Saturday, March 20, 2010


I took myself off-grid yesterday and the first half of today - I needed to get some rest and have a moment away, even though I couldn't really get out of town. I even turned off my phone and my computer for almost 24 hours. Somehow the internet survived without my constant monitoring, and here I am, doing my best to build up my sleep debt again.

I'm on a little Heart kick right now. I have these grand plans of giving myself a curriculum of songs and artists to study, but right now part of the point seems to be just to learn whatever strikes my fancy on a given day. So - yesterday I worked on "These Dreams", and today I worked on "Alone".

Late-night music theory geekery: "Alone" sort of meanders key centers - that is, at different points in the song, different chords feel like "home", or a chord you could end on without pissing anyone off. It begins and ends pretty definitively in minor (B-flat minor for the recording, though I find the sheet music is most often in B minor), but takes a turn for the relative major (D-flat) on the pre-chorus, and the submediant (VI - or G-flat) on the chorus (yes, I just had to google "submediant" to make sure I wasn't making it up at 2:30 in the morning). One could probably argue that the chorus instead begins in E-flat minor (and one might be right, seeing as I haven't cracked open a theory book in years), but the last five bars definitely feel like they're in G-flat. And finally the song ends with a few bars of piano in B-flat minor, mirroring the intro. No repeat and fade, thank ye pop music gods.

I am a giant nerd.

Then there's "These Dreams", which just never feels like it settles into a key (it stays in the mist, ahem). The verse is pretty modal, meaning it does use the notes from a particular scale, but there isn't any one chord that says "yes, I am home! You can end here!" The chorus is sort of in the key of C. The melody definitely feels like it's in C, but there are no root position C chords, so it's still tantalizingly vague. Oh, also, the rhythm: lots of strong lyrics etc. on beat four of the measures in the chorus. This song "hides 1" about as well as an 80s power ballad can. More mist, I suppose.

Side notes as I transition to personal stuff: 1. I share a birthday with Ann Wilson of Heart. Yay! and 2. I would like to hear what would happen if Ann Wilson's voice and Freddie Mercury's voice could have a voice-baby. Which of course is impossible.

So. Alone. The past couple days of detox and self-exile have prompted the question, who am I alone? The old standard "You're Nobody Til Somebody Loves You" crossed my mind. This song is potentially depressing for those of us who are single, but thinking about it without the lacerating fear of growing old alone or choking on dinner and dying alone in my apartment (which almost happens to single women in Sex and the City AND 30 Rock, so it must be true)... who am I outside the context my relationships? Not just romantic relationships, relationships in general. We always put each other in boxes in relationships, and some boxes are comfortable enough to stay in for a lifetime, and others... well, we try to stay away from people who put us in uncomfortable boxes. But what about the boxes we design for ourselves?

1 comment:

  1. I love your nerdiness, Kat! It warms a place in my soul and makes me feel that there is hope for the arts still, and that good music and good writing are not a thing of the past! And you've always been loved, in one form or another, by one person or another, (or more!). Keep the late night theory coming!!


    ps. If you do find yourself choking alone in your apartment, just fall on a chair, it seems to work for Tina Fey.... but this would never happen due to you forgetting your lunch ;p