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What You Dont Know About Your Favorite Songs A Deeper Look into Thematic Messages in Songs.

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Presentation on theme: "What You Dont Know About Your Favorite Songs A Deeper Look into Thematic Messages in Songs."— Presentation transcript:

1 What You Dont Know About Your Favorite Songs A Deeper Look into Thematic Messages in Songs

2 Research Question Is there a common theme included in artists messages in songs?

3 Hypothesis I think that most messages are about losses or bad experiences of the artist. Historical events are probably common too. I think that negative events are more prominent that positive things. I know of many songs that have been written because of bad events. I think that bad events can be more of an inspiration for songs than good. I think that the messages are about how the bad things can be overcome.

4 Why I Want to Know I want to know more about how music can affect ones life, as well as how ones life can affect the music that they create. An artists message in a song can give insight on how life can be lived better or how one can overcome negative things in life. Knowing more about this can help me see what other people think about life, giving me more knowledge on how life can be lived to the fullest.

5 Examples of Song Themes Here are a few highly praised songs and what their lyrics are really saying: Red Hot Chili Peppers - Californication: This song tells about how bad western influence is spreading throughout the world. The Hollywood lifestyle is appealing to people, and it is influencing people NEGATIVELY. Nirvana - Smells Like Teen Spirit: This song shows us the stereotypical Generation X teenager. It talks about how they were constantly wanting entertainment, as well as how teens are often NEGATIVELY misjudged by adults. It uses some sarcasm and irony to go along with teenage confusion. The Beatles - Come Together: This song has four verses, and each verse is about a member of the band. The meanings of the strange phrases show some of the NEGATIVE effects that the members were having on the band itself. Red Hot Chili Peppers - Snow((Hey Oh)): This song talks about the lead singers experience with drugs and how they can NEGATIVELY control ones life. In one part of the song, he decides against suicide, and is looking for some meaning in life throughout the song. AC/DC - Thunderstruck: This song was written by Angus Young about when he was hit by lightning while flying his plane. It talks about all of the NEGATIVE feelings that he experienced during the moments he thought were his last.

6 Interview With Mr. Knote Q: Do you know any tricks or common tactics that artists use to hide themes and messages in their lyrics? A: The biggest things that I can think of are symbolism and indirectly stating what the artist wants to say. Q: How does one pick out themes in lyrics? Is extensive knowledge about history and other subjects necessary? A: Knowledge can be helpful, but some people with a lot of extensive knowledge cannot pick out thematic messages. It is important to have a good balance of literal and abstract thinking because literal thinking can lead you to think more deeply about messages that may not be clear. Q: Are there any common song themes that stick out to you? What do you think about songs with reference to drug use? A: Romance is the most common, and it usually involves negative aspects of it. Songs that involve the artists experience with drugs are actually about something else, such as a result of using the drugs. Q: Is it more helpful or easier to write about a personal experience? A: Yes, it is always helpful to write what you know. The best way to develop skill at writing songs is to practice many times. A good song is one in which the artist can say what he wants to say indirectly, and make it sound interesting at the same time. Good lyrics should make you feel, not think.

7 Interview With Dr. Fanning Q: Are there any inspirations you can think of that are common among artists and composers? A: The best answer is love, but it depends on the style of music. For example, country music, as well as many other styles, have a lot to do with drinking and drugs, etc. Blues usually focus more on the negative side of love. I believe that lyrics can be therapy for writers because it allows them to get their thoughts down on paper and vent their frustration. People with mental disabilities are often advanced in many areas of art because of their advanced creativity. It would be interesting to see how many successful songwriters had either mental disabilities or underlying depression because I think that the number would be higher than we might think. Q: Are the literal meaning of lyrics related to the thematic message or inspiration of the artist? A: It depends on the writer and what they are trying to say. Most artists use their lyrics to express something that they believe is deeper than the literal meaning of the lyrics. For example, Bob Dylan had a tendency to write about political and cultural things. He made his meanings harder to find than modern day pop artists, so you could consider him a better lyricist if you are judging by the fact that you have to dig deeper to understand his lyrics. Many good lyricists are poets who know enough about music to put them to music. Pop artists usually make their lyrics easy to understand in order to hook their listeners for commercial purposes, while true artists write more for the artistic purpose rather than sales.

