Hey! You may recognize me from the numerous songs I've released through C3. I took a break for a while, but the end of weekly releases certainly isn't the end of charting for me. I've got plenty more planned for the future, and don't plan on stopping any time soon. I actually enjoy authoring all the parts about as much as actually playing it in-game, so even if my instruments shit the bed, I'll probably keep going.
So what kinds of songs can you expect from me? Well, you can go back and look at my C3 releases. There's probably going to be a bunch of stuff similar to that. But really, there's still some parts of my music taste that I haven't charted yet, so in general you can expect some variety, including prog, alternative, indie, pop, electronic, rock, metal, hip-hop, and possibly more as I explore more music.
I would want to try to release on a fairly regular schedule, but circumstances or other business may get in the way, and I generally tend to procrastinate and be lazy, so I probably won't be able to. So, releases are generally "whenever," but I try to get something out at least every couple months or so. All songs released in this thread will be up to the same standard I aimed for with my C3-released songs - full-band, all difficulties, manual animations and venue, etc.
I've also created a color-coding "recommendation" system (edit: which I may or may not continue using from now on. It's kind of a relic but I'll leave it here in case I go back to using it.) [Red] - If your main interest in a custom is a fun chart, this would be the best pick for you. This song is a standout in this release for interesting instrumental parts to play in RB. [Blue] - If you don't know the songs in this release, this is one of the most accessible and/or popular tracks to get familiar with. [Green] - This is my personal favorite song in the release, musically speaking. I love it and it's wonderful.
These may overlap, and it just may so happen that one of the more popular and accessible songs is also really fun to play AND it's my personal favorite as well. In cases like these, I'll mix the colors likeso.
Note that I may take a bit of liberty with the genre in the visualizer image to better describe the individual song, but in-game they will generally be set to sort in the same genre as other songs from the artist.
Now, finally onto the songs!
Blue Öyster Cult - "Astronomy"
This song was charted with the help of nsw1-6, who created the D/B/G/V charts that were the basis for the rest of this custom.
Kicking off my C3G contributions is the mini-epic closing track from Blue Öyster Cult's 1974 record Secret Treaties. You're almost certainly familiar with them for some of their hits such as "Godzilla," "Burnin' for You," and the RB1-featured classic, "Don't Fear the Reaper." However, like many bands with such smash hits, BÖC's deeper album cuts far surpass in quality the singles that gained more popularity.
"Astronomy" is a perfect example of this, a prime slice of 70's hard rock, with a sprinkle of progressive elements mixed in, and BÖC's trademark cryptic, storytelling lyrics. It starts out soft, with a piano intro and subdued verses, before exploding into a killer riff. Following that up is the power-chord-driven refrain, rotating between singing and anthemic chants of "hey!". After a brief interlude, the cycle repeats again (with an added guitar solo this time) before abruptly breaking away into a quiet respite, which slowly builds up into the double-time grand finale, with its chorus of "ASTRONOMYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY A STAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAR!" As a side note, if classic rock is your thing and you haven't already heard it, I highly recommend checking out the rest of this masterpiece album.
With this song's piano being such an integral part of it, the keys chart deserves special mention. In the verses, it's the star of the show, as it revolves around a main chord progression, but hardly plays it the same way twice, with every phrase offering some sort of change-up or flourish. Once the guitar properly kicks in, it plays the same melody in the pre-chorus riff, and then switches to playing the main chords of the chorus, with constant variations in rhythm. The break and build-up offers a welcome change-up as you play an atmospheric organ part.
The drum chart is primarily based around slow 16th note patterns on the hi-hat and ride, with the choruses kicking things up a notch by adding more fills and accents. The brief "breakdown" after the first chorus is practically a mini-solo of sorts. The build-up starts with soft cymbal tapping, before building back up to speed and entering the outro, which earns this chart its tier, with its quick constant ride beat and kicks, interspersed with some fast rolls and fills.
The guitar part takes a bit to really get going, as the verses mostly contain long sustains. Things start happening once you hit the pre-chorus melody, and the chorus itself features varied two-note power chords with muted strums in between. The solo before the second chorus has its tricky HOPO runs but is never unreasonable, striking the perfect balance of challenge and fun. After the interlude and build-up, the outro is practically a solo itself, mixing technical parts with screaming sustains.
