By now, your vocal should be sounding great — nice and punchy with just the right frequency balance and the perfect amount of space. But people have short attention spans these days, so you’ve got to shake things up if you want to keep them interested for three whole minutes. “Without Me”: To start, we have an arpeggiated riff making some jazzy tetrads: E♭m to G♭add9 and D♭ to A♭m7, and then watch out at the end of the bridge when they sneak in a C♭m. The first two choruses extend from eight to twelve bars by repeating their second halves, which I think creates a kind of pang of abandonment at the end of the song when the repetition doesn’t come back. Another thing about these choruses is how their stanzas all begin and end in the middle of the bars. Most lyrics begin and end near the bar line, so when we hear lyrics phrased all off-center like this, we can’t tell whether we’re being rushed or being left behind. Do I smell a songwriter’s homework assignment?
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If you can’t remember when you last turned it on, that’s a bad sign. If it’s more than a year since you last powered it up, even worse. If you’re not even occasionally using a piece of gear it can be hard to justify keeping it around. If you don’t know when you used it last, you probably won’t be using it again anytime soon. Let it go! This idea has been in the pipeline for a while, but the impetus to finally push it to completion was my Fundamentals of Western Music class at the New School. I have been drawing scales and chords on the chromatic circle by hand for a long time, and I wanted to be able to produce them automatically.