He has no clue what chords hes playing, but obviously has no problem putting odd and interesting progressions together in spades for song after song. I think music theory often restricts the imagination. The words "dissonance" and "atonal" are often taboo, but should they always be? Try telling that to Robert Fripp or Frank Zappa or Jimi Hendrix. ;)
     
  19. Dark Hunter

    Dark Hunter Member

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    My opinion's quite simple :

    Music should always be written focusing on how it SOUNDS.
    I guess that's what music is all about... SOUND
    Theory might be used to HELP us writing songs, so that we don't have to try every note for a solo, or every chord, to find the ones that get along well with the others.
     
  20. Sfarog

    Sfarog Trapped in hated logic

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    There are two schools of musicians in this world. Technically skilled ones who know all about theory, can name a sound, and play anything they're asked to.Then there are the ones who were never schooled, don't know theory, don't have a great technique (in general musician standards) etc.

    People can like one or the other, and its fine. I myself prefer the Opeths and Agallochs of the world. Creativity, feeling, and rawness of composition which produces more original, and many times, more sincere sound.

    Do you know that most of the Science Nobel prize winners never finished higher education? I believe its better to become a musician of your own. Once you learn all the scales and other bullshit, you are less bound to breaking rules. You are less bound to experiment, and less bound to produce something of your own, and sincere.

    Like what you want, but "naive" is not the right word. There is only one rule in music to consider, at least in my opinion: make music that sounds good to you. Other than that all the rules should be "guidelines". Otherwise they are limitations
     

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