While perhaps it doesn't stand out much compared to the rest, the bass chart is no slouch on its own, and is perhaps more consistently interesting than the guitar, as it goes and plays its own little melody in the verses. While there's no particular stand-out, challenging parts in here, the whole chart is filled with little HOPO licks that make it far from your average simple bass part.
The vocals have a relatively soft and melodic melody in the verses, before getting a boost of energy and starting to sing in a slightly higher register in the chorus, with the song of course culminating in the long, held out "Astronomy, a star" climax. Besides the "hey!" chant, the harmonies are limited to a few phrases of 3rds above the lead in the "light that never warms" section, but all in all it's a fun vocal chart regardless.
Carly Rae Jepsen - "Boy Problems"
Carly Rae Jepsen is the current reigning queen of pop. Yet sadly, for many people she may only ever be thought of as little other than the "Call Me Maybe" girl - but for the enlightened, she is far greater, far more than just that. While I personally find her infamous hit single to be a fantastic pop song, at the time it was so overplayed that it got on a lot of people's nerves. Regardless, our collective wigs were snatched, nay, kidnapped, nay, sucked into an infinite black hole never to be seen again in 2015 when CRJ dropped E·MO·TION, an nearly-impeccable pop record that far surpasses her previous work and demonstrates palpable musical growth from her saccharine smash hit. E·MO·TION is in many ways an 80's pop throwback, but with pristine, creative, and detailed modern production that never regresses into generic EDM-ish schlock, and all the excellent hooks you'd expect in a pop album.
"Boy Problems" is one of the highlights of the album, drawing you in with atmospheric, vintage-sounding synths before dropping an absolutely obese groove on your head. The combination of the slick slap bass groove and tight drums gives the song a funky, disco-esque vibe almost reminiscent of french house. Carly sings about having to choose between her lover, who she still wants to hold out hope for even with the relationship's flaws clearly apparent, and her best friend who hears her complain about her "boy problems" all the time, and tries to encourage her to just cut it off and focus on her own life rather than some boy. It's all delivered with such sweet and catchy melodies with all sorts of additional layers of harmonizing vocals added as the song progresses. It's really a perfect pop song. That's all there is to it.
So first of all, let's talk about that incredible bassline. While maybe not quite as fun to play as it is to listen to, it's still a pretty damn nice chart, with syncopated percussive slaps in between the prominent chord pops. Every once in a while, it'll throw in a quick run of HOPOs to keep your on your toes. There's not really much else to say, it's just a cool ass part.
The vocal part, and it's unendingly addictive melodies, will likely be one of the main draws to this song, and it can be surprisingly tricky with the quick note changes and little slides in the verse and pre-chorus. The bridge, as bridges tend to do, makes a nice curveball after the second time round through the chorus, and the outro of the song basically takes the chorus melody and accelerates it. The harmonies are also especially great in this song - sometimes they harmonize above the lead melody, other times they provide call-and-response parts, backing oohs, extra "oh"s and what-not here and there, and of course that wonderful "na na na na na!" Theres a lot of variety to be found, and even if a familiar section Carly might just throw in a random change-up here and there to spice things up.
The drum part here is largely centric around a hi-hat dance groove, playing quarters in the verses but 8ths in the chorus. Things are made a bit more interesting with the occasional syncopated kicks in lockstep with the bass slaps, the extra 16th notes in the latter half of the chorus, and the hi-hat/snare fills everty once in a while.
The keys chart in this song is largely comprised of sustained synth pad chords, so it's not exactly the most fun chart to play in the world, but there's a few little quirks like the quick leading notes in the chorus, and the arpeggios in the bridge..
As for guitar, I wouldn't blame you for not even realizing this song has any - but it does, playing a little two note riff in the pre-chorus and then breaking into funky chords in the chorus, making for a surprisingly interesting chart. Oh, it also plays on that iconic "da da duuuuun" bit that I haven't found a place to mention until now.
Coheed and Cambria - "Time Consumer"
This song was charted with the help of sailingwhisper, who sent me the drums, guitar (rhythm and lead) and vocal/harmony charts that the rest of this custom was built on.
