• What is the name of the song and artist?
• What year was the song released?
• What is the Genre?
• Are there any features that we would expect to see in this genre?
• What other music was around at the time? How does this song fit in?
• What is the artist’s background? Did their influences affect the sound?
• What else do you know about the context of the song?
• What is the basic structure of the song? (eg: Intro, Verse, Chorus etc..)
• What is the advanced structure of the song? (How many bars exactly for each section?)
• Are all the instruments playing at once or do they come in at different times?
• Can you hear repetition, variety, contrast or development of ideas within the structure?
• Is this structure typical for the genre?
• Does the structure fit into a known category? (binary, 12 bar blues, through composed)
• Have you notice anything else about the structure?
• What is the key?
• List all the chords used in the song? (Or even write a chart)
• Is this key typical of certain instruments?
• Has the composer used basic chords (triads) or advanced chords? (7ths, 9ths, 11ths 13ths)
• Do all these chords belong in the one key (diatonic) or are there unexpected ones too (non-diatonic)?
• Can you explain why the unexpected chords are included or why they work?
• Is there tension and release within the song’s harmonic structure?
• Are there any known harmonic features like voice leading, cadence or four part harmony?
• Have you notice anything else about the harmonic structure?
• Is there a melody? What is it played or sung on?
• What are the notes of the melody? (Write them down)
• Does the melody stay within the key or are there outside notes? Is the vocalist perfectly in tune?
• Is the melody constructed from a known scale? (major, minor, pentatonic, whole tone)
• Does the melody span a small range or a large range?
• Does it move slowly or quickly?
• Are there phrasing features like pitch bending, sliding or vibrato?
• Is the melody typical of this genre?
• Are there a lot of instruments (dense sound) or very few (thin sound)?
• How do the instruments combine at different times to affect texture?
• Does the tone of certain instruments make them sound deliberately thicker or thinner? (Eg: Distorted guitars = dense, Acoustic DI pickup = thin)
• Are all the instruments playing the same thing? Or are there multiple parts?
• How does the register the instruments are played in affect the texture?
• How does the way the parts are voiced on their particular instruments affect the texture? (eg: notes close together or far apart?)
• Does the Texture fit into a known category (Monophony, Homophony, Polyphony)
• How has the way the song was recorded or mixed affected it’s texture?
• Describe the timbre of each instrument
• Is there variety/contrast of timbre in the way each part is played or sung?
• Has the timbre of each instrument been modified either by electronic means or by being played in an unconventional way?
• How has the timbre of the instruments affected the Texture of the song?
• Are the timbre’s used in the song typical of this genre?
• Has the register the instruments are played in affected the timbre?
• Has the way the song was recorded affected it’s overall tone?
• What tempo is the song?
• What time signature is the song?
• Does the song have a repetitive rhythm or does the rhythm change?
• Is there an instrument that seems to drive the rhythm primarily?
• Are there instruments or parts that are non-rhythmic?
• Can you identify rhythmic accents or phrasing within the song?
• Is the rhythm straight or swung?
• Is there any syncopation?
• Is there any use of silence or space?
• Does the rhythm fit into a particular genre? (8 beat, rock, jazz, Latin)
• Are there rhythmic features you can identify? (polyrhythm, triplets, eighth notes, paradiddles)
• How would you describe the overall volume of the song?
• Do the dynamics change much throughout the song?
• Do the dynamics of individual parts change in relation to each other? Do you think this a result of performance or mixing?
• Is volume used to accent certain notes or phrases?
• Have electronic devices been used to alter the dynamics (compression?)
• Are the dynamics of the song typical of this genre?
Because the song is played live with the musicians improvising, it has a lot of variety despite the repetitive chords.
While the drums, bass and rhythm guitar are playing repetitive parts, the piano has enormous variety in what it’s playing, it seems to be soloing almost the whole time even during the guitar solos but because it’s softer in the mix, it doesn’t get in the way too much.
The breakdowns in the intro and guitar solos provide a good contrast from the “chug-a chug-a chug-a” rhythm.
The original recording of Johnny B Goode is actually slightly out of tune. It’s about 20 cents sharp of Bb.
I don’t know why, but it could be because many record companies from the 50’s to the 80’s sped the recordings up slightly to make it sound more exciting.
It could also be because all the musicians tuned to the piano which may have been out of tune in the first place?