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Why does some music sound "alive" and "3D" despite being sequenced?


Scia
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Okay, so admittedly something is bugging me about the "Irresistible Phrasing" class and similar content.  One of the main takeaways I seem to be getting out of those is that if you don't have slides or vibrato or whatever, music is always going to sound "flat."

...Maybe I need to take a closer look at the content, but my first impression is that I'm inclined to disagree.

I could be an odd one out here, having grown up playing videogames, including the old stuff on Atari, Nintendo Entertainment System, and whatnot (and generally being a nerd), but I love electronic - and thus generally sequenced music.  I've heard incredibly expressive stuff come out of the original "brick" GameBoy.  To me, the same song could be played both on a sequencer and by an orchestra, and neither version would necessarily sound "better" - they'd just be "different," each with their own strengths, weaknesses, and feelings to them.

(I also feel like I should note that I know people who loathe the sound of sliding.  They think it sounds "sloppy" and "gross" and will give the complaint "Dude, hit a note and STAY THERE!"  I also think I'll note that I think vibrato should be used lightly, or in moderation - too much also sounds "gross" to me. :classic_wacko:)

But yeah, EDM (electronic dancing music) is one of my favorite genres.  I know a lot of people love it, and I think it makes a pretty good case for not needing a lot of pitch-bendiness and such in order to move people.

To give a specific example, there's this one indie game (i.e. independently developed; by a single person or small group, and NOT a big company) that's getting released one chapter at a time - first two chapters are available right now for free - called Deltarune.  Early into the first chapter, shortly after you've learned what's going on and the you enter the main part of the world, a song starts playing known as Field of Hopes and Dreams, which is one of the fan favorites from the first chapter, and I think justifiably so.

To me, even though it feels sequenced, it feels very light - sort of like you might be flying - and yet deep, magical, and full of emotion.  It's hard for the average player not to feel moved by it (as evidenced by the fact that people who buy the soundtrack on Bandcamp frequently list it as their favorite).  If there's any sliding or vibrato, I can't hear it.

And sure, people will do covers with actual instruments, including guitar.  Like this guy here...

And yeah, I guess it's kind a cool in its own way, but it just doesn't move me in the same way, even though I can see him doing the slides, bends, vibrato and such..  I actually feel less moved, and less inclined to dance to it.  If nothing else, it doesn't quite have the magical lightness that I really enjoy about the original version.

That said, I'm sure this is subjective.  I wouldn't be surprised if I'm the only one on the forum who has this opinion. :classic_laugh:

But yeah, perhaps good phrasing is just good phrasing, whether or not someone can't help but listen to a piece depends on their taste, and you don't need to rely on all sorts of fancy tricks to try to sound "alive"?

Just meant as some food for thought. :classic_wink:  Feel free to discuss.

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Hi Scia!

I hesitated before replying to the subject you just brought up, mainly because to me, hammer-ons, pull-offs, slides, bends and tremolos have part of the guitar playing process. I am not saying that those techniques have to be present in every guitar part being played, but they are there and in Rock, Blues and many other guitar styles. We can hear them very often and for many renowned guitar players some those techniques are part of their signature style.

Now, as a listener anyone is free to appreciate or dislike those expression tools. As guitar player ourselves, no matter our level, we have the same freedom of choice. Not using them does not mean you cannot express emotion in your playing to my opinion...it will be part of your style. If one uses them, it has to be made with the objective of stressing his or her own emotions, not just to sound cool.

I personally like using long bends or pre-bends that slowly go back down to the original note passing by tones that are not 1/2 steps by 1/2 steps. I like the other techniques too as long as they serve the music being played.

I sincerely do not think your opinion is out of line, it is rightly yours, but I cannot say that I share it.

I wish you fun playing guitar, that I share with you!

YC🎸

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