Continuing the chain of "you may know [artist] by [hit single], but here's [deep cut]," you may already be familiar with "Welcome Home," which was in RB1, of course. But this song takes us back earlier in Coheed and Cambria's discography - pretty much as early as you can get (without venturing into early demos or even Shabutie), as it's the first (proper) song on their first album, meaning for many people it was their first taste of Coheed. It's one hell of a first impression. I love the whole of this band's discography - they have a way of combining proggy complexity and killer riffs with poppy energy and endlessly catchy hooks that's matched by no other group - and out of everything they've done, this track has to be my absolute favorite (well, besides perhaps the title-track from The Afterman). While their later work has mostly focused more on the prog and hard rock side of their music (while still maintaining some pop flair), their early albums border more on post-hardcore, emo, and even pop punk at times - a fusion which I've always found incredibly charming.
This track has a little bit of it all. The first minute is in half-time compared to the main portion of the the song, centered around a groovy, almost hip-hop like beat with syncopated accents. It's decidedly proggy, but also shows off some of the band's early emo elements, with the twinkly clean guitars interweaving around each other with arpeggios. After a brief interlude with another syncopated beat and some sharp guitar harmonics, we're launched into the verse, which kicks on the distortion, speeds up the tempo to an energetic, pop-punk-like pace, and introduces Claudio Sanchez's voice to the mix. The chorus hits you with some really endearing guitar leads, and an extremely addictive melody, such that after you hear this song you can't stop singing it to yourself for at least a week (well, that happens with a lot of Coheed songs actually). The bridge slows things down, starting off soft and pretty, but then bringing back the distortion for a rather heavy breakdown. Following this is a reprise of the intro theme, but now adding an awesomely raw solo filled with screeching harmonics courtesy of Bad Brains guitarist Dr. Know (who also fills in some overdubbed leads in the choruses). A dramatic buildup brings us into the last chorus, with an added outro filled with trademark Coheed "na ha haaa oohh" vocalizations. As far as lyrics go, in the sci-fi Amory Wars concept that all of their albums (besides one) are lyrically and thematically connected to, this song is about the band's namesake characters, Coheed and Cambria, being forced to kill their own children (hence "Maria my star, Matthew goodnight"). So you can infer that it's some pretty damn emotional subject matter, and even though it isn't directly about him personally, Claudio's impassioned vocals really make it sound like it is.
While all the instruments are fairly challenging and very fun to play, the highlight here is probably the guitar chart. The half time intro is filled with clean guitar arpeggio patterns, and when the tempo picks up and the distortion kicks in at the verse, you'll be playing a punky chord riff. The chorus alternates between melodic chord sustains and ascending and descending chords with mixed 8th and 16th strumming. Throughout the choruses, overdubbed leads from Dr. Know are interspersed, ranging from simple sustains to difficult HOPO runs. When the intro theme is reprised 2/3rds of the way through the song, rather than going back to the same pattern, Dr. Know makes his return with that solo, that's not too fast but is very free-form rhythmically. Well, not too fast until it culminates in a crazy note spam near the end.
The bass chart in this song is also particularly awesome and a highlight of this whole set of songs. The bass playing here much of the time is the antithesis to the typical "8th strumming the root note" style of bass, as Mic Todd seems never content to just coast along without playing some sort of melodic counterpoint to the main riff, or at least throwing in a neat fill here and there when forced to hang back. Of particular note is the bass in the half-time sections, which glides up and down the scale in a fantastically smooth and pleasing bassline.
This song's drum chart is also very fun and varied, with a bit of quirkiness as a result of Josh Eppard's open-handed sticking. The intro theme (and its return) are based on a 16th note hi-hat pattern (with some quick rolls mixed in) that could almost be a hip-hop beat, while also having some syncopated crash hits and fills. Before the verse hits, there's a cool pattern on the ride with sorta-ghost notes on the hi-hat. The verses take on an energetic, pop-punkish beat with mixed eights and quarters on the hi-hat and ride, and the chorus switches the snare to 1 and 3, then goes into a tricky hi-hat pattern with off-beat snares and quick hi-hat rolls.
