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Thread: Music or Lyrics?

  1. #1
    Recruit, Pianissimo
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    Thumbs up Music or Lyrics?

    So what I want to know is what is more important to you when listening to a song? The poetry and artistry of great lyrics, or a chord progression that blows you away every time. Music or Lyrics.

    You could go both ways on this:
    What makes a song "music" instead of poetry? The notes of course! When you're listening to a song do you jump out if your seat when that favorite guitar riff starts? Do you pee yourself when Freddy hits those high notes in Bohemian? Do you love analyzing the musical structure of a piece?

    Or maybe your a lyrics person? Because after all, what's a song without a purpose? Lyrics give a song a direction. They can make a statement. Make you cry, or scream with anger. They can make you laugh out loud. Do you find yourself looking up what the hell Bohemian means? Does I am the Walrus make you scream in frusteration? Do you correct people who say coo coo cachoo instead of goo goo gajoob?

    There's a fine line between music, and instruments playing all at thecsane yine for no rhyme or reason. Music should elicit emotions. Guitar riffs may be great, but they need to take the song somewhere. And there IS a point when the lyrics of a song can be so convoluted that it's just stupid. Where's that line? What songs cross it?

    I'm mainly talking about music within the last 50 years here, but Mr. Mozart knew what he was doing too haha.

    I just want to know what you guys think. And don't be an ssshole and say both. Because obviously they are both important. I want to know which do you relish MORE and why? Give examples

    I personally am a Lyrics guy, but that's me.

    GO!!!

  2. #2
    Commander, Assistant Conductor Chi_townPhilly's Avatar
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    O.K. then, Richard Strauss broached this subject in the opera Capriccio long before Hollywood gave us 'Eddie & the Cruisers' and a certain infamous "romantic comedy." How about this for a general rule-of-thumb:

    The more informal the style, the greater the importance of words.

    Let's walk through some examples- take the Papageno-Papagena duet near the end of Mozart's Die Zauberflöte. If spoken, it can sound absolutely banal. Add Mozart's music to it, however, and it turns into something approaching sublime. It's nearly magical how this happens.

    Take something not quite as "artsy," but still semi-formal art... Lloyd-Weber's Phantom of the Opera- when you leave the theatre, reflecting on 'The Music of the Night,' are you more likely to think back on the lyrics... or the music- and that Big Tune!?

    All right, a little less 'formal' now- Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. Here is where I'd say the balance starts to tip. Those of us Savoyard wanna-bes are pleased with Sullivan's music- but in our honest moments, we know they need the symbiosis of Gilbert's words in order to achieve their full impact. G&S's personal experience, too, supports this conclusion. Sullivan is a virtually fogotten figure in music, absent his collaboration with Gilbert. Further support for this conclusion can be found in the fact that when Gilbert and Sullivan split for a time, it was Gilbert who proved the more successful of the two, in the realm of Musical Theatre & Operetta.

    From here, we move to the popular genres, e.g.: Jazz vocals, Folk, Rock & Pop. Woody Guthrie's 'agit-Folk' would be a near nullity, were it not for his lyrics. Commentators occasionally speak of 'anthemic' Rock... well, it's impossible for a Rock hit to be 'anthemic' without lyrics that broadly resonate with the target audience. So, in this genre, a good case can be made for the primacy of lyrics.

    Disclaimer- I said that my conjectural rule was a 'rule-of-thumb,' and don't discount that occasional exceptions to the general run can be found. I'm still inclined to believe that the overarching hypothesis can withstand scrutiny, generally speaking.
    Last edited by Chi_townPhilly; Apr-03-2010 at 23:27.
    The truth that's told with bad intent
    Beats all the lies you can invent- William Blake, from Auguries of Innocence

  3. #3
    Recruit, Pianissimo
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    Cool thanks! That's a good rule to live by I think!

  4. #4
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    I think music and lyrics are both the same. Because music cannot be a song if there are no lyrics? And the lyrics cannot be known if there would be no music. That is ny opinion!

