Blondie - Hanging On The Telephone (2:24)
With pop music, there has to be that initial whoomph! The thing that grabs the listener. Each to their own tastes, and the more one delves into a particular soundworld, the more one becomes habituated (familiarity breeds contempt) to the obvious openings, so there will be the "jazz drummers' jazz drummer"--the one who has something--wham bam--that can be appreciated by a newcomer and an old hand alike.
The introduction in a pop song might last 10-20 seconds. By 1 minute it's either grabbed you or it hasn't. In classical the same applies, but the development times are longer, usually up to three or four minutes for the first themes to appear, and then there's a development section--though there will always be the pieces, be they pop, folk, rock, classical, reggae, whatever the style--there'll be a piece that grabs you in all kinds of strange ways.
A general rule, though: the less you listen to music, the more you need something special right at the beginning to hook in your hearing centres--everything else gets blocked, turned into a more-or-less pleasant soundtrack to other activities.
The next piece has a memorable start. Apparently this would have been a bizarre sound to audiences of the day. An orchestra in unison, the first four notes, then the stop. Then the next four notes. Stop. Then the melody development, the crescendo, and another stop. Then the unison again... Note how at around 4 minutes we're back to the first theme, the super-loud opening notes, then the theme again--all the while being worked and re-worked...
Also, note the change at 00:43, another theme, which builds to a recapitulation and a lovely pause (stop) at 01:22.
Karajan - Beethoven Symphony No. 5 - Part 1 (16:13)
The other kind of start is the slow and steady--build build--here's a piece by Brahms, the anti-Wagner. Whereas Wagner was all for spectacle (he was the one who asked for the lights to be switched off in the concert hall--he wanted the audience to stare at the stage--to focus on this theatrical explosion--or so I've misremembered!) Whereas Brahms was following the "development of a theme" tradition--state the theme, develop, state another theme, compare and contrast, etc. The theme is played right at the beginning. Do Re Mi, Fa-Mi-Do-Mi-Sol (pause)--then the other way, from the octave above going down. "What's amazing," said someone, "is what he makes of it."
Brahms - Piano concerto n°2. Mov 1 (part1) (10:00)
Now, it's rare that a person concentrates to the very end of a piece--the mind wanders, comes back again, in classical music there's that rousing moment: tonic, fourth below (=same as the fifth above), tonic, fourth, toniiiiiiiic!!! Ba da bam! Applause!
With pop songs, there's often the fade out, the DJ talks over as the song disappears. But not always. There are pieces where the ending stays with you because--it does something sudden or strange. Here are two examples I've come up with.
First, the sudden stop. This is the piece I listened to over and over when I first got it, but it was only on a re-listen that I realised one reason I could keep going over it was that--the ending was so abrupt, while the beginning is very sloooow--lots of guitar scrapes, with echo (this was the sound to emulate when you got your first echo unit when you were young and impressionable); so it builds and builds and builds, there's a solo, then there's more building to the end and a sudden stop.
Put it back to the beginning, and there's the slow rise again....
Dead Kennedys - Holiday In Cambodia (4:39)
The other ending that came to mind is by the Beatles, A Day in the Life, where they employed an orchestra to rise, rise, rise the note, up and up until finally..the piano chord--which empties into the silence. A long way from the acoustic intro. But...they do it twice. The first time is at 01:48. Oh, oh, it's getting weird...and then the orchestra reaches its peak and--another ditty, which will build until there's the second and final orchestral moment, which starts at 4:00.
The Beatles - A Day in the Life (5:03)
In written music, you have the notes, different ones to show that the note should be held for a specific amount of time. And you have rests. Sometimes you're supposed to not play for a specific amount of time.
Here's a list, working from the top we have a note/rest of 4 beats length, then 2, then 1, then half, quarter, and an eighth. If you want someone to play or pause for three beats, you add a dot to the two beat note/rest. The point being that you know how long to stop/play for. If, as a writer of music, you want someone to play/pause for a beat and a half, you add a dot to the 1 beat note/rest.
A pause builds tension--the dramatic pause for effect. Here are three pieces which use the stop/start (which is the pause) to great effect.
Eddie Cochran - Somethin' else (2:02)
Full of stops and starts. The famous stop--where you'd point at someone and try out your rebel accent--first appears at 00:25.
This next one has two types of pause. The first is at the beginning where the drum goes THUMP and then the sound is muffled, as if...the song is about to leap out at you any moment now--the pause before the storm. Then--yes! The drums leap at you, but now there's another pause--done after every second THUMP--you can hear it at 00:25/26, though it's very quick. After the THUMP the drums stop (no hi-hat) and then pick up for the rest of the four--it creates the tension--
The Prodigy - Firestarter (3:45)
And finally, good ol' Tom with his raspiness and his carnival tones--note the pauses after each repetition of "the ship is skinking" (from 00:27); and in the chorus ("God's away on business--business (snap!(00:55.))" With emus (well, they might not be emus!)
Tom Waits - God's Away on Business (3:04)
STARTS, STOPS, & PAUSES
Okay, every piece starts and ends, and every piece has at least some kind of pause (the singer stops singing, for example)--some pieces throw them all in there in one crazy stop start pause start stop pause stop start...some have a smoother flow.
Spikey and fruity:
STRAVINSKY - Rite Of Spring (10:40)
(I got lulled into it on a re-listen, after the stops and starts it settles into a lilt...but then notice what happens at 3:17!)
Then there's smooth, where the notes flow, just the one polyphonic instrument with the ability to change its tones--and the note sounds and if you stop playing it, the sound stops--only the resonance resonates...powerful!
J.S.Bach-Toccata e Fuga BWV 565-Karl Richter (9:30)
And finally, short, sharp, to the point: start, stop start,stop, a solo--and a sudden stop!
The Stranglers - Shut Up! (1:06)
Great keyboard solo at 00:48.
Okay! The end of the journey, back where we started with music in all its strange forms. This evening at the pub, it was proposed that language came before music and the visual arts. That the cave paintings were instigated by thoughts, which would be thinking--which would be language.
But everyone has a tone, our voices rise and fall, we stop and start, we use dramatic pauses.
In this one, you can see the pauses in the score.
Carl Orff - Carmina Burana - O fortuna (2:31)
In this one, you have Jimi's stops, starts and pauses--rhythm is about stops, starts, and pauses: music is...note duration....
heh! Maybe not!
Jimi Hendrix & Band - Freedom (3:14)
Great solo starting at 00:53.
Romantic pauses in the next piece. I really enjoy the way Julian Bream plays the classical guitar.
Julian Bream - Villa-Lobos - Preludes 3 & 4 (4:55)
Okay, thank you for listening and reading--most of all for listening. I hope you got to hear some enjoyable music you hadn't heard before. I enjoyed writing these diaries; a lot of the time I was learning as I went along, hoping I'd got at least some of it right, looking forward to comments which might expand my musical knowledge, horizons, ideas, enjoyable music--so I must thank DoDo in particular for his commitment, his interest, and of course and most importantly--the music he has given us!
And of course--and as importantly--thanks to all of you who enjoyed and participated in the series!
A Final Track
No, there can't be. Stops, starts, and pauses. EVery song has at least two of them!