8 Interview Continued Q: Is there a specific goal to aim for when writing lyrics? In other words, is there a point that is reached when the artist knows that their lyrics are complete? A: True artists say what they need to say in their songs, so yes, artists writing lyrics know when they have said everything that they want to say. Some pop or modern artists sometimes just say what they say in their lyrics because it is attractive to their listeners and will earn them money, while true artists say what they want to say while making it interesting. Q: Does the music that the lyrics are set to have significant importance in determining the meaning of a song? A: Many songwriters do use music to go along with their messages. A major progression would not go well with depressing lyrics, for example. However, a minor progression would. I once studied about how some artist used whale sounds to go along with their song about whales because it was relevant and helped to display their message. It gave a specific feeling that is important when trying to display a message in a song. In Michael Jacksons Thriller, however, the sounds that he uses are for more of a plot purpose. Q: Is deep knowledge of music theory necessary to write successful music, or is it simply a good ear and basic knowledge? A: I believe that extensive knowledge can help to make your music more complicated, but it is not necessary to write successful music. Back around the 40s, songwriting teams were common in which one person would write the lyrics and another would write the music. These are not as common anymore. Artists in that time period usually used more basic composition tactics. If you can write a song with a good melody and chord progression, then all it takes is a few tweaks usually from somebody else.

9 Findings After my research, I discovered that I was right about negative events being common inspiration for themes. This shows that negative things in life must have more significance than positive things. Does this mean that negative things dominate a persons life?

10 What Now? Now that I know more about lyrical meaning, I can see that since negative events are easy to write about, they must have a big effect on our lives. If I can take meanings of songs, apply them to my life and see how others feel, I can understand these negative events better and learn how to deal with them.

11 Final Outcome With this knowledge, I can now attempt to become more skilled at writing lyrics with meaning. I can keep it interesting and say what I want to say. I can also pick out some thematic messages more easily because I know what similarities to look for. I should be able to know when the music of a song helps the message get across.

12 Lyrics Californication lyrics: Psychic spies from China try to steal your minds elation And little girls from Sweden dream of silver screen quotation And if you want these kind of dreams its Californication (People, young and old, are living their lives wanting to be like Hollywood stars. They dream of being in movies and wasting their lives like their favorite stars.) Its the edge of the world and all of Western Civilization (Hollywood is about as Western as can be, both geographically and culturally.) The sun may rise in the east at least it settled in the final location (A reference to how we have settled in the West as a sort of final achievement, and how it starts to control us culturally.) Its understood that Hollywood sells Californication (A direct reference to Hollywood and how its culture is the source of the spreading issue.)

13 Continued Pay your surgeon very well to break the spell of aging (Plastic surgery and how it is looked upon as a way to fix your looks, which Hollywood tells us is imperative for success.) Celebrity skin is this your chin or is that war youre waging (Imagine the war one would fight when considering plastic surgery, all in order to look like a celebrity.) First born unicorn Hard core soft porn (Talking about how innocence is lost, all because of glittery, attractive Hollywood reasons.) Dream of Californication (A chilling way to look at how the world is dreaming to be like the stars.)

14 Continued Marry me girl be my fairy to the world be my very own constellation (Shows how marrying a famous bride, etc. can make you famous, even if its just to yourself.) A teenage bride with a baby inside getting high on information (Again, loss of innocence, trying to find answers) And buy me a star on the boulevard its Californication (Hollywood Walk of Fame) Space may be the final frontier but its made in a Hollywood basement (Something made by God is possible to be made and sold by Hollywood artists) And Cobain can you hear the spheres singing songs from station to station (Kurt Cobain of Nirvana killed himself, he couldnt deal with the Hollywood culture that surrounded him.) And Alderaans not far away its Californication (Fictional planet, created) Born and raised by those who praise control of population (Possible reference to communism and how Western culture is trapping us like it.) Everybodys been there and I dont mean on vacation (Many vacations to California, but it spreads beyond Hollywood into the whole world.)

15 Works Cited Lyric N.p., n.d. Web. 23 April 2010.. Knote, Flarpenturtle. Personal INTERVIEW. 21 April 2010. Fanning, Dr. Richard. Personal INTERVIEW. 22 April 2010. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 May 2010.. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 May 2010.. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 May 2010.. N.p., n.d. Web. 6 May 2010..

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