I get that this whole idea makes it seems like turning music into math and that is going to seem uncool to some people. I am not trying to make math seem cool. Advanced math is interesting to me because it’s completely beyond my comprehension. I know that it makes sense, but I don’t know how. I’ve never been a math nerd. Trying to explain music theory to someone who understands Calculus and Physics like it’s something that don’t immediately understand fully already makes me seem like the moron I am.
This is not advanced math, it’s very simple. Think about why Math sucks, C- minus Algebra I students who taught themselves guitar or whatever. It’s the bullshit like memorizing multiplication tables and equations, right? It’s the exact opposite of fun. Advanced Music Theory is kinda the same thing. You’ve probably noticed this if you tried to pick up a book on it but didn’t want to admit it. It’s not the subject matter, it’s the thought process. The Circle of Fifths is just like multiplications tables. They just tell you it makes sense without explaining it and you have to drill it and memorize it. Most people just muddle through. If you do learn it, you just know it without really understanding why it works. That’s my experience. Musicians (even some teachers) either don’t learn theory or don’t really understand it.
I think there’s a way to break it down. Just like you can break multiplication down into addition. It takes a little longer at first, because if you just memorize the answers you can just spit them out. But with practice, it’s gonna be just as fast and eventually you’ll know it the same, but you’ll also know the reason for the answer.
When you use numbers for the notes, the interval is apparent through simple subtraction. Here’s a chart for the differences:
1=minor 2nd (half step)
2=major 2nd (whole step)
3=minor 3rd (step & a half)
6=tritone (aug. 4th/dim. 5th)
And of course a difference of 12 is back to the same number an octave higher or lower. I’m working on a modified staff system to make this practically useful as written music for an instrument. But you’ve got to understand how this works as a concept first.
At this point you might be thinking this is not very useful for music that spans more than one octave, which is most music you’d want to listen to. Or hell, even any scale that doesn’t start at 0 has to cross over 0 and why are we doing this again? You’ve got to keep in mind that with lettered notation you’re doing the same thing with arbitrary values. The note after G is G# and the note after that is A. Then A#, then B, then C. Quickly then, what is the interval between A and C? You can either memorize that this is minor 3rd, or you can subtract 0 from 3. Easy. But what about G to C? It’s better to think of it like a clock:
It helps to be on military time. You’re going to have to trust me on this. %
This was a free download exclusive to The Wire magazine’s website in April 2012, but it still works. I probably seem like the kind of guy who reads the Wire, as I’ve spent more than a couple years making music that no one likes. But I can’t afford the thing. Yet, if I’m really dedicated to this weirdness, can I afford not to read it? Maybe I’m a poseur with this stuff. I like loud guitars all right? And drums? Beats, man. Verses, choruses. I enjoy them. I enjoy this stuff, too. But sometimes I think I’m not enjoying it enough. Should I be enjoying it? I’m not really getting it.
I feel like an album like this should come with some kind of artistic statement. If something’s not inherently enjoyable, then it must be trying to say something. And if we know what it’s trying to say, we can judge if it’s succeeding or failing. I don’t know what this guy is going for so I have no idea. People never thought of liner notes as artistic statements, but they often served that didn’t they? I think we fucked up giving up on liner notes.
The tracks are mostly the names of instruments or just objects he makes some sounds with in an unconventional, or perhaps conventionally unconventional way. On the last track he spells “various” wrong. On purpose? This track is pretty harsh. Spun this record a few times in the background and now I’m just sitting here through the whole thing seeing if there’s a punchline I missed. “varios lengths of wire vibrating” Sounds like a machine in need of service. I mean, I kinda dig it. I like how it winds down from the many vibrating wires or whatever it actually is, to just a couple, then one. But is it supposed to be a parody of this kind of music or not? It could just come to a %
The eternal question of modern pop music but especially Hip-hop: do guest artists belong in the title of the song? I think there’s some kind of music publishing rule. Same with special symbols and such. But let’s not worry about that. We just need to know what we’re talking about. It’s Trillmatic by A$AP Mob. It’s a single, with no b-side. And of course it features Method Man, which is what got my attention. Altho it may not be in the title of the song, it is in the youtube description and how else are you going to find out about download only singles.
Personally, I like the collective credit. I refuse to consider Wu Tang Clan ‘old school’, but let’s call it ‘Classic Hip-Hop’. It gives it that feel. And it makes it seem like all these other dudes in the video had something to do with the song when it’s almost entirely a solo for A$AP Nast. (Altho one of those dudes must be the producer of the song, Ty Beats.) The whole One Guy Against The Whole Damn World thing never appealed to me too much and that pretty much dominates now. This group (or their management) seems keenly aware of this and has taken the Wu Tang route in reverse, introducing solo rappers A$AP Rocky and Ferg first (which I’ve been vaguely aware of) and now you’re getting more of the whole group. And altho I haven’t heard any of that stuff which has this explicitly retro-sounding backdrop, the rapping itself is the classic East Coast skill-based wordplay that is supposedly dead. Just makes me dumb I guess. Or lazy, really. I’ve gotten like old dudes who won’t stop talking about the Stones and Zeppelin like there’s not any good rock bands like that anymore and there are, they just don’t play stadiums anymore and there’s not a billboard for them on every corner. You’ve got to look.
The song borrows its hook from Nice & Smooth’s Hip Hop Junkies. Which is interesting; it’s self-consciously referencing the 90s overall and through the magic of passage of time, stuff with a Bobby Brown-type chorus occupies the same mental space as the grimyness of years-later Wu Tang simply because it was the same decade. It’s just interesting how that happens.
So I guess they got me is what I’m saying. I’m going to have to pay attention to this stuff again.