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Song Analysis

The aim in reviewing these songs is to extract the remarkable and identify the musical elements that give the songs their unique musical character. Neither the lyrics nor the performance of the vocalist are examined even though these may in some cases be the things that carry the song.

Being able to listen to a song and hear how it works in terms of form, chord progressions, orchestration, melody, and harmony, is useful for when you come to write your own songs. In no way should you think that this is stealing other people's ideas. What you're doing is grasping songwriting techniques by looking at what has worked for other people time and time again. A good record producer could take any song and make it into something that sounds good. They do this by using their knowledge of what will work musically, and drawing on years of experience in sorting the good ideas from the bad. What you can do by understanding how famous songs are put together, is fast-track your way to having a framework into which you can pour your own ideas and creativity.

Of course one person's 'catchy hook' is another person's 'banal dross'. For this reason, the songs are looked at in as dispassionately a way as possible. The idea is to ferret out what makes a song work so whether or not you like the actual content, you can try the technique with some of your own material and see if it works for you.

Hound Dog

Starting with Elvis' raunchy vocal, Hound Dog begins with a relentless rock 'n' roll rhythm that persists through the entire song. Built on a I-IV -V chord progression, much of the musical movement and melody comes from the walking bass line with the guitar taking a more rhythmic role during the verses.

Nothing Else Matters

The 6/8 picked guitar intro at the beginning of Nothing Else Matters uses the key of E minor to create a sombre feel. The simple open string pattern at the beginning of the song captures and settles the listener's attention, acting as a spring board for guitarist Kirk Hammett's classical style melodies.

Paranoid

Tony Iommi's guitar riff at the beginning of Black Sabbath's song Paranoid is one of the most famous riffs of all time. Even though its only played four times and not repeated during the rest of the song, its simple melody is easy to remember and starts the song with a suitable driving rhythm.

Run To You

The picked intro to Run to You sets a moody feel to the song. This is due to the choice of a minor key and aided further by the addition of an atmospheric 'yearning' guitar lead before the singing begins.

Swallowed

Rossdale's lyrics and vocals are very much the sound of Bush. However, there are a number of other things happening within this song from which we can learn a great deal. In most musical genres, the chorus is the most identifiable part of the song and that's certainly the case here.

The Dock Of The Bay

The sound of the sea accompanied by the bass guitar sets a really mellow mood to start the song with. The vocals are laid back and intimate giving the words greater effect.

This Masquerade

The vocal/guitar intro at the beginning of the piece shows George's mastery of the guitar. He quite probably improvised the intro, singing a melody, which he copied immediately on the guitar neck.

What Can I Do

The guitar riff that opens the song uses a very clean sound, repeating the sequence over and over. The same riff is moved to two different places on the guitar neck creating a melodic change.