Those familiar with the band and the oft-compared-to-Geddy-Lee vocal style of Claudio Sanchez should know roughly what to expect from this vocal chart. When the vocals come in, they start in a soft, relatively low register, but suddenly burst into Claudio's high pitched glory on "THE ONE THAT GRABS AT YOUR AAANKLEEEEEEEEE!" The chorus can be a bit tricky at first, but it's not too hard to learn and it's really fun to sing. The harmonies are limited to a few key phrases, besides the outro chorus where they are more present, but they're nice harmonies!
The keys part has this charming little descending synth line that's a little tricky, but it's basically the same melody every time, and it only comes in at the second verse and the outro.
As an alternative to actual keys, there's also a rhythm version that more authentically charts the twin guitar parts of Claudio and Travis rather than having them combined into one chart, with the former on keys and the latter on guitar - though be warned, it omits the overdubbed solos from Dr. Know.
Devin Townsend - "Storm"
When you think of "prog metal," you might typically think of something like... I dunno, Dream Theater I guess. Devin Townsend, however, is not your typical prog metal act - his music is often far more atmospheric, emotional, and sometimes even poppier and catchier (strangely enough for "prog metal"). This song is from the first album of the Devin Townsend Band, a short-lived era of his storied career that preceded the more popular Devin Townsend Project.
It perfectly exemplifies that atypical sound, being a ballad of sorts - trudging along in a slow 6/8 time signature, guitars washed in reverb, and layered with shimmering synths. After an instrumental introduction based around the main, two-chord riff, Devin begins one of the most incredibly emotional and heartfelt vocal performances of his career, where during a troubled time in their relationship, he pleads for his wife to stay with him (spoiler alert: they're still together). For the first two verses and choruses, he sings in a low but powerful voice, but stays relatively subdued through to the instrumental bridge. No fancy solos here - just a graceful major chord progression, followed up by a badass as hell chromatic riff. Now see, I said his vocals before were "powerful," but the thing is, "powerful" by regular standards is pretty soft by Dev standards, demonstrated clearly as we enter the third verse and he just goes fucking insane. He passionately cries out all of his emotions at double, no, triple the intensity of the last two verses, and all of his vocal theatrics build up to his absolutely massive scream of "stay wiiith MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA" ...then, just when you thought he was gonna go back to normal in the last chorus, he just wilds out again and keeps belting it out till the end. As the last chord starts fading away, a majestic guitar solo starts out of the ether, but soon trails off into an atmospheric soundscape.
The first thing I want to talk about here is the vocals, which are pretty fucking insane. The first two verses, where he stays in a lower register, are not too hard to follow along with. Then he busts a fuckimng nut Then you hit the third verse and basically your ass is gonna get blown asunder and you will wish for death. So yeah, pretty fun to sing I guess. Oh also there's like three words worth of harmonies.
The majority of this song's drum chart follows an 8th note pattern on the crash with kicks mostly in-between those crash hits, with a couple sections using the hi-hat instead. This beat is spiced up with double crashes, a cool fill, a quick double kick, an extra snare accent, all sorts of little variations every once in a while. The result is a pretty enjoyable groove that doesn't ever really get tiring. Watch out for that little freakout in the last chorus, though.
The guitar chart is primarily made up of chord strumming, with a few different riffs to go around. The main riff has you alternating between slow 16ths on GR and RYB chords, whereas the chorus has a mix of arpeggios and two-note chord leads. The break following the second chorus has you playing fairly quick triplet arpeggios, before you get into the big riffs of the bridge - the first one taking you up and down the frets with two note chords, and the second one being a chromatic ascending and descending riff. Then, right at the end after the last chorus, you get some random technical soloing as the song fades off into synth pads, giving a middle finger to anyone who was FCing up until now.
Bass in this song is not too remarkable, a little humdrum, but still a serviceable chart. It mostly follows along with the chords, but has its moments of independence, like how it switches the main riff around to O and B instead of G and B from time to time.
The keys part is, at times, surprisingly more involved than you'd expect, given that it's largely blended into the wall of sound such that it's hard to actually hear what it's doing. A lot of it is longish synth chord sustains, but the first verse and pre-second-chorus have some textural melodies that you might not have even realized were there otherwise.
