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Topic: Arrangement, Phrases, Bars etc.

  1. #1

    Arrangement, Phrases, Bars etc.

    Hey guys,

    I have been struggling with this for a bit of time, and have done searches everywhere. Unfortunately I can\'t seem to find any knowledge on this particular subject.

    I am familiar with very basic structure. For instance your typical 4-8-16 bar etc. structure that is popular in dance, pop etc. You know, 3 bars than a fill with minor variations. I have been doing quite a bit of reading on form and am still in the early stages of it all. I was wondering how the basic structure I mentioned above relates (if at all?) to classical or film music? And also if this structure is affected in any way by different time signatures. When thinking of film music I cannot fathom this working on any level considering things must correspond with the picture.

    I have been studying some Tchaikovsky scores and have noticed that in a few pieces this structure is very apparent, in others it\'s virtually nonexistant.

    Any help would be great!

    Thanks, PullPlug

  2. #2

    Re: Arrangement, Phrases, Bars etc.

    > \"When thinking of film music I cannot fathom this working on any level considering things must correspond with the picture.\"

    You\'re right that you can\'t use traditional structure in a fight scene or when you\'re leading the emotions of an audience during dramatic dialogue. But you may be able to use form during a long intro with credits, driving down the road, a walk on the beach and so forth. Any long scene that establishes setting or a general state of mind can allow the music to bring its own structure to the film. Unfortunately, this is often the place where the director decides to use a pop song, rather than original music.

    Regarding books and references on musical structure, I don\'t have any good references. I\'m interested if others have some titles that they can share.

  3. #3

    Re: Arrangement, Phrases, Bars etc.

    It depends on how exposed the music is in a scene. Western ears still crave the 4 bar phrase as sounding comforting. So, it depends on the emotional content of a given scene.

    In 20th century concert music, meter changes were common, even going back as far as Stravinsky to represent emotional discord. Form was free as a reaction against Romanticism.

    But nowadays, even concert composers stick to standard metering. In film, it would be too difficult to pull off a cue under the time pressures that you face if the music were changing meter every 2 measures or so like the Rite of Spring. So, instead of that, you write your irregular accents (if you need them) into a standard, regular meter. 90 percent of cues are played to a click, anyway, and the players can pull it off.

    I heard a story about a mid-90\'s session featuring the LA Philharmonic underscoring a short art film. Their conductor is one of the best at performing modern music...Esa-Pekka Salonen. They tried to do this long cue without a click....and couldn\'t do it. Even they resorted to a click track to save everyone\'s sanity....and Salonen is as rhythmically accurate is it gets. (this came from a member of the LA Phil who played in that session)

    Computer software has had an impact on composers no matter their genre in recent years. Music has become more accessible, too. Not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but that\'s where we find ourselves at the beginning of the 21st century.

    This is a long way of saying that 4 bar phrases can be an acceptable way to work. You don\'t want too much \'mickey mouse\' sync to picture, anyway. The key things can be hit with choosing the proper tempo, accents and orchestration. Computers are great for that too.

  4. #4

    Re: Arrangement, Phrases, Bars etc.

    In film music, especially, it\'s true that form follows function (in this case, hit points,) and I suppose commercials also have the same kinds of constraints (they\'re just miniature films, after all,) and there are clasical forms that have a preset structure -but otherwise, form is really up to the needs of the moment as a composer.

    Rules evolve and change according to taste and style. I have many pieces written in odd meters, or multiple odd meters - I have one that\'s 30 years old, yet due out in a few months in 22/8, 8-and-one-half/4 (17/8, but plays as 8.5) and 5/4. And that even has some 19-8 bars in the transitions, but the overall effect is that it smoothly flows together.

    It\'s about feel, and flow, and groove. Sometimes the ear can be quite comfortable with 3-bar phrasing, or even no real bar lines at all.


  5. #5

    Re: Arrangement, Phrases, Bars etc.

    Hey guys!

    This is wonderful info for me. Thanks so much for replying. I wasn\'t sure if the question was necassarily valid or not when I posted. I did a search though and couldn\'t find anything related.

    I think more people should post on the subject if they have anymore comments to make, but I do want to know if when you have a song structured around the 4 bar pattern and then you break it by having say a lingering bar or few bars that are for the lack of a better word \'disconnected\' from the 4 bar pattern but eventually drop into the 4 bar structure again, what is this section called? A break? Also is there more to this sort of section or is it more left to artists intent?

    Also, one mentioned that finding the proper tempo for a piece is crucial to the music moving with the picture. My quesiton although I\'m sure requires a book of reading would be: What tips can you give when trying to find a proper tempo for a track to picture? I\'m betting practice is the best way to learn, but if there are any book referances that cover this material or any quick tips I would love to hear it.

    Granted I know that rules are meant to be broken, but i\'d rather intelligently break them!

    Thanks again! PullPlug

  6. #6

    Re: Arrangement, Phrases, Bars etc.

    > \"Also, one mentioned that finding the proper tempo for a piece is crucial to the music moving with the picture.\"

    There was a demo posted by somebody here (sorry, forgot who) about a year back that was to go with a comedy scene. I listened to it, and it sounded great, but it was too fast. It would have worked for a zany clown scene, but the scene he described wasn\'t quite that animated. Sure enough, he slowed the tempo and he felt that it worked much better.

    I think it comes down to letting the picture drive the sound, rather than the other way around. If the music is funnier than the comedy, or more dramatic than the action, it can come off as farce. Check out the way they use music in some Saturday Night Live skits and you\'ll hear what not to do in a straight-up film.

  7. #7

    Re: Arrangement, Phrases, Bars etc.

    Have a look at Mozart. He´s master in using irregular phrases, like 3, 5, 7 or9 bars length. But you hear them as regular phrases, usually you have to look in the score to recognize them. It´s amazing.
    Musical flow is the keyword here, I agree. Often you *need* irregular phrases to *keep* the flow. Sticking to regular phrases can be terrible predictable and boring. But sometimes it´s all you need.

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