  5. #5
    Captain of Water Music Montefalco's Avatar
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    Depends what makes the song a good song. If it has mediocre words but a great tune/chord progression, then the music. However, if it has stirring words but a very average tune, then the lyrics are more important.

  6. #6
    Vice Admiral Virtuoso wljmrbill's Avatar
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    I would have to say the music whether it be the melodic line(themes) or a rthymic pattern. I am opera fan and organist as well as alot of voice work so either of the two above mentioned thoughts play into my overall enjoyment of musical forms. To some extend I agree with Strauss's explainatin that Chi-townphilly mentioned.
    ....To play only what is written is the domain of science. To realize what is not written is the domain of art."
    - Jean Langlais

    I wish you the Best for each day, now and always.

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  7. #7
    Seaman, Mezzoforte
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    My favorite type of music is instrumental, so that makes my answer ;P

    Have a great time!

  8. #8
    Seaman, Mezzoforte
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    Hi

    Wow, fantastic site. I hope this information's are useful for me.good job keep it up!!!!

  9. #9
    Lieutenant Commander, Concertmaster
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    That really depends.
    If we are talking about something involving words into, that for sure the both, no music could survive while the poetry is useless, and visa versa.
    If talking about instrumental music, that's obviously out of the question.
    Then goes the rap, which is also the music, and here is where the music is on the top, just because you can't "read" rap without the proper bit
    That's pretty much it I think

  10. #10
    Commodore con Forza
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    Well, of course it is both - but if I had to choose, it would be the music that comes first.
    And I mean the melody, not the chord progression or harmonies.

    After all, you can always write different lyrics yourself, or just hum the tune.

    An example?

    Steeleye Span's surprise Christmas hit, Gaudete. I learned Latin at school, and as a Christian, I value the sentiment - but of course it's the tune and the wonderful timbre of Maddy Prior's voice, both for me and for the people who bought the record, that makes it special.

    Carrying a torch for Classical Music...

  11. #11
    Commander, Assistant Conductor Fretless's Avatar
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    Music above all else 95% of the time. My brain doesn't even hear the lyrics, just vocalized syllables. I can listen to a song a hundred times and have no idea what it's about, and my wife and kids can listen a couple of times and know a verse. Of course, they can't analyze the form, phrases, key, chords, etc. which is where my ear goes. I have to sit down with the lyric sheet to know what's going on lyrically, and sometimes it adds a new layer for me. Often it's a toss-away and I go back to not caring. I also have no use for poetry. If I were more attuned to poetics I would probably get more out of the verbal portion of songs.

  12. #12
    Commander, Assistant Conductor Fretless's Avatar
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    Music above all else 95% of the time. My brain doesn't even hear the lyrics, just vocalized syllables. I can listen to a song a hundred times and have no idea what it's about, and my wife and kids can listen a couple of times and know a verse. Of course, they can't analyze the form, phrases, key, chords, etc. which is where my ear goes. I have to sit down with the lyric sheet to know what's going on lyrically, and sometimes it adds a new layer for me. Often it's a toss-away and I go back to not caring. I also have no use for poetry. If I were more attuned to poetics I would probably get more out of the verbal portion of songs.

  13. #13
    Commodore con Forza
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fretless View Post
    Music above all else 95% of the time. My brain doesn't even hear the lyrics, just vocalized syllables. I can listen to a song a hundred times and have no idea what it's about, and my wife and kids can listen a couple of times and know a verse. Of course, they can't analyze the form, phrases, key, chords, etc. which is where my ear goes. I have to sit down with the lyric sheet to know what's going on lyrically, and sometimes it adds a new layer for me. Often it's a toss-away and I go back to not caring. I also have no use for poetry. If I were more attuned to poetics I would probably get more out of the verbal portion of songs.
    I do have a use for poetry, and for me the perfect song has meaningful lyrics that are given life and intensity by music that fits it.

    Still, I agree - in the last resort, it's music, music, music.
    Carrying a torch for Classical Music...

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