John Cale - "Half Past France"
Known for being a founding member of, and driving force of experimentation within the seminal and unendingly influential 60s art rock band, the Velvet Underground, John Cale left the band shortly following their second album, and went on to start an intriguing and diverse solo career, as well as taking on a producer role on numerous classic albums. Of all the records he released, however, many people would call Paris 1919 his masterpiece, an album filled with songwriting that's perhaps as close as you can get to being perfect, all tied together in an entirely fillerless 31-minute package. It's one of his most melodic records, largely characterized by a baroque pop sound, and practically every melody he writes here is gorgeous, the arrangements lush, and the lyrics evocative.
I'd say "Half Past France" is one of my favorites from that stellar album, but it's hard to really pick, so I'll just say it's the one that I charted. It's a song that retells a soldiers perspective from WWI, yet manages to make it sound wistful and nostalgic. The first verse of the song leaves you suspended in what feels like a pastoral, hymnlike, trance, with droning, sustained organ chords. Cale sings with his gentle, relaxed voice, backed by tasteful guitar fills. The song is suddenly given forward momentum when the drums come in with a solid backbeat during the chorus, and the bass and guitar start to fall into a more defined riff - but this doesn't last long, as the listener is soon swept away into the achingly beautiful refrain of "we're so far away, floating in this bay," with Cale now backed by what sounds like a choir. When this section returns at the end of the song, Cale's voice slowly fades away, never to complete inaudibility, but enough for the choir to take prominence over himself, up until the song gently comes to a stop on one final chord.
This song has a very fun guitar part - really, the whole thing can be broadly characterized as being full of slow 16th note HOPO licks, that never really repeat themselves quite the same way throughout the song. The verses seem to largely be improvisation over the chords, whereas the chorus has a more consistent riff to it. I'm not really sure what else to say for it, so just take my word that it's quite good.
Bass here is... fine. It's pretty easy, and nothing remarkable, but it's fun enough to keep you entertained, with its little variations in the leadups to the sustains and all.
This song's drum part is sadly sparse, as there's nothing to do in the verses. The drums properly come in at the choruses after a brief fill, and follow a simple 8th note hi-hat beat, but with frequent changeups in the kick and snare placement, before concluding with another fill. During the bridges, it's not completely empty though, with some soft cymbal tapping to occupy the space.
The keys part in this song is pretty much completely long sustained chords on an organ. I suppose it's a good easy song to learn chords?
The vocals here don't have much incredible technical range, but Cale's voice is a pleasant one to sing along with, and the melodies are all quite charming - plus, you can't deny the "we're so far away" part, which is where the bulk of this song's harmonies take place, taking the role of a choir harmonizing with Cale himself.
Joy Division - "Disorder"
One look at the iconic album art of Unknown Pleasures tells you all you need to know here - if just the cover of this record can become such a cultural touchstone, then what of the music itself? The influence of this record (and the rest of this band's discography, spanning only three years and two proper records) cannot be overstated. It's possible that many of the alternative and indie bands that followed - in the 80s, 90s, and certainly the 00s - would never have existed, or at least not in the same capacity, were it not for Joy Division. Between the distinctive bass playing of Peter Hook, Bernard Sumner's angular guitar lines, Stephen Morris's powerful drumming, and of course the tragic genius of Ian Curtis, whom we lost far too early, Joy Division crafted a unique sound that pioneered the post-punk movement (and much more). With its sparse, minimal production, raw instrumentation, and fatalistic lyrics, Unknown Pleasures is a bleak, dark, cold, and lonely album - possibly the album for which those descriptors are most apt.
"Disorder" is the first track on that album, and is one of their most enduring and popular songs (besides the singles "Transmission" or the obvious "Love Will Tear Us Apart"). Despite the lyrics being as somber as ever, it's actually surprisingly upbeat compared to the other songs on the record - for one, it has an energetic and fast tempo, and it's also in a major key with harmonious guitar riffs and melodies all over. The instruments enter one by one - first the drums alone, then the iconic three-note bassline, and finally the guitar, with a simple but endlessly memorable riff bouncing between fifths, then octaves. Curtis then makes his entrance, lamenting his detachment from the "normal world," feeling like he wants to be a "normal man," but at the same time acknowledging how banal and depressing that kind of life would actually be in his eyes. The verses are separated by an arresting guitar melody that effectively serves as the song's chorus. Finally, the song makes a dramatic change for the outro, with the bassline deviating heavily from what came before, and Curtis starting to passionately yell in his upper register, coming to a rousing conclusion with him chanting "FEELING FEELING FEELING FEELING FEELING FEELING FEEEEELIIIIIING" at the top of his lungs while the drums furiously roll in the background, steadily slowing to a crawl at the very end.
