Sunday, May 17, 2009

The English language is not universal but music is

Rob Roper in his blog wrote an interesting comment in his blog about playing music in the Netherlands.

Almost all the Dutch speak English--some very well. But I could tell when I was singing my songs that, for many of them, they missed the nuances of the lyrics-- slang words, metaphors, etc. So in choosing which songs to play, I started using the songs where I created a good melody, and/or had an interesting rhythm. The English language is not universal but music is

Rob hits the nail on the head here and I think his statement holds true at home. People connect with lyrics and rhythm. I've noticed the same thing playing out. A few of my throw away songs lyrically (songs that I put placeholder lyrics until I came up with the perfect words), are some of the best crowd pleasers.

As songwriters we are always in search of the perfect lyrics. Maybe instead we should search for the perfect melody and rhythm?

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At 1:34 AM, Anonymous Tom Slatter said...

I totally agree with you here, Jeff. In fact I think that way too much effort is put into lyrics by us songwriters compared to the melody.

Melody and accompaniment are where the meaning in music lies. Lyrics are important too, but only when they fit with a good melody.

At 5:23 AM, Blogger Timothy Hall said...

The connection between melodies, sounds and language is an interesting one that always seems to be changing.

Meaning is a wonderful entity in that it can be transfered through so many different vehicles including sound and language.

I enjoyed reading your blog.

At 2:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The point made is good because it reveals the truth that a story can be told through a song without using lyric's. Lyric's can be a great vehile for the song, and the arrangement can be too. This reminds me of the story about the musician from the far east to goes to see the Orchestra in London and his favorite piece is the 1st one, the time when the musicians are tuning their instruments.

At 2:25 PM, Anonymous Stan Janssen said...

For me, great songs have lyrics that are enhanced by the melody or the sound of the song. I do agree that people do not pay much attention to the lyrics, but I don't think that should keep songwriters from putting a lot of thought into the lyrics.

I don't think that "melody and acoompaniment are where the meaning in music lies" (no offence Tom!). For me, a song is a picture, or a story, which is so much more powerful because of the accompaniment and melody, but it's still the lyrics that tell the story.

I also enjoy reading your blog, thanks!

At 10:13 PM, Blogger Derek said...

Couldn't agree more: I've been moved to ruins, numerous times, by music from other cultures. We let the melodies communicate vital things to us, things that mere words can't hope to impart.


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At 2:57 AM, Anonymous Koivulahti said...

Well.. I live here in Finland and about 50% of all radiomusic here is on english.

Those hits has mostly wery simple melody, rythm AND lyrics, and the hooks are wery obvious and hard to understund wrong.

Finnish hits are much more komplex - just because they can be, i gues :)

Afture all, you have to understund the whole song for get the whole emotional experience.

That never gonna happen without a good transator.


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