A Brief Introduction to How Music Works

I came across this great series called “How Music Works“.  Analyzing the main aspects of melody, harmony, rhythm and bass it is a great antidote to the feelings that some DJs have that they do not have a good foundation or understanding of musical structure.  DJs have varying opinions on whether it’s important to have any sort of musical education.  Some believe that the only thing a DJ needs is a deep understanding of music as a listener.  Other DJs feel it is helpful at least to have a basic understanding of how music is composed.  I hear a lot of DJs talk about key clashing and that if you do not understand how melodies and rhythms work you may be key clashing and your work sounds “off”.  In my research I have noticed that a lot of DJs have had some early musical education if it was playing an instrument or an upbringing that encouraged musical listening.   If for no other reason than to give yourself a break and learn something new ( or reinforce what you already know ), I highly recommend spending some time with this series and learn about the building blocks of a DJs lifeblood: music.

Composer Howard Goodall hosts “How Music Works” and some of his thoughts on melody, harmony, rhythm and bass are noted below.

Melody: “Melody is music’s most powerful tool when it comes to touching our emotions. Our mothers sing lullabies to us when we’re infants and tests have shown that we can even, as babies, recognize tunes that we heard in he womb. Every music system in the world shares these five notes in common. Indeed, they’re so fundamental to every note composed or performed anywhere on the planet that it seems, like our instinct for language, that they were pre-installed in us when we were born. These five notes a human genetic inheritance, like the fingers on our hands.”

Rhythm: “Rhythm is the part of music that interacts most immediately and spontaneously with our bodies. Without it, music would be pleasant enough, but it would be brain food. With rhythm, though, music becomes hypnotic and sensuous.”

Harmony: “Unlike rhythm and melody, harmony wasn’t part of music from the beginning. It’s an upstart. It came into life gradually during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. But what an upstart!”

Bass: “One of [the] most distinguishing features [of the opening theme from Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey] — and one that’s been imitated by thousands of science fiction, thriller and horror movie scores — is the long-held bass note that begins it. It’s awesome: Bottom C. It’s big, it’s deep and it’s powerful. And it came to stand in our minds for a sense of menace, or wonder, or infinity. Just this one note. But there are loads of examples of bass lines that give a piece of music its style and its shape.”
BBC4‘s How Music Works:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PnbOWi6f_IM&list=PLC720D5DC4468B9B1&feature=plpp

Source: http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2010/12/09/how-music-works/

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