The drums in this song start right off the bat with a fast, energetic punky beat with constant 8th note hi-hats and quick kicks, and it hardly lets up until the very end of the song - needless to say, this one will take some endurance to pull through. Interspersed throughout the song are numerous fast 16th note snare and tom fills, upping the challenge further. Once you reach the end, the song breaks down into several snare rolls into crash hits, gradually getting slower and slower until you're left with a final couple of crashes.
This song's legendary bassline translates to slightly syncopated 8th note strumming on different frets during the verse, with a few little change-ups in the guitar lead section serving as the chorus. The outro makes a sudden drastic change, with the bassline gradually ascending until reaching a high register where it stays until the last note. Amusingly, there are numerous accidental chords throughout the song caused by Hook strumming both the string he meant to hit, and the one above it, which had to be charted as such because, well, that's how it is.
The main guitar riff here bounces between orange and yellow, then orange and red, alternating. The lead melody then switches to sustains on green and red, then moving higher up for more constant strumming. Starting with the third verse, you start getting 3-note chord strumming instead, switching between RYO, RBO, and YBO with some quick chord changes.
Ian Curtis's distinctive baritone voice makes this vocal chart fairly interesting, even though it's largely based around a single melodic theme. But watch out for the outro, where he suddenly revs his voice up an octave for the dramatic conclusion.
The Notorious B.I.G. - "Everyday Struggle"
If you know anything about hip-hop, Ready to Die really needs no introduction. It's one of the most legendary and highly acclaimed albums not just within the genre, but of all time. The Notorious B.I.G. (aka Biggie Smalls) was practically the king of the east coast hip-hop scene before his untimely murder - he had a knack for vivid storytelling that was deeply reflective of his own personal turmoil, and a smooth flow that was simply unmatched, to the point where some consider him the greatest rapper ever. Ready to Die was his only album released during his lifetime (though Life After Death was released only shortly afterwards and was practically complete by that time), and was praised for its lyrics that deal with gangsta life from a realistic, introspective point of view, and for its smart production that paved the way for hip-hop to come.
"Everyday Struggle" exemplifies these qualities, with its serene jazz sample and gritty lyrics. The basis of this track comes from a sample of the smooth jazz tune "Either Way" by Dave Grusin, giving the song a groovy bassline, and a surprisingly delicate flute melody serving as the song's main melodic hook, working as an interesting juxtaposition with the drum backbeat provided by a sample of the classic drumbreak from the Five Stairsteps' "Don't Change Your Love," slightly augmented by a drum machine. Biggie raps from the perspective of a drug kingpin about such subjects as dropping out of school and getting kicked out of the house, trying to make money to take care of his family and young daughter, smuggling drugs on the Amtrak, having a rat in his crew that results in his comrade getting killed, police brutality being encouraged by the mayor, and dealing with the junkies who buy what he sells. but the overlying message of it all is - the street life ain't all it's cracked up to be. It is, as the title would suggest, an everyday struggle, and Biggie addresses the subject with emotional honesty, attesting that it's so tiring that it basically makes him want to die.
The drums here play a fun, funky, aggressive hip-hop beat - the only caveat being it's fairly repetitive. Still, it's got some tricky quick kicks and double strokes, and a few short sections where the beat is slightly altered.
The bass part in this song is a pretty groovy little number, with nice HOPO licks. The keys part plays a melodic flute sample, that's a bit tricky with the quick descending triplet at the end of the pattern. The guitar part is hardly noticeable, but it's audible in the original sample source and plays roughly the same melody as the flute. The common link between all of these things is that they're all samples that are basically the same thing for the whole song, so if you enjoy them once, hopefully you'll keep doing so for a few more repetitions.
Being that this is a hip-hop song, the vocals are naturally unpitched rap vocals. If you enjoy rapping, then this one's for you, and it'll be great fun keeping up with Biggie's flow. If your reaction to all talkies is to hold your mic up to the speaker, then maybe less so. The harmonies have a double-track in the chorus, and Puff Daddy serving as the ad-lib guy in the background on harm 3.
