Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Riff structure in Emperors Nightside Eclipse

Yesterday I had a bit of private fun on the plane while flying back to Norway. I was listening to Emperors old classic In The Nightside Eclipse from 1993 while preparing for a lecture on 20th century music. I was for a moment concerning using some of the songs on the album as examples of how to analyze contemporary music, and I did a quick formal analysis of a couple of the tracks.

Inno A Satana, an old favorite, is using the following schema

Intro
Short drum intro
tema 1, 1, 1, 1
A (”Verse”)
tema 2, 2, 3
tema 2, 2, 3
B
tema 4, 4, 4*
tema 4**, 4**, 4**    
A (”Verse”)
tema 2, 2, 3
tema 2, 2, 3
C
tema 5, (bridge), 5, 5
tema 5, 5, 5
End 

* = Alterated or expanded


Cosmic Keys To My Creation and Times


Intro  (Tonal centre: A)
tema 1, 1 (without band)
tema 1, 1 (with band)
tema 1, 1

A (”Verse”)
tema 2, 2, 2*, 2*   - tonal centre: E
tema 3, 3, 3, 3 (vocals)   - tonal centre: A
tema 2, 2, 2, 2   - tonal centre: E
tema 3, 3, 3, 3 (vocals) - tonal centre: A

B (Tonal centre H)
tema 4, 4, 4, 5
tema 4, 4, 4, 5
tema 4, 4, 4, 5 (vocals)
tema 4, 4, 4, 5

C (Tonal centre H & G)
tema 6, 6, 6*, 6*
tema 6, 6, 6, 6 (vocals)

A’ (”Verse”)
tema  2, 2
tema 3, 3, 3, 3 (vocals)
tema 2, 2 (vocals)


Short "bridge"
tema 6, 6, 6*, 6*
tema 6, 6, 6, 6 (whispering vocals)

D  (tonal centre F#, modulates to E)
tema 7 (bridge)
tema 8, 8, 8, 9
modulated tema 8, 8, 8, 9 (vocals)
original tema 8, 8, 8, 9 (vocals)
modulated tema 8, 8, 8, 9*  (vocals)

End


* = Alterated or expanded


We note that there is no need in this music to "conclude" in musical statements that are recollections of the statements made in the introductions. Cosmic Keys... even ends in a different key that it started out.  This "open" form is quite distinct from the regular pop music schema. The large number of melodic statements ("riffs") is also interesting - in Cosmic Keys... there are as many as 9 distinguishable musical ideas in one composition - quite remarkable in the popular music domain.

The point of discussion for the lecture would have been - what do we say about this music when analyzing it in this way? And what do we omit? What are the interesting analytical points when approaching music? What does classic harmonic and formal analysis offer us?

Here is the music

Cosmic Keys To My Creation And Times
Inno A Satana

Feel free to comment (or correct)


By the way - I ended up using Beethovens 5th symphony as example instead, and for completely different points.

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