The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #138630   Message #3173690
Posted By: Artful Codger
21-Jun-11 - 03:04 AM
Thread Name: John Barleycorn deconstructed - Finest Kind
Subject: RE: John Barleycorn deconstructed
On the theory side, some of the more "exotic" elements are achieved by:

* changing a major (or minor) third, sixth or seventh interval to its minor (or major) counterpart, thereby suggesting a temporary shift in mode or tonality.

* singing in parallel fourths (above, or fifths below) instead of the more usual thirds or fifths. The result suggests polytonality, though the parallel part tends to conform to the base tonality rather than preserving perfect fourth intervals.

* substituting fourths or seconds for thirds in triads. Seconds usually function as 9ths of the chord. Fourths frequently arise from suspending a note from the previous chord rather than immediately resolving it in leading-tone fashion to the third of the next chord--a resolution which may never occur.

* substituting relative minor triads for primary major chords. E.g. in C, one can sometimes substitute Am for the tonic chord when the return to the tonic is brief and the sense of harmonic "closure" is weak. Similarly, Em can sometimes be used to effect in place of the dominant G chord, and Dm for the subdominant F chord.

There are, of course, many other means for spicing up harmonies and increasing the melodic quality of accompaniment lines; the ones listed have the advantage of sounding fresh without bending traditional harmonic expectations too far, which is why they tend to be more common than, say, diminished or augmented chords or chromatic passing runs.

For a similarly self-referential deconstruction song, listen to Uncle Bonsai's "Folk Song" on their "Myn ynd Wymyn" CD, available from Yellow Tail Records. I can't praise (or plug) this talented trio too often. I'm pleased to see that some of their songs have made it to YouTube--though they may not be so pleased at the infringement.