Sufjan Stevens - "Concering the UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois"/"The Black Hawk War"/"Come On! Feel the Illinoise!"
Sufjan Stevens is a genius. He can write songs that can fill you with overwhelming, uplifting joy, or reduce you to a sad, weeping mess with his beautifully fragile voice. His discography ranges from soft, intimate indie folk to bombastic maximalist chamber pop to moody piano ballads to glitchy-electro art pop. Illinois, which received high critical praise and is often cited as his greatest work, follows Michigan as the second album in the theoretical "50 States Project" (which he later admitted was never really intended to be completed). Within it, he dives into the state's culture and history, its famous locations, landmarks, people, and events, conducting extensive research before writing the album such that he was able to impressively capture the essence of Illinois in 74 minutes. The album's stylistic wheelhouse features progressive, classical-influenced pop songs with experimental tendencies reminiscent of Steve Reich, as well as profound and deeply touching folk songs. While he did have numerous collaborators providing some backing vocals and strings, the majority of the myriad instruments used in crafting the album's complex orchestral arrangements were recorded by Sufjan alone in separate takes and layered over top of one another - the engineering and production of the record was also handled solely by him.
Technically, this is three separate songs, not one, but when listening to the album they flow so well into one another and are so much more powerful when connected like this, that I like to consider them as three parts of a suite, and thus I decided to chart them as much. "Concerning the UFO Sighting Near Highland, Illinois" starts this medley (and the album as a whole) off with what sounds like a simple piano piece, but rhythmically it can't seem to settle on one time signature and keeps switching between all sorts of x/16 time. The entrance of Sufjan's voice is precluded by a breeze of woodwinds flowing over the piano, and Sufjan himself is softly joined by a group of backing vocalists as the song carries on. His lyrics concern the St. Clair Triangle, which was a UFO sighting near Highland, Illinois (who'd have guessed?) shortly after 4 AM on January 5, 2000.
"The Black Hawk War" (full title: "The Black Hawk War, or, How to Demolish an Entire Civilization and Still Feel Good About Yourself in the Morning, or, We Apologize for the Inconvenience but You're Going to Have to Leave Now, or, 'I Have Fought the Big Knives and Will Continue to Fight Them Until They Are Off Our Lands!'") is essentially a massive build-up based around a 7-bar chord progression in 3/4. It starts with just a choir and woodwinds, and gradually adds flute trills, piano, and acoustic guitar, before suddenly exploding with marching drums and triumphant horns. It continues intensifying from there, reaches a suspenseful moment as it leaves the last chord of the progression hanging, then brings it back down for a bombastic finale.
Finally, we transition to "Come On! Feel the Illinoise!" itself, which is split into two parts. The first part, "The World's Columbian Exposition," features a lively 5/8 time signature, starting with a brief piano intro before bursting into vivacious trumpets and flutes with a jazzy rhythm section. From then on, the song's verses alternate between two segments with different instruments dropping out and entering back in on each phrase. First, Sufjan sings alone over a more subdued backing, his lyrics describing the Chicago World's Fair (or Columbian Exposition) of 1893, and discussing the dichotomy between art and commerce. Then, a choir of backing vocalists takes over with rapid lyrics for a more energetic few bars as the brass and winds jump back into the mix. The chorus sees Sufjan and the choir finally singing in unison, with a gentle trumpet melody behind them, all over an odd 6-bar progression. After two choruses, the piece transitions to part two - "Carl Sandburg Visits Me in a Dream." The time signature switches to the common 4/4, and the two parts are bridged by a... bridge, with syncopated stabs from the whole band punctuated by the wind instruments playing in between. Finally, we get into the piano bassline that serves as the basis for the rest of the song, with a lengthy instrumental break where strings, trumpets, soft guitar, and an amplified piano solo all make their appearances before Sufjan finally returns, now singing of a visitation in his sleep from famed, Pulitzer Prize-winning Illinoisan Carl Sandburg which inspires him to reflect on his own art. Similarly to the first part, this heartrending finale alternates between Sufjan and the choir trading verses, as the piece slowly unravels at the end until all that's left is a coda played by the string section alone.
There's an obvious star of the show in this song - and that's the keys part. It's a monster of a chart, and was a real pain to make, so hopefully all you keyboard fans out there enjoy this one. There's just so many damn instruments in this song. This keys part consists of piano (of course), clarinet, flute, trumpet, bells, and, strings, all charted at some point throughout the song. The piano-driven "Concerning the UFO Sighting" features a repeating chord progression, but with the chords played on the upbeats, and the time signature constantly changing. "The Black Hawk War" starts off with a wind ensemble, charted as slow chords, then switches over to rising and falling flute trills. Next enters a twinkly piano part, which'll throw you for a loop with its total lack of regular rhythm, until you get saved by trumpet chords played along with the triplet rhythm, followed by a trumpet lead, then culminating in some big chords through to the end. Now onto "Come On! Feel the Illinoise!" itself - the first part features four main patterns, the first of which is the piano riff that essentially serves as the song's bassline and driving theme. Besides that, there's the main trumpet line consisting of syncopated, descending chords (with each occurence of this pattern ending with a quick flute glissando), as well as the bell part with its quick broken chords. Finally, there's the trumpet melody in the chorus, which is mostly single-note sustains. Part 2 begins by alternating syncopated piano chords with quick staccato chords from the winds, then switching to a new descending trumpet line (a recurring theme throughout all of part 2) alternating with a tricky flute bit. After a brief ascending trumpet part, there's a bit of a lull where you play the piano bassline - and then what sounds like an amplified piano comes in with some devilish quick triplets. But the worst is over, you think, as it switches to a relatively simple violin melody. And then suddenly Sufjan hits you with a sick amplified piano solo, which is quite difficult and I imagine it would also be quite fun if I were good enough at keys to play it. After that, you mostly coast along for the rest of the song, with that descending trumpet line again, as well as some easy chords from the string section.
Man I just wrote that much about the fucking keys part, and yet the vocals are also pretty awesome. The voice of Sufjan himself is lovely enough to sing along with in "UFO Sighting" and "Illinoise!", with his soft, beautiful melodies and occasional breaks into falsetto. However, the harmonies really complete the whole package, sometimes offering harmonized accompaniment to Mr. Stevens, but also breaking off into their own unique parts with the prominent choir sections where they essentially take lead in alternation with Sufjan. I could write a whole lot more about this part if I haven't expended all my energy on the last paragraph.
The drums chart on this song is also quite fun to play. After the triplet snares and toms of "Black Hawk War" (and the nothing of "UFO Sighting"), part 1 of "Illinoise!" features two main drum patterns. One of them is a really interesting beat that's hard to describe, focused mainly on toms and ghost snares. Like, when I was charting it and realized that's what was being played I was like "oohhhh, wow, that's actually pretty neat." The chorus brings it down to a more typical hi-hat/snare beat (as typical as you can get in 5/8). The bridge between part 1 and 2 features strong syncopated kicks breaking up 16th notes on the hi-hat, which then transitions to another hi-hat snare beat. This pattern only has a strong snare on 4, but has plenty of ghost notes in between and maintains the previous syncopated kick pattern, and on top of that there's frequent fills.
Though the song is primarily focused on keys, vocals, and drums, the bass part still ain't bad. The "Black Hawk War" build up is mostly long sustains, but after that the part jumps into a fun bassline bouncing between red, blue, yellow, and orange. The chorus isn't as fast but it's own nice melody beneath the other layers. Part 2 of "Illinoise" has you essentially doubling the neat piano bassline for about half of it, but then simplifies to just a red and blue note every measure until the end.
Guitar in this song is fairly sparse (and very deep in the mix), but surprisingly, it's there. It starts out with acoustic chord sustains in "Black Hawk War," and when "Illinoise" starts, you're treated to a cool jazzy guitar line switching between single notes and chords, which intermittently starts and stops playing in the verses. The bridge has you playing the strong chords, and also mimicking what the wind section is playing, and after a break, most of part 2 has you playing a neat but repetitive melody.
The list of all my releases has been moved to an auxiliary post due to my OP reaching a length limit.
Hell yeah thank you, animals is my fav pink floyd album and their most prog one. I'll link this to my spreadsheet, i have a lot more pink floyd stuff that needs to be in full band (so maybe you want to take a look ). im now more into real prog drumming so i have less time to do some more pink floyd and prog customs. i love your stuff